Springwatch returns to BBC TWO, broadcasting live from a brand-new home, RSPB Minsmere on the beautiful Suffolk coast. The three-week long wildlife party, hosted by Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Martin Hughes-Games starts on Monday 26th May and stretches right through to Thursday 12th June.
The reserve is one of the richest areas in the British Isles for wildlife, and in spring it is bursting with a stunning array of both exotic and familiar species. Where better to celebrate the series’ tenth birthday – Springwatch has become one of the UK’s longest-running and most-loved wildlife series.
RSPB Minsmere, on the stunning Suffolk coastline, boasts an unprecedented array of internationally important habitats from sand dunes, shingle beaches and saline lagoons to reedbed, heathland, woodland and grassland.
There will be entertainment from a colourful cast of local characters, including rare birds such as marsh harriers, avocets and bitterns, as well as Springwatch favourites – badgers, otters and red deer.
But the wildlife won’t just be confined to Minsmere as the team will be reporting on topical news stories from around the country. Those reports will include the exploits of a young urban fox family in Brighton, the arrival of our much-loved cuckoos from Africa and a look at how our resident animals have coped with a record-breaking wet winter.
And Springwatch’s 10th birthday wouldn’t be the same without a very special guest – original presenter Bill Oddie. Bill returns with his own very special look back at our wildlife and how it has fared over the past decade. He’ll also be asking what the future holds for some of the UK’s most iconic species.
Minsmere is the most wildlife-rich site in Springwatch’s ten-year history, and the BBC has it bugged! This huge reserve on the East Anglian coast is one of the most diverse patches of the UK, with more than 5,600 plants and animals species recorded on the site. This astonishing figure includes more than 1,000 species of moth and butterfly including the Minsmere crimson underwing (named after the reserve where it was first discovered), 336 kinds of bird and 37 species of mammals.
From the beach to the forest, the Springwatch team will have Minsmere covered throughout the three weeks of transmission. Their cameras will be immersed in this magical place, capturing its wild residents as they face a daily struggle to survive and breed.
Out on the lagoon, specially built hides, linked by corridors of high reed screens to shield the BBC’s team from view, will put them in the heart of the action. Cameras will be carefully positioned in and around the nests of birds such as avocets, terns oystercatchers and lapwings, allowing constant, real-time updates as they keep watch for predators and strive to raise their young.
Minsmere’s intricate system of freshwater lakes, marshes and islands includes one of the largest areas of reedbed in the country. A state-of-the-art, long lens camera will be scanning these wetlands from dawn to dusk. Remotely controlled from Springwatch HQ, it will follow herons and bitterns as they hunt for fish. It will also zero-in on nesting birds such as great crested grebes and coots as they face the daily threat of marsh harriers from above – and otters from below.
The private lives of some of our favourite species will also be revealed. Night-vision cameras will follow the fortunes of the reserve’s resident badger family, capturing cubs at play and adults out foraging for food. The latest scientific techniques will be used to study these badgers and unearth the intimate details of their lives, both above and below ground. But it’s not just badgers that wander through the woods and grasslands. Red deer are here in number and at this time of year, they are giving birth, so a network of cameras are poised to capture the first moments of a calf’s life.
Springwatch would not be the same without a few nest boxes and they have many in the woods around Springwatch HQ. Great tits, blue tits – and perhaps even a nuthatch family – will be live in viewers homes as they hatch to face the daily fight to become fledglings.
Other highlights at Minsmere will include:
• Nightingales singing as the sun sets and rises – perhaps even live!
• Water voles
• Stoats hunting rabbits out on the grasslands
• Some of the UK’s rarest and most endangered birds, such as nightjars, bearded tits and stone curlews.
The magic of the micro-world: rare insects like ant lions (first discovered on the Suffolk coast in 1996) and Norfolk hawker dragonflies will be filmed in close-up detail and super-slow motion.