1/4. The Bouncing Bog

Brett Westwood visits Chartley Moss in Staffordshire, one of the few examples in this country of a 'schwingmoor'. This unusual wetland area is a three metre raft of peat floating on an underground lake. Apart from being a rare habitat it is also a 'life raft' for important communities of bog-dwelling plant and insect species, including the White-faced Darter dragonfly.


3/4. Nightjars

The heathland of Cannock Chase in Staffordshire is home to several pairs of nightjars. With the first National Nightjar Survey in 12 years underway, Brett Westwood ventures out at dusk to try and catch a glimpse of this nocturnal bird and hear the extraordinary sound of its call.


4/4. Hoverflies

As their names suggests, hoverflies are flies that hover - but there is more to these flies than meets the eye. Hoverfly larvae have evolved a variety of interesting feeding strategies and habitats to live in. The adult flies, with their beautiful body patterns, are often mistaken for bees and wasps although they have no sting. Brett Westwood joins a hoverfly expert in a flower-filled botanic garden to look for some of our most interesting species.

Followed by Weather.


The Machair of the Western Isles

Brett Westwood visits South Harris in the Western Isles to witness the magic of the Machair. Known only by its gaelic word these coastal grasslands, rich in brightly coloured wildflowers are one of the rarest habitats in Europe. The calls of seabirds like lapwing, twite, and oystercatcher fill the air and the grasses are alive with insects including the buzzing of the very rare great yellow bumble bee.



The Cat Comes Back

It was once one of the rarest mammals in Britain, confined to a small enclave in the remote Welsh Hills, but nowadays as Brett Westwood finds out it could be on your doorstep. Polecats with their chocolate coloured fur and bandit masks have re-colonised large areas of lowland England where they've spread thanks to a decrease in persecution.

Then Weather


The Fungal Foray! With this year's wet summer, the woods are alive with a huge variety of fungi. Brett Westwood visits the Wyre Forest, with trug in hand.


The Oak Tree Planters: Brett Westwood explores the life of the jay, watching them in a Worcestershire wood as they commute across a meadow to bury acorns.


1/4. Old Red Sandstone: Chris Sperring is taken by geologist Brian Williams to visit one of his friends - a 400 million year old with a huge secret to divulge.


2/4. Essex Geese: Peter France penetrates the wilderness of the Essex Marshes to find Brent Geese, one of our rare winter visitors.


3/4. The Life of Pine: Chris Sperring presents a winter feast of natural history treats, conifers and birds, from the Pinetum at Bedgebury.


4/4. Mountain Hares: Sarah Pitt accompanies hare expert Derek Yalden into the heart of the Peak District to discover England's only population of these endearing creatures.


Hibernating Peacocks: Lionel Kelleway visits a colony of hibernating peacock butterflies in disused war bunkers on the south coast of Devon. The creatures are just about to wake up. Then Weather.

Hibernating Ladybirds: Lionel Kelleway searches for the seven-spot and other hibernating ladybirds in the Thetford Forest.


Hibernating Ladybirds: Lionel Kelleway searches for the seven-spot and other hibernating ladybirds in the Thetford Forest.


Spring Bumblebees

Bumble bees are amongst the first to wake in the thin early spring sunshine. Lionel Kelleway looks at some of the more common species of bumblebee active at this time of year.


Spring Hawthorn

One of the great icons of spring is well underway, the Hawthorn in full flower. Lionel Kelleway visits a Lincolnshire woodland to discover the natural and cultural history of spring Hawthorn.


The Mayfly and the Chalkstream

Lionel Kelleway and Mike Ladle wade amongst the shallows of a chalk stream in Dorset in search of the Mayfly. In late spring, the character of the river changes as Mayflies emerge, searching for a mate and a place to lay their eggs. Their appearance triggers a feeding frenzy, as trout and other creatures feast on the clouds of insects above the clear, running water.


Life in a Ditch

Continuing his exploration of some of Britain's watery landscapes, Lionel Kelleway travels to the Pevensey Levels in East Sussex in search of Britain's largest beetle, the Great Silver Water Beetle. This must surely be one of the most charismatic of ditch-loving insects, carrying its own supply of air in a silvery bubble under its body. It can swim, dive, crawl and fly, and lays its eggs in a beautiful silver cocoon.


Peacock Butterflies

In a journey which takes them from a disused Second World War bunker to a nettle bed in Devon, Lionel Kelleway and Richard Fox of Butterfly Conservation follow the trail of the Peacock Butterfly, from hibernating adults to nettle-munching caterpillars. They encounter a Bloxworth Snout, a butterfly that warns them off using sounds and colour and a tent spun out of silk, on the way.


Water Shrews in Watercress

Lionel Kelleway's exploration of some of Britain's watery landscapes comes to an end in Hertfordshire, where he delves among the watercress beds in search of one of Britain's most elusive mammals, the Water Shrew.

Despite being the largest of the British shrews, very little is known about their distribution, but - as Lionel discovers - a national survey involving plastic tubes and blowfly pupae is hoping to provide some answers.


The Strangford Shore

Lionel Kelleway meets up with marine naturalist Pat Boaden on the shores of Strangford Lough to encounter the riches of the British coast, including the unusually named Electric Bulb Sea Squirt.


The Fulmars of Eynhallow

Paul Thompson from the University of Aberdeen guides presenter Lionel Kelleway around the uninhabited island of Eynhallow in the Orkney Islands of Scotland. There, they meet its most serene wild resident, the fulmar.


The Stickleback

Lionel Kelleway goes in search of the ubiquitous stickleback in the clear waters of Llynfrongoch lake, West Wales. With the help of expert Iain Barber, Lionel peers into a world of sneaky males, zig zag dances and sex bombs.


Mitten Crabs

Lionel Kelleway visits the heart of London where thousands of invaders are taking over our shores - literally.

He joins Chris Dutton from the Environment Agency on Chiswick Eyot, an island in the Thames, to discover how Chinese mitten crabs ended up in Britain and why they might be threatening our rivers.


1/4. Woodland Moths

Armed with a large lamp, paint brush, head torch and a pot of sweet, sticky syrup, Lionel Kelleway goes in search of woodland moths. Joining him on this unusual night safari in Hembury Woods in Devon, are Richard Fox and Mark Parsons from Butterfly Conservation.

Having painted a group of tree trunks with sticky syrup in the hope of attracting sweet-toothed moths, the three men then set up camp around their light trap, and await the arrival of the night visitors.

Whilst butterflies with their brightly coloured wings and dazzling patterns easily court our attention, their relatives, the moths, are often overlooked, but as Lionel discovers these fragile creatures have a beauty all of their own, as they flit back and forth in the flickering shadows of the light trap, before being released unharmed. During the night vigil, Lionel learns from his companions how these fragile creatures survive the autumn climate, and why they are so important in the life and ecology of the woodland at this time of year - for example, by proving vital food for hungry bats!

In October and November, many moths, like the November moth, are coming to the end of their summer/autumn flight and laying eggs for the winter, but as the days grow shorter, the true winter species can be spotted, including the wingless oak moth.


Tree Roots

Lionel Kelleway enjoys a subterranean tour in Treborth Botanic Gardens in North Wales, where he encounters plant roots dating back some 300 million years.

He discovers what gum trees and pink truffles have in common, tries a 'scratch'n'sniff' technique to identify roots, and discovers how the most important partner for many trees is not another tree - but a fungus.


Seeds on the Breeze

Nature is full of clever solutions, but some of the most ingenious examples of engineering and design are to be found amongst its plant seeds, as Lionel Kelleway discovers when he joins botanist Phil Gates near Wolsingham in Weardale on a quest for seeds. Armed with an umbrella and a coconut, they play pooh sticks with seeds in the river, have fun with sticky burrs, and discover exploding capsules, spiky coats and seeds designed like drills!


Hares: Lionel Kelleway walks on to the dark peak on the edge of day and night, looking for mountain hares getting frisky.


The Long-tailed Basket Weaver: Lionel Kelleway joins bird behaviourist Ben Hatchwell in search of long-tailed Tits embarking on nest building and laying eggs in Yorkshire.


The Blandford Fly

For many years, the tranquil River Stour gave rise to a plague of blackflies every spring, and their blood-sucking habits caused pain and misery to the inhabitants of Blandford Forum - until a biological method was developed to control the pest.

Lionel Kelleway and freshwater biologist Mike Ladle go in search of the menacing beast, and discover a remarkable silk-spinning insect, with an unfortunate taste for human blood!


Lime, Gin and Juniper

Lionel Kelleway journeys along the Pennine Way in Teesdale with botanist Phil Gates, exploring flora which has fascinated plant lovers for centuries. They find some of our earliest colonists which arrived after the ice sheets retreated 10,000 years ago; an ancient Juniper forest, and a rarity which is found nowhere else in England.


Corn Buntings and Tree Sparrows

Lionel Kelleway visits the RSPB Reserve at Blacktoft Sands in East Yorkshire where RSPB warden Pete Short and ornithologist David Harper discuss the fates and fortunes of Corn Buntings and Tree Sparrows, which can be found in and around this vast tidal reed bed reserve, despite having disappeared from many other parts of Britain.

Then Weather.


Freshwater Pearl Mussels

Lionel Kelleway pulls on his waders and joins mollusc expert Mary Seddon in a search for freshwater pearl mussels. Once so common, they were farmed by the Romans, these giant mussels have since disappeared from many of our UK rivers, but those that remain have a fascinating lifestyle, as Lionel discovers in the shallows of a Cumbrian river.


Little Tern on the Beach

Lionel Kelleway goes in search of our rarest species of tern, the little tern, and finds them on the beach at Great Yarmouth. With over 350 nests this year, Great Yarmouth has enjoyed a year of spectacular breeding success for these charismatic little seabirds. Guided by Mark Smart of the RSPB, Lionel learns more about the little tern and why it has enjoyed such a successful year at Great Yarmouth.


Newt in a Pit

Lionel Kelleway visits possibly Europe's largest colony of Great Crested Newt at the ponds of the Hampton Nature Reserve - a wildlife legacy of the old Peterborough clay pits. Lionel explores the depths with nets and waders in the company of Jules Howard of Froglife, and seeks to understand why these pits have turned into ponds with such an abundance of newt and other aquatic wildlife.


Lichens of the Hazel Wood

In the company of lichenologists Brian and Sandy Coppins, Lionel Kelleway visits the hazel woodland of Ballachuan - which boasts over 250 species of lichen. Lionel discovers more about the lives of these extraordinary organisms and why this woodland has become a prime example of a very special habitat - almost unique to western Scotland.


The Highland Midge

Lionel Kelleway ventures into the Scottish Highlands to meet midge expert Dr Alison Blackwell for a close encounter with one of our less popular insects. So often the bane of residents and tourists alike, Lionel hopes to learn just why these tiny insects have become so spectacularly successful - frequenting some areas of the countryside in mind-boggling numbers. Lionel attempts to learn what the most recent research has revealed about the lives of these tiny pests, and what it is that makes the midge an apparently impeccable design.


1/4. Wintering Warblers

Six species of warbler, two resident and four migratory, winter in Britain and their numbers have increased over the last 20 years. Lionel Kelleway joins Greg Conway of the British Trust for Ornithology to find out how our milder winters, resulting in good supplies of food and changes of migratory behaviour, are helping species such as the blackcap and chiffchaff survive.


Lionel Kelleway explores the world of mosses.



Tiny bryophytes love the dampness of the British Isles, bringing a dash of welcome green while most things in nature close down for the winter. Lionel Kelleway explores the luxuriant mosses to be found in a Shropshire woodland with bryologist Mark Lawley.



Without seeds or flowers, ferns have managed to seduce naturalists and gardeners with their delicate beauty, shapes and colours for centuries. Lionel Kelleway discovers that ferns are not just found in shady and damp nooks and crannies.


1/5. In Search of Dippers

Lionel Kelleway joins Steve Ormerod from Cardiff University on a riverbank in the heart of Wales. Steve has spent many years studying the behaviour and ecology of the dipper, the world's only truly aquatic passerine bird. Late January is one of the best times of year to observe them. Resident males sing vigorously as they form their breeding territories, attracting females and building new nests or repairing old ones.


2/5. Mud Matters

Lionel Kelleway explores the Wash, the largest expanse of mudflats in the UK. Stretching from Skegness to Hunstanton, the Wash is a mecca for over 300,000 wader birds every year. Huge numbers of migrant birds such as grey plovers, dunlins, oystercatchers and godwits arrive in the autumn to feed on the rich supplies of food found in the sands and mudflats.


3/5. Netting at Snettisham

Lionel Kelleway presents a second programme from the Wash, the largest expanse of mudflats in the UK. He joins RSPB conservation officer Sarah Dawkins and other members of the Wash Wader Ringing Group as they set up cannon nets to catch waders. The birds are ringed in order to track their subsequent migratory patterns and then released.


4/5. Rooks and a Winter Roost

Lionel Kelleway watches an extraordinary spectacle as tens of thousands of rooks gather together to roost for the night. Vast flocks of birds wheel in the air high above the trees before settling amongst the branches, constantly calling to one another as the light fades.


5/5. The Duck Pond

Lionel Kelleway joins Ciaran Nelson at the RSPB Reserve at Snettisham in Norfolk. Sat in a hide overlooking a lagoon at the reserve, they compare notes on ducks, discussing how different species have adapted to their way of life, why some migrate and how habits and behaviour differentiate one duck species from another.



Naturalist Lionel Kelleway meets veteran adder watcher Sylvia Sheldon on her local patch in Worcestershire, learning about some interesting facets of the snakes' biology. In his honour, Sylvia names a new male in her study area after Lionel himself.


Salisbury Plain Honey Bees: Honey bees are part of the natural ecology of Salisbury Plain, an area used for training by the MOD. Lionel Kelleway meets MOD bee expert Chris Wilks.


Catch The Pigeon

Lionel Kelleway meets Chris Armstrong at Wytham Woods in Oxfordshire. Chris is researching the mysteries of pigeon navigation. They meet the pigeons in their loft, take them to a release site and track their progress home.


Reed Warblers

Lionel Kelleway visits Rostherne Mere in Cheshire in search of reed warblers. These diminutive travellers fly to Africa and back each year. Lionel joins warbler expert Malcolm Calvert as he catches and rings the adults and then searches for nests in the reed beds.


Isle of Man: The Natural History of the TT Race

Lionel Kelleway joins two TT race fanatics and naturalists on a trip around the famous 37-mile course on the Isle of Man. They observe the local wildlife, including cave spiders, lampreys and orchids.


Isle of Man: Hen Harrier

The island is the UK's hotspot for the bird of prey with sulphur yellow legs and a light and wafty demeanour in flight. Lionel Kelleway wanders the hills and enjoys the closest of encounters near a nest with three thriving chicks.


Isle of Man: The Rocky Shore

Lionel Kelleway enjoys a highly productive day along a coastline full of variety. He finds lobsters and fiddler crabs and learns a great deal about the pressures on the island's shores, including looking after their basking sharks.


Isle of Man: Beeflies

On the northern Manx shore is a large expanse of dune dominated by lichen heath. This special habitat is the scene for one of Lionel Kelleway's most unusual quests, the hunt for a species of beefly


The World's Largest Slug

Lionel Kelleway visits the Dart Valley in Dartmoor in search of the elusive Ash Black Slug, which can measure as much as 30 centimetres in length. The hunt for this slimy monster also results in a rare encounter with Britain's largest and rarest ground beetle, the Blue Ground Beetle.


Culm Grassland

Lionel Kelleway discovers the Culm Grassland water meadow in Devon, a rare habitat believed to be unique in Europe. With a unique mix of grass species and an unusually large number of flowering plants, it is believed to be the same today as when it first appeared at the end of the last Ice Age. Lionel unearths the complexities of restoring this wild ancient grassland.


The Late Arrivals

Lionel Kelleway travels to Lulworth Cove in Dorset where, standing on the cliffs, he witnesses the small bands of Red Admiral butterflies that migrate from mainland Europe.

Programme Catalogue - Details: 1990052619900526

26 May 1990

Producer: RUTHVEN, J

Next in series: LOUGH ERNE

Previous in series: DUNGENESS

Broadcast history

26 May 1990 16:02-16:30 (RADIO 4)

Recorded on 1990-05-24

BBC Programme Number: 90WZ4765

See more LIVING WORLD programmes (140)

Programme Catalogue - Details: Dungeness19900513

BBC Programme Number: 90WZ4773

Recorded on 1990-05-10

Producer: HOLMES, J

Next in series: 26 May 1990

See more LIVING WORLD programmes (140)

Broadcast history

13 May 1990 07:15-07:40 (RADIO 4)

Programme Catalogue - Details: Lough Erne19900527

BBC Programme Number: 90WZ4775

Recorded on 1990-05-24

Producer: KEELING, F

Next in series: 10 August 1991

Previous in series: 26 May 1990

See more LIVING WORLD programmes (140)

Broadcast history

27 May 1990 07:15-07:40 (RADIO 4)

Programme Catalogue - Station

Radio 4.