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Archives for September 2011

Autumn bird migration news: A week of two halves

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Nick Moran & Paul Stancliffe (BTO) Nick Moran & Paul Stancliffe (BTO) | 15:32 UK time, Friday, 30 September 2011

black tern

Black terns have been moving en masse earlier this week © Andy Mason

It's very much been a week of two halves. The early part of the week saw large numbers of common migrants on the move and a huge movement of black terns through the country, with flocks in excess of 100 birds being counted on a couple of inland waterbodies. The latter part of the week was however much quieter.

Swallows and house martins dominated the visible migration during the first few days of the week, with smaller numbers of meadow and tree pipits, pied and yellow wagtails, and goldfinch, siskin, redpoll and chaffinch all moving.

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Video: Meet Michaela

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 12:35 UK time, Thursday, 29 September 2011

Autumnwatch's new presenter Michaela Strachan talks about live TV, working with Chris again and why she thinks autumn's the most romantic season.

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Autumnwatch Live starts 8.30pm, Friday 7 October on BBC Two.

Autumn bird migration news: Exciting times

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Nick Moran & Paul Stancliffe (BTO) Nick Moran & Paul Stancliffe (BTO) | 15:22 UK time, Friday, 23 September 2011


The redwing, a sure sign winter is round the corner © John Harding/BTO

Many of our summer visitors have taken advantage of the relatively settled conditions since hurricane Katia lashed our shores to begin the long journey south. The weekend saw the biggest movements of swallows so far this autumn, with an estimated 40,000 being counted at one south coast watchpoint in just a few hours.

The settled conditions have been perfect for observing visible migration, counting flocks of birds as they fly overhead, and there has been an obvious increase in the numbers of meadow pipits and wagtails, with both pied and yellow wagtails featuring more as the week has progressed.

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Autumn bird migration news: Storm force transatlantic migrants

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Nick Moran & Paul Stancliffe (BTO) Nick Moran & Paul Stancliffe (BTO) | 15:21 UK time, Friday, 16 September 2011

Red-eyed vireo

The red-eyed vireo arrived after a journey of 5,000km © Joe Pender

At this time of the year, storms can often bring birds to Britain and Ireland from far-flung places, and as the tail-end of hurricane Katia lashed our western shores earlier this week, it brought transatlantic migrants with it. Over 60 buff-breasted sandpipers arrived, with a single flock of 14 seen on Loop Head in County Clare, Eire.

They were not alone, over 30 pectoral sandpipers and a single solitary sandpiper were also found. The latter sharing the Isles of Scilly with the only American landbird to arrive, a red-eyed vireo, which was found on St Mary's on Tuesday. This bird, about the size of a dunnock, will have travelled at least 5,000km to get here.

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Unsprung is back!

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Gavin Boyland Gavin Boyland | 10:49 UK time, Thursday, 15 September 2011

It's only a matter of weeks now till Autumnwatch goes live and we hope you're as excited as we are to hear that Unsprung is also set to return.

Unsprung is going to be a little different this year. As Martin is more and more involved in the main show he's handing the production over to me and the team. We'll be keeping the much-loved Unsprung tone and popping in a few new surprises to keep the presenters on their toes so naturally we'll be needing your help!

The Unsprung team

Becky, Gavin and Sam with a Springwatch Unsprung VIP

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Autumnwatch Live 2011: Iconic wild places and a new band of Autumnwatch adventurers

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Roger Webb Roger Webb | 14:37 UK time, Tuesday, 13 September 2011

As well as reporting live from our base locations, Chris, Michaela and Martin will be on the road each week, visiting some of the UK's most iconic wild places. And also each week we're inviting a series of guest experts and presenters to tackle their own specialist topics and autumnal adventures.

On the road to the UK's iconic wild places

Chris, Michaela and Martin report on the best of the wildlife action as it happens from a different location each week, from the end of summer right through to the start of winter. They'll also meet some of the local people who have unique and insightful relationships with the wildlife on their patch.

Week one: As autumn starts, the first stop on this nationwide road trip will be the spectacular Wye Valley, where we'll explore the River Wye and the woodland world of the Forest of Dean. We're also hoping to investigate the wild boar, visit a breeding colony of bats and reveal nature's wild harvest. With a dry and sunny start to 2011, autumn has arrived early this year. We'll explain the implications for our wildlife.

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Announcing Autumnwatch Live 2011

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Roger Webb Roger Webb | 10:39 UK time, Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Michaela Strachan, Chris Packham and Martin Hughes-Games

The Autumnwatch Live team: Michaela Strachan, Chris Packham and Martin Hughes-Games

We're back. From Friday 7 October at 8.30pm on BBC Two, once a week for eight weeks, Autumnwatch Live will be tracking the very best wildlife action from the beginning to the end of this dramatic season. Our presenters and camera teams will be on the road, visiting our most iconic wild places and revealing new and surprising wildlife stories, as they happen. We'll be reporting on the latest wildlife news and encouraging everyone to get out and experience the best of the season for themselves.

We're planning to get unique insights into some of our best loved animals, and each week guest presenters will be bringing us personal reports from each stage of the season. (Read more about the iconic wild places we'll be visiting.)

Autumnwatch Unsprung, on air at 9.30pm after the main show, returns with its unpredictable, eclectic and humorous mix of viewer contributions and expert opinion. As ever, we want to hear from our viewers about what they're seeing, what questions they want answering, what photos they're taking and what amazing video footage they've captured.

For 2011, there are plenty of exciting new changes... a new anchor presenter, new guests, new locations, new features and more...

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Autumn bird migration news: A seabird spectacular

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Nick Moran & Paul Stancliffe (BTO) Nick Moran & Paul Stancliffe (BTO) | 15:11 UK time, Friday, 9 September 2011

Manx shearwater

Manx shearwater © Joe Pender/BTO

The westerly gales that have been battering the coasts from the Cornwall to the Outer Hebrides have resulted in some spectacular seabird counts, in particular the rarer shearwaters. During the week, over 7,000 sooty shearwaters, 2,500 great shearwaters and 600 Balearic shearwaters, the latter globally listed as critically endangered, were counted off south-west Cornwall, south Devon and south-west Ireland.

Among these were also numerous grey phalaropes, leach's petrels and sabine's gulls. Large numbers of gannets and, as predicted in last week's post, Manx shearwaters were also seen in good numbers. Some newly fledged young of the latter struggled with the stormy conditions and 491 found themselves 'wrecked' on Newgale Beach in Pembrokeshire. The BirdTrack reporting rate shows nicely the increase of observations of this species.

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In pictures: minibeasts up close

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 09:58 UK time, Thursday, 8 September 2011

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Autumn bird migration news: Hobbies, shearwaters and whinchats

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Nick Moran & Paul Stancliffe (BTO) Nick Moran & Paul Stancliffe (BTO) | 17:31 UK time, Thursday, 1 September 2011


Now is a great time of year to see the hobby © Jill Pakenham/BTO

If you let on that you have an interest in, or any knowledge of, birds, someone somewhere will ask which species is your favourite. For as long as I can remember my answer has been hobby. This is an extremely acrobatic, migratory falcon, which makes its living by catching some of the most manoeuvrable prey items on offer: swifts, swallows, martins and dragonflies!

Hobbies will tackle easier prey when the opportunity arises; earlier this week I was fortunate enough to witness a breathtaking attack as a hobby stooped from a great height at a greenfinch - fortunately for the greenfinch, it was able to take evasive action at the very last second.

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