A Guide To Coastal Wildlife

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
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0120160328

012016032820160806 (R4)

What looks a sponge, smells like a volcano and is found in rock pools? Well, the answer can be found in this series of three programmes in which Brett Westwood joins naturalist Phil Gates on the coast of Northumberland and with the help of recordings by wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson, they offer a practical and entertaining guide to the wildlife which you're most likely to see and hear in different coastal habitats beginning with probably everyone's favourite childhood haunt, the rock pool. These are home to shore crabs and hermit crabs, as well as sea anemones, breadcrumb sponges and sea squirts. We learn how sea squirts which appear to be little more than bags of fluid clinging to the rocks might be our evolutionary ancestors, we hear how a school teacher invented glass shells to study the reproduction and subsequently house-moving antics of hermit crabs, and discover how when it comes to building, it's the breadcrumb sponges which have mastered the art with some clever self- assembly scaffolding tricks! Producer Sarah Blunt.

The first in a series of engaging guides to help identify some common coastal wildlife.

01Rock Pools20160328

What looks a sponge, smells like a volcano and is found in rock pools? Well, the answer can be found in the first of a new series of five programmes in which Brett Westwood joins naturalist Phil Gates on the coast of Northumberland and with the help of recordings by wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson, they offer a practical and entertaining guide to the wildlife which you're most likely to see and hear in different coastal habitats beginning with probably everyone's favourite childhood haunt, the rock pool. These are home to shore crabs and hermit crabs, as well as sea anemones, breadcrumb sponges and sea squirts. We learn how sea squirts which appear to be little more than bags of fluid clinging to the rocks might be our evolutionary ancestors, we hear how a school teacher invented glass shells to study the reproduction and subsequently house-moving antics of hermit crabs, and discover how when it comes to building, it's the breadcrumb sponges which have mastered the art with some clever self- assembly scaffolding tricks!

Producer Sarah Blunt.

01Rock Pools2016032820160806 (R4)

What looks a sponge, smells like a volcano and is found in rock pools? Well, the answer can be found in the first of a new series of five programmes in which Brett Westwood joins naturalist Phil Gates on the coast of Northumberland and with the help of recordings by wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson, they offer a practical and entertaining guide to the wildlife which you're most likely to see and hear in different coastal habitats beginning with probably everyone's favourite childhood haunt, the rock pool. These are home to shore crabs and hermit crabs, as well as sea anemones, breadcrumb sponges and sea squirts. We learn how sea squirts which appear to be little more than bags of fluid clinging to the rocks might be our evolutionary ancestors, we hear how a school teacher invented glass shells to study the reproduction and subsequently house-moving antics of hermit crabs, and discover how when it comes to building, it's the breadcrumb sponges which have mastered the art with some clever self- assembly scaffolding tricks!

Producer Sarah Blunt.

What looks a sponge, smells like a volcano and is found in rock pools? Well, the answer can be found in this series of three programmes in which Brett Westwood joins naturalist Phil Gates on the coast of Northumberland and with the help of recordings by wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson, they offer a practical and entertaining guide to the wildlife which you're most likely to see and hear in different coastal habitats beginning with probably everyone's favourite childhood haunt, the rock pool. These are home to shore crabs and hermit crabs, as well as sea anemones, breadcrumb sponges and sea squirts. We learn how sea squirts which appear to be little more than bags of fluid clinging to the rocks might be our evolutionary ancestors, we hear how a school teacher invented glass shells to study the reproduction and subsequently house-moving antics of hermit crabs, and discover how when it comes to building, it's the breadcrumb sponges which have mastered the art with some clever self- assembly scaffolding tricks! Producer Sarah Blunt.

The first in a series of engaging guides to help identify some common coastal wildlife.

02Sandy Beaches20160329

02Sandy Beaches20160329

The sandy beach is one of the most hostile habitats on our coastline and to survive the driving wind, abrasive sand and predation by sea birds, animals either spend much of their lives below the surface or have evolved some very clever adaptations as Brett Westwood discovers when he joins naturalist Phil Gates on the Northumberland coast and with the help of recordings by wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson they offer a practical and entertaining guide to the wildlife which you're most likely to see and hear on sandy beaches. On the lower shore, they wander amongst the lugworm burrows in search of razor clams and pogoing cockles! Brett discovers not only how razor clams escape predation by burrowing into the sand with their muscular foot, but also how to age them "It's great I've come all the way to Northumberland to age a mollusc", laughs Brett. Higher up the beach, Brett and Phil gently rake through piles of decaying seaweed to discover a seething mass of jumping sand hoppers; small crustaceans about the size of a woodlouse with legs of two different lengths, which move up and down the beach with the tides. And finally at the top of the beach at the front of the sand dunes, they discuss the remarkable abilities of marram grass not only to avoid drying out, but also to hold back the sand and create stable areas where communities of other plants can take root and grow.

Producer Sarah Blunt.

02Sandy Beaches2016032920160813 (R4)

The sandy beach is one of the most hostile habitats on our coastline and to survive the driving wind, abrasive sand and predation by sea birds, animals either spend much of their lives below the surface or have evolved some very clever adaptations as Brett Westwood discovers when he joins naturalist Phil Gates on the Northumberland coast and with the help of recordings by wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson they offer a practical and entertaining guide to the wildlife which you're most likely to see and hear on sandy beaches. On the lower shore, they wander amongst the lugworm burrows in search of razor clams and pogoing cockles! Brett discovers not only how razor clams escape predation by burrowing into the sand with their muscular foot, but also how to age them "It's great I've come all the way to Northumberland to age a mollusc", laughs Brett. Higher up the beach, Brett and Phil gently rake through piles of decaying seaweed to discover a seething mass of jumping sand hoppers; small crustaceans about the size of a woodlouse with legs of two different lengths, which move up and down the beach with the tides. And finally at the top of the beach at the front of the sand dunes, they discuss the remarkable abilities of marram grass not only to avoid drying out, but also to hold back the sand and create stable areas where communities of other plants can take root and grow.

Producer Sarah Blunt.

02Sandy Beaches2016032920160813 (R4)

The sandy beach is one of the most hostile habitats on our coastline and to survive the driving wind, abrasive sand and predation by sea birds, animals either spend much of their lives below the surface or have evolved some very clever adaptations as Brett Westwood discovers when he joins naturalist Phil Gates on the Northumberland coast and with the help of recordings by wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson they offer a practical and entertaining guide to the wildlife which you're most likely to see and hear on sandy beaches. On the lower shore, they wander amongst the lugworm burrows in search of razor clams and pogoing cockles! Brett discovers not only how razor clams escape predation by burrowing into the sand with their muscular foot, but also how to age them "It's great I've come all the way to Northumberland to age a mollusc", laughs Brett. Higher up the beach, Brett and Phil gently rake through piles of decaying seaweed to discover a seething mass of jumping sand hoppers; small crustaceans about the size of a woodlouse with legs of two different lengths, which move up and down the beach with the tides. And finally at the top of the beach at the front of the sand dunes, they discuss the remarkable abilities of marram grass not only to avoid drying out, but also to hold back the sand and create stable areas where communities of other plants can take root and grow.

Producer Sarah Blunt.

03Sea Cliffs20160330

03Sea Cliffs20160330

What has an old threepenny coin and a sea cliff in common? Well, the answer can be found in this programme when Brett Westwood joins naturalist Phil Gates on the Northumberland coast and discovers how plants and animals have evolved to survive the battering waves, salt spray and driving winds in one of the most hostile habitats on our coastline, the sea cliffs. Their first encounter is with sea pink or thrift, a plant which has evolved to survive the high levels of salt by sequestering salt into its leaves which then die off, and are replaced by new leaves. Lured by the cries of birds calling out their name "kitti-waak", "kitti-waak", they clamber across the rocks into a cove where kittiwakes and fulmars are nesting on a sheer cliff face. Brett learns why the young chicks don't fall off their narrow ledges and how fulmars keep predators at bay (the clue is in their name which means, foul mouth). Below the birds, where the waves pound against the rocks, the surface is studded with barnacles and limpets, and away from the roar of the waves, in a quiet spot amongst coconut-scented gorse bushes Brett and Phil discuss just how these creatures manage to 'cling on', survive and thrive!

Producer Sarah Blunt.

03Sea Cliffs20160330

What has an old threepenny coin and a sea cliff in common? Well, the answer can be found in this programme when Brett Westwood joins naturalist Phil Gates on the Northumberland coast and discovers how plants and animals have evolved to survive the battering waves, salt spray and driving winds in one of the most hostile habitats on our coastline, the sea cliffs. Their first encounter is with sea pink or thrift, a plant which has evolved to survive the high levels of salt by sequestering salt into its leaves which then die off, and are replaced by new leaves. Lured by the cries of birds calling out their name "kitti-waak", "kitti-waak", they clamber across the rocks into a cove where kittiwakes and fulmars are nesting on a sheer cliff face. Brett learns why the young chicks don't fall off their narrow ledges and how fulmars keep predators at bay (the clue is in their name which means, foul mouth). Below the birds, where the waves pound against the rocks, the surface is studded with barnacles and limpets, and away from the roar of the waves, in a quiet spot amongst coconut-scented gorse bushes Brett and Phil discuss just how these creatures manage to 'cling on', survive and thrive!

Producer Sarah Blunt.

04The Strandline20160331

04The Strandline20160331

offers shelter and food to a diverse range of wildlife, but of course you never know quite what you might find here as it moves with the tides. Shells, feathers, skulls and egg cases might get caught up in piles of rotting seaweed or blown away by the wind. It's a very windy day when Brett Westwood and Phil Gates scour the strandline, and having retrieved their 'treasure' they head off to the shelter of the dunes to share their booty; shells of various kinds, a feathers, a piece of sea sandwort and some seaweed flies - one of the few insects which you might find on the beach. Other creatures which you might be lucky enough to find include a sea potato or burrowing sea urchin. After they have died, what remains is a beautiful heart-shaped case covered in tiny holes which mark the point where muscular feet once protruded. When alive, the urchins burrow into the sand and filter food out of the sea water. Strandlines are also good places to look for whelk egg cases, which resemble pieces of bubble wrap, but as we hear are the sites of cannibalism and molluscan violence! But perhaps the most highly prized find on a strandline would be a mermaid's purse; the egg case of a dog fish or skate although the latter are very rare. And as Phil reveals he's not only found egg cases in the past but had a close encounter with the adult - a relative of a shark - and survived to tell the tale!

Producer Sarah Blunt.

04The Strandline20160331

The strandline offers shelter and food to a diverse range of wildlife, but of course you never know quite what you might find here as it moves with the tides. Shells, feathers, skulls and egg cases might get caught up in piles of rotting seaweed or blown away by the wind. It's a very windy day when Brett Westwood and Phil Gates scour the strandline, and having retrieved their 'treasure' they head off to the shelter of the dunes to share their booty; shells of various kinds, a feathers, a piece of sea sandwort and some seaweed flies - one of the few insects which you might find on the beach. Other creatures which you might be lucky enough to find include a sea potato or burrowing sea urchin. After they have died, what remains is a beautiful heart-shaped case covered in tiny holes which mark the point where muscular feet once protruded. When alive, the urchins burrow into the sand and filter food out of the sea water. Strandlines are also good places to look for whelk egg cases, which resemble pieces of bubble wrap, but as we hear are the sites of cannibalism and molluscan violence! But perhaps the most highly prized find on a strandline would be a mermaid's purse; the egg case of a dog fish or skate although the latter are very rare. And as Phil reveals he's not only found egg cases in the past but had a close encounter with the adult - a relative of a shark - and survived to tell the tale!

Producer Sarah Blunt.

05Mudflats and Salt Marshes20160401

05Mudflats and Salt Marshes20160401

What attracts so many birds to gather on vast expanses of coastal sea mud around the coast? Well, the answer can be found in this programme when Brett Westwood joins naturalist Phil Gates on the Northumberland coast and after wading carefully across a slippery bed of popping seaweed, they explore the sticky ooze of the mud flats, to discover it teeming with life; food for wading birds. As well as cockles and lugworms, there are much smaller mud snails and mud shrimps. The latter are tiny crustaceans, very elongated with enormous antennae like "curved crane jibs" which are found in vast numbers (a conservative estimate is 10,000 per square metre) swimming on the surface in liquid mud or hiding out in tunnels below the surface. This rich source of food explains why so many birds gather here to feed; birds like the smart looking shelduck; a duck which is almost the size of small goose but lays its eggs in underground burrows! Away from the mud, slightly higher up the shore on the salt marsh, Brett and Phil discover sea lavender, a plant which has a clever way of dealing with high salt levels by excreting salt crystals onto its leaves giving them a greyish sheen and a salty taste!

Producer Sarah Blunt.

05Mudflats and Salt Marshes2016040120160820 (R4)

What attracts so many birds to gather on vast expanses of coastal sea mud around the coast? Well, the answer can be found in this programme when Brett Westwood joins naturalist Phil Gates on the Northumberland coast and after wading carefully across a slippery bed of popping seaweed, they explore the sticky ooze of the mud flats, to discover it teeming with life; food for wading birds. As well as cockles and lugworms, there are much smaller mud snails and mud shrimps. The latter are tiny crustaceans, very elongated with enormous antennae like "curved crane jibs" which are found in vast numbers (a conservative estimate is 10,000 per square metre) swimming on the surface in liquid mud or hiding out in tunnels below the surface. This rich source of food explains why so many birds gather here to feed; birds like the smart looking shelduck; a duck which is almost the size of small goose but lays its eggs in underground burrows! Away from the mud, slightly higher up the shore on the salt marsh, Brett and Phil discover sea lavender, a plant which has a clever way of dealing with high salt levels by excreting salt crystals onto its leaves giving them a greyish sheen and a salty taste!

Producer Sarah Blunt.

05Mudflats And Salt Marshes2016040120160820 (R4)

What attracts so many birds to gather on vast expanses of coastal sea mud around the coast? Well, the answer can be found in this programme when Brett Westwood joins naturalist Phil Gates on the Northumberland coast and after wading carefully across a slippery bed of popping seaweed, they explore the sticky ooze of the mud flats, to discover it teeming with life; food for wading birds. As well as cockles and lugworms, there are much smaller mud snails and mud shrimps. The latter are tiny crustaceans, very elongated with enormous antennae like "curved crane jibs" which are found in vast numbers (a conservative estimate is 10,000 per square metre) swimming on the surface in liquid mud or hiding out in tunnels below the surface. This rich source of food explains why so many birds gather here to feed; birds like the smart looking shelduck; a duck which is almost the size of small goose but lays its eggs in underground burrows! Away from the mud, slightly higher up the shore on the salt marsh, Brett and Phil discover sea lavender, a plant which has a clever way of dealing with high salt levels by excreting salt crystals onto its leaves giving them a greyish sheen and a salty taste!

Producer Sarah Blunt.