Autumnwatch 2021 episode 4: Chris and Michaela present the final instalment of the wildlife dramas that have been unfolding all week at Wild Ken Hill. Gillian is looking at the importance of wetlands for carbon capture, Megan sheds light on the significance of marine bioluminescence, and spoken word artist Isi the Scribe gets inspired by the beauty of badgers and red squirrels. And find out why an autumn hedgerow has such rich pickings – even for fish!
Springwatch, Autumnwatch and Winterwatch, sometimes known collectively as The Watches, are annual BBC television series which chart the fortunes of British wildlife during the changing of the seasons in the United Kingdom. The programmes are broadcast live from locations around the country in a primetime evening slot on BBC Two. They require a crew of 100 and over 50 cameras, making them the BBC’s largest British outside broadcast events. Many of the cameras are hidden and operated remotely to record natural behaviour, for example, of birds in their nests and badgers outside their sett.
Springwatch begins on the Spring Bank Holiday and is broadcast four nights each week for three weeks. After the success of the first Springwatch in 2005, the BBC commissioned a one-off special, Autumnwatch, which became a full series in 2006. Winterwatch began in 2012, broadcast in January or February.
Autumnwatch 2021 episode 4
The red squirrel or Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) is a species of tree squirrel in the genus Sciurus common throughout Eurasia. The red squirrel is an arboreal, primarily herbivorous rodent.
In Great Britain, Ireland, and in Italy numbers have decreased drastically in recent years. This decline is associated with the introduction by humans of the eastern grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) from North America. However, the population in Scotland is stabilising due to conservation efforts, awareness and the increasing population of the pine marten, a European predator that selectively controls grey squirrels.
The red squirrel has a typical head-and-body length of 19 to 23 cm (7.5 to 9 in), a tail length of 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 in), and a mass of 250 to 340 g (8.8 to 12.0 oz). Males and females are the same size. The red squirrel is somewhat smaller than the eastern grey squirrel which has a head-and-body length of 25 to 30 cm (10 to 12 in) and weighs between 400 and 800 g (14 oz and 1 lb 12 oz).
The long tail helps the squirrel to balance and steer when jumping from tree to tree and running along branches and may keep the animal warm during sleep. The red squirrel, like most tree squirrels, has sharp curved claws to help it to climb and descend broad tree trunks, thin branches, and even house walls. Its strong hind legs let it leap gaps between trees. The red squirrel also can swim.
Badgers are short-legged omnivores in the family Mustelidae (which also includes the otters, wolverines, martens, minks, polecats, weasels, and ferrets). Badgers are a polyphyletic grouping, and are not a natural taxonomic grouping: badgers are united by their squat bodies, adapted for fossorial activity. All belong to the caniform suborder of carnivoran mammals.
The fifteen species of mustelid badgers are grouped in four subfamilies: Melinae (genera Meles and Arctonyx) four species, including the European badger, Helictidinae (genus Melogale) five species of ferret-badger, Mellivorinae (genus Mellivora) (the honey badger or ratel), and Taxideinae (genus Taxidae) (the American badger). Badgers include the most basal mustelids; the American badger is the most basal of all, followed successively by the ratel and the Melinae; the estimated split dates are about 17.8, 15.5 and 14.8 million years ago, respectively.
The two species of Asiatic stink badgers of the genus Mydaus were formerly included within Melinae (and thus Mustelidae), but more recent genetic evidence indicates these are actually members of the skunk family (Mephitidae).
Badger mandibular condyles connect to long cavities in their skulls, which gives resistance to jaw dislocation and increases their bite grip strength. This in turn limits jaw movement to hinging open and shut, or sliding from side to side, but it does not hamper the twisting movement possible for the jaws of most mammals.