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Essex

Matt Baker and Shauna Lowry are near Colchester on the Essex coast. Matt ventures to Mersea Island to meet an oyster fisherman, and Shauna Lowry goes to the River Colne.

Matt Baker and Shauna Lowry are near Colchester on the Essex coast.

Matt ventures to Mersea Island to meet Richard Haward, a seventh-generation oyster fisherman. They head out to sea, where Matt learns about the decline of the native oyster and finds out how the local fishermen are joining forces with the Wildlife Trust to help save them. He also learns that native oysters are not just a key indicator of habitat quality, but that the habitat they help create is as valuable as coral reef.

Shauna Lowry returns to the River Colne, where five years ago Countryfile saw the start of a big project to return water voles to the wild. She sees for herself the success of the project and the vigilance needed to keep predatory mink at bay. Shauna also meets Stig - the first dog in the world specially trained to help sniff out water voles. And then there is Lola, the puppy learning the ropes from Stig.

It is also getting busy down on Adam's farm as he welcomes the latest arrival - a full-grown Berkshire pig.

While dogs might well be loving companions to millions of people across UK, Tom Heap finds out the devastating impact on livestock they can have when they get loose on a farm.

And actor Nina Wadia talks about her favourite bit of the countryside.

1 hour

Last on

Mon 7 Mar 2016 01:05

Mersea Island oysters

Mersea Island oysters

Matt Baker visits Mersea Island in Essex, famous for its thriving oyster industry. The salt water creeks have been filled with them since Roman times but with a huge decline of the native oyster since the turn of the last century, the locals are now working to bring back this beloved native. The oystermen of Mersea are part of a project to discover why the native oyster is in trouble. Matt meets Richard Haward, a 7th generation oysterman, who talks him through the cultivation process and the health of the industry at the moment. Plus, of course, there’s a chance for Matt to sample some of local fare.

Find out more about the resurgence in the popularity of oysters

Water voles

Water voles

The water vole has seen an enormous decline across Britain since the non-native mink started to encroach on their habitats. Shauna Lowry meets Darren from the Essex Wildlife Trust who - six years ago - was involved in a project to release 600 water voles along the banks of the River Warden. Countryfile has returned to see how the project has fared and discovers that today the local community plays a major role in keeping an eye on the local population. Shauna takes to the water with river warden and canoeist Steve Waters to check for tracks on the special mink rafts that have been set up along the river. She then meets local angler Jim Beard to find out more about the health of the river – and see if he can catch a fish!

Find out more about Essex Wildlife Trust’s Water for Wildlife project

Lambs, piglets and puppies

Lambs, piglets and puppies

With spring just around the corner Adam Henson is preparing for the months ahead. It’s all go in the lambing sheds with new arrivals being born daily. Adam’s shepherding skills come into play when a ewe with a strong mothering instinct tries to abduct another ewes lambs. Then there’s just time to round up the piglets before Adam takes a trip to vets with one of his housedogs. Boo the Hungarian wire-haired vizsla appears to be pregnant – and Adam is hoping a scan will reveal that a litter of puppies is on the way.

Find out more about lambing

Nina Wadia: My Countryside

Nina Wadia: My Countryside

Actress Nina Wadia takes a road trip to her favourite part of the Scottish Highlands. Her journey starts on the road through Glencoe where mountains Buachaille Etive Mor and the Three Sisters loom on either side - like sleeping dinosaurs. Nina takes a break and stops for lunch at Loch Leven enjoying the locally caught seafood – and the beautiful view - before putting on a helmet and scaling one of the UK’s most impressive waterfalls. Grey Mare’s Tail in Kinlochleven is where Scotland’s first Via Ferrata or iron road has been built on the rock face, but will Nina manage to scale it?

Find out more about Glencoe

Ecology dogs

Ecology dogs

The Essex Wildlife Trust has drafted in a rather unusual river warden in the form of Stig the ecology dog. Stig, an English springer spaniel, is the world’s first sniffer dog trained to track water voles. He works with the trust on the River Colne. Shauna meets his owner Ali Charnick to find out how it all began and how she trained him to stand still when he gets close to evidence of a vole. Stig has the ability to cover large areas quickly without disturbing other wildlife and can venture into areas that humans can’t! He is due to retire later this year, but waiting in the wings is 6 month old puppy Lola who is just beginning her training.

Find out more about Stig

Oyster ecology

Oyster ecology

Matt heads out on the water to meet Sarah Allison, a PHD student who is working directly with the oystermen to discover more about the habitat of these native oysters. By mapping the areas of the seabed and looking at the role the oyster plays within the ecosystem, Sarah can begin to piece together where these habitats are thriving. Then Sarah and Matt join oysterman Richard to dredge for shellfish. They discuss the haul including the size, age and abundance of the Rock oyster – which was only introduced to the UK in the 20th century - compared with the native oyster.

Dog attacks

Dog attacks

Dogs are loving companions to millions of people across UK but, as Tom Heap finds out, when their natural instincts kick in, the impact on livestock can be devastating. It’s estimated that every year thousands of farm animals are killed or injured by pet dogs. It’s a particular problem at this time of year when pregnant ewes and newborn lambs are in the fields. Tom discovers the devastating impact that an attack on livestock can have – not just for the farmer and farm animals, but also for dog owners who can be prosecuted and may have to have their pets put down. Tom also meets Terena Plowright, a shepherdess and dog trainer who has set up Sheepwatch UK to help reduce the number of attacks. She wants farmers to report all cases of dogs worrying sheep so that they can build up a picture of the true scale of the problem.

Find out more about Sheepwatch UK or report an incident

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Matt Baker
Presenter Shauna Lowry
Presenter Tom Heap
Presenter Adam Henson
Participant Nina Wadia
Executive Producer William Lyons
Series Producer Joanna Brame

Broadcasts

  • Sun 28 Feb 2016 19:00
  • Sun 6 Mar 2016 08:45
  • Mon 7 Mar 2016 01:05