Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
Putchers on the Severn
Ellie Harrison is at the end of the river Severn where putch fishing was a livelihood and a lifestyle for centuries. Ellie meets Christabelle Tymko from Oldbury-on-Severn who remembers well the days of putching, a traditional way of salmon fishing that used a series of traps made from willow. Her family hold a very special Certificate of Privilege to fish on the Severn and Christabelle started putching with her father from a young age. She shares with Ellie her fond memories, the log books and all the intricacies of an ancient tradition that has died out on these shores.
The private life of the kingfisher
In the heart of Hampshire’s rare chalk streams, Matt Baker meets Liz Bayliss, daughter of famed wildlife film-makers Ron and Rosemary Eastman. The Eastmans made the first-ever wildlife film to be shown in colour on the BBC – The Private Life of the Kingfisher. By popular demand it was shown eight times and it still looks good today. Liz shows Matt her parents' secret film techniques. Later he joins forces with John Slader of the Salmon & Trout Association to discover how improved management is giving a new lease of life to our precious chalk streams.
In the North Western tip of Derbyshire, Anita Rani discovers a rather exotic inhabitant at a seemingly ordinary animal sanctuary. Conservationist Carol Heap and husband Roger are the first people in the UK to have successfully bred the giant otter as part of a global captive breeding programme due to hunting and loss of habitat in the species’ native South America. Anita discovers the unique and playful nature of these endangered creatures as she helps to prepare Panambi, Manoki and cub Meamu a new sand enclosure before feeding them a fishy dinner.
As dusk falls a spectacle begins as the curlews fly back for their evening feed at Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s Coombe Hill Nature Reserve, but this may well end soon. Ellie joins bird-watcher and wetland conservationist Mike Smart and nature reserve manager Del Jones to find out more about the plight of the curlews. They are an endangered species and this spring the RSPB put them on their “red” list as their breeding population has dropped dramatically. But at the nature reserve, a rich wetland fed by the Severn waters, they are doing all they can to help this wading bird.
During the warm summer evenings there's nothing quite like a relaxing punt along the river Cam, however Naomi Wilkinson isn’t punting for pleasure, she’s on a bat safari. Naomi joins The Wildlife Trust’s very own batman, Iain Webb to discover why this stretch of the river has become the perfect hunting ground for these elusive creatures and as night falls they position themselves to witness the feeding frenzy armed with just a bat detector and a trusty flash light.
Of all the tales of the riverbank the cliffs that tower over the Severn hold the oldest of them all. Ellie gets down and dusty with palaeontologist Dean Lomax to explore the millions of years of history hidden at Hock Cliff, South Gloucestershire, one of the country’s most fruitful fossil spots. They comb the rocks and find relics of creatures from the Jurassic and Triassic periods, this is 100,000 and 200,000 million years old! Dean explains Ellie why the banks of the River Severn are incredibly rich in fossils and shares his top tips on fossil hunting.
It’s harvest time on the River Waveny in Suffolk. This stretch of picturesque river has banks full of bulrushes and has remained untouched for the past fifty years … until now. With the health of the river improving the local crop can finally be harvested. John Craven joins Anna Toulson, from Waveny Rush, to find out how they’re reaping the rewards of this once impassable stretch of water. John gets stuck in and helps Anna cut bulrushes by hand. He then meets up with experienced weaver Millie Baxter back at the workshop, where she teaches John the ancient craft of turning the rushes into beautiful baskets and rugs.
Ellie witnesses the ancient spring sight of ‘Elvermen’ hunched along the banks of the River Severn in order to net one of the oldest creatures on earth – elvers. Although she’s lived in Gloucestershire her whole life, Ellie has never witnessed the spectacle. It only takes place when conditions are perfect – under a cloak of darkness when spring tides are at their highest. Whilst there Ellie finds out how elvermen, the fisheries and eel conservation groups are all working together to keep the tradition of elvering, and this critically endangered species, alive.
Down on the River Wye Anita is helping Jim Jones of the Surrey Wildlife Trust look for a very special creature, the humble harvest mouse. Jim and his team of volunteers are looking at the genetic similarities between different populations. This work is vital if they are to show how effective the county’s wildlife corridors are. But the weather is against them and it seems they might be out of luck.
On 27th May couple Kathryn Skipp and Tim Jeffree and their dog Daisy will embark upon the ultimate river challenge. They will paddle 100 miles down the river Wye over the course of five days in a canoe they built themselves, and all to raise money for charity. Ellie joins them on the canoe’s maiden voyage on the Severn near Haw Bridge in Gloucestershire. Ellie finds out how a walk by the river inspired woodworker Tim to turn his hand to making a Canadian Canoe and wishes them good luck for the big day ahead.
|Series Producer||Joanna Brame|
|Executive Producer||William Lyons|