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 Autumnwatch.
Following on from the huge success of BBC Springwatch earlier this year the watchers will again be coming to the WWT Castle Espie in Northern Ireland. Over the period of the week, starting on 26th October, Gillian Burke, one of four presenters on the show, will shine a spotlight on this area of international wildlife importance here 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 Wetland Centre, managed by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), the UK’s leading wetland conservation charity, 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 Autumnwatch, Paul Stewart, Centre Manager at Castle Espie Wetland Centre said;
“This year was a first for BBC Springwatch in Northern Ireland and WWT Castle Espie and now we’re delighted to welcome the Watches once again for Autunmwatch. Our visitor centre and reserve provides a perfect window on the stunning Strangford Lough and is the ideal base for the show in Northern Ireland. We are thrilled that the international ecological importance of Strangford Lough is recognised and that the BBC have again chosen to host the show live from WWT Castle Espie.
Autumn is an enchanting time of year and one of the most beautiful of the seasons. Few things are more awe-inspiring than the return of most of entire planet Earths population of light bellied brent geese from the Canadian High Artic to here on Strangford Lough. From the return of migrating birds, the turning colour of the leaves and the emergence of fungi, autumn is a spectacular time around the nature reserve.
As a wetland conservation charity, we work hard to protect, preserve and promote the importance of wetlands and their wildlife in this part of Northern Ireland, so that they can continue to be understood and enjoyed by many in the years to come.
Nature-rich wetlands like the ones at Castle Espie can help combat today’s nature, climate, and mental health crises, through their ability to boost biodiversity, store carbon, prevent flooding, clean water and improve people’s wellbeing.
We look forward to bringing the sights and sounds of the wetlands and spectacular views across Strangford Lough to viewers’ right across the UK.”
BBC Autumnwatch 2021 will be broadcast on BBC 2 from Tuesday 26th October to Friday 29th October