Chris and Meg's Wild Summer

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Nature Documentary hosted by Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin, published by BBC in 2021 - English narration

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Image: Chris-and-Meg-s-Wild-Summer-Cover.jpg

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After living through lockdown together, Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin are keen to get out and explore Britain's beautiful countryside, and immerse themselves in the natural world. Since Megan became Chris's stepdaughter at the age of two, they have shared a passion for wildlife, so they set off in an electric campervan to seek out incredible animal encounters and travel through some of the last untouched wildernesses of Wales, northern England and Scotland.

[edit] Ch1. South West Wales

Their journey starts in Pembrokeshire, where the duo set sail for Skokholm island in pursuit of the perfect puffin picture. With a challenge to see if Chris or Megan can take the best photo of these colourful birds, they spend an idyllic afternoon surrounded by puffins flying to and from their burrows with beakfuls of sand eels - a true puffin paradise.

Next, they head north for an early morning canoe trip down the tranquil River Teifi, hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive otter. In Cardigan Bay, the pair join a research boat looking for the local bottlenose dolphins and are treated to an amazing display as the dolphins breach and leap out of the water.

Finally, they head to a cliff top in Llangrannog, where a 15-year-old Chris camped out all summer to protect peregrine falcons. At the time, these birds were targeted by egg collectors, and Chris kept guard night and day to make sure the nest was safe. It's a chance for the pair to reflect on the wildlife experiences they have had over the years and how some species have recovered whilst others have declined.

As they travel and spend time together, Chris and Meg's journey becomes an exploration of not just the changing natural world and our place in it but of their own father-daughter relationship. Like all families, Chris and Megan bicker and share jokes and heartfelt moments, while still trying to outdo each other with their encyclopaedic knowledge of the natural world.

[edit] Ch2. Snowdonia

Chris Packham and stepdaughter Meg McCubbin explore North Wales. Highlights include red kites, feral goats, sand lizards, climbing Snowdon and the world's fastest zip wire.

[edit] Ch3. Lake District

Chris Packham and stepdaughter Megan McCubbin continue their wildlife-watching road trip round Britain, this time exploring the Lake District.

Megan surprises Chris with some animals that are renowned for helping to reduce stress – alpacas. They take two, named Ziggy and Danny, for a short walk and a paddle in Derwentwater. Next, they head off in search of the much more elusive red squirrel, as the Lake District is one of their last strongholds in England. They round off their first day by settling in for a pint at the Badger Bar and awaiting the arrival of its main attraction- a live badger cam.

The next morning, the pair head South to Foulshaw Moss, a nature reserve for one of Britain's rarest habitats – raised peat bog. With the help of a local wildlife enthusiast, they find the white-tailed darter, a rare dragonfly that Chris has only seen once before so he's delighted to spot it. Continuing south to the coast, Chris takes Megs to one of his favourite places, Walney Island, where they catch sight of grey seals, eider ducks and terns. They reflect on why spending time in nature is not only therapeutic but necessary for their wellbeing.

[edit] Ch4. North East Coast

Chris Packham and stepdaughter Megan McCubbin continue their wildlife-watching road trip round Britain, this time exploring the coast of the north east and Scottish Borders.

Megan surprises Chris with a trip to the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead – not to admire some art but to see a colony of kittiwakes, the furthest inland nesting site in the world. Kittiwakes usually nest on cliff edges and rock faces, so it's rare for them to nest in an urban landscape like this. Chris notes their well-curved claws, perfect for gripping firmly on the ledges.

Next Chris and Meg head off in search of another coastal creature – and this will involve getting wet! The Northumberland coast is one of the most important areas in Europe for the Atlantic grey seal, and they spend most of their time out at sea feeding on fish. Reluctantly, Chris dons his wetsuit and snorkel to brave the cold North Sea for a snorkelling adventure with Megs. The grey seals are full of curiosity as they swim around the pair, giving them an unforgettable experience.

The next morning, Chris and Megs head north to the unique tidal island of Lindisfarne, renowned for its ancient priory. No seaside trip would be complete without some rockpooling, and these ones don't disappoint. After spotting a shore crab, hermit crabs, limpets and a sea star, the pair round off their day with a sip of mead from the monastery and get on to planning their next stop.

Continuing north and over the Scottish border, Chris and Megs revisit an old haunt and one of their favourite places, the extraordinary Bass Rock. Resembling a floating iceberg from afar, it's home to the world's largest colony of northern gannets. This sanctuary hosts over 150,000 of them during peak breeding season.

The pair last visited the rock 17 years ago when Chris brought Meg along on a filming trip, and they were as competitive back then as they are now, especially when their cameras come out. The abundance of gannets feels reassuring, especially when so many species are in decline.

Chris and Megs reflect on their visit and compare photographs, which leads to some heartfelt discussion about their very special father-stepdaughter relationship. Chris declares it was a very fortunate surprise to become involved in Meg's life. While firmly declaring his gannet photograph as the winner, of course!

[edit] Ch5. Cairngorms

Chris Packham and stepdaughter Megan McCubbin continue their wildlife-watching road trip round Britain, this time exploring the rugged Cairngorms in Scotland.

Chris and Meg explore the ancient Caledonian woodlands of Abernethy National Nature Reserve, where Chris is on a mission to show Meg a very rare flower. Deep in the forest they eventually find what Chris was looking for: the twinflower.

The next day, Chris and Meg head to the tranquillity of Loch Insh in search of one of our most impressive birds of prey – the osprey. Once hunted to extinction in Scotland, these fish-eating raptors are now successfully breeding in the highlands again.

Their next stop is another loch – the beautiful Loch an Eilein with its island castle - where Chris recounts to Meg a story from his youth, complete with his diary entry from the time. Rounding off their second day, the pair head to a wildlife hide in Strathspey in the hope of spotting an elusive mammal - the pine marten - but they find badgers instead. Lastly, Meg has something a bit more energetic planned: a deer-watching trip up a Cairngorms mountain.

[edit] Ch6. Western Isles

The final leg of Chris and Meg's journey takes them to the Western Isles, in the far north of Scotland. Meg spots a minke whale and a pod of dolphins on the ferry, before they even reach the isles!

On the Isle of Harris, the pair are delighted to see white-tailed eagles almost as soon as they leave the car park, before spotting several golden eagles up in the hills. Next, they make a stop in Bragar on the Isle of Lewis to marvel at the Whalebone Arch – a garden gate fashioned from the jaw bones of a blue whale which washed up on a nearby beach over a hundred years ago.

Later, they head out on a boat from Stornoway Harbour and are treated to a display by a pod of Risso's dolphins. Often mistaken for orca due to their sizeable dorsal fins, Risso's dolphins are larger and harder to spot than their common cousins.

On the last day of the trip, Meg has a surprise for Chris as she takes him to visit Steve Dilworth, an artist living on the Isle of Harris, whose work Chris fell in love with when he visited the island thirty years ago. Steve preserves the bodies of birds found around the island in ornate caskets made from natural materials – revering the wildlife we take for granted.

On the stunning white sands of Luskentyre Beach, Chris and Meg toast their trip with a glass of local gin, infused with sugar kelp from the island.

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[edit] Technical Specs

  • Video Codec: x265 CABAC Main@L4
  • Video Bitrate: CRF 23 (~2336Kbps)
  • Video Resolution: 1920x1080
  • Video Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Frame Rate: 25 FPS
  • Audio Codec: AAC-LC
  • Audio Bitrate: 128Kbps CVBR 48KHz
  • Audio Channels: 2
  • Run-Time: 6 x 29 mins
  • Number Of Parts: 1 (6 chapters)
  • Part Size: 3 GB
  • Source: HDTV
  • Encoded by: JungleBoy

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