Banish those January blues with new four-part series of Winterwatch

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Tuesday: Winterwatch (BBC Two, 8pm)

It’s time to banish those winter blues and embrace the season’s beauty instead.

Thankfully, the Beeb is helping us do so by launching a new four-part series of Winterwatch, which is being broadcast from Tuesday until Friday from RSPB Arne in Dorset, the UK’s first Super National Nature Reserve.

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“There’s always this lingering misconception that winter is a time of death and decay, where everything has hibernated or migrated, and it couldn’t be further from the truth, there’s always an enormous amount of activity,” says Chris Packham, who once again leads the presenting team.

Iolo Williams, Michaela Strachan, Gillian Burke and Chris PackhamIolo Williams, Michaela Strachan, Gillian Burke and Chris Packham
Iolo Williams, Michaela Strachan, Gillian Burke and Chris Packham

“Practically, there are no leaves on the trees. It makes it easier to see some species. We get an enormous influx of waders and waterfowl from further north in Europe. Poole Harbour, Brownsea Lagoon, and the estuary areas around Arne itself will be filled full of those migrant birds.

“We probably won’t see some species which 20 years ago, 30, 40 years ago would have been quite common in that area because it would have been much colder further north in Europe, but it isn’t this year. So that will that will have an impact. So we’ll be able to discuss that as well.”

Packham is joined on screen by Michaela Strachan and Iolo Williams, while Gillian Burke reports from the opposite end of the British Isles – she’s in Orkney, which is closer to the Arctic Circle than it is to London. She’s keen to showcase the wildlife that makes its home there.

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“The archipelago sitting at the top of Scotland is one of the UK’s best wildlife spots where spotting birds of prey, seals, dolphins, whales, the marine megafauna, is an everyday occurrence,” she remarks.

Williams, meanwhile, is simply happy to be back at Arne, somewhere the show hasn’t been since 2017: “We can look forward to seeing Arne at its brilliant best. Winter in and around Arne is a fantastic time. Some of the summer highlights are not there, the nightjars have gone back down to Africa. A lot of the reptiles will have disappeared underground into hibernation.

“But the shallow lagoons and the harbour there just comes into its own now because it’ll be alive with thousands of waders and wildfowl. And that’s what I’m looking forward to seeing more than anything else.”

But for Strachan, being in the Great Outdoors offers a little escapism from the various traumas and atrocities currently happening around the world.

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“I hope Winterwatch will bring people some joy, a programme to look forward to,” she reveals. “Of course the natural world is suffering hugely, but hopefully we can showcase the beauty of winter, celebrate our wildlife, soak up the extraordinary survival techniques of the natural world and in some ways learn from it.

“We always hope to inspire and to bring some warmth and humour to people’s living rooms!”

Whatever your own reasons are for tuning in, it sounds as if you’re bound to find something to your liking that will warm the cockles of your heart – and that’s always welcome during these chilly months.