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Winterwatch: Celebrating the best of our winter wildlife

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Tim Scoones Tim Scoones | 22:13 UK time, Saturday, 18 February 2012

Chris Packham, Kate Humble, Martin Hughes-Games

The sub-zero temperatures and snowy hills of the Brecon Beacons provide the perfect backdrop for Chris Packham, Kate Humble and Martin Hughes-Games to reveal how the UK's wildlife is faring this winter. In a one-off, winter special the Springwatch and Autumnwatch team celebrate the best of our winter wildlife and discover how it survives through these harsh months.

Chris, Kate, Martin and friends have been out and about across the country, from freezing mountaintops, icy lakes and stormy seashores, to bring you the most dramatic and remarkable seasonal stories. They show that winter is far from dead and boring - in fact, it's a time of fascination, beauty and spectacle so they urge you to get out and see for yourself.

The mild winter weather followed by recent plummeting temperatures are setting a real challenge; the team find out how our plants and animals are adapted to the season and what we can do to help them through our most challenging season.

We might be feeling the cold, but for millions of birds from northern and eastern Europe our shores are positively tropical so vast flocks of waders and wildfowl migrate to Britain every winter. Chris and Martin visit the south coast to discover why so many birds find our estuaries irresistible and enjoy the stunning spectacles these winter gatherings provide.

Meanwhile, Michaela Strachan reports from South Africa, where millions of swallows have arrived from the UK and beyond to escape the northern winter altogether. Charlie Hamilton James finds out why otter cubs are around at this time of year and finds them in a rather unusual place whilst Kate heads to an idyllic Welsh river to enjoy great views of dippers. Maya Plass shows Martin that our coastline and beaches can be fascinating spots to explore in winter and helps to solve a curious marine mystery on a Devon beach.

The team also report on a surprising influx of owls, find out why the ptarmigan could be the UK's toughest bird and encourage everyone to listen to the dawn chorus in their garden at this time of year. As the very first glimmers of spring emerge, Chris looks at how certain plants are uniquely adapted to emerge early and capitalise on the first opportunities of spring's arrival. As always, the team answers viewers' questions, feature some of their spectacular wintry photos and provide some top tips on helping our wildlife at this time of year.

The team prove that, if you wrap up warm, there's plenty to see and do in our countryside this winter. If you know how - and where - to look, winter can be truly glorious... and spring is closer than you might think!

Winterwatch: Wednesday 22nd February 2012 at 9pm on BBC Two and the BBC HD channel.

Tim Scoones is the Executive Producer of Winterwatch


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  • Comment number 1.

    Can't wait - BRING IT ON!

    During the snowy spell just over, I was successful in attracting Fieldfares to my garden, with three visitors feeding on apples, pears and fat balls on February 12th. Two Common Gulls also paid a visit that day. My Garden Bird Species list is now 32. I am more than happy to help garden birds and put out more feeders, especially those that contained fat balls (netless), suet cakes and suet pellets.

    The recent, slightly milder weather meant I could FINALLY get out to my local RSPB reserve at Frampton Marsh this afternoon. Worth it as well, as I saw what the volunteers think is a Kumlien's Gull. The sheer number of birds on the reserve appear to confirm that this is indeed an influx, especially with regard to Wigeon, Lapwing, Teal, Golden Plover and Brent Goose. Two of the Black Brant subspecies of Brent joined the regular flocks.

    As for winter owls, the best place to see Short-eareds in Lincolnshire is to me, Worlaby Carrs. This is in the north of the county, a few miles east of Scunthorpe. One person counted nine there at the same time!

    That said, a few of the Black-headed Gulls are beginning to show the first signs of their summery black hoods, I've seen the first mating of the year (Collared Dove) and Great Crested Grebes at Frampton have begun their head-bobbing courtship routines. By the end of next month, I might have seen my first swallow; my earliest-date-in-the-year record is March 30th. Keeping my fingers crossed for a bout of southerlies!!!!

  • Comment number 2.

    I am becoming progressively more concerned about The chemtrailing activity over Snowdonia and all over Britain and the world .I live in rural Wales and there is no pollution at all other than the aeroplanes spraying night and day making grey clouds almost everyday .I have heard all the arguaments about ''people need holidays'', this activity is a military led activity .These planes are NOT going from city to city ,they fly back and forth and loop da loop with the only intention of clouding the sky ! Trees are dying ,bird numbers are reducing ..all wildlife is under threat and not one wildlife program has asked any questions about this and how it impacts on our ecosystems .Will the Springwatch team be addressing this major issue ? C Fallon

  • Comment number 3.

    Here is a tip for wildlife watching later this spring that I brought back from my walk on the Sussex Border Path yesterday:

    If you want to watch squirrels doing something other than stealing from bird feeders or trying to find their nuts in the park now is the time of year to spot their dreys in the forks of leafless deciduous trees where the females will be bringing up their young later in the spring. Their roundish shape is standing out now against the sky. If you make a mental note of where they are now it will be easier to spot them again later in the year when the leaf canopy takes this contrast away.

    If you look for them on wooded slopes, for instance the "hangers" on the steep sides of the North and South Downs - or the Greensand ridge and the High Weald are similar areas in the South East that I know - you might find ones you can observe comfortably close to eye-level.

    This kind of thinking-ahead can also be used for watching bird species that re-use the previous years' nests. Perhaps there is still time for a piece on identifying these in our leafless treetops on Wednesday's programme.

  • Comment number 4.

    Hi Messrs Humble, Packham and Hughes-Games,

    Like others, I cannot wait for the programme to air and a decent night's entertainment is in store with Bees, Butterflies and Blooms preceding yours.

    Winter in my region has been excessively dry with average to mild Temperatures overall. Other than the first twelve days of February being icy cold and snowy, the winter weather in my patch at least, was rather mundane in my opinion. Nevertheless, I run a UK based Phenology blog whose enterprising title is naturestimeline. On there, you can find a plethora of geek type posts, which indicate a rather different idea of how the winter season unfolded.

    All the best and I am so sorry about the shameless plug.

    Best Wishes
    Tony Powell

  • Comment number 5.

    GREAT!! I can't wait.

  • Comment number 6.

    A couple of days ago I saw a crow sitting on the very top of an ash tree. It clacked its beak together 2 or 3 times, then stopped, did it again, stopped then again, and flew away. What was it clacking its beak together for?

  • Comment number 7.

    This week we discovered a large Toad had entwined itself around the head and gills of one of our Coy Carp. It was frantically thrashing around on the bottom of our pond, no ice was on the top. My husband managed to wrench the Toad off and the Coy is now recovering. What is going on ???

  • Comment number 8.

    Here in Fochabers in NE Scotland temperature today 14C, and the first of the frogs have spawned in our pond in the garden. Crocus, snowdrops, aconite and daffs now in bloom - definite signs of Spring in the air.

  • Comment number 9.

    while i was in my garden the other day i spotted three redstarts is this unusall as i live on a big housing estate a nice surprise though and i have also had a lot greenfinches and goldfinches

  • Comment number 10.

    Looking forward to seeing the team return.
    Kate Humble is worth the licence fee by herself!!
    It's a great format ... long ,may it continue.
    I love it...can't wait for SPRINGWATCH

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi Guys, looking forward to tonights show. I'm lucky enough to live in Swanage Dorset. They've recently opened a great recycling centre and when I took a walk down there about two weeks ago I walked past a bit of scrubland next to a road, they are going to build on the land. As i was walking back I saw a creature run off in the far corner. As I watched it realised it was a hare! I was pointing it out to the wife and one jumped up about 10 yards away. Couldn't even see it until it moved. Then to round it off as we were crossing a small river next to an industrial estate I saw, what I thought, was a white Egret

  • Comment number 12.

    A quick question but I was thrilled that blue tits used a nest box last year. Are they likely to use it this year? Also i want to put more boxes up one for Robins. Where is the best place to put it and how many can I put in my garden without causing problems. My garden is quite small

  • Comment number 13.

    Hi team just seen a pic of ladybirds in the frost and my son (aged9) asked me is there a difference between male and female ladybirds so isaid ask Chris?

  • Comment number 14.

    I woke the other morning to find a flock of 25 Fieldfares in my tiny garden!!!! It was an amazing sight. They stayed in my garden going in a flock from one tree to another for over 4 hours! It made my day.

  • Comment number 15.

    Thank you for the answer for something I have been wondering about...........I have a family of hedgehogs in my garden and I wondered if they were hibernating in my garden. I'm worried about disturbing them as I tidy my garden. I have no idea where they might be, any idea?

  • Comment number 16.

    hi chris ,kate and martin glad you are back your programmes have given us soo much ,so that we have joined the rspb society, wildlife trust at low barns county durham,liveing at escomb bishop auckland as been the bestest ever you all ought to come and see what we have,7mins from our door 2 lakes with all the wildlife on it and around it, the river wear running alongside, my tony is makeing the garden a wildlife habitat, if you was to see the bird house you would laff its a dolls house on stilts just for birds, nest boxes and straw and shredded paper inside with constant food of all kinds available for them and plan to build a large shelter so they will have somewhere special to nest and for next years winter as well,we have sparrows, starlings, dunnocks,robins all of whom have names, bluetits and lancelot is the cheif with a huge stripe down his tummy and a wonderful crest on his head,blackbirds,lesser spotted and greater spotted woodpeckers, longtailed tits , coal tits, and even a sparrow hawk comes, 2 perigrin falcolns were overhead 3 days ago, and a mink was in the garden the birds did not like this at all but for us i was fascinated, and our dormice are back, who we feed with cheese, this is besides the swans that fly overhead and of course the geese, please come down this way we feel we live in a millionaires paradise, you would love it my friends and thankyou so much you are all wonderful people,,, regards always gracie and tony,, i wish you could read this out on your programme as to make others want to and appreciate wildlife xxxxx

  • Comment number 17.

    I just found a two-spot ladybird on my shower curtain! It flew in through the bathroom window earlier today. I stay in Angus, Scotland and thought it was still too early for ladybirds. What's on the menu at this time of year?

  • Comment number 18.

    I recently had a short break in the Lake district, Whilst walking around Grassmere and Rhydal I am sure that two Golden Eagles were soaring above me, I was led to believe that there was only one Male in this area.
    Has another one been introduced? or was I seeing things.

  • Comment number 19.

    Hi not been watching the programme for long and i am already hooked. I am quite worried about the local foxes. I live in central london and they have not hibernated and they have started mating. Well I think they are cause of all the noise they make. Also there is a young fox and if i take the dog out late at night it plays with my dog. Reg the dog chases the fox they run round in circles when Reg stops and sits down the fox sit down behind him the when reg has had a rest they start again. As Reg is now 14 he doesnt play for that long. The foxes have been playing with him for the last 3 years and the fox always wins. Is this normal behaviour and if we have a sudden cold snap will it effect the foxes

  • Comment number 20.

    We had two winter visitors to our fishery in St Austell last week.....a pair of bar-headed geese. They stayed for a week mixing we our resident canadian geese before sadly leaving us again two days ago.

  • Comment number 21.

    Love the content, love the ethos, the photography, the enthusiasm, the sheer hard work and dedication of people like Mr Buchanan ... and so on .. and a BIG thanks for the "watch" series as a whole. But ... please, please, please stop talking to us as if we were a CBeebies audience. Sometimes I just can't keep watching, I feel so patronised. Sorry for the note of dissent. More of Chris's detailed, scientific (yet clear), up to date comment and info, and less "fluff". Please treat us like adults! I promise to keep watching if you do!

  • Comment number 22.

    On Winter Watch, Chris suggested that the red kite might be looking for a young rabbit for prey. I thought Kite only ate carrion. Would they take live prey ?

  • Comment number 23.

    I am enjoying the show, but I'm getting homesick for Wales. The Red Kite is a fantastic bird to watch, and I'm fortunate enough to be able to do this in my garden, we get quite a few here as there is a breeding area at Fineshade woods near Corby which is just 8 miles away. They are now populating the area around Boughton House which is within walking distance for those that can.

  • Comment number 24.

    We have recently moved to West Wales and are loving the wildlife we are seeing on our smallholding. However last week our 2 ponds were bubbling with the frantic activity of frogs spawning - do you think this is rather early?

  • Comment number 25.

    We are living in Kent and have apair of Kesrels nesting in our Kestrel Box which is beside our house, we are now anticipating that they will produce young

  • Comment number 26.

    If you are interested in seeing Red Kites, and being able to see a lot of them, and much closer up, come to the Chiltern Hills. Mainly Stokenchuch and Lane End. There are so many of them that they are a almost a hazard in some areas, when the come in for food they can be in groups of anything from about 3, to around 30+ depending on the amount of food. They are a very common site in this area, so would be a good place to collect footage of them when theyre not in the distance. The kites are almost to the stage of being a neusence because they take small birds, like the ducklings off the pond, or any fledgeling thats not in the nest. We had an experience a few years ago where a kite even tried to take our pup.

  • Comment number 27.

    Welcome back Kate!!! We missed you. Great to have you back on the team. Brilliant show as always. I LOVED the final joke!! Roll on Springwatch.

  • Comment number 28.

    Find a blog post about 3000 roosting wagtails at Heathrow Airport. Copy and paste the link below on to your address bar;


  • Comment number 29.

    I do hope this means Kate is back. The mix between the three presenters is a good one. The last autumn show just didn't work for me. Great program a real taste of things to come.

  • Comment number 30.

    Last week (between 13th & 19th Feb), when the snow had almost gone we had a large flock of Redwings visiting our garden where they ate most of the berries on hollybush and pyracanthas. This happened last year also. Would like to know where they come from and where they will be going please?

  • Comment number 31.

    Thank you for a brilliant programme this evening. Informative, fun, well presented. The "watch" programmes are getting so much better!
    A question ... grey squirrels and what to do about them? You showed a vandalised nest box - in our garden we have a family of 4 squirrels who decimate most bird feeders - they destroy the plastic ones, swing on the "squirrel proof" ones so that the food spills out, and even work out how to take the bottom of the metal nut feeder. They shin up our new metal feeding station even when it's been greased. We end up buying stacks of food for squirrels. We even bought a catapult to frighten them off but we aren't skilled enough to hit them and it feels cruel anyway .. Do you have any suggestions?

  • Comment number 32.

    Hello All,
    Why are finches not obese?
    I've been watching Blue Tits, Great Tits and Coal Tits feeding on sunflower seeds. The always take one seed and fly to a nearby branch to peck it open and eat it. This takes about 30 secs per seed.
    The Green Finches and Gold Finches however just sit on the feeder contiuousy eating at the rate of about one seed every 5 secs. There doesn't seem a huge difference in their size and the tits have all that flying to do so why don't the finches get fat?

  • Comment number 33.

    on the subject of birdsong on winterwatch
    why is it that chickens, ducks and particulary swans don't sing? [mute swans obviously speak for themselves!]
    these are notably and coincidentably edible foul; does their tuneless honk, cluck or quack have anything to do with where the voice is coming from or the length of their necks ?

  • Comment number 34.

    I have noticed that above Dunchurch in Warwickshire, the amount of seagulls flying overhead which seem to go in the morning east to west and in the evening west to east. Where do they go at night to roost??
    Where do they nest - do they go to the coast to nest ??
    I have also noticed there is a bird that is slightly bigger than a jackdaw smaller than a crow - when it flies on its tail feathers there are white striped feathers and under its wings there are several white feathers What are they????
    Can any one comment back on this!!

    Love the programme.

  • Comment number 35.

    Yep, I am with Pickledavis on this one. Never heard of a Red Kite taking live prey as big as a rabbit. As I understood it, they don't have the strength to open a large cacass which is why we always cut open the rabbits we laid down for them. Carrion, small mammals and worms, but I suppose a very young rabbit might just make it onto the menu though carrion is more readily available and easier to catch

  • Comment number 36.

    I agree, I also hope this means Kate is back. Because she is knowledgable about wildlife, she engages in intelligent conversation with the boys. In contrast, Michaela asked dumb questions in Autumnwatch, setting the boys off into flirty mode, producing light entertainment, not the informative programme we expect.

  • Comment number 37.

    'Grey Squirrels shin up our new metal feeding station even when it's been greased....Do you have any suggestions?'

    Take a tip from the Electricity companies, how to stop people climbing pylons and posts (though they use a barbed wire barrier); put a 300 mm diameter disc round the post, just below the feeders. If there is a chance the squirrels could jump onto it, construct a 300 mm dia cone at this position. Climbing up the pole, they'll be stopped by the overhang, and if they try to jump they'll slide off!

  • Comment number 38.

    Really enjoyed last night's show. However I've just been woken by my resident Robin in the front garden, the time was 04.55. They seem to rise early in Cheshire much earlier than on the TV. Lovely song though, so no complaints.

  • Comment number 39.

    an excellent show last night, thank you, but I'm a bit worried about the origins of Kate Humble's fur lined hat in above photo and as seen yesterday and before. Sincerely hope it is made from fake fur. If real fur please look into its origins and be aware of the extremely cruel methods used in fur farming.

  • Comment number 40.

    Not enough Michaela.

  • Comment number 41.

    some years ago we put a bee box in a quiet part of the garden off the ground on a small ledge.six weeks ago we lifted the lid and on the sawdust on the left hand side a creature has gathered dry leaves in a mound on top.The hole for a bee to get into this box is very small and also the hole into sawdust compartment.We have taken pictures of all this and would like to know if it could be a doormouse ? the holes are so small for a creature to get into, but there are some droppings in the right hand side of the box also, please help!!

  • Comment number 42.

    Hi there, last week driving over the moors from harrogate to leeds i saw 2 red kites near harrogate and 1 over the outskirts off leeds,absolutly wonderful.

  • Comment number 43.

    Loved the programme as usual. Can't wait for Springwatch but can the programme be about the wildlife and not the Chris Packham show.

  • Comment number 44.

    I have blue tits,great tits, coal tits, longtailed tits, dunnock, robin, goldcrest, blackbird etc. visiting my garden and seed/nut/fat feeders BUT no chaffinches, greenfinches or house sparrows. Any ideas?

  • Comment number 45.

    In St Andrews on 11th February I saw a fully fledged ,though obviously very young pied wagtail . It was walking around on the pavement attracting attention from surprised passers by! Is this particularly early for this species to have bred ?

  • Comment number 46.

    This morning in Hertfordshire 23rd February I was looking out of my winow and I saw a red kite. it was circling round, high in the air but not too far away from the house. All of a sudden it started flying towards my house at a very fast speed, it flew off. What sort of things would the red kite be eating, and why in such an urban area?

  • Comment number 47.

    What are the pink feathered birds shown on the feeders in the program shown last night 22 /02/2012

  • Comment number 48.

    I have had three Black Bird chicks, feeding in my back yard for ten days. I live in an urban part of Newcastle upon Tyne, and the temperatures in recent weeks have been well below freezing. The three chicks are all Female, and I was wondering if this could have anything to do with the Birds starting so soon in the season.

  • Comment number 49.

    Winter Watch, Autumn Watch, Spring Watch. Come on guys and gals, can you stop this pretence and start calling it 'Bird Watch (with the occasional other animal)'.
    Watching these programmes now, one would be forgiven in thinking birds were the only wild life left in the UK these days. We have a wealth of mammals, reptiles,amphibian, fish, insects etc, etc. But this once well balanced and absorbing nature programme has become overwhelmingly dominated by birds. Great if you are an ornithologist, but for the rest of us it's now becoming a real turn off!!!

  • Comment number 50.

    Petrol heads! Noticing a strong smell of petrol in our garden today I found that our nearly full 5 litre plastic petrol can stored behind the shed was leaking badly (nearly empty). The reason, incredibly, was several holes gnawed into the corners by what can only be a squirrel, the teeth marks are identical to those found on our bird feeders.
    The petrol can has existed outside for a number of years unharmed so what could have triggered this behavior and has anybody else had a similar experience.

  • Comment number 51.

    Thirty odd years ago I relocated my office to the grounds of Sale Effluent Treatment Works and wondered why the works staff covered their wing mirrors with bags when parked.
    A few days later, I did not get out of my car as soon as I had parked. I soon found a Pied Wagtail attacking his reflection ion my wing mirror and getting so worked up that he was releiving himself on the wing of my car.
    Mystery solved and i joined the others in covering my mirrors.

  • Comment number 52.

    After watching the show the other night is there any products available at reasonable cost for listening to the birds at my feeders ???????

  • Comment number 53.

    We were at Alton Water the other day. There were several great crested grebes around - most a long way away. Then one surfaced nearer to us with a large fish - I really can't imagine how he/she swallowed it! - do fish-eating birds have exceptionally stretchy gullets?
    PS - how do we send photos to you?

  • Comment number 54.

    Has there been an world wide decline in Thrushes as I haven't seen any for years eating snails . There is an huge amount of Magpies in the area as these birds are know for eating other birds would they have any thing to do with there decline or the thrushes eating snails which have eaten slug pellets?

  • Comment number 55.

    Good show with lots of good news and features. Liked the bird box bit and have attached link to a more special box.
    If we can all do our bit for nature in whatever way possible then we will all benefit.

  • Comment number 56.

    Winterwatch was a joy, in keeping with its neighbouring cousins Springwatch and Autumnwatch, each show genuinely moving me in its exploration of the wonders offered by the British countryside. One point that always concerns me, though, is when sequences show birds being captured in order to be ringed (swallows on this occasion). I can't imagine this isn't a consideration for conservationists working in this area, but it seems very disruptive to birds to be taking them out of their environment (overnight on this occasion) to ring or attach trackers to them, and I have to wonder if the process doesn't inflict some disadvantage on the birds, especially when they are involved in gruelling, long-distance migrations. Maybe a future instalment could offer me and others some reassurance on this. And thanks as always for the superlative television!

  • Comment number 57.

    Today February 25th I was sitting in my kitchen reading a newspaper when I saw a grey squirrel come twice onto my front lawn to bury something in the grass. It was sunny and the temperature was about 11 degrees C. Is this normal squirrel behaviour at this time of year when the temperature is above normal?

  • Comment number 58.

    I now have a camera to a nestbox, with some fantastic pictures of a pair just courting.
    I would love to capture their progress especially when the eggs are laid and the chicks hatch.
    It would be great if the BBC could help as the footage is fantastic, it would be great to stream over the web.
    Owl_Watch_Wiltshire :-)

  • Comment number 59.

    Couldn't believe our ears on friday night...the unmistakeable sound of frogs busy in the pond! Checked next morning Saturday 25th February and there was a cricket ball sphere of frog spawn. This was doubled again on saturday night.
    We are in South Oxfordshire.

  • Comment number 60.

    Had a quick visit to Southstack on Anglesey yesterday, not expecting to see too much. There are 1000+ (could be 2000+) Guillemots plus Razorbills and Puffin. They must be at least a month early? Spectacular sight and sound.

  • Comment number 61.

    Brilliant idea to give us the WinterWatch programme - it just bridged the very long gap till SpringWatch. More please. As I write this I am listening to a BBC4 radio programme - the series The Living World. This particular episode with Amanda Krestovnikoff is about Winter Flies. I urge people to listen to this fascinating programme - Amanda is accompanied by Erica McAlister, the Collections Manager of Diptera (two-winged flies) at London's Natural History Museum. Wow - this lady knows her stuff and Wow is she passionate and informative about her subject - shes very warm and funny too - GET HER ON SPRINGWATCH QUICK - HER AND CHRIS PACKHAM WOULD MAKE VERY INTERESTING VIEWING - we would all be hooked on his favourite subject of bugs and insects !!

  • Comment number 62.

    Really enjoyed Winterwatch. Lovely to have the team together again. The presenters were less gushing than sometimes and the programme was packed with information. Nice to see the short eared owls - watched about 15 recently near Maidwell in Northamptonshire.

  • Comment number 63.

    On 2 occasions in the past week while cycling next to the Thames near Richmond on my commute home, I've seen bats feeding along a footpath, where special "bat friendly" lights have been installed (which were covered in a SpringWatch programme last year). I quite regularly see bats there in the summer, but February is earliest I've seen them appear. It's a delight to watch them - this evening I saw 3 bats fly along together ahead of me flitting from one pool of light to the next, obviously attracted by the insects that are drawn to the lights. I'm not sure what species they are, but they're relatively large bats.

  • Comment number 64.

    Waah! We don't have a TV, so we didn't know Winterwatch was on until just now. And now we're in Belgium for a week, we can't see it on iPlayer! The same happened at Christmas with the Special programme. Please, please, BBC, leave these wonderful programmes on iPlayer for much longer, so those of us who don't have a TV and have peripatetic working lives have a chance to see them. At least we've enjoyed seeing bramblings, siskins, crested tits and red squirrels here, but it would be nice to see Winterwatch as well when we get home...

  • Comment number 65.

    Today 04/03/2012 I had 6 Redpoll`s in the garden ,not sure which they are but they have been coming back to the feeders for about two weeks sharing the niger seed with the Goldfinch`s also the Green woodpecker has been feeding on the lawn Great day.

  • Comment number 66.

    This morning, whilst walking my dogs on farmland adjacent to home, I noted the following:- four Shellduck, a pair of Swans, two Tufted Duck, I disturbed at least 6 Skylarks as I walked through the wheat stubble, lots of Potchard, many Mallard and as many Meadow Pippets. These birds were on a local permanent pond which is encompassed by marsh land and agricultural fields. I feel confident that the pair of Swans will continue to nest here as will the Mallards. There are so many Pheasants that they are impossible to count.
    Seven years ago I took part in a survey on this particular pond and am glad to say that the statistics have hardly changed.
    In the garden we have a Fieldfare which has happily lived on fallen apples throughout the winter.
    Although the weather has taken a distinct turn for the colder I am happy to report that our bees are flying busily - good!!

  • Comment number 67.

    My friend has got two Black Caps in her Garden. Are these rare birds?

  • Comment number 68.

    Yesterday as I was checking the progress of my frog spawn I noticed a dead frog under the water. It was bloated and a pinky red colour pattern. Is this normal decay or had it got a disease that turned it this odd colour? The pond is quite clear and seems fine.

  • Comment number 69.

    While doing some searches after finding field vole runs under gorse bushes on Dartmoor, during work as a Wildlife Trust volunteer, I came across a photo on the internet of one eating gorse flowers in February (and one of a wood mouse doing the same). I have not found any other references to this behaviour.
    The searches also revealed that gorse has very high nutritional value in terms of nitrogen, phosphorus & calcium compared with moorland grasses.
    Bearing in mind the scarcity of ideal habitats for field voles & therefore for predators, such as Barn Owls, it would appear to be imperative that this is followed up with further photogarphic studies: firstly to confirm this is usual behaviour & secondly to discover if young shoots are eaten in Spring & Summer, since the nutrient value of these is known.
    Could this be one factor that might contrbute to stabilising populations, which tend to rise & fall every 5 or so years?
    Need your help to take this further, please. Chris Hughes: [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 70.

    Are bluebells especially early this year? Down here on the West Midlands/ South Staffordshire border daffodils are flowering but many are still in bud. On March 21st I saw a number of bluebells in flower in a wood.

  • Comment number 71.

    I think you'll find this very interesting...

    Nuthatches, as you know, nest mainly in holes in tree trunks in areas of woodland. I remember when I was growing up we had a brief sighting of them in my grandparents' garden, very exciting indeed! However, after hearing noises like a woodpecker would make whilst in my house, I noticed two nuthatches in my garden (que excitement again & a swift phonecall to my grandad!) and, to my astonishment, they are nesting in a hole - which Im sure is new?! - in the side of our house!! Ive double and triple checked that they are nuthatches & that my eyes aren't deceiving me, and that they are in fact flying in to this hole in our wall with sticks & other nesting materials! I will post a picture here soon, I dont want to disturb them too much - though they havent been bothered with either myself or my 5month old son & our host of pets so far!!

    Please comment on this post if you have heard of nuthatches nesting so close to human activity, as far as it goes for me, Im over the moon about it!

    I look forward to some comments!
    Jude & the nuthatches

  • Comment number 72.

    Can you help? I have a male blackbird that attacks my car windows and mirror and my house windows aswell. He goes to the toilet while attacking and makes a large mess on everything. He does not seem to fear human activity. Can you suggest a way to prevent this from happening?

  • Comment number 73.

    Brrr - reading this now reminds me of frosty nights

  • Comment number 74.

    @sandy Have you tried parking n a different place? Blackbirds are fearcely territorial and are unlikely to stray simply to do doo doos on your car. That said however if your car in some way brings out the messing reaction in blackbirds the is no guarantee that the neighbouring bird wont continue the decoration.

  • Comment number 75.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 76.

    My husband and I were recently staying on a campsite and saw a heron in the flood waters carrying a mole in it's beak. Was he mistaking it for a fish or do they eat small mammels if they can find them?

  • Comment number 77.

    I noticed a Grey heron sitting forlornly on a frozen loch. Is there anyway I could supply it with some sort of food until the loch thaws out?

  • Comment number 78.

    Re my previous comment. I actually went to a local shop and bought half a dozen tins of unflavoured sardines and chucked em on the ice.....hoping the heron would have a free feed...my missus thought I was bonkers.....hated to see the poor thing hungry....

  • Comment number 79.

    Hi, just to let everyone know that we live in Torwood, Stirlingshire, Scotland and have a new friendly visitor who has been coming mornings and tea-times,..... we have a beautiful Golden Pheasant eating all of our wild bird food. He is sharing his meals with our couple of spotted woodpeckers, squirrels, rabbits, foxes, roe deer, red kites, buzzards, cold tits, blue tits, long tail tits etc etc, but they are all extremely scared of our 2 evil robins.
    We would love to hear from anyone who has seen the Golden Pheasant as we beleive it is a very rare bird, it is like a bird of paradise

  • Comment number 80.

    I have seen in my garden in st helier, jersey - channel islands a blackcap feeding for the past month

  • Comment number 81.

    I have just watched the programme and was interested to see how aggressive the Robins really can be - however, in my garden this winter I have a 'wagtail' who is more aggressive and territorial than the robins shown on the programme. This little bird spends every day (from 10am to 4pm) patrolling the food supplies I put out for all the birds, today he has seen off another wagtail, several robins, male & female blackbirds, starlings and sparrows. He is totally unphased when my two dogs venture out into the garden, looking on them with total disdain! I am fairly new to the world of bird watching - although am lucky as living less than one mile from the Northumberland coast I do have a wide diversity of temporary and more permanent birdlife visiting my garden daily and I do try hard to cater to all their feeding needs. That said, non of the other birds get much of a look in with this wagtail patrolling the whole (albeit small) garden throughout the day! Perhaps someone could enlighten me whether this behaviour is normal or whether I have aquired a rather moody, tempermental albeit awful cute individual?

  • Comment number 82.

    Saturday 12 January 2013. Ferry Meadows Country Park Peterborough UK. Over the past two weeks the river had burst its banks and the flood meadows were about 2 feet under water. After the water receded, a spectacle. Eight herons standing in very shallow water in what is now the middle of a field looking for stranded waterlife. I have a photograph and have never seen this many herons in one place.

  • Comment number 83.

    We had our first ever visit from a blackcap last week on the bird feeder in our Brighton garden. Hoping he will return!

  • Comment number 84.

    usually thy like shell hazelnut

  • Comment number 85.

    as usual with modern technology you need 15 passwords, 6 usernames an numerous other identities that you've got no chance of remembering. why oh why, given that this is the bbc couldn't you make it easy. I tried to upload some photos this morning onto the winter watch site, gave up in the end. I won't bother in future unless things are simplified.

  • Comment number 86.

    Just a thought, Perhaps the rooks on top of the roost are warmer because of the heat rising from all the others below!

  • Comment number 87.


  • Comment number 88.

    I've photographed a snow bunting here in the Cotswolds in a previous cold winter. I've also seen 17 wrens flying in to a nestbox on my summerhouse to roost on a cold night 2 years ago when the temp dropped to -17c, & all survived.

  • Comment number 89.

    Please put my wife out of her misery and confirm that the owl hooting in the back ground when the 3 of you were outside was a tawny owl!

    Many thanks Scoff-the-grey

  • Comment number 90.

    Thanx Chris for the madnness reminders ! And good show by the way x

  • Comment number 91.

    The Squirrel picks the whole nuts because it also needs to wear its teeth down like all rodents.
    A meal and dentistry in one.

  • Comment number 92.

    we have grey squirrels visiting our garden in Doncaster - they raid the feeders hanging in our oak tree. they hide the nuts in our lawn and then our patterdale terrier finds them and eats them - it's hilarious to watch !!

  • Comment number 93.

    Rats will often take the foot of a sleeping bird. Being above other birds does eliminate the poo aspect it is true but the extra chill and movement from the wind cannot be more comfortable however it can safeguard their feet from predation. why would a rat pass a perfectly good foot to go to a higher bird? it's a bit like the two men running from a lion; they don't need to outrun the cat, only each other!
    as for the nuts, there are not many animals as well equipped to open them and the shell is protection from rot and fungi attack, natures own food packaging. Tuna lying in the wood for example does not last long out of it's tin!

  • Comment number 94.

    I live in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex & I have just seen a pure white squirrel in my garden. How rare is that ! I will try & get photos but they are usually too quick.

  • Comment number 95.

    Just seen a Hobby swoop down into my garden, scatter the birds away from my feeding station and then grab a blackbird on the wing!! Great to see but feel sorry for the poor blackbird! How often does a bird of prey like a Hobby need to feed?

  • Comment number 96.

    Hi, Have just seen a flock of Fieldfares in back garden tree, Have never seen before had to get book out to identify. Enniskean

  • Comment number 97.

    Just a few comments on the success I have with a Mr & Mrs. Blackcap in my back garden. Enjoying fat from the fat block and sunflower hearts from the feeder and ground feeding. Have heard they can fight with other birds, not here they haven't! Have photographs of them feeding with Blue Tits and Goldfinches with no agro!

  • Comment number 98.

    Hi I live near Downham Market, Norfolk and I Have a nest box near my roof and normally starlings nest there yearly, however tonight, in these sub-zero temperatures, I heard baby bird noises coming from the nest box. I have seen a couple of magpies flying around , could they have produced or is there another answer? Help please !!!!

  • Comment number 99.

    This afternoon I saw 6 blackbirds feeding on my garden table,there were 5 mails and one female.I think there could be trouble ahead.I also this morning saw what appeared to be a blackbird with a White thin collar on its neck.It was smaller than the other blackbirds.so was it just a youngster? Last year we had a male blackbird with a White feather on its head,could this bird be a relative?
    We live in North derbyshire.

  • Comment number 100.

    my comment not posted eh! what a surprise.


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