Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Winterwatch 2016 starts tonight

Unfortunately winter needs to catch up here in the UK! Despite NTS Mar Lodge, the Highlands location for this series of live programmes reporting on how wildlife survives the harshness of winter, being regarded as the coldest place in the UK it isn’t nearly as cold as it could be. No doubt Chris Packham will have a chart of stats tonight ;-)

No doubts too, that a warmer winter will have its own issues regarding the survival of wildlife. I’m guessing Winterwatch will be covering on that this week (from other locations in the UK too). There will very likely be some wildlife species in trouble that we might not guess, but I suspect that there will be some species that could be thriving. I wonder who the winners of a warmer winter would be. Mmm… maybe I could ask them. Have you any questions for them?




Down here in Perthshire, I regard February as the month to winter watch. We’ve had some quite harsh ones here. A warmer January always makes me nervous of February to come. Don’t get me wrong, I love cold winter days for watching the birds in the garden but as for travelling around – I don’t do snow.

The delight of wildlife programmes like Winterwatch (Springwatch and Autumnwatch too) is that they give us exposure, images and family stories of wildlife that we may never have heard off far less ever seen. I’m certain the readily available nestboxes with cameras is due to Springwatch which is great… Thank-you!

My contribution to Winterwatch is a short video of the Red Squirrel. Will it appear in the live cameras series – you’ll have to watch to see. I’m guessing it might. I don’t see the Red Squirrel in my garden but it is not completely out of the question based on sightings seen a few miles away. My earliest wildlife memories are of the Red squirrel and I’d be ecstatic if one appeared in my garden!



Footage (25 seconds) captured on April 25th, 2013
through observation window at SWT Reserve, Loch of the Lowes.


So where do you find Winterwatch to follow everything this week? Here’s a link to a page giving full details of this week’s Winterwatch coverage. You can follow, share sightings and ask questions on facebook, their blog and on twitter using the hashtag #Winterwatch too which is great for my blog visitors and wildife enthusiasts outside the UK.

On looking for the links above, I discovered one with a video of Red Squirrels in the snow at Mar Lodge (the base location for this week's Winterwatch). I must watch that after I post this! I'd also like to invite any visitors to this page to share their earliest wildlife memories and/or wildlife winter watch stories from your part of the world. I know I'd love to hear them :-)

Finally, sending my best wishes to all involved with the making of Winterwatch for a great week of live wildlife captures. Enjoy your time in Scotland :-) For all wildlife watchers wherever you live, here's a little taster for tonight's show...


Looks like tonight’s Episode is going to include how the otter
is surviving this unseasonally warm winter (turn up speaker volume).
Brief summaries of the other episodes can be found here.


Oops, nearly missed this… if you are in the UK and Winterwatch gets you looking out your window to see what’s visiting your garden, this weekend its the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch and you might enjoy taking part. Make yourself a cuppa, sit by a window for an hour (to one side so you are hidden a little) and count the maximum number of each bird species you can see at any one time. You’ll find counting sheets, info and tips on the RSPB Website but you can also catch up with all the chat and share sightings on facebook and twitter using the hashtag #BigGardenBirdwatch too. Have fun!



This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in January 2016.

5 comments:

Sue Garrett said...

Our closest encounter with red squirrels was in a park in Vichy - France. They were really difficult to photograph as they came so close that they climbed on the camera. Obviously used to being fed. There are lots at NT Formby - Lancashire where they are protected and we managed lots of great photos there. Gorgeous creatures.

Shirley said...

Hello Sue, that sounded a great experience with the Red Squirrel in France despite not being able to photograph them. Good to hear you can see them down your way, they are protected and you can get photo opportunities too. They are so sweet and such entertaining characters. I had a few more clips that I could have used and I will come back to them another time. They involved youngsters. Ha-ha… I was a youngster when I first saw the Red Squirrel in the woodlands of the small Perthshire town I grew up in. I got a serious surprise to see a grey on a visit to Edinburgh – I couldn’t believe what I was seeing at the time. I know now that it wasn’t good news.

Brian Skeys said...

I would love to see a red squirrel, we visited Brownsea Island many years ago but no luck. To many people around.

SeagullSuzie said...

Loving Winterwatch Shirl, the eagles and the wildcats, oh and the hares!

Shirley said...

Hello again to you both, thanks for popping by and leaving your comments. :-)

Brian, that’s a shame you missed the Red Squirrel on Brownsea, from memory it’s been a great success story there. They can be shy unless there is another squirrel to chase and then they can forget their shyness. I hope you get to see them one day. They are quite special :-)

Suzie, great, so did I. How wild was the weather on the last night? It’s very wild here today (definite risk of structural damage and power cuts) so can’t imagine what it must be like in the Cairngorms just now! The winterwatch eagle footage was fantastic, I do love to see the hares too (beautiful eyes) but it’s the wildcat stories that always catch my interest (and I don’t like cats). I’m currently reading (slow progress as I’m trying to get back to blogging in the evenings) Gavin Maxwell’s “Ring of Bright Water” and he is mentioning the wildcat being quite common in the West Highlands at that time. As you’ll know, Winterwatch was discussing the wildcat breeding with domestic cats and how it is losing its true blood line. Gavin is telling a quite different story back at the time of “Ring of Bright Water” (first published in 1960). He tells stories of the tom wildcats mating with domestic female cats and regularly killing all the kittens when they are born. One particular female of newly born kittens (in a barn) had run away with an injured ‘just living’ kitten in her mouth meowing at a house door - but sadly it dies. Did the wildcat really know then that it was doing wrong for its species to breed with domestic cats? Perhaps now some 56 years later, the Scottish wildcat instinctively knows it’s survival as a species means it needs to rely on domestic female cats and it is vital that the kittens survive. I wonder, if now, the tom wildcats hang around to see that they do. Nature is fascinating isn’t it?