Springwatch 2023 – Everything You Need to Know
Springwatch is back this May, live from a brand-new location as the season comes into a full bloom.
The main location for Springwatch 2023 will be RSPB Arne in Dorset, which has never been visited by the Springwatch team before. The team will also be exploring Purbeck Heaths super National Nature Reserve and the Isle of Purbeck to discover the wildlife that has settled there. The team will also be taking a road trip to discover what hidden gems North Wales and Anglesey has to offer.
More than 30 live cameras will be capturing the awakening wildlife in real time, and there will be dozens of pre-recorded stories about some well and lesser-known species from across the UK. Fan-favourite ‘Mindfulness Moments’ is also back, giving audiences the opportunity to relax to the calming sounds and pictures of nature, for a whole 90 seconds.
What time is Springwatch 2023 on TV and BBC iPlayer?
Springwatch returns to BBC Two and BBC iPlayer from on Monday 29 May at 7.30 pm continues from Tuesday 30 May at 8pm.
Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan will be live from RSPB Arne in Dorset
Chris and Michaela will report live from this year’s headquarters, RSPB Arne, getting closer to many of its residents including birds, reptiles and insects.
RSPB Arne comes alive at this time of year with rare breeding birds, specialised heathland insects and all six of the UK’s native species of reptiles.
Set against the backdrop of Poole Harbour, RSPB Arne seems to have it all. Famous for its wide-open heathlands where the reptiles roam, Springwatch will be exploring ancient oak woodlands, farmland and reedbeds. If that wasn’t enough, mudflats, scrub, wet woodland and acid grassland are just some of the habitats where the huge variety of wildlife which call Arne home can be found.
The RSPB’s Arne reserve in Dorset is at the heart of the UK’s first ever ‘super National Nature Reserve’ – Purbeck Heaths. Here, the inspirational work of a range of partners has protected and restored nature on a massive scale.
In spring, the vast heathland that characterises this area is warming up a range of rare, unusual and charismatic characters for the breeding season.
Iolo Williams will be roaming Dorset
Iolo will be setting out in search of Poole Harbour’s new Ospreys and White-tailed Eagles to find out about the successful reintroduction projects that have brought these birds back to the south of England for the first time in hundreds of years.
At Durlston Country Park he’ll be immersing audiences in some of the UK’s most spectacular wildflower meadows, home to incredibly rare and beautiful orchids and butterflies.
And at Swanage Bay, he’ll be catching up with local people to uncover the hidden marine world beneath the waves, whilst a stop at the National Trust’s Winspit Quarry takes him to see one of the most unique bat roosts in the country.
Gillian Burke reports from North Wales
Gillian Burke takes an adventure into the habitat and species that call North Wales home. From the specialist species of Snowdonia National Park, to the seabird colonies of the coast, she’ll explore much of the region across the three weeks.
Gillian will begin her journey in the National Park with Llanberis providing the perfect backdrop to kick off the road trip before heading to the Gwaith Powdwr Nature Reserve. Here she will investigate how this post-industrial landscape has been reclaimed by nature with species such as lesser horseshoe bats and palmate newts all making the most of the remnants of the former explosives factory.
The next leg of Gillian’s journey takes her to the Menai Straits where she takes a deep dive into the research conducted by Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences uncovering the life that these waterways support. She takes a detailed look at plankton and uncovers some of the changing seasons of our seas. Later, Springwatch follows the coastline down to the Llŷn Peninsula to find Wales’s rarest bee species, and visits one of the country’s largest seagrass meadows at Porthdinllaen.
For the final week Gillian will marvel at the seabird spectacles to be found on Ynys Môn (Anglesey) and gets closer to red squirrels than she ever has before. She visits the National Trust’s Cemlyn reserve to see sandwich terns first hand, and the RSPB’s South Stack reserve for a full-on bird bonanza with razorbills, guillemots and puffins all nesting on the cliff faces.
Raptor Persecution – two-part special film
In his first film on the issue of raptor persecution, President of the BTO and BBC Correspondent, Frank Gardner, heads high up into the hills of Cumbria to try to catch a glimpse of one of our rarest and most persecuted birds: The Hen Harrier.
He joins RSPB investigator Howard Jones as he patrols the hillside, keeping close watch over a nesting pair, because there is a history of male birds going missing in the area.. He hears from Howard about how vulnerable they are to persecution, and sees for himself what it takes to try to ensure these birds have a future on our uplands.
In the second film on the issue –, Frank heads to Lakenheath Fen reserve on the Norfolk/Suffolk Border, where they have a large number of Marsh Harrier. Here he meets the head of the RSPB’s investigation team, Mark Thomas, who tells him that the issue of raptor persecution is still a big problem and is happening up and down the country. He shows Frank distressing footage captured on covert cameras by his team, showing a gamekeeper clubbing a buzzard to death in a cage trap.
Frank meets Norfolk Police’s Wildlife Crime Officer Chris Shelley to hear about one of the biggest cases of raptor persecution they have ever dealt with, which happened just a few miles from Lakenheath Reserve. Frank’s horrified by the scale of the problem but heartened to hear about the great work the wildlife police and RSPB are doing to stamp out this cruel crime.
Bass Rock Ranger/Bird Flu
Maggie Sheldon has been working on Bass Rock for 25 years and has come to know every nook and cranny. No one knows the population of gannets that come to the rock to breed every spring r. Springwatch follows her for a ‘day in the life of’ experience, finding out what it takes to care of this inhospitable habitat and monitor the birds that call it home. Maggie describes Bass Rock as ‘raw and hardcore’, and when you see her negotiate landing and climbing on shore, you can see she is hardcore too! Ropes are used to winch up materials to mend paths, and battling the elements is always a struggle. But what makes it worthwhile is the bird life. Gannets have returned and Maggie is assessing how they’re faring this year, after last year’s devastating bird flu epidemic. The viewers will get to see first-hand how the virus is affecting the birds, and Maggie’s heartfelt reactions and reflections during this difficult time.
Early Spider Orchid
For Leif Bersweden, Springwatch’s new resident botanist, love for orchids began ten years ago when he first clapped eyes on the rare Early Spider Orchid in Durlston Country Park in Dorset. Now he’s back at the optimal time of year to see this amazing plant. It’s a sexually-deceptive orchid which has evolved to exploit the male buffish mining bee. The orchid’ flowers look, smell and feel to the male bee exactly like a female bee. So, the male bees buzz around with just one job – to find a female. When the bee finds the type of orchid that looks like a lady bee, he thinks he’s got lucky and attempts to mate with it. In doing so, the pollen sacs of the orchids stick to his head like yellow horns. He then flies to the next orchid – effectively pollinating it.
Ever since he was a boy, keen naturalist and birder Nadeem Perera has been driven to question our natural world. Now, with the help of the latest science he’s looking to explain, how do pond-skaters walk on water? Why don’t woodpeckers get headaches and How do squirrels survive falling from great heights? Luckily physicist Dr Chris Bell has some of the answers as they watch these remarkable species in action.
Tree Dwelling Bats
Megan McCubbin will be in Gloucestershire indulging in her passion for ancient trees. These increasingly rare trees are incredibly special for wildlife including some of our rarest bats. Twelve of our eighteen species of bats regularly roost in trees but because they’re so difficult to find, our knowledge is limited. Megan meets up with bat conservationist Jim Mulholland who is focussed on understanding and improving the future of tree-dwelling bat species. To see the bats for herself, Megan must get harnessed up to climb the trees where she has just 60 seconds to see the bats without disturbing them.
The fairways and greens of a golf course are an unsuspecting habitat to find the UK’s fastest declining mammal. But the waterways that cause problems for many golfers are providing the perfect home for water voles. As parakeets fly overhead, the water vole makes their way through the channels in search of sustenance and each other.
Chantelle Lindsay visits Highgate Cemetery in search of an arachnid that has made a home for itself in the vaults of the famed Egyptian Avenue. Meta Bourneti is traditionally a cave spider that is seldom seen in the UK, but a colony has carved an existence for itself here for almost a century. Will Chantelle find life amongst the Victorian monuments of those that have passed?
A small island in a lagoon in North Wales becomes the prime breeding ground for the spectacular sandwich tern. With their punklike head feathers, they settle at the National Trust’s Cemlyn reserve each spring. Their courtship however, is less rock and roll and more pasodoble resembling matadors, as they strut with wings outstretched in the attempt to attract a mate.
Buzz and Scuttle
Marian Hill is an accomplished collage artist using both recycled materials and photographs to create anatomically correct representations of the insects that she finds in her hometown of Bath. What started as a passion project has evolved into a nationwide initiative placing identification boards around the country to raise awareness, and excitement of the invertebrate life that can be found in habitats across the UK.
Husband and wife duo, Steve and Davine, have been volunteering at RSPB Minsmere for almost a decade but for them, it isn’t the birds that are the star attractions. They have uncovered a habitat that goes unnoticed by many, as insects have created a miniature metropolis under the feet of passers-by. From predatory bee wolves to tool-using sand wasps, macro photography reveals the soap opera unfolding in digger alley.
The spring brings sunshine and welcome warmth to Buckinghamshire, and in amongst the early blooms of the primroses an imposter can be found. At first glance you would be forgiven for thinking that this is a bee but the tell-tale signs of its long proboscis, and only one pair of wings, show that this is in fact a fly – a bee fly. This master of mimicry has a sinister side as it parasites on solitary bees in a spectacular fashion. Like launching a catapult, it takes aim and flings its eggs into the burrows of unsuspecting bees where they will eventually hatch into parasitic larva, killing their hosts.
Large white butterflies can be seen in many of our gardens in spring, where they lay their eggs on the tender stems of our green veg. When the caterpillars emerge, they have a ready supply of food and they can easily strip our cabbages of their leaves. But the smell of the caterpillar’s saliva when mixed with chewed up leaves attracts an unwanted guest – Cotesia Glomorata – a type of solitary wasp, no bigger than a flying ant. They too are looking for somewhere to lay their eggs, ideally inside the caterpillar. The female wasp succeeds and what happens to the caterpillar now is a truth stranger than fiction. It grows as normal, while the wasp larvae grow inside it, until finally they chew their way out. Amazingly the caterpillar is still alive but now its brain chemistry has been altered to protect the wasp larvae day and night, until finally it starves to death. Cotesia are so common that 70% of large white caterpillars endure this fate.
Nestled in the shallows around the UK coastline are some of the strangest life forms in the sea – polyps. They’re anchored to rocks for up to 25 years, but when Springtime conditions are just right, they can undergo a remarkable transformation. They morph into a daisy-chain of segments, which then start a strange twitching dance. Slowly but surely the upper most segment branches off, as a new baby Moon Jellyfish drifts away on the current. They grow up to six millimetres a day until just two months later they are fully formed adults known as medusa. Jellyfish have no brains, no bones and no blood but, as we reveal using micro photography showing you their anatomy in fine detail, they are truly spellbinding creatures.
Canals, once Britain’s super-highways bustling with trade and industry, are now a much more leisurely affair. They are also wildlife corridors, giving many species a route in and out of our towns and cities. We showcase one that runs parallel to a natural river in Gloucestershire and it’s home to one of our most elusive mammals – otters. They’ve learned to navigate the locks, dams and gates of the canal, where there’s plenty of fish to be had. And one particular female otter needs as many as she can get because she’s got hungry mouths to feed: two months old otter cubs. At around five months old, they are starting to explore the river for themselves. In the coming months mum will teach them everything she knows – by the time they’re one, they’ll need to be able to navigate the highways and byways of the canal on their own.
Concealed in the short grasses on chalk downland in Dorset is a beautiful burnet moth caterpillar. It’s a very fussy eater, feeding only on common bird’s foot trefoil. The caterpillar and the trefoil share a very sinister skill. Both have evolved the ability to conjure up toxic cyanides. When threatened, the caterpillar oozes dangerous droplets. It advertises this trait with eye catching green and black colours, warning predators to stay away – which means it feeds undisturbed. When it has finally eaten its fill of trefoil, it shuffles deep into the undergrowth, and spins itself into a delicate, parchment-like opaque cocoon. Around a fortnight later it re-emerges. It has transformed into an adult five spot burnet moth and slowly unfurls iridescent inky blue wings, dotted with intense crimson and takes its first flight into the May sunshine. Cruising over the downland it’s a large and conspicuous fuzzball in flight and could be a very easy target. But it has protection. It may have changed colour since it was a caterpillar, but the message born in bright red on the moth’s wings is the same – toxic – stay away! It seems to be working as it ambles its way over the hillside to find a mate.
With a wealth of live wildlife cameras, Springwatch is embracing the here and now, connecting viewers to Spring’s miraculous moments in real time. Sights and sounds of the natural world will feature heavily including the dawn chorus, hidden nests and hatching eggs, with fleeting, fulfilling moments that overflow with emotion, kindle imaginations and spark a lifelong love of the natural world.
RSPB Arne in Dorset will be home to more than 30 remote cameras – each hoping to capture the drama of spring as it unfolds.
Popular nest cameras will be up to their usual tricks, prying into the hidden lives of some of Arne’s special bird species.
From skulking Dartford Warblers to wonderful Woodlarks; gaudy Green Woodpeckers and the out-of-this-world Nightjar, it’s make or break time as the birds take on a race against time to bring in the next generation. Predators are plentiful in this thriving ecosystem however, danger is never far away as these chicks take their chances to successfully fledge.
Diving into the heathlands also allows Springwatch to explore other groups of animals like never before. All six of the UK’s native reptile species call Arne their home, including rare Sand Lizards and Smooth Snakes. Just like their avian cousins, spring is all about breeding for these reptiles and the cameras will be standing by to follow all the action.
There will be plenty of invertebrate action too as Arne plays host to a hugely diverse range of specialised minibeasts – from tunnelling bees to parasitic wasps and the extraordinary ladybird spider.
Mindfulness Moments will be back too. Each programme will feature 90 seconds of pure nature – no music, no voice-over, just natural sound and glorious pictures to take viewers to a purely natural and wild place bringing a sense of calm.
This year, viewers will be transported into the world of the red squirrel, enjoy carpets of English bluebells and marvel at UK’s only aquatic songbird – the dipper. Additionally, they’ll be taken to the serenity of a reed pond, the magical delicacy of trees in full blossom and journey through the undergrowth of a forest floor in spring.
Springwatch returns on BBC Two on Monday, 29 May at 7.30pm and will continue at 8pm from Tuesday 30 May. All episodes will be available on iPlayer after broadcast.
Springwatch is produced by BBC Studios in partnership with The Open University and was commissioned for the BBC by Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Science and Natural History, and Sreya Biswas, Factual Commissioning Editor The Executive Producer is Rosemary Edwards for BBC Studios, Series Editor is Joanna Brame.
Thank you for reading this post.