Winterwatch returns for a two week special

Gillian BurkeGillian Burke
Gillian Burke
Tuesday: Winterwatch; (BBC Two, 8pm)

It takes a special kind of dedication to be outdoors on these sub-zero lockdown nights.

Thankfully, naturalists don’t come more professional and enthusiastic than the Winterwatch team, who are back to sit next to roaring fires in big padded jackets and talk passionately about the magic of nature.

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Winterwatch returns for two weeks starting tonight, as Chris Packham and co invite viewers join them for an exploration of seasonal beauty.

Chris will be in the New Forest with his step-daughter, zoologist, conservationist and photographer Megan McCubbin, while Iolo Williams is at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales, hoping to see some amazing murmurations.

Gillian Burke is at The Beaver Project in Cornwall where she was based for Springwatch.

And young naturalist Indy Green will be taking us deep into Sherwood Forest on the hunt for one of our most elusive birds of prey – the goshawk.

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In tomorrow’s episode, Winterwatch concentrates on the superpowers that some of our wildlife has developed in order to survive this harshest of seasons.

Chris catches up on the action from the live cameras on the River Ness in Scotland, while Iolo looks at a feral flock of barnacle geese that have descended on RSPB Ynis Hir, and Gillian sees how grazing Konik ponies help manage the landscape.

We’ll also delve below the surface of Loch Carron to see the amazing brittlestars who thrive there in winter, and through the use of new camera technology, the team explores the science behind how owls hunt at night.

One face that is sadly missing from this season’s Winterwatch is Michaela Strachan who, due to lockdown restrictions, is unable to participate again.

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“We are all deeply saddened that Michaela is unable to be there in person this time, but she will be in conversation with Chris during the first episode, from her home in South Africa,” the BBC said.

Michaela was due to be based near Fife in Scotland, and her absence from the show means there won’t be a live presenter north of the border.

However, the new series will be reflecting stories from Tentsmuir, as well as RSPB Old Moor in South Yorkshire, as they have been filming there through the winter months.

So what can viewers expect from this run of Winterwatch? Well, Chris claims the team are on a “mission”, saying: “We want to reacquaint viewers with the familiar faces that they will find in their community during winter, and the latest science of all of those species who we know and love.

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“Rather than being a time of nature in lockdown, winter is an exciting and dynamic season when there is a tremendous amount going on.

“Expect to peek into the secret affairs of our badger family and meet the new animal stars from all around the UK, as the presenting team will be spread far and wide.”

Although Michaela will be much missed, this show has never been about the presenters, good as they are.

Neither is it full of eye-boggling, mouth ajar, how-did-they-do-that Perfect Planet moments.

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Instead, Winterwatch is littered with unscripted moments of natural drama, as viewers take joy from finding out what wonders are on our doorsteps and how many golden eagles, wildcats and otters have been spotted by the cameras.

During these cold nights in January, there’s a lot to be said for television that simply makes you feel warm –especially if, unlike the Winterwatch team, you don’t even have to leave your sofa to enjoy it.

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