Wild Britain with Ray Mears

Friday, 11 January 2013, 8:00PM – 8:30PM

In the third series of WILD BRITAIN WITH RAY MEARS, Ray continues his celebration of the British landscape and its wildlife. Ray travels the length and breadth of Britain during spring and summer to explore forests, rivers, islands and coasts – revealing the wildlife secrets that each habitat reveals if you know where to look.

At each location Ray meets a cast of local experts – conservationists and amateur enthusiasts with a passion for the wildlife on their doorstep. He shares his knowledge of field crafts, such as cooking limpets collected from the shore or tracking and observational techniques for wildlife, and examines the underlying geology which has given each landscape its character.

In this episode, Ray explores the ancient forests on the Isle of Wight in southern England. Cut off from the mainland, the island has no grey squirrels making it a sanctuary for our native endangered red squirrels. The absence of deer has resulted in dense understory in deciduous woodland perfect for small mammals such as the stoat and hazel dormouse. Ray meets Ian White of the People’s Trust for Endangered Species as he surveys nest boxes put in to aid the survival of the dormouse. Ray catches up with Richard Grogan of the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust to find out about Britain’s rarest amphibian, the great crested newt – a true woodland species despite being more commonly associated with ponds. He then has an amazing encounter with a badger at the end of an extraordinary day.

Friday, 4 January 2013, 8:00PM – 8:30PM

In the third series, Ray continues his celebration of the British landscape and its wildlife. Ray travels the length and breadth of Britain during spring and summer to explore forests, rivers, islands and coasts – revealing the wildlife secrets that each habitat reveals if you know where to look.

At each location Ray meets a cast of local experts – conservationists and amateur enthusiasts with a passion for the wildlife on their doorstep. He shares his knowledge of field crafts, such as cooking limpets collected from the shore or tracking and observational techniques for wildlife, and examines the underlying geology which has given each landscape its character.

In this episode, Ray ventures out into the nutrient-rich waters around the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides in search of marine and coastal wildlife. He travels with local whale watching skipper James Fairburns as they look for the signs of minke whale and Ray comes face to face with the world’s second largest fish when he snorkels with an enormous basking shark.

Ray struggles to stay on his feet as the boat takes him to the epicentre of the Corywreckan whirlpool – a curious marine phenomena then ventures onto land to observe a secretive otter hunting along the coast. Ray meets David Sexton – Mull’s RSPB officer who shows him a very special nest site of the white-tailed eagle – a bird once lost to the Scottish landscape but now back thanks to a pioneering reintroduction project.

Friday, 16 December 2011, 8:00PM – 8:30PM

EPISODE SYNOPSIS: 

Ray Mears revisits his personal highlights from the first two series of Wild Britain. Travelling the length and breadth of the country Ray has explored Britain’s wildest and most beautiful habitats from the sea lochs of the Outer Hebrides to the chalk grasslands of Sussex. Meeting amongst others wild boar; short-eared owl; badger; a rare spider and the secretive capercaillie Ray shares our country’s most fascinating fauna and flora and shows why his favourite place in the world to view wildlife is home in Britain. 

Friday, 9 December 2011, 8:00PM – 8:30PM

Mountain and Moorland – Cairngorms, Scotland: 

EPISODE NINE SYNOPSIS: 

The Highlands of Scotland are Britain at its wildest. This week Ray Mears explores the dramatic peaks and vast, heather covered moors that support a fascinating mix of mammals and birds that have adapted to an ecology that is unique in Britain. He waits until dawn to witness the secretive courtship display of the black grouse; encounters a herd of reindeer that would have once roamed our land; and scales the mighty Cairngorm mountains to spot the beautiful mountain hare.

Friday, 2 December 2011, 8:00PM – 8:30PM

Ray Mears heads to East Anglia to explore one of the wildest and wettest parts of Britain. The beautiful Norfolk and Suffolk Broads are a vast low-lying wetland of fens and reed beds that are home to our rarest and one of our largest spiders; the stunning swallowtail butterfly and the common crane that has returned to the area after an absence of 400 years. As evening falls Ray catches a glimpse of the elusive Chinese water deer… 

Friday, 25 November 2011, 8:00PM – 8:30PM

The Flow Country: Caithness and Sutherland, Scotland: 

Ray heads to the most northern landscape of the British mainland – the extraordinary peat bogs of Caithness and Sutherland. Covering 1,500 square miles it’s one of the largest stretches of unspoiled Blanket Bog in Europe. 

The “Flow Country” is a true wilderness that has remained virtually untouched by humans since the end of the last ice age. 

As Ray explores one of the strangest and most dramatic landscapes in Britain he uncovers rare specialised plants, and birds such as the Black-throated diver and the Hen-harrier. 

Friday, 18 November 2011, 8:00PM – 8:30PM

Ancient Forest – New Forest, Hampshire: 

Ray Mears heads to the New Forest in Hampshire. Set aside 1000 years ago as a royal hunting forest by William I the New Forest is today one of Britain’s finest nature reserves. Ray explores the ancient woodland to discover fallow deer and New Forest ponies; as well as the ancient dead and decaying trees that provide a haven for burying beetles, bats and hornets. At night he ventures onto the windswept heath land for an encounter with the mysterious nightjar. 

Friday, 11 November 2011, 8:00PM – 8:30PM

Sea Loch – North Uist, Scotland 

This week Ray Mears heads to North Uist in the Outer Hebrides to explore Loch Maddy – the island’s largest ‘Sea Loch’. 

Red deer, otters and common seals share the shores of this wild loch with just 2000 people as well as a wealth of diving and wading birds including beautiful red-throated divers and the magnificent Sea-eagle. 

Ray also goes scuba diving to explore the magical underworld beneath the loch’s surface. 

Friday, 4 November 2011, 8:00PM – 8:30PM

Lowland River: Norfolk: 

Ray Mears heads to Norfolk to explore the county’s Lowland rivers including the picturesque River Wensum. 

These clear chalk-fed waterways are a haven for wild plants and creatures including the striking Kingfisher and our native crayfish that’s under threat from invasion by its American cousin. 

Ray also goes in search of the loveable water vole whose population is declining faster than the Black Rhino. 

Friday, 28 October 2011, 8:00PM – 8:30PM

Chalk – Sussex: 

Ray follows the chalk seam that runs from the dramatic white cliffs of Beachy Head though to the glorious Chalk grasslands of the Sussex South downs. 

In summer they’re covered in colourful orchids and medicinal herbs and not only are they looking their best, but they’re proving irresistible to a wealth of butterflies. 39 of Britain’s 58 breeding species have been recorded here and the highlight for Ray is the delicate Adonis blue. 

The chalk seam takes Ray to an inland quarry and the mysterious Yew Woodland of Kingley Vale – unique ecosystems that are home to a fascinating variety of wildlife including the peregrine falcon and one of Britain’s best loved mammals – the badger!

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