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Archives for June 2011

Springwatch: Some more of Britain's barmiest nests 2011

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 14:08 UK time, Monday, 27 June 2011

Martin announced the winner and runner-up of Britain's barmiest nests on the last show of the series (see the video below). But what about the rest of the ones you told us about (on the blog, on Facebook and on Flickr)? Some of them are too good not to mention, so we've picked out the best of the rest.

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Springwatch animal star update

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 16:29 UK time, Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Sadly we had to turn the webcams off before some of the birds we were following had fledged. We promised we'd keep in touch about their progress so without further ado I'll hand over to Russell Jones of RSPB Ynys-hir for the latest news:

We checked the oystercatchers yesterday morning and they have not hatched yet. All the barn owl chicks are fine (we have had reasonable weather since the last programme). I will check the oystercatchers again tomorrow as they should be hatching very soon. I am afraid the buzzards are too difficult, as we have no means of looking into the nests.

Update 24 June: The heron chicks now rarely return to their nest and the female oystercatcher is still sitting on the wall. The eggs should hatch about now and Ynys-hir has promised to check again. All the barn owl chicks are OK and Bob's' fast catching up in size with the others.

Update 23 June: The Ynys-hir warden holds a licence to check barn owl nests and he reports that all four chicks in the nest are doing well.

Update 1 July: Sadly the oystercatchers are still sitting on their two eggs but the time for them to hatch has now passed. The good news however is that the barn owl chicks continue to all do well and are growing fast!

Update 5 July: News just in from RSPB Ynys-hir is that our second buzzard chicks have fledged! Just today they were spotted in the trees around their nest being fed by their parents.

Update 12 July: Great news from RSPB Ynys-hir: the barn owls have all fledged. They are now likely to now be roosting in nearby farm buildings. In the words of Martin HG, a happy ending!

Update 21 July: At long last the oystercatchers have left their eggs. I've checked with the BTO about the chances of the pair having another go and it's bad news. According to Paul Stancliffe: "Unfortunately this pair won't have another go this year. If the loss is early in the season, then pairs of oystercatchers often lay replacement clutches but it is now too late in the season for this to happen. What a shame."

Update 26 July: Last week RSPB Ynys-hir posted this lovely pic of our barn owls venturing out into the big world. (Word of warning... you have to look very closely to see anything, but it's worth it when you do.)

Blackberry crop threatened by record dry spring

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 14:19 UK time, Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Guest blogger Beverley Gormley from the Woodland Trust on why the warm, dry spring is not good news for this classic late summer fruit.

I've been blackberry picking every summer for as long as I can remember. As a child, a group of us would take empty carrier bags and plunder the local bramble bushes. Still to this day, as we get further in to summer, I check out every bramble I pass looking for those first plump, ripened fruits.

bramble

Bramble and bryony (E Jane / WTPL)

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Springwatch versus The Manic Street Preachers

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 11:33 UK time, Monday, 20 June 2011

Eagle-eared pop fans amongst you might have noticed Chris Packham shoehorning Manic Street Preacher song titles into this year's Springwatch. He has form in this respect. Last Springwatch it was The Cure, the year before it was The Smiths.

For a bit of fun we edited all (we think) the Manics references together in the video below (though in the spirit of disclosure it seems fair to say we were beaten to it by a bunch of very keen fans of the Welsh rockers.) Great minds and all that...

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Chris Watson's remarkable sounds of an inner space

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 18:14 UK time, Thursday, 16 June 2011

Guest blogger: Sound recordist Chris Watson describes how he captured the remarkable sounds of an inner space here at Ynys-hir.

The woodlands around Ynys-hir have been a rich source of sounds for all the films and features I have recorded during this series of Springwatch. However over the past few days as the dawn chorus begins to fade in the tree canopy for this season I've been exploring the unique sonic potential of another really special habitat here on the reserve.

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Your ideas for Autumnwatch

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Tim Scoones Tim Scoones | 17:41 UK time, Thursday, 16 June 2011

Autumnwatch is not that far away!

Do you have any specific ideas about who, what or where we should feature? Are there any themes, concepts, or debates we should bring up and discuss? If so, please post your comments below.

As we've done for the last two series we'll be 'on the road' across eight weeks of autumn, allowing us to really 'watch' the full season, throughout October and November. We hope to showcase the very best of the UK's autumn wildlife, featuring a different region of the country each week.

Where should we go? What should we cover? Which autumn stories should we follow? Over to you. Get posting below. We're all ears. Thank you!

Tim Scoones is Executive Producer of Springwatch and Autumnwatch

The end of Springwatch: Your questions answered

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 17:15 UK time, Thursday, 16 June 2011

All of us here at Springwatch and Unsprung would like to say a big thank you for the amazing response we've had. You've sent thousands of your wildlife questions in via the blog, the messageboard, the Springwatch photo group and our new Facebook page. In fact we've had so many that, much as we'd like to, it would be impossible for us to solve all your mysteries.

Recently we blogged to answer some of your wildlife questions. Here's the next batch of answers to your questions from the last few weeks.

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Springwatch 2011: What did you think?

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Tim Scoones Tim Scoones | 17:14 UK time, Thursday, 16 June 2011

We do hope you enjoyed this year's Springwatch. Do post a comment below to let us know what you think - good and bad. We always appreciate your feedback - it's your series after all and we'll always strive to make it better each year. We've certainly enjoyed getting to know our wonderful new home at the RSPB reserve of Ynys-hir in West Wales, as well as exploring the wilds of Knapdale, Skomer and Pitsea.

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In pictures: Unsprung Family montage

Last night's Unsprung featured some of our favourites of your family photos from the Springwatch photo group. So here they are again for your viewing pleasure...

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Unsprung's marine sound quiz

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Martin Hughes-Games Martin Hughes-Games | 18:58 UK time, Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Okay, as it's the last Unsprung in the series, a very tricky one tonight. Can you identify the marine animals that have made these sounds (all recorded by Chris Watson).

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Whose skull is it?

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Martin Hughes-Games Martin Hughes-Games | 19:21 UK time, Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Which British animal did the skull come from? As usual, answers below please. Good luck... I'll be revealing the answer shortly before the end of tonight's show.

Update 15 June: Congratulations to all those you got the right answer: a grey seal. Commiserations to the majority of you who guessed badger.

The incredible woodcock migration

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 14:02 UK time, Tuesday, 14 June 2011

This fascinating map of a woodcock's migration, provided to us by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, drew gasps of admiration in the presenter meeting this morning.

woodcock migration map

 

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Whose poo?

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Martin Hughes-Games Martin Hughes-Games | 19:22 UK time, Monday, 13 June 2011

Which animal did this come from and how do you know?

Answers below please!

Update 14 June: Well done to everyone who correctly identified the poo as coming from a fox. Bonus point if the reason you IDed it was its dark colour and twisted ends.

Springwatch investigates: The corvid cull

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 17:16 UK time, Monday, 13 June 2011

Martin has been out mystery-busting, exploring the arguments for and against the corvid cull: plans to cull crows and magpies to test if they are contributing to a decline in songbird numbers.

In recent years many farmland and garden birds have suffered a decline whereas some corvids such as magpies and carrion crows have shown rapid increases in their populations.

But are these changes a coincidence? And what research has been done? Unfortunately there are some fundamental differences in opinion...

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Springwatch's final week - get involved

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 16:28 UK time, Monday, 13 June 2011

Another week on Springwatch has seen a procession of dramatic stories unfold...

We've had no end of drama on our live mini cams: from choking buzzard chicks to the sad demise of yet another clutch of pied flycatcher nestlings. On a more positive note, we've been blessed by the endearing sight of the mother buzzard sheltering her chick from the rain, and while the badgers have been elusive, brief sightings of fox cubs have made up for it. And who's couldn't enjoy the privileged view of a nest of grass snakes?

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Audio slideshow: Chris Watson's Ynys-hir dawn chorus

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 16:21 UK time, Monday, 13 June 2011

A few days ago sound recordist extraordinaire Chris Watson recorded the Ynys-hir spring dawn chorus, one of the best he's ever heard. And what better way to accompany it than by using stunning woodland pictures from the Springwatch photo group? So click 'play' on the video below, sit back and enjoy.

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Paul and Ryan Edwards' wildlife photography

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 14:36 UK time, Monday, 13 June 2011

In 2009 Gordon Buchanan made a film for Springwatch with passionate wildlife film-makers Paul and Ryan Edwards about their local barn owl (you can watch it here). Since then the twins, now aged 19, have been continuing to film their local wildlife, in particular the wildlife that lives in a meadow near their home in Suffolk: a family of barn owls, a little owl and a kingfisher.

You can see the beautiful film they've made of the meadow in tonight's Springwatch (or get a sneak preview on BBC Suffolk's website). Until then, have a look at some of their gorgeous stills photography taken in that very same meadow.

barn owl copyright Paul Edwards

Paul: One of my favourite photos, the light was perfect flooding through the owls feathers (©Paul Edwards)

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In pictures: Chris and Martin's Isle of Man boys weekend

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 15:15 UK time, Thursday, 9 June 2011

Martin and Chris put on leather, get on a motorbike and behave badly... Martin's taking Chris on his ideal wild weekend across the sea to the Isle of Man. (It's probably just a coincidence that bike-mad Martin chose the home of the TT races.)

Chris Packham and Martin Hughes-Games

Martin and Chris on a bike

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What music would you choose for our animal stars?

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 14:02 UK time, Thursday, 9 June 2011

It was the mysterious Kevin Carter's idea that 'Teenage Kicks' would be the perfect soundtrack to illustrate the sibling rivarly of our two heron chicks. But what about our other animal characters? The patient osyercatcher mum, the gangsterish buzzards or the ugly/cute barn owl baby Bob... what soundtrack would you give these guys?

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Ask the team a question

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 18:27 UK time, Wednesday, 8 June 2011

We've been asking you lots of questions this year (and thanks for the amazing response). Now it's your chance to ask Chris, Kate and Martin your questions about the species we've been covering this series. So post them below and they'll answer some of the best on tonight's show.

PS Try and keep them short so they can answer as many as possible.

Update: Wow! Thanks for all the questions. Sorry we couldn't get through them all on tonight's show. I'm going to shut this post down for commenting now before we get completely inundated. Keep watching for more answers to your questions and in the meantime, our messageboard folk are very knowledgeable and helpful.

Unsprung parasite quiz

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Martin Hughes-Games Martin Hughes-Games | 16:56 UK time, Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Can you work out what these creatures are? A clue: they could all be living on your body... Answers below please.

A

 

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What's the mystery sound in the owl nest ?

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 13:46 UK time, Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Last week our eagle-eared story developers noticed a strange sound coming from our barn owl nest. It's left the team a little flummoxed as to exactly what it is. So we thought we'd ask you to help us work it out. Play the video below to have a listen. If you think you can identify it help us solve the mystery by telling us in the comments below.

Update 9 June: With your help we think we might have solved the mystery: the sound was made by a barn owl nestling.

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Unsprung guest: Kate MccGwire

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 19:32 UK time, Tuesday, 7 June 2011

If you tune in to this week's Springwatch Unsprung you'll have the opportunity to feast your eyes on the feathery delights of artist Kate MccGwire.

Evacuate by Kate MccGwire: Photo copy of Jonty Wilde

Evacuate by Kate MccGwire. Image © Jonty Wilde

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Guess the object

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Martin Hughes-Games Martin Hughes-Games | 18:59 UK time, Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Can you guess the objects I'm holding in tonight's show? And then what bird is associated with them. If you can, post your answer below. Good luck!

Update 8 June: Congratulations to all of you who got it right: the object was a caddisfly larvae case and the bird in question was the dipper.

unidentified object

If you go down to the woods today

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 18:00 UK time, Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Guest bloggers Kimberley Tew and Beverley Gormley at the Woodland Trust have taken advantage of the recent warm weather.

The nature lovers here at the Woodland Trust have been enjoying regular strolls around the woods. While we have been basking in the sunshine, we couldn't help but notice the effects of the warm weather on the woods and the wildlife within so we thought we'd share what you can expect to see in the woods at the moment and how this compares to previous years.

Orange tip butterfly

Orange tip butterfly. Image © Lindsay Williams / Woodland Trust Picture Library

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Springwatch 2011 continues - get involved

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 14:15 UK time, Tuesday, 7 June 2011

A week has flown by on Springwatch and already we've seen a great many things at the beautiful RSPB reserve at Ynys-hir. Last week we were graced with extraordinary live footage of beavers from Scotland, and this week, it's the turn of Skomer island, and its array of magnificent birds.

Closer to home, we've had the rare privilege of seeing the first osprey chicks in this region for 400 years. And closer still, our webcams have witnessed the rise of an owl chick called Bob, elusive badgers and a rare insight into what grass snakes do in private. Not to mention grasshopper warblers, dippers, sandpipers, herons and much more.

Along with this week's guest presenter Iolo Williams, we hope to bring you lots more exciting wildlife stories as they happen. And it's good that so many of you are along for the ride, telling us your own wildlife stories, sharing your photos and uploading your videos. You will keep them coming in, won't you? Here's how...

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In pictures: Stunning sea birds

With this week's guest presenter Iolo Williams coming to us from the beautiful Welsh wilds of Skomer island we'll be seeing plenty of stunning sea birds.

As usual the Springwatch photo group is giving our cameramen a run for their money. Here are some of our favourites from your spring sea bird snaps.

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Mickey Smith's homage to the ocean

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 12:12 UK time, Tuesday, 7 June 2011

We had an amazing response to surf photographer Mickey Smith's beautiful surfing film on last night's show, so here it is in all its glory.

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Tell us about strange nests in 2011

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Martin Hughes-Games Martin Hughes-Games | 18:09 UK time, Monday, 6 June 2011

It's time for one of my favourite parts of Springwatch - our annual quest to find Britain's barmiest nesting site.

Who can forget last year's winner - the thrush family nesting in a firemen's training centre that each day were engulfed in flames and showered in foam?

In 2009 it was a family of blue tits nesting in the arm of an active railway level crossing. Every time a train came by the whole nest rotated through 90 degrees!

If you've seen anything that can match this for strange, weird or just plain ridiculous nesting sites I'd love to hear. We've already seen quite a few in the Springwatch photo group. If you have a video you can upload it to us here, post a photo on our photo group, or simply tell us about it by posting a comment below.

So come on, let's make this year's strange nest the best yet!

Guess Iolo's sound

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 17:09 UK time, Monday, 6 June 2011

Can you guess what call Iolo was playing on tonight's show? Answers below please.

Springwatch: Your questions answered

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 14:09 UK time, Monday, 6 June 2011

All of us here at Springwatch and Unsprung would like to say a big thank you for the amazing response we've had to the shows so far. You've sent hundreds of your wildlife questions in already. In fact we've had so many that much as we'd like to it would be impossible for us to solve all your mysteries. However we took some time out this weekend to answer some of the most common.

DerekBez wants to know if this visitor is a bee or a wasp, how to tell the difference and what he's doing in the picture...


Wasp by DerekBez

Wasp © DerekBez

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Unsprung need more wildlife questions, stories, photos and objects

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 14:29 UK time, Friday, 3 June 2011

With one Springwatch Unsprung down and two left to go the team are still keen to get more of your fantastic stories, questions and images ready for the next show.

Here's a personal message from The Unsprung team.


Unsprung inbox

The Unsprung inbox is precariously close to another very important box in the office.
We definitely don't want the contents mixing!

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Can you guess what this is?

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 19:39 UK time, Thursday, 2 June 2011

A pretty hard one for tonight's show... can you guess what this is? One clue: it's on water. Answers below please.

guess the object

Update 5 June: Congratulations to everyone who got it right: mosquito eggs.

Hedgehogs: How you can help

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 15:23 UK time, Thursday, 2 June 2011

We've lost a quarter of the hedgehogs in the UK over the last decade. Habitat loss is thought to be a major contributing factor to this crisis. But there's a rather clever new way for you to help hedgehogs and we've discovered an exciting hands-on activity you can do to find out if you've got prickly visitors in your garden.

Hedgehog by Steve Heliczer

A welcome garden visitor © Steve Heliczer

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In pictures: Iolo Williams takes on Skomer Island

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 13:13 UK time, Thursday, 2 June 2011

Welsh wildlife expert Iolo Williams joins us from one of the finest Welsh wildlife locations, Skomer Island. Producer Dan Rees has been out with the team with his camera.

Iolo Williams by cliffs by Dan Rees

Iolo Williams on Skomer Island

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Photo vote results

Thanks to all who voted for their favourite photos. Martin revealed the winner on last night's Springwatch Unsprung, but just in case you missed it or want to see them in all their glory, here they are: 

(All of these excellent photos were selected from the BBC Springwatch photo group.)

The winner: a stunning shot by Tim Birds.

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Unsprung colourscheme quiz

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Martin Hughes-Games Martin Hughes-Games | 14:54 UK time, Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Here's a tricky quiz to kick off the first Unsprung of the series. We've messed around with some of the photos from our Flickr group. Can you guess which animals these are?

Answers in the comments below please.

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