Attention, Winterwatch fans! The annual BBC Two nature show returns next week, broadcasting live over four nights from the Highlands from 9pm tonight (Monday 19 January) through to Thursday 22 January. In the heart of the stunning Cairngorm Mountains, the show’s location is the Mar Lodge Estate. Prepare for some thrilling viewing that will have you on the edge of your seat, as our Scottish wildlife adapts to the most extreme and challenging time of year.
The BBC team will set up camp in the estate and with the help of remote cameras and several live expeditions, they will uncover revelations about the wildlife. Tune in to see presenters Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Martin Hughes-Games explore this magnificent and vast area of the Highlands.
Winter wildlife: a fight for survival
Winterwatch will showcase some of the Highlands’ most breathtaking wildlife. See the cunning, clever and crafty ways in which different species cope with the cool temperatures. Here’s some more information about the stars of the show:
Red squirrels – one of Scotland’s favourite woodland animals, red squirrels can often be seen roaming around the Cairngorms National Park, scuttling between trees and searching for nuts. These tail-swishing creatures are amazing at getting themselves out of tricky situations, and the Winterwatch team will compare their intelligence with their grey cousins in Bristol.
Golden eagles – these formidable hunters are always on a look for their next bite to eat. Food may be scarce at the Mar Lodge Estate, but these majestic birds of prey have a few tricks in store. With a wing span measuring over 2m, they’re known to eat mountain hares, foxes and rabbits, perching stealthily in tall trees – ready to pounce.
Otters – spotting an otter isn’t easy, with their shy nature and subtle, smooth movements through the water. Look out for webbed footprints, known as ‘spraints’, near freshwater streams, canals and marshes in Scotland.
Pine marten – iconic members of the weasel family, pine martens are most at home in the Caledonian pine woods, where they can race across branches and make hollows inside trees for shelter. Winterwatch will follow their activity through the area and capture their challenges with hidden cameras.
Black grouse – these distinctive birds are an amazing sight to behold, especially when the male grouse puts on an impressive tail display to attract females, showing off his brilliant black plumage. This echoes the behaviour of their close relatives, the capercaillie.
Live from … the Mar Lodge Estate
The estate measures a massive 29,000 hectares and it features many classic features of the Highland landscape, from the beautiful ancient pine forests to heather moorland and juniper scrub.
Did you know? Mar Lodge Estate is one of the coolest places in the UK, with the lowest temperature in Britain recorded at -27.2 degrees Celsius in 1982.
Mar Lodge is an extremely important place for wildlife conservation in the UK, with over 40 % of the land a designated conservation area, to preserve the landscape, wildlife and heritage of the area.
Explore for yourself
Are you cosily watching the latest gripping episode from the comfort of your sofa? Be inspired to head out and see some wonderful wildlife for yourself!
The Mar Lodge Estate is home to 15 Munros and four out of five of the UK’s tallest mountains, so grab your walking boots and woolly hat and head for the hills! A photographer’s dream, walks in the area promise many opportunities to capture stills of the resident rare species.
Check out our handy wildlife itineraries, for top tips on places to see wildlife all over Scotland, as well as important information on when to see and where to find our most iconic species. Don’t forget to share all of your wildlife shots with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Keep up with all the behind-the-scenes gossip and latest clips on bbc.co.uk/Winterwatch and join in the conversation using the hashtag #Winterwatch.