RSPB's Martin Fowlie visits Arne for the very first time this week. Here he shares what he's discovered about the nature reserve from last night's second #Winterwatch...

Another cold and foggy day at RSPB Arne today. We haven’t seen the sky let alone the sun, but despite the inclement weather episode two of Winterwatch didn’t fail to deliver!

It’s my first time in this part of the country, so, as a first time visitor to RSPB Arne here are seven things I’ve learned today: 

1. Badgers Slurp.
The cameras not only picked up drinking badgers, but the microphones caught the noises they made too and it has to be said that they aren’t the quietest of drinkers! But after a day underground they are probably just thankful for a refreshing thirst-quenching gulp of rainwater.

Photo: Badger by Ben Andrew (

2. How to Check My Hearing
As a middle-aged man, my eyesight is already noticeably deteriorating. I know this because I have to hold my bedtime book at an ever-increasing distance just to focus on the text. After tonight’s episode I now have an equivalent test for my ears - my ability to hear a goldcrest or firecrest. As long as I can still hear their high-pitched song I know my hearing is OK!


Photo: Firecrest by Terry Bagley

3. Spiders Like Vibrations
Not only are they good for your teeth, an electronic toothbrush can help you get closer to spiders. The vibrations they make mimic those of a struggling insect, so by holding the toothbrush near a web the spider is persuaded to investigate allowing great views and really great arachnid close encounter.

Photo: Manjora acalypha spider by Terry Bagley

4. Long-Tailed Tits Huddle and Cuddle to Get Through the Night.
During the spring and summer, breeding pairs of long-tailed tits are often helped by their relatives to feed the chicks. One of the benefits that these helpers receive in return, is access to group huddles in the winter months - this helps to minimise heat loss making it easier to survive those cold winter nights.

Photo: Long-tailed tit by John Bridges (

5. Humpback Whales are a UK Species Too.
I’d always thought I’d have to go to Australia or South Africa to see a humpback, but recent surveys show their population is recovering in the north Atlantic. With sightings becoming more frequent around the UK there’s now a real chance that you might see one as they migrate along our coasts each year.

6. Purple Sandpipers Live Life on the Edge.
Feeding where other birds dare not go, these stunning waders brave the crashing waves to make the most of a food source that is available for only a split second. Their lightning reflexes mean they avoid a soaking whilst still getting access to those tasty marine morsels

Purple sandpiper artwork by Mike Langman (

7. A Montagu’s Harrier’s Eyes Change Colour
A young Montagu’s harrier is born with chestnut brown eyes, but as it ages its eyes change colour, becoming paler until they become a piercing yellow in the adult. But even more surprising was that one of my RSPB colleagues gets an email twice a day from a Montagu’s harrier, well its satellite tag, letting them know exactly where they are.

Photo: Sally and roger as juveniles

We’re hoping the fog lifts tomorrow so we can actually get to see some of this beautiful landscape. Fingers crossed for that. Tomorrow’s episode will feature one of my personal favourite groups of animals ….. moths. Can’t wait :)

Photo: A foggy RSPB Arne by Terry Bagley