WWT Castle Espie Wetland Centre has been selected as one of three live locations across the UK to host BBC Two’s popular wildlife programme Winterwatch.
Following on from the huge success of BBC Autumnwatch earlier this year, the watches will again be coming from WWT Castle Espie in Northern Ireland. Starting on 18th January, zoologist and conservationist Megan McCubbin, one of four presenters on the show, will shine a spotlight on this area of international wildlife importance in Northern Ireland.
Located on the shores of Strangford Lough, a designated coastal Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI), Special Protection area (SPA), Ramsar site, Marine Nature Reserve (MNR), National Nature Reserve (NNR) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Castle Espie is home to over 60 acres of pristine wetland habitat filled with a range of wildlife including rare and under threat species.
A mixture of tidal lagoon, eel-grass mats, woodland, salt marshes and reed beds offer the perfect habitat for all sorts of wildlife to thrive including a wide variety of water birds such as shelduck and shoveler and waders such as redshank, godwit and plover.
Speaking about the arrival of BBC Winterwatch, Paul Stewart, Centre Manager at WWT Castle Espie said:
We are thrilled that the BBC watches are returning to Northern Ireland and basing themselves at Castle Espie. We are a centre for nature conservation, providing a window for the public on one of Northern Ireland’s great natural assets, Strangford Lough.
Castle Espie is the only WWT wetland centre in Northern Ireland but we have global reach operating wetland centres and wetland focused restoration, conservation and protection in conjunction with local communities and governments across the globe.
Our work is shining a light on the importance of nature and the vital role that wetlands play for people and the planet which make us the perfect location for Winterwatch. I hope that the programme’s presence at Castle Espie will encourage people both at home and further afield to value the wonderful natural capital we offer here on Strangford Lough."
As well as the Castle Espie footage, the work of WWT will also feature in a film from WWT Steart Marshes, showcasing the wildlife of the marshes, including avocets, dunlins, harriers and widgeon; a personal piece about a young photographer with mobility issues and degenerating eyesight who explores WWT Washington looking for an elusive kingfisher; and a story from WWT Welney with Chris Packham focusing on swans and why they are declining in numbers.
Winterwatch 2022 will be broadcast at 8pm on 18th to the 28th of January, Tuesday to Friday on BBC Two.