Living the Wild Life

Series 7 Prog 1: Gooseanders

Returning to the glens and hillsides of the garden of Ireland, Colin is in search of a creature that is seldom encountered: the gooseander - a rare fish-eating duck that makes its nest high up in the trees overarching fast-flowing rivers. As the plucky chicks hatch and make their way into the world, Colin is determined to observe and capture the action.

Local knowledge will be essential, so Colin enlists the help of a local expert - Parks and Wildlife Ranger, Anne Fitzpatrick. With tree hollows - where the ducks normally nest - in short supply, Anne has installed a series of nesting boxes for a female gooseander and her brood. As the female flies off to feed, Colin seizes the opportunity to peek gingerly inside the box. To his delight, he discovers a clutch with twelve eggs. Wasting no time, he installs a tiny camera to capture - for the very first time - exactly what goes on inside in a gooseander nest.

It's a tense wait but finally the camera captures incredibly rare footage of the gooseander chicks as they hatch and take their first leap out into the world. From the minute these robust little chicks catapult from their nesting box into the river below, they find themselves on an extraordinary journey fraught with danger. In a totally unexpected move, the mother quickly leads the chicks into the river rapids and Colin immediately gives chase along the bank.



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