RSPB's Katie Phoenix is at RSPB Arne this week, bringing us the special #Winterwatch magic! Here's her low-down of last night's first show...
Last night saw the return of the highly anticipated Winterwatch 2017 with Chris, Michaela and Martin broadcasting live from the RSPB’s Arne nature reserve. And what a show it was! From woodcocks to waders and waxwings, the show celebrated the UK’s amazing winter wildlife.
Photo 1: RSPB Arne by Terry Bagley
Despite RSPB Arne having its own special micro-climate, the clear nights and amazing sunsets seen over the past few days were a distant memory today, as thick fog and freezing temperatures looked set to stay. If, like me, you wonder how the animals cope with the extremes of winter, last night’s episode gave some clarity as we witnessed robins in puffer jackets, ice skating egrets and camouflaged woodcocks!
Photo 2: Robin at RSPB Arne by Terry Bagley
A huge variety of wildlife has been making its home at RSPB Arne this winter and with over 250,000 new arrivals since Autumnwatch it’s a truly magical place to be. Here are my top 5 highlights from last night's show:
1. Although Martin didn’t succeed in his mission to find a woodcock live on camera, we were treated to a clip of Martin and our very own licensed bird-ringer, Luke Phillips, attaching a ring to a woodcock the previous night. As numbers of these birds are sadly declining, it’s important to gather data to understand more about them and what we can do to help.
Photo 3: Woodcock, on nest amongst dead leaves by Stanley Porter (
2. We were introduced to the wader cam and learnt that it’s a hard life as an avocet as they don’t have much time for anything other than eating (actually that sounds quite good!). They can eat up to 250 fish per day and devour 243 shrimps every minute, according to Chris’ calculations.
Photo 4: Avocet flying by Nick Tomalin
3. This winter is particularly special as a certain berry-loving bird has been flocking to the UK in its thousands to feast on juicy berries. Waxwings, exotic looking birds from Scandinavia, can eat over 1000 berries a day and when there’s not enough supply at home, large numbers of them head south to our shores to take advantage of the food supply here. This is known as an irruption and only happens every 5 or 6 years.
Photo 5: Waxwing by Nick Stacey
4. Michaela and Chris were lucky enough to witness a breath-taking starling murmuration at Studland, where thousands of starlings could be seen swirling and swooping in unison against the stunning purple sunset. It was interesting to learn that there isn’t one bird leading the flock and any of the birds can affect the wave-like movement of the whole flock. There hasn’t been such a spectacular display at the site since the 1980’s and sadly numbers of starlings continue to decline across the country.
Photo 6: Starling murmuration at Studland by Terry Bagley
5. The show finished with a beautiful film about otters passing on lessons through generations and discovering the joy of the natural world. The emotional tale of family and growing up mirrored the narrator’s journey with his own family.
Photo 7: Otter by Ben Andrew (
Tonight’s show promises to be just as exciting as the team will undertake a bird feeding experiment and they’ll be trying to identify more foxes (in addition to the silver-back and racoon-like foxes we met last night) on the carcass camera. Be sure to tune in at 8pm on BBC2!
Photo 8: Michaela and Chris watching the Studland starling murmuration by Terry Bagley

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Twitter: @RSPBArne