Chris and Meg’s Wild Summer Episode 3

Chris and Meg's Wild Summer Episode 3

Chris and Meg’s Wild Summer Episode 3 – In a heartfelt journey that intertwines the beauty of nature with the bond of family, Chris Packham and his stepdaughter Megan McCubbin embark on an enthralling wildlife-watching road trip around the picturesque landscapes of Britain. This chapter of their adventure brings them to the scenic wonders of the Lake District, a haven of natural beauty and diverse fauna. To Chris’s delightful surprise, Megan introduces him to the serene presence of alpacas, animals reputedly known to alleviate stress. Ziggy and Danny, the two chosen alpacas, accompany them on a tranquil walk followed by a soothing paddle in the shimmering waters of Derwentwater. But the Lake District hides more than just these gentle creatures.



The area is heralded as one of the final sanctuaries for the enchanting red squirrel, a species that has become increasingly elusive in England. Eager to spot them, the duo ventures deeper into the heart of the district. As evening approaches, they find solace in the cozy environment of the Badger Bar. Over a refreshing pint, they anticipate the unique experience of the bar’s star feature – a live cam capturing the intriguing activities of badgers.



Greeting the dawn of a new day, Chris and Megan set their sights southwards, journeying to Foulshaw Moss. This expanse is not just any ordinary nature reserve; it is a sanctuary for one of Britain’s most unique landscapes – the raised peat bog. Their exploration takes an exciting turn when, with the guidance of a passionate local wildlife enthusiast, they encounter the white-tailed darter. This rare dragonfly, which Chris has had the privilege of seeing just once in his lifetime, brings a sparkle to his eyes.



Their voyage continues further south to the pristine shores of Walney Island. A place close to Chris’s heart, he eagerly shares its wonders with Megs. The coastline reveals the graceful grey seals basking in the sun, the melodious eider ducks in tranquil communion, and the swift terns soaring above. As the day winds down, they take a moment to muse on the profound realization of why immersing oneself in nature is more than just a soulful experience. It’s a requisite for holistic wellbeing, a testament to the harmonious balance between man and nature.


Chris and Meg’s Wild Summer Episode 3


Chris Packham and stepdaughter Megan McCubbin continue their wildlife-watching road trip round Britain, this time exploring the Lake District. Megan surprises Chris with some animals that are renowned for helping to reduce stress – alpacas. They take two, named Ziggy and Danny, for a short walk and a paddle in Derwentwater. Next, they head off in search of the much more elusive red squirrel, as the Lake District is one of their last strongholds in England. They round off their first day by settling in for a pint at the Badger Bar and awaiting the arrival of its main attraction- a live badger cam.

The next morning, the pair head South to Foulshaw Moss, a nature reserve for one of Britain’s rarest habitats – raised peat bog. With the help of a local wildlife enthusiast, they find the white-tailed darter, a rare dragonfly that Chris has only seen once before so he’s delighted to spot it. Continuing south to the coast, Chris takes Megs to one of his favourite places, Walney Island, where they catch sight of grey seals, eider ducks and terns. They reflect on why spending time in nature is not only therapeutic but necessary for their wellbeing.


Alpaca Antics in Derwentwater

Chris and Megan begin their Lake District adventure with a couple of furry friends in tow – alpacas Ziggy and Danny. Known as gentle giants of the animal kingdom, alpacas provide a calming presence that reduces stress through interactions. Their soft fur and quizzical expressions never fail to produce smiles.

After a short walk around Derwentwater with Ziggy and Danny, it’s clear why alpaca-assisted therapy is growing in popularity. Chris relaxes visibly in their company, the stresses of daily life melting away. Megan splashes playfully with the alpacas in the shallows, giggling at their bemused reactions. It’s a joyful start to their day, setting the tone for the wildlife-watching and exploration ahead.

Alpacas are versatile animals that have been domesticated for over 5,000 years. Beyond their therapeutic benefits, alpacas are prized for their hypoallergenic fleece and lean meat. With proper care including shearing, toenail trimming, and parasite control, alpacas make friendly and ecological pets. Their low-impact, small hoofed feet also make them ideal for land conservation.

After bidding Ziggy and Danny farewell, Chris and Megan head upland towards the central Lake District, hopeful of spotting England’s rarest mammal.


On the Trail of the Lake District’s Red Squirrels

The red squirrel population has declined precipitously, now endangered in England due to habitat loss and the introduction of non-native grey squirrels. However, some strongholds remain in the forests and woodlands of the Lake District National Park.

Chris and Megan slowly meander along scenic footpaths, scanning the canopy intently. After an hour with no sightings, Chris’s patience is rewarded with the burst of a red blur across the trail. “There’s one!” he whispers excitedly to Megan as they creep forward. A distinctive tufted ear peeks out from a pine branch, then two beady black eyes observing them cautiously before the squirrel scurries out of view.

“What a thrill to see one of Britain’s rarest mammals in the wild,” says Chris. “It’s critical we protect sensitive species like the red squirrel by preserving pockets of habitat. Otherwise these creatures could disappear from England’s landscapes forever.”

Red squirrels are an important part of forest ecosystems, dispersing seeds and fungi spores while preying on insects. They were once widespread across Britain with their signature russet coat and tufted ears. Conservation efforts including grey squirrel management and habitat protection seek to stabilize remaining red squirrel populations. With persistence and respect for nature, hopefully future generations will continue to glimpse these energetic mammals bounding through the treetops.

As the sun begins to set, Chris and Megan make their way to the next wildlife hotspot.


A Close Encounter of the Badger Kind

No trip to the Lake District would be complete without a visit to the Badger Bar. At first glance, it appears a typical local pub, but there’s a unique attraction out back – a live badger sett!

Chris and Megan settle in with a pint and watch the TV monitors in anticipation. Within minutes, a distinctive black and white face pokes out from the sett. The curious badger sniffs the air cautiously before fully emerging and trundling towards a feeding area.

“It’s incredible seeing a wild badger this close,” whispers Megan. “I’ve never been feet away without binoculars or camera lenses between us.” Chris smiles at her childlike wonder. Just minutes earlier, the sett was an unremarkable hole in the hillside. Now, it’s a window into the nighttime adventures of one of Britain’s most elusive mammals.

Badgers are omnivores, feasting on earthworms, fruit, small mammals, insects, and carrion. Their powerful claws are adapted for digging, both for foraging and constructing extensive underground setts. Badger territories often pass down through generations. These nocturnal creatures play an important role in seed dispersal and pest control.

After grabbing some “peanuts for Mr. Brock” from the bar, Chris and Megan turn in for the night, already plotting the next day’s natural exploration.


Hunting Dragonflies on Foulshaw Moss

Morning dawns bright and clear – perfect conditions for today’s trek to Foulshaw Moss in search of dragonflies. This ancient peat bog is one of Britain’s rarest habitats, home to unique flora and fauna.

Chris and Megan are here today with a specific target – the white-tailed darter. This striking black and yellow dragonfly is endangered in the UK, found only in select peatland sites. As they squelch through the spongy sphagnum moss, a local wildlife volunteer named Bill joins their hunt.

Peering into the heather and sun-dews, Bill’s eagle eye spots a flutter of wings. “There’s one!” He points out a dragonfly pausing on a reed stem. Chris focuses his binoculars, grinning as he makes the confirming ID. This is only the second time he’s seen this rare species up-close.

Dragonflies like the white-tailed darter are ancient insects that thrive in wetland habitats. Their aerial acrobatics and iridescent colors have captivated people for millennia. Conservation of sites like Foulshaw Moss are essential for the survival of endangered dragonflies as peatlands face drainage and degradation.

Chris remarks, “Days like today remind me why we must keep exploring nature’s hidden treasures. Each species has an intrinsic value and role in its ecosystem, even if it’s not immediately obvious to us.” Megan nods, snapping one last photo before they continue south.


A Seal Spotting Expedition on Walney Island

Reaching the coast, Chris is eager to show off one of his longtime favorite nature watching spots – Walney Island. Connected to the mainland by bridge, this scenic island offers an abundance of coastal wildlife.

They begin at the seal observation tower, scanning the frothy waves crashing on the beach. First just a sleek grey head bobs above the surf, then suddenly a whole seal body lunges up, flashing its belly before diving under. Over the next hour, nearly twenty seals make an appearance, cavorting in the swells just offshore.

Further down the winding beach, avian life abounds. Flocks of eider ducks float placidly in a sheltered inlet, while energetic terns plunge-dive for fish. Chris remarks, “You can spend days here exploring the shoreline and always spot something new. These coastal habitats support so much biodiversity!”

As the sun sinks towards the sea, Chris reflects that places like Walney Island restore the soul. The simplicity of waves rolling ashore, seals barking, terns circling through the sky taps into our inherent connection with nature. It’s a profound reminder that we humans are just one part of this planet’s fabric of life.

Chris squeezes Megan’s shoulder fondly. “Another successful adventure,” he says with a contented smile.


Finding Wellbeing Through Nature Immersion

Chris and Megan’s wildlife-filled trip through the Lake District highlights the profound benefits of spending intentional time in nature. In our busy modern lives, it’s easy to forget that we humans evolved immersed in the natural world over eons. We can not only find enjoyment but also restoration and healing through reconnecting with our wild roots.

Activities like hiking, camping, and even just sitting quietly watching squirrels or clouds go by have measurable positive impacts. Our heart rates decrease, blood pressure drops, and stress hormone levels fall within minutes of being outdoors. Nature profoundly soothes our nervous systems and helps provide a balanced perspective on priorities.

Beyond physical health, time in nature also boosts creativity, reduces anxiety and depression, improves focus, and leads to increased empathy and feelings of connectedness. It’s clear why “ecotherapy” prescribing time outdoors is growing increasingly popular in psychological treatment.

In our journey from childhood to adulthood, we often lose that innate sense of wonder and joy in the small miracles around us. However, it is never too late to rediscover that connection. Seeking out experiences like Megan and Chris’s adventures tapping into our natural heritage leads to fuller, balanced lives. Our wellbeing and the health of the planet are intimately intertwined.


Frequently Asked Questions


What makes the Lake District such a great area for wildlife watching?

The Lake District boasts diverse landscapes including lakes, mountains, forests, and coastlines. This variety of habitats supports a wide range of species. It is also one of England’s least populated national parks, offering remote wilderness to be explored.

Why are red squirrels and some dragonflies endangered in the UK?

Habitat loss is the primary threat. As human development expands, sensitive species like red squirrels and white-tailed darters lose the isolated wetlands and mature mixed forests they rely on. Conservation aims to protect key sites.

What can people visiting the Lake District do to help wildlife?

Practicing responsible recreation by staying on marked trails, keeping dogs leashed, and leaving no trace helps minimize impact. Supporting local conservation groups or projects also helps wildlife-friendly management.

How accessible is the Lake District for wildlife watching for families or those with limited mobility?

Many reserves have wheelchair/stroller-friendly paths and observation hides, along with interactive exhibits tailored for kids. There are also boat tours and safaris suited for varied mobility levels.

Where are some easy spots to see wildlife in the Lake District?

Low-effort options include red squirrel feeding sites, osprey webcams, the badger sett at the Badger Bar, and coastal estuaries full of wading birds. Getting an early start also aids wildlife viewing.

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