It’s summer for the animals in Channel 5’s A Year in the Wild

Best on the Box highlight for Friday, July 2.

ITV and the Beeb continue with sport, and their highlights offer up nothing else, so if you want to escape the footie its a fair bet to head to Channel 5.

Tonight is the second episode in the four-part series Scotland: A Year in the Wild – Summer. The Channel 5 series looks at the summer in this edition.  The show reveals a spectacular array of wildlife: from highland red deer, white-tailed eagles, red squirrels and pine martens to coastal dwelling puffins, grey seals, otters and even killer whales. Stretching from the Shetlands to the far south of Scotland, each episode focusses on how animals strive to survive through four very different seasons in one epic year, dominated by a maritime climate that’s both punishing and unpredictable, where their lives are always at the mercy of the elements.

In this week’s episode, summer has finally arrived in Scotland, bringing long days and an abundance of food. On Scotland’s west coast, two white-tailed eaglets are learning to fly, and the larger female is beginning to master it. But the nest is getting too small for both of them. She steals the other’s food and then, worse, pushes him out of the nest.

On a beach in the Shetland Islands, life isn’t quite as fraught, and the seas are full of plentiful feeding opportunities for young otters learning to go it alone as mum gives them last-minute fishing lessons. Red deer produce calves in the summer, but the newborns hide out in the bracken, wary of hungry eagles. Meanwhile, a female red squirrel is raising her kittens during a difficult time, because, by summer, the winter stashes of food have run out and the autumn’s time of forest plenty is a little way off. They must hunt high and low to find morsels of food.

As the summer temperatures rise, our group of red deer decide to cool off and escape the insects by swimming across one of the many lochs that dot the landscape. Even the calves brave the deep water to cross to the other side. Some water-lovers new to Scotland are a beaver family in a wetland south of the Cairngorms. Here the beavers maintain a series of pools by constructing dams.

This year’s young were born in a secret lodge accessed underwater. While dad maintains the dams, mum must keep an eye out for predators, especially otters. Far north, in the Shetlands, gannets are busy feeding on summer stocks. A female waits with her chick while the male dives for fish out to sea. By August, they will begin a long journey to their wintering grounds off the coast of west Africa and they need to have the fat reserves ready for this.

Scotland: A Year In The Wild – Summer, Channel 5, 7 pm
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