Springwatch host Chris Packham and his stepdaughter Megan McCubbin search for puffins, otters and a pod of playful dolphins as they take a wildlife tour of South West Wales in the first of their new six-part series Chris and Meg's Wild Summer exploring the UK in an eco-friendly electric campervan.
"Chris has been my stepdad since I was just two years old so I guess it was inevitable that I’d share his love of the natural world," says Megan, who’s also a wildlife presenter. "We spent a lot of my childhood looking for one creature or another and after lockdown we were just desperate to get out and start exploring again. We haven’t done this for a while, but we always have fun!"
On this trip the fun starts with a vegan ice cream before a boat journey to island of Skokholm to photograph puffins (see Megan's picture below), which are actually one of the most intelligent seabirds. "In 2019 a scientist observed what they think is the first use of tools in any seabird,’ explains Megan. ‘So the puffins were bringing in these twigs and sticks and using them to scratch their bodies. Obviously it’s really indicative of intelligence, primates do it and elephants do it, but it had never been seen in seabirds before."
Chris recently revealed his innermost thoughts in the show Chris Packham: The Walk That Made Me. Along the way, the pair reminisce about Megan’s childhood, with Megan revealing how Chris encouraged her to keep a travel diary from the age of four!
"He made me write a one page of A4 every single night until I was 16,’ she says. ‘There would be polaroids, air ticket stubs, and he’d always give me a stamp at the end of it. They mean the world to me – I look through them quite a lot when I’m feeling nostalgic!"
Chris and Megan also take a canoe trip along the River Teifi to search for otters in this first episode (see our main picture). Later in the series, they swim with grey seals in Northumberland (see below), track down red squirrels in the Lake District and spot osprey in the Cairngorms. See our full episode guide below.
Chris and Meg's Wild Summer episode guide...
EPISODE 1 SOUTH WEST WALES
Chris and Meg are in Pembrokeshire, and on the island of Skokholm, the pair are captivated by the busy lives of the resident puffins, taking time to photograph them and challenge each other over fascinating puffin facts. Then they head to Cardigan Bay to meet the UK’s largest dolphin pod. Chris tries to persuade Megan to sit down to listen to the natural sounds of the local seabirds before they take a gentle canoe trip along the River Teifi in search of otters. Finally, they head to a cliff top in Llangrannog, a special place for Chris where he camped out all summer to protect nesting peregrine falcons when he was 15 years old.
EPISODE 2 SNOWDONIA
In Snowdonia the pair enjoy a bird of prey spectacle at a red kite feeding station. Then it’s time to visit Mount Snowdon where Chris and Megan discover a hike to the summit includes an orderly queue. They visit a disused slate quarry that’s now home to feral goats and there’s also a chance to experience the speed a peregrine falcon can fly when Megan surprises Chris with a flight on Europe’s fastest zipwire.
EPISODE 3 LAKE DISTRICT
Chris and Megan arrive in the Lake District and start their stay walking with alpacas, an activity associated with improving health and well-being. From there they go to Whinlatter Forest in search of the area’s elusive red squirrels. There’s a lucky sighting but only for one of them. The Badger Bar at Rydal Ambleside offers evening badger watching with a pint but the pinnacle of the trip is sighting the rare White-faced Darter dragonfly at Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve the following day.
EPISODE 4 NORTHUMBERLAND
Starting in the city of Gateshead, Chris and Megan go to see the ledges of the Baltic Art Gallery which become packed every year with nesting kittiwakes. Moving out to explore the vast, wild spaces of Northumberland, Chris and Megan head to the craggy Farne Isles, and brave the waters to go swimming with grey seals. They cross the causeway to Holy Island where they go rockpooling and finish by heading north over the border to Scotland and a day trip to Bass Rock, the world’s largest gannet colony.
EPISODE 5 CAIRNGORMS
Chris and Megan take an awe-inspiring escape to the Cairngorms to explore the ancient Caledonian pine forests and the special wildlife found there. They spot opsreys that hunt fish in the local lochs and spend an evening staking out a pine marten haunt but are visited by another nocturnal creature instead. The pair visit an estate committed to re-wilding their land and try to track down the iconic red deer.
EPISODE 6 WESTERN ISLES
Chris and Megan are in magical Western Isles, home to Chris’ favourite wild landscapes. The sea around here is one of the best places in the UK to spot whales and dolphins so they take a boat trip from Stornoway to try their luck at whale-watching. Next they head up into the hills on the trail of golden eagles. They watch sunset at stunning Luskentyre beach to reflect on their epic road trip and all the wildlife they’ve seen.
Chris and Meg's Wild Summer release date
You can see Chris Packham and Megan in Chris and Meg's Wild Summer, a six-part series that starts on BBC2 on Sunday August 29 at 8.30pm and runs weekly. Episodes will go on to BBCIPlayer shortly after they're aired. We have no details yet on an international release date but we will update when we hear.
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