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Live Updates

By Ruth Levis & Oliver Doward

All times stated are UK

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Farewell Autumnwatchers

Soon we'll hear old winter's song

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Since you went away the days grow long

And soon I'll hear old winter's song

But I miss you most of all my darling

When autumn leaves start to fall

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See you all for #Winterwatch in January!

Winterwatch 2016

Stags in the snow
BBC

You won't have to wait long for the next 'Watch'. Winterwatch 2016 returns in January at the Mar Lodge Estate in the snowy Cairngorms, 170 miles due north of WWT Caerlaverock. 

The Cairngorms provide a unique alpine semi-tundra moorland habitat, home to many rare plants, birds and animals, including red deer, roe deer, mountain hare, pine marten, red squirrel, wild cat and otter, as well as the Cairngorm Reindeer, the only herd of reindeer in the British Isles.

The sun is setting on our time here at Caerlaverock

For 2015 anyway...

Watch: The agony and the ecstacy

Chris Packham has spent all week looking for a particular bird on site here. When he finally spotted him, he did this...

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Watch Chris take Martin Hughes-Games to see a sparrowhawk in the prime of its life...

Not everyone agrees with him though...

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View more on twitter

Hours drawing in

Last week, billions of us around the world observed the familiar ritual of winding our clocks back. Here's a map showing the countries that do and don't manipulate time for daylight savings.

Map of world showing Daylight Savings
BBC iWonder
Daylight Saving Time (DST) around the world

Most animals aren't affected by the arbitrary shifting of handles on a dial. Their natural timekeeping circadian rhythms leaves them free from our meddling.

But there seems to be some evidence that animals that interact with humans can sometimes find the change disruptive. Pets can be left very confused by the changes in their owners' schedules. Other animals feel the impact too - the swans here at Caerlaverock are known to get a bit irate about changes to their feed times.

Swans at feeding time
WWT
Hangry?

Watch: Stag Night Part 2

Martin Hughes-Games heads to a hillside hide on the island of Rùm for another all-night stakeout observing the nocturnal behaviour of the frisky stags.

The last part in our series exploring the lives of red deer on Rùm Island.

For all the bluster, it's the girls who are leading the boys around

Martin Hughes-GamesAutumnwatch presenter

Read more about the Rum rutters at BBC Earth. 

House guests

In the last few weeks you may have encountered some many-legged visitors inside your house. As the temperature has started dropping, your central heating is very much appreciated by these creatures.

There are over 650 species of spider in the UK and this time of year is ideal for spider watching from the comfort (or discomfort, if you're arachnophobic) of your own home.

Spider in home
BBC
Spider under the bed

Bird feeder experiment

bird feeder
BBC
Bird Feeder cam

This week, we've been running live cameras on a bird feeder to find out what the local birds most like to fill up on. 

First experiment

We put out an even percentage of sunflower seeds, oat grain and barley grain to appeal to the local farmland birds. We then sat back, eagerly anticipating yellowhammers, tree sparrows and various finches. 

Bird feeder
BBC
Clockwise from top: An even mix of sunflower seeds, oat grain and barley grain

We soon found, however, that greenfinches totally dominated the feeder table and gobbled down the sunflower seeds. They didn't touch the other two options.

So we changed it up a bit.

Second experiment

On the live cameras we'd been seeing lots of greenfinches, goldfinches, house sparrows and common garden species such as blue tits, great tits, coal tits and robins. So we decided to put more common garden bird food to the test. 

We served up sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts (which is what you get when you crack open a seed) and peanuts.

Bird feeder
BBC
Clockwise from top: sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts, peanuts

We found that greenfinches mainly stuck to eating sunflower seeds even though they were being offered the sunflower hearts which are easier to eat and digest. We think this could be because you don't find sunflower hearts in the wild so they probably weren't used to them.

Goldfinches, on the other hand, only ate sunflower hearts. This must be a learned behaviour. They know to go straight for the hearts to get the most energy efficient nutrition fix.

The results

So what did the birds like most overall? 

Sunflower seeds were the most popular with 43% being eaten. Then it was sunflower hearts at 38%, and peanuts at 19%.

Bird feeder results
BBC
An edible pie chart providing nutritional and mathermatical information

Monsters from another age

Triops have changed very little since the time of the dinosaurs and they're found in only two locations that we know of. One of these places if right here in Caerlaverock. These tiny crustaceans, often known as tadpole shrimps are thriving on this reserve.

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View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Watch: Dormice dorms?

Find out about the struggles dormice face as winter approaches...

Even Chris Packham admits this rodent is astonishingly cute

A winking dormouse

Remember remember the hedgehogs

Coming up: Autumnwatch 2015 final show

8-9pm

It's all gone far too quickly, in a few minutes it's the final Autumnwatch of 2015. Tonight we have an A-Z of creatures to make Noah weak at the knees...

Sparrowhawks, dormice, hedgehogs, starlings, tadpole shrimps (aka triops), Hebridean sheep, barnacle geese, roe deer, pintails, greenfinches, spiders, bats, swallows, redwings, jays, basking sharks, tags, swans, foxes, snipes and goosanders and badgers. Phew!

Bonfire
BBC
Remember, remember...the Autumnwatch bonfire outside the studio
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Geese lightning

'A hoot of Autumnwatch presenters'

Your choice of a collective noun for our presenters

Owls of delight: the Autumnwatch presenters
BBC
Owls of delight: the Autumnwatch presenters

For the last day and a half we've been running a vote to find out your favourite collective noun for our Autumnwatch presenters.

We narrowed your original suggestions down to a short-list of eight - cacophony, enthusiam, equinox, hoot, innuendo, merriment, mischief and ramble.

The poll closed at 7pm and the result is... A TIE!

You were unable to separate 'enthusiasm' and 'hoot' so we gave the casting vote to the studio audience here in Caerlaverock.

And the resounding winner is... HOOT

So there you have it, 'a hoot of Autumnwatch presenters'.

Here is a breakdown of the final results...

Hoot 19.7%

Enthusiasm 19.7%

Merriment 14.9%

Mischief 13.1%

Cacophony 10.7%

Innuendo 10.2%

Ramble 10.2%

Equinox 1.6%

Amazing Grace

We have a dog on Unsprung tonight, called Grace, who in 2012 collected the PDSA Dickin Medal on behalf of another dog Theo, who died of a seizure shortly after her handler was killed in Afghanistan.

The Dickin Medal is the highest award any animal can receive whilst serving in military conflict. It is recognised worldwide as the animals’ Victoria Cross.

The award acknowledges outstanding acts of bravery or devotion to duty displayed by animals serving with the Armed Forces or Civil Defence units in any theatre of war throughout the world.The Medal is a large, bronze medallion bearing the words 'For Gallantry' and 'We Also Serve', It has been awarded 65 times since 1943. Pigeons lead the way on 32, followed by 29 dogs, three horses and one cat.

Grace has recently retired from active service in Afghanistan last year and lives with owner Stuart Campbell, pictured below.

Read more about animals' contribution to the war effort over the decades.

Grace the Army sniffer dog wearing the Dickin Medal
PDSA
Grace the Army sniffer dog wearing the Dickin Medal
Grace with owner Stuart Campbell
BBC
Grace with owner Stuart Campbell

More about the PDSA Dickin Medal

Darren Rees' little auks and skua

Here's one he made earlier

The Autumnwatch Flickr group

There are almost 250,000 photographs on the Autumnwatch Flickr group, capturing the stunning beauty of the changing season. 

Autumn pic
Deirdre Eaglesham

We've featured a selection of these incredible images here on this page throughout the week. Thank you to everyone who's contributed to the visual feast!

Gorge your eyes on the Autumnwatch Flickr group here

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Live now: Unsprung!

7.30-8pm

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Unsprung guests
BBC
Chris Packham with today's guests artist Darren Rees and writer Simon Barnes

#WheresSwally

Off down under

There has been some confusion today about the whereabouts of Swally the Autumnwatch mascot who has been escorted south from Caerlaverock by members of the public over the past few days. Morning reports on twitter indicated that Swally was Mexico-bound but it now appears that our stuffed toy swallow is off to Australia on Tuesday...

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View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Dancing badgers

Reading kites

A study has revealed an unnaturally high number of red kites forage in Reading. At this time of year, up to 400 kites arrive every day.

But 25 years ago there were fewer than 100 kites in the whole country. David Lindo investigates the reasons for this increase  – and the implications for kites and other species.  

We're live on Blue Peter

Blue Peter
BBC
Blue Peter

Right now, Chris, Michaela and Martin are talking to Lindsay, Barney and Radsey on Blue Peter about all things autumnal.

Kids having a leaf fight
Matthew Doogue

There's lots to look out for outdoors and CBBC have come up with a seasonal quiz  – have you spotted these five key signs that autumn's here?

Bonfire night in Andover, Hampshire
RJB10
Bonfire night in Andover, Hampshire

And as today is bonfire night, don't forget to look after your pets as they can get stressed and anxious by the loud bangs and bright lights of fireworks. 

Find out what you can do to help keep your animals happy and relaxed this bonfire night. Read these top tips here.

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Watch: Are wind farms a threat to migrating birds?

Michaela Strachan explores the potential dangers wind farms can pose to migrating birds across the UK. In this clip, she talks to Dr Larry Griffin who is researching GPS data on UK bird transit into how and where to place new wind farms.

Quiet please!

Watch: Stag night

Martin Hughes-Games uses night vision techniques to explore what happens after dark during the stag rut

Our thermal cameras shine a light on rutting by night on the island of Rùm. 'Smooth' the stag is back in charge with a huge harem in tow but can he hang on to all his hinds for the whole night with nemesis 'Enemy 04' sniffing around?

Smooth the stag
BBC
Smooth operator

#MyPatch

Lizzie Guntrip

Lizzie Guntrip, writer at @WWTworldwide, was a guest on yesterday's Autumnwatch Extra. Here's her #MyPatch...

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A brief history of Caerlaverock

Caerlaverock
WWT

Right now, Brett is talking to Colin Campbell, one of the founders of the centre here at Caerlaverock.

In the 1950s, the numbers of wildfowl - in particular barnacle geese - were extremely low. In 1957, an area of 600 hectares of land in Caerlaverock was declared a National Nature Reserve. 

In 1970, The Wildfowl Trust opened a visitor centre at Eastpark Farm in Caerlaverock. In the 1980s the name changed to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT).

Since the reserve was established, the number of barnacle geese has risen dramatically from the 300 barnacle geese in the 1950s to over 40,000 today.

Find out more about WWT Caerlaverock.

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More detail on hen harrier disappearance

Hen harrier body
RSPB Scotland
Hen harrier body found in April 2015

Appeal after hen harrier shot in south-west Scotland

11 August 2015  

Rare male hen harrier 'missing' from Geltsdale reserve

2 June 2015  

Threatened birds of prey 'vanish'

24 September 2014  

Coming up live at 4pm

Today, Brett's anchoring the 4pm show. He's going to be chatting to Colin Campbell, one of the driving forces behind the foundation of the wildlife reserve here at Caerlaverock which opened its doors in 1971. 

Brett will also be catching up with #2minutebeachclean founder Martin Dorey to find out about the latest from this remarkable grassroots project.

We'll also be taking a look at the best of the action from the last four days - the videos, pics and moments that have won us all over.

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Jumpin' Jack Splash!

The leaping salmon of Shropshire

Get up close and personal with the flying fish of the autumnal salmon run over a weir in Shrewsbury...

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Who'd live in a hole like this?

It's over to you Brian

Today's wildlife tally

So far at Caerlaverock, 12,000 barnacle geese have been spotted including three leucistic (white) ones  – and one snow goose.

Whooper Pond
BBC

Whooper Pond

Whooper Swan 48Mute Swan 20Greater Scaup 1Mallard 90Tufted Duck 30Wigeon 30Gadwall 6Little Grebe 1 juvenile

Folly Pond
BBC

Folly PondGreen-winged Teal 1Teal 100Wigeon 200Mallard 20Shoveler 12Lapwing 40Black-tailed Godwit 20  

#MyPatch

Your wildlife photos and videos

Sophie's West Sussex patch...

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Donegal dolphin...

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A new Autumnwatch presenter?

On the live cameras right now, the Whooper Pond is getting busier. One goose clearly has designs on being a star of the screen...

Canada goose
BBC
Have you captured my best angle?