Chris and Meg’s Wild Summer Episode 4

Chris and Meg's Wild Summer Episode 4

Chris and Meg’s Wild Summer Episode 4 – Chris Packham and stepdaughter Megan McCubbin continue their wildlife-watching road trip round Britain, this time exploring the coast of the north east and Scottish Borders. Megan surprises Chris with a trip to the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead – not to admire some art but to see a colony of kittiwakes, the furthest inland nesting site in the world. Kittiwakes usually nest on cliff edges and rock faces, so it’s rare for them to nest in an urban landscape like this. Chris notes their well-curved claws, perfect for gripping firmly on the ledges.



Next Chris and Meg head off in search of another coastal creature – and this will involve getting wet! The Northumberland coast is one of the most important areas in Europe for the Atlantic grey seal, and they spend most of their time out at sea feeding on fish. Reluctantly, Chris dons his wetsuit and snorkel to brave the cold North Sea for a snorkelling adventure with Megs. The grey seals are full of curiosity as they swim around the pair, giving them an unforgettable experience. The next morning, Chris and Megs head north to the unique tidal island of Lindisfarne, renowned for its ancient priory. No seaside trip would be complete without some rockpooling, and these ones don’t disappoint. After spotting a shore crab, hermit crabs, limpets and a sea star, the pair round off their day with a sip of mead from the monastery and get on to planning their next stop.



Continuing north and over the Scottish border, Chris and Megs revisit an old haunt and one of their favourite places, the extraordinary Bass Rock. Resembling a floating iceberg from afar, it’s home to the world’s largest colony of northern gannets. This sanctuary hosts over 150,000 of them during peak breeding season. The pair last visited the rock 17 years ago when Chris brought Meg along on a filming trip, and they were as competitive back then as they are now, especially when their cameras come out. The abundance of gannets feels reassuring, especially when so many species are in decline.



Chris and Megs reflect on their visit and compare photographs, which leads to some heartfelt discussion about their very special father-stepdaughter relationship. Chris declares it was a very fortunate surprise to become involved in Meg’s life. While firmly declaring his gannet photograph as the winner, of course!


Chris and Meg’s Wild Summer Episode 4


A Father-Stepdaughter Duo’s Wildlife-Watching Road Trip Around Britain

Chris Packham and his stepdaughter Megan McCubbin have become a beloved duo thanks to their BBC nature shows like Chris & Meg’s Wild Summer. Their infectiously fun adventures exploring Britain’s incredible wildlife have struck a chord with audiences. This summer, the pair embarked on an eco-friendly wildlife-watching road trip around the UK in a fully electric campervan. Their journey took them across England and Scotland in search of phenomenal nature experiences. Episode 4 tracked their adventures along the rugged North East coast and Scottish Borders.

An Urban Kittiwake Colony

Megan surprises Chris with a trip to the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead. But they aren’t there to admire the arthouse installations. Instead, they’ve come to observe one of the most inland nesting colonies of kittiwakes in the world. These dainty gulls typically nest on ocean cliffs and rock faces. Seeing them nesting on a city building is extraordinary.

Chris and Meg are enthralled watching the kittiwakes flying around the building and nesting right beside the footpath. Their melodic cries fill the air as adults continuously return with fish for their chicks. Chris notes the kittiwakes’ well-curved claws, perfectly adapted for gripping on to ledges.

These ocean-loving gulls have ventured far up the River Tyne to build their urban colony. Chris finds it fascinating since kittiwakes rely almost solely on fish rather than scavenging food scraps like other gulls. Their dietary dependence on the sea makes their inland nesting habitat highly unusual. After enjoying the entertaining “Jackson Pollock-style” droppings raining down, Chris and Meg head off in search of more coastal wildlife.

A Chilly Seal Snorkelling Adventure

Next stop on Chris and Meg’s road trip is the Northumberland coast, home to one of the most significant Atlantic grey seal populations in Europe. These charismatic marine mammals spend most of their time offshore hunting fish and migrating vast distances.

Chris reluctantly agrees to go snorkelling in the frigid North Sea for an up-close seal encounter. Once in the water, he and Meg are awestruck by the beauty of the seals gliding around them. Their sleek silvery sides shimmer as they twist through the swell. The inquisitive seals boldly approach the pair, providing unforgettable eye-to-eye moments.

Chris reflects on the seals’ epic migrations, travelling from the UK to Scandinavia and back annually. Their haunting vocals carry clearly through the water, adding an extra layer of magic to the experience. After braving the chilling temperatures, Chris and Meg emerge exhilarated by their snorkel with the wild seals.

Exploring Lindisfarne’s Intertidal Wonders

The next morning, Chris and Meg journey north to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, a unique tidal island off the Northeast coast, renowned for its ancient priory. Lindisfarne has a rich history dating back over 1,400 years. Today, its extensive intertidal flats also provide a wildlife spectacle.

After exploring the medieval ruins, Chris and Meg head to the shore at low tide for some rockpooling. Peering into the clear tidal pools, they spot a multitude of captivating creatures. Hermit crabs, green shore crabs, limpets, and shrimp abound. The highlight is finding a mesmerizing sea star gracefully gliding through a pool. Its vibrant coloring and alien-like movements fascinate the pair.

Chris also discovers barnacles growing on limpet shells, which prompts a humorous discussion about barnacle reproductive habits. Their entertaining and educational rockpooling adventure ends with a taste of locally brewed mead from the medieval priory. After a dip into Lindisfarne’s intriguing human and natural history, the duo starts planning the next leg of their journey into Scotland.

Revisiting Bass Rock’s Remarkable Gannet Colony

Continuing north over the border, Chris and Meg revisit the extraordinary Bass Rock. This volcanic outcrop in the Firth of Forth transforms into a brilliant white mass during summer. The reason? Over 150,000 northern gannets nesting on the rock, making it home to the world’s largest colony.

Chris and Meg first visited Bass Rock together over 15 years ago during a filming trip. Nine-year-old Meg amused herself while Chris worked, remembering dodging seabird poop and rotten fish throwing! This time, they explore the rock’s nooks and crannies together, awestruck by the sheer abundance of life.

The sky fills with gannets as Chris explains how each pair returns to precisely the same nesting spot annually. Seeing the gannets swirling overhead by the thousands is reassuring for Chris and Meg. Witnessing such grandeur gives hope that not all wildlife populations are in decline.

After reveling in the cacophonous colony, Chris and Meg bring out their cameras for a competition. They review each other’s images, critiquing composition and emotional impact. As usual, their competitive juices start flowing. But in the end, they concur that the true joy of Bass Rock is sharing the experience together and strengthening their bond.

Concluding Thoughts

Chris and Meg’s latest adventure underscores the wealth of phenomenal nature spectacle that exists around Britain. From urban kittiwakes to migratory Atlantic seals, coastal rock pools to cliff-nesting gannets, this wildlife-watching road trip highlighted the biodiversity on our doorstep. For Chris and Meg, the greatest joy came from exploring together and deepening their connection through their shared passion.

While Chris and Meg’s banter keeps things lighthearted, a poignant theme runs through this journey. Their time together fuels Chris’s appreciation that life experiences are heightened when shared. Meg’s presence allows him to see places afresh through her eyes. Each wild encounter, whether on land or underwater, becomes more meaningful.

In the end, nature connection is about more than beautiful vistas or rare species. It is the people we share it with that provide the real magic. Chris declares that having Meg in his life, to explore the natural world they both cherish, is the greatest gift of all. Even when she threatens to beat him in photography! Their infectious bond will surely continue inspiring people to connect with the wild places and creatures around them.

FAQ Chris and Meg’s Wild Summer Episode 4


Where does the urban kittiwake colony live?

The kittiwakes have made their home on a city centre building called the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, England. This is a highly unusual nesting site for a seabird species that typically breeds on ocean cliffs.

Why was the seal snorkelling experience so impactful?

Getting in the frigid water allowed Chris and Meg to have mesmerizing up-close encounters with the wild seals. The graceful animals approached them with curiosity, creating unforgettable eye-to-eye moments underwater.

What makes Lindisfarne such a unique place?

Lindisfarne is a tidal island off the coast of Northumberland that can only be accessed by a causeway at low tide. It has an important medieval history as the site of a monastery but also provides great intertidal wildlife viewing.

Why is Bass Rock so significant for gannets?

Bass Rock has the world’s largest northern gannet colony, with over 150,000 birds nesting there during peak breeding season. This volcanic outcrop transforms into a white mass teeming with gannets.

What was the overarching theme of Chris and Meg’s journey?

A: Their adventure highlighted that nature experiences are heightened when shared with someone you care about. Chris treasured exploring with Meg and seeing familiar places through her eyes. Their bond grew deeper through this shared passion.

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