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  1. That's all, folks!

    That's it for this Springwatch and what a series it's been!

    It's our final 3 weeks at Sherborne we've had jumping mandarin ducklings, drama with our little owls and who could forget the tree slugs? It's safe to say that we're all part of the tree slug appreciation society...

    It's been amazing to experience a full year here at Sherborne Park Estate in Gloucestershire and follow the animals through the seasons. Our series editor Rose Edwards reflects on this Springwatch and a year at Sherborne in our Farewell Sherborne blog.

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    Video caption: Springwatch 2018 - The very best bits!

    Join us again for Autumnwatch, when we'll be in a brand new one-off location...

    View more on twitter
  2. Following Freya

    Back in 2016, we asked you name a very special chick indeed. Freya, as voted by you, a female golden eagle we first saw at just five days old and was later tagged and we've been tracking her since.

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    Video caption: Dutifully fed by her mother, Freya soon outgrew this nest
    View more on twitter

    Twelve months ago we shared data on the areas she'd visited and as you can see, her range is confined to west Scotland not far from where she hatched in the Cairngorms.

    Later though, she started to move around and our expert David Anderson (Forestry Commission Conservation Officer) confirmed that she's now covered a huge area of Scotland - perhaps as much as 20% of Scotland's land area, more than 15,000 sq kms.

    Why is she moving over such a large area? At two years old, she's now looking for her territory and may well fight another female she encounters before she settles down.

    A blog from 2016 provides insight into how we filmed her.

  3. Land of the spiders

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    We all know the wonderful webs that the garden orb spiders create to catch their prey, but for some British spiders, silk has another role to play.

    Flower crab spiders move from petal to petal through the flower canopy on slender threads which act as their lifeline. They find a resting place and lurk, camouflaged in yellow or white, as they wait for their unsuspecting prey which may be a hoverfly,a butterfly or a bee.

    Down on the ground the wolf spider outruns her prey. Her finest silk is used to provide a soft padding for her cluster of eggs. She excretes a drop of liquid onto the silken sheet she spins, then injects her eggs into it. Using her spinnerets she produces a tougher silk to encase the egg capsule and then covers the whole parcel with a waterproof silk wrapping. She carries this ball of eggs with her until the spiderlings hatch and scramble onto her back.

    View more on flickr

    But the strangest use of spider silk is not even on land.The water spider is also known as the diving bell spider because she weaves a web between the leaves of underwater plants. When the web is complete, she swims to the surface and traps air in the fine hairs on her abdomen. She takes the air below to fill her web, creating a diving bell in which she can feed safely.

  4. Long eared owl and goshawk nests

    A round up!

    Long eared owls

    Our long eared owls have done very well! They tend to branch very young, at around 23 to 24 days, so these guys will be moving off from the nest very soon. They will start to fly at around 30 to 40 days and will be fully independent at around 60 days, and we wish them the best of luck!

    A long eared owl adult sits on a nest with two young chicks. This picture was taken 16 days ago.
    Image caption: Our long-eared owl, taken 16 days ago, on it's nest with two young chicks.
    Two long eared owl chicks sit on a nest. They are more developed than in the image from 16 days ago. This picture was taken yesterday.
    Image caption: Our two long-eared owl chicks in the nest yesterday.

    Goshawks

    Our goshawk chick is feeding by itself now and is having fewer visits from its parents for shorter periods of time. It is also looking much older now and its plumage is beginning to change.

    They can tear up food from 4 weeks, so we think this chick is about 5 or 6 weeks old. They start to leave the nest around this time, so it won’t be too long before this chick starts to venture off the nest. It will start hunting for itself at around 7 weeks and will be independent at around 10 weeks old.

    Two young, fluffy goshawk chicks sitting in a nest.
    Image caption: Our fluffy goshawk chicks sitting in their nest when we first started filming them.
    An older goshawk nest sits alone in its nest. It is fairly well developed with colouration coming through in its feathers.
    Image caption: Our remaining goshawk chick has grown a lot since we first encountered it!
  5. Saving the dormouse

    A sleeping dormouse
    Image caption: A dormouse sleeping in a bed of leaves

    Yesterday, we heard about the decline in British mammals with the daunting statistic that 1 in 5 of our mammals faces extinction. One of these mammals is the hazel dormouse. The numbers of individuals has fallen by nearly 40% since the year 2000 due largely to habitat fragmentation and changes in agriculture and weather. Dormice have been around for nearly 40 million years, but they now face extinction in the UK.

    The People’s Trust for Endangered Species and the Mammal Society are working to turn this around. By reintroducing the rodents back into their native ranges, they hope to increase numbers over the next few years. The success of the reintroductions is carefully monitored. At five sites dormice have successfully spread throughout the woodland where they were released. At seven sites they’ve done even better, not only dispersing throughout the wood but starting to venture into the wider countryside!

    Dormouse being checked by vet
    Image caption: Staff at Paignton Zoo perform health checks on a dormouse
  6. How you can get involved!

    There are two big events that you can help with next week...

    Our insects are in focus directly and indirectly next week...

    Insect Week Arrives

    National Insect Week 2018 is from 18th to 24th June, when there will be exciting events all over the country to celebrate 'the little things that run the world'. Every two years, the Royal Entomological Society (RES) organises the week, supported by a large number of organisations with interests in the science, natural history and conservation of insects.

    This year the week will be launched at the Royal Horticultural Society’s RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey and there are events all over the UK to attend.

    There are lots of events that you can get involved with. To find out more, go to the National Insect Week.

    What's more, the BTO have been working with schools across the country in a ground-breaking project named, 'Whats Under Your Feet?'. It's a citizen science project which invites school children to analyse soil invertebrates in their school playing fields and report back on what they've found. By working with schools in this way, the BTO have access to a huge amount of land - and a huge amount of helpers!

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    Video caption: Can you identify these flying insects?

    Get involved with Swift Week

    Insect-eaters are also the focus of Swift Awareness Week by the RSPB between June 16-23. The RSPB would like as many people as possible to take part in a swift survey to find where the birds are breeding . The birds have declined by 51% in their breeding numbers in the UK between 1995 and 2015 and they are now an amber-listed species. They are losing their nest sites in older buildings and may be affected by the fall in the numbers of insects. To take part all you have to do is to count swifts at their nesting sites.

    Find out more about how to get involved on the RSPB website.

  7. Fabulous flyers

    Everything you need to know about how to help our struggling swifts

    Juvenile swift
    Image caption: Juvenile swift

    Swift Awareness Week: 16 - 23 June 2018

    • Swifts are in decline, big time. Between 1995 and 2015 swifts declined by 51% across the UK
    • A combination of habitat loss and a lack of food means their numbers are diminishing. When migrant swifts return from Africa they look for nesting spots under eaves and in gaps in rooves but as we seal our properties to make them weatherproof their reliance on specially built boxes is on the increase. Furthermore, their reliance on invertebrates for food leaves them high and dry. A study from Germany in October 2017 stated the total flying insect biomass in protected areas had declined by more than 75% in over 27 years. With such a massive decline, it's clear that swifts are suffering as a result.
    • RSPB’s Swift Survey - The survey gathers data on swift nesting sites and locations where swifts are seen flying (and screaming) at roof level, and the results are already proving very useful. Planners and consultant ecologists have used it to add swift boxes to new developments where needed.
    • Action for Swifts - An incredible resource where you can find everything from tips, swift box instructions, events and talks near you and more...
    • Kendrew Colhoun, senior conservation scientist at the RSPB NI, explains whats involved in keeping track of swifts
    • Find out more about swifts and how you can help on our blog.
    Children holding swift boxes
    Image caption: These children painted swift boxes for a new housing estate, in the colours of the flags of the countries that the swifts migrated over.

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    Video caption: Chris Packham is on a mission to find out exactly how fast swifts fly...
  8. Plastics - a global problem

    Plastic is a serious issue for our wildlife, particularly in the ocean. With an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastics entering our ocean each year, this is proving fatal for our marine life.

    One lady who has been so enraged by the plastic pollution and its effect on wildlife is Katrina Slack, and she has taken it upon herself to make a statement.

    All of Katrinas art work is made out of plastic waste and rubbish that has been collected on beaches and roadsides. Her artwork holds an incredible message because all of the animals that she makes and models from plastic - and they are all animals that are directly affected by it.

    To see more of Katrinas fabulous work click here.

    Plastic pollution remains a global problem, but there are things we can do the help. The ocean connects us all so whatever measures we do here in the UK to slow the plastic tide will help our oceans and wildlife globally.

    For more information of how you can get involved in projects in your area click here.

    A seal with rope mark around its neck
    Image caption: A very distressing image of a seal with rope mark around its neck.
    Basking shark with cord around its snout
    Image caption: A beautiful basking shark with cord around its snout.
    Whale made out of plastic
    Image caption: A stunning art piece of a whale made out of plastic.
    Puffin sculpture made out of rubbish
    Image caption: A puffin sculpture made from rubbish found on the beach.
  9. Get involved in ocean conservation!

    The plastic problem may seem too vast to solve but everyone can help! Making small changes and getting involved in beach cleans and litter picks makes huge a difference to the environment.

    The Marine Conservation Society works to ensure the health of our oceans and arrange frequent beach cleans and challenges.

    Find out how you can get involved on the Marine Conservation Society website.

    View more on flickr
  10. The wild Scottish Coast

    Take a look into this harsh and beautiful habitat...

    Luke Saddler's images of the wildlife of the Scottish coast capture the beauty of this place and the animals that inhabit it.

    This coastline is home to animals big and small, from seals to whale sharks. Luke films them in their natural habitat and the results are incredible...

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    Video caption: Luke Saddler's images of Scotland's coastal wildlife
  11. A wonderful watchful round-up for this years Springwatch series

    Sunset
    Image caption: Another Springwatch passes as the sun sets over the Sherborne park estate

    Mandarin duck

    We were following a very broody female mandarin duck as she sat on a massive clutch of 14 eggs! Amazingly all 14 eggs hatched out into beautiful little mandarin ducklings. This family of 15 weren't in their tree nest long and soon after all 14 ducklings followed their mum and took the gargantuan leap (...or fall) out of their arboreal home! All made it out safe and unscathed, so we really wish them well!

    Mandarin family fledge
    Image caption: Mandarin duck mother leaves her nest with baby on board!

    Whitethroats

    We had a nest of 5 whitethroat chicks that panic fledged at 5-6 days old. Soon after they fledged we witnessed a weasel in the empty nest. We can't say for sure whether this weasel predated all of these chicks, but the chances are very high, considering their young age.

    Yellowhammer

    Nest 1: The first yellowhammer nest we followed had 3 chicks in which were being looked after by both parents. These chicks were predated by a weasel, the same individual that headed for our whitethroat nest. We know this from the distinct tick it had on the back of it's neck.

    Nest 2: The second yellowhammer nest we followed had just 2 chicks in which were only being provisioned by the mother. These chicks decided to up-sticks and leave their nest at 10-12 days old.

    Yellowhammer feed
    Image caption: Female yellowhammer seeing to her young

    Willow warbler

    This nest was bursting with life, literally! There were 7 chicks in the nest that were teasing us by fledging and 'de-fledging' (a common term we use here at Springwatch!). These chicks all fledged successfully at 10-12 days old.

    Wren

    Another very full nest we followed was our wren nest that had 7 chicks in. All 7 chicks fledged successfully at 14-15 days old!

    Wren chicks looking out from their nest
    Image caption: Six little wren chicks poking out of their nest

    Treecreeper

    This very inconspicuous nest was hidden behind a large piece of loose bark and we regularly saw both the male and female treecreeper parents provision the nest. We never knew exactly how many chicks were in this nest, but we do know that there was at least one chick, as it was predated by a hungry great-spotted woodpecker.

    Treecreeper cam
    Image caption: The elusive treecreeper nest, hidden away behind the bark of this tree

    Marsh tits

    There were 6 extremely well developed chicks in this nest that was nestled away in a tiny tree hollow. Eventually all 6 chicks fledged successfully at 19-20 days old!

    Goldcrest

    There were 8 chicks just bursting out of this very well made nest that sat between the branches of a conifer tree. We learn't that after very close inspection (male goldcrests have an orangey crest that flares up), both male and female goldcrest parents were provisioning their 8 hungry chicks. We are happy to say that after several days of semi-fledging, all 8 chicks fledged successfully!

    Goldcrest nest
    Image caption: The orange flare of the male adult goldcrest and his 8 chicks

    Blue tit

    This was our largest clutch of chicks of the series; this nest housed 11 very well developed blue tit chicks! Although there was a very nosey great spotted woodpecker hanging around the nest box, amazingly all 11 chicks managed to fledge successfully over 2 days!

    Chaffinch

    When we found this nest there were 5 very small chicks, but a few days ago we noticed that only 4 chicks were coming up to feed. We soon found out that one of the chicks had died inside the nest after the single female parent pulled her dead chick from the nest. Today we were startled by a stoat predating the nest which took all the 4 remaining chicks in just 4 minutes!

    Stoat predates chaffinch chicks
    Image caption: The stoat that predated the chaffinch nest

    Reed buntings

    This nest was of precarious structure, as it was constructed amongst the fast-growing vegetation and so the nest soon began to fall apart. There were 4 chicks in this nest being fed by both the male and female adults. As the chicks got bigger, they started to fall out of the nest, but were still being fed by the parents. As of today 14th June the nest remains empty, so all 4 chicks prematurely fledged at 10-11 days, but they are still old enough to survive out of the nest.

    Reed bunting nest
    Image caption: The female reed bunting with two of her four chicks

    Robin

    This nest has 5 young chicks in that are a week old today (14th June). They are being provisioned by both parents and will be ready to fledge at 13-16 days old. We wish them all the best!

    Robin nest
    Image caption: Parent robins attending to their five chicks

    Blackcap

    Four 5 day old chicks remain in this little nest. They are being provisioned regularly by both parents. They will be ready to fledge at 14-16 days old!

    Blackcap nest
    Image caption: The male blackcap attending to his four chicks

    Great tit

    There were 5 chicks in this lovely nest, one of which looked a lot more underdeveloped than its other 4 siblings. We monitored this nest very closely to see whether the runtier chick (we later called 'Plucky'), was getting enough food. As we monitored this nest we saw that Plucky was being fed many meals and today they left the nest! This morning the 4 more developed chicks fledged the nest leaving runty alone inside the nest. Several hours after the first chicks left, a very inquisitive and rather hungry looking jay appeared at the nest, leaving runty to move to the back of the nest to avoid being predated. Soon after the jay left the nest, Plucky went for it and moved out of it's nest and into the woodland surroundings- we are hoping Plucky is doing well!

    Great tit nest
    Image caption: 'Plucky' just before this little great tit fledged!

    Little owls and blackbirds

    The little owl family of 5 we've been watching have certainly kept us glued to our seats over the past few weeks. The drama that has unfolded between the little owls and both blackbird nests has been relentless. We started with the first nest of 4 blackbird chicks that were located very close to the little owl nest. As time progressed the chicks began to leave their nest and explore the same barn space as where the little owl family resided. Whilst we were aware that the blackbird and little families did not get on, we were shocked when we saw the mother owl predate one of the fledglings. We watched on and at the end we were left with two chicks predated and two chicks that successfully fledged.

    Blackbird nest
    Image caption: The second blackbird nest and four young

    The second blackbird nest we monitored was located in a different barn to the previous blackbird nest we had been watching. It also had 4 chicks that were relatively young and were being looked after by the two parents. To our complete surprise we saw the little owls strike again, taking in total 3 chicks back to their nest of 3 hungry little owl chicks. One chick remains that is being regularly fed in the barn. It's been a whirlwind 3 weeks following these 3 nests. Whilst it was sometimes difficult watching these small chicks being taken, we must remember that little owls are in decline in the UK, so if any of these three little owls fledge successfully it'll be a positive for the population of this species.

    Little owl nest
    Image caption: The three little owl siblings

    Lesser horseshoe bats

    For many of us here at Springwatch, this was an especially exciting camera- mostly because, well it's very rare to see inside a bat roost! The roost we were monitoring was a maternity roost of over 300 individuals which comprises mostly pregnant females! Sadly we didn't get to see any bats giving birth to their young, but we were very lucky to get a sneaky 3 week glimpse into their daily lives..and not just by night!

    Bat camera
    Image caption: Three lesser horseshoe bats roosting

    Brook camera

    This camera rig has certainly not disappointed us over the last few weeks, we've seen a whole host of wildlife including: otters, bats, deer, heron, egret and not forgetting masses of mayfly and midges!

    Brook camera
    Image caption: A picturesque view from our brook camera

    Badger cameras

    Well we've been utterly spoilt with a mass of badger action on our badger cameras. At most we've seen 5 individuals together; playing, scent marking, scratching (lots!) and excavating their sett. We were following several collared badgers earlier on in the year and last year too. This spring we got to see one of the collared badgers we named Mark Almond- alive and certainly looking very healthy. For an added bonus we've also been delighted to see many roe and muntjac deer on these live cameras too!

    Badger cam
    Image caption: A wondering badger passes through our camera

    A final sign off

    What a wonderful Springwatch it's been from all of us monitoring these live cameras for 24 hours a day and for many of you too, watching these cameras on the Red Button from the comfort of your home! It's been non-stop, dramatic, emotional, enthralling and an utter privilege to get a sneak peak into the lives of some of our beautiful wildlife!

    Little owl
    Image caption: Female mother little owl
  12. Join us for the Springwatch 2018 finale!

    We're live now on BBC Two!

    Join us for a bumper final show of Springwatch 2018!

    We've got lots to bring you from Sherborne and beyond tonight, so grab a cuppa and tune in to our final hurrah!

    Blue tit chicks
    Image caption: We're live!
  13. Download the Mammal Mapper App

    Little is still known of the distribution and population trends of most mammals.

    What is known, is that our mammals are in a lot of trouble. One in five British mammals are at risk of extinctionas noted in a study by the Mammal Society and Natural England in a recent study.

    This free app invites you to help - you can map wildlife as and when you see it when out on foot or bike. We know more about where wildlife is, than where it isn't. And the gaps are just as important when it comes to monitoring the state of our British mammals.

    Download it here, free thanks to the Mammal Society.

  14. We're live!

    Brett Westwood and Story Developer Lead, Lily Moffatt, are joined by our series producer, Chris Howard, for an exclusive red button round up, which is also streaming on Camera 1 above and as a Facebook Live. Tune in to hear the latest from the live cameras and some stories from behind the scenes.

    View more on facebook
  15. Final hurrah!

    It's our last live commentary slot of the series...

    Our final live commentary of the series is at 4.20pm!

    Brett Westwood will be joined by Chris Howard, Springwatch's series producer, followed by story developer Lily!

    Both with be talking through the highlights of this year's Springwatch, as well as taking a last look at our wildlife cams.

    Tweet us your questions using #Springwatch or post them on Facebook, where we'll be going live!

    View more on twitter
  16. Jay visits the great tit nest

    Plucky comes face to face with danger...

    After the rest of the great tit chicks fledged early this morning, our runt (named Plucky) sat and waited alone in the great tit tree nest.

    Two hours after the mass fledge, Pluckey decided the time was right to come out of the nest and prepare to leave the tree - however, he attracted the attention of a jay...

    The jay tried every which way to get Plucky, but by luck he managed scuttle away... Watch what happened below!

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    Video caption: After all but one great tit fledged, a jay finds the nest...
  17. Chaffinch nest gone

    Dramatic events from this morning...

    Here's the moment a stoat found the chaffinch nest this morning, taking all four of the chicks inside.

    Once the stoat found the nest, it made quick work of taking all four chicks - clearing the nest within 4 minutes!

    With our final great tit chick (Plucky, now Lucky!) narrowly escaping a jay this morning it's been a dramatic beginning to our final day here at Sherborne.

    Video content

    Video caption: A stoat has found the chaffinch nest and taken all four chicks
  18. LIVE! Wild Academy continues online with Maddie

    Our resident wildlife expert Brett Westwood is joining Maddie on the Red Button and online now to answer the wildlife questions we didn't get to!

    Send your's in, we'll try and get through as many as we can and also provide a more depth look at the nests on our final day at Springwatch.

    Maddie Moate
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