RSPB's Martin Fowlie, gives us the low-down on last night's jam packed Winterwatch at RSPB Arne...

Today was the day the fog finally lifted…. but only after lunch. We had another morning of frost, cold temperatures and minimal visibility.

A quick early check of the moth traps revealed no new moths. Luckily others had had more success and you saw the stunning Herald moth on tonight’s show. They vibrate their wing muscles to raise their temperature in order to fly. A bit like doing loads of press ups! They also featured the amazing winter moth that flies in sub zero temperatures and where the females are unable to fly (due to having no wings) but attract the males using pheromones (or as the presenters called them, smelly sex gas)!!

Ravens were a feature of tonight’s show and we’ve been racking our brains for fun facts about these amazing birds. Firstly, they are the world’s biggest songbirds. Stretching it possibly as their vocal ability is limited but they are what is known as a passerine. A perching bird aka a songbird.  Another fact and one possibly better suited for a late night game of trivial pursuit is that in Norse mythology the god, Odin had a pair of ravens. Named Huginn (from Old Norse "thought") and Muninn (Old Norse "memory" or "mind") they brought him information from all over the world - Who knew?

Photo 1: Raven

A random quirk of fate tonight meant that Chris ended up talking about the exact subject of my PhD, Colour Polymorphism in Common Buzzards. It did take me 3 years to get some insight into this fascinating subject but we’ve tried to distil it down to 104 seconds (see here). Hope the video makes sense!

      

Photos 2, 3, 4: Buzzards with colour morphs

Other Snippets from Tonight’s Show Were...

Water Voles are quite the climbers. There was some great footage of one with some good moves. Maybe a bit of squirrel DNA in them! I wonder if they have the jumping ability of the red squirrel?

Photo 5: Water vole by Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com)


Foxes have to bury meat because they can only eat 10% of their body weight in one sitting and they prefer to take food away and cache it for later. Some will try and hide the food with leaves, no matter what the size!

Photo 6: Fox by Terry Bagley


It’s facts like these that get me coming back to the ‘watches’ time and time again. It’s the attention to detail and the sheer weirdness of some of the info that really makes these shows a must see for anyone with an inkling of interest for the natural world.

Tomorrow is the last show, while not wanting to give anything away, the highlight for me will be a piece on some serious habitat management carried out with military precision. Stay tuned.

Photo 7: View from RSPB Arne by Terry Bagley

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