Filming by night to discover the secret life of the knot at Snettisham RSPB reserve, in Norfolk

Knots at the RSPB’s Snettisham nature reserve will be one of the subjects featuring in the BBC’s Win

Knots at the RSPB’s Snettisham nature reserve will be one of the subjects featuring in the BBC’s Winterwatch wildlife programmes in January. Pictured: Knots. Picture: Andy Hay/rspb-images.com - Credit: Andy Hay/rspb-images.com

Knot the nine o'clock news will be among the headlines of this BBC Winterwatch wildlife series, after a film crew spent two nights recording the birds' nocturnal habits on the mudflats at Snettisham.

Knots at the RSPB’s Snettisham nature reserve will be one of the subjects featuring in the BBC’s Win

Knots at the RSPB’s Snettisham nature reserve will be one of the subjects featuring in the BBC’s Winterwatch wildlife programmes in January. Pictured: Winterwatch filning at Snettisham. Picture: Courtesy of BBC Winterwatch team - Credit: Courtesy of BBC Winterwatch team

They used low light thermal imaging cameras, capture ground-breaking footage of thousands of the tiny waders, which spend the winter on the shores of The Wash.

Large numbers colonise the area to feed mainly on small shellfish only taking to the air if spooked by marauding peregrine falcons, which prey on waders.

At high tide the knot can be observed congregating on the water in large dense flocks.

This flocking behaviour helps reduce the odds of a single knot falling prey to their avian predators. During the highest tides, the knot are pushed inland away from the mudflats and fly into the nearby gravel pits.


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As far as scientists know, peregrines don't hunt at night in The Wash. The Winterwatch team were tasked with finding out whether the knot would be pushed off the mudflats by the tide and fly into the gravel pits in the same numbers as they do during daylight, or if they would be more likely to separate into smaller groups, because they felt safer from attack.

Jim Scott, sites manager for RSPB North West Norfolk Reserves, said: 'I really enjoyed working with the crew from Winterwatch and it was fascinating to see the results of the filming.'

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To find out what the team discovered about the knots' nocturnal activity, Winterwatch is being broadcast between Monday, January 19 and Thursday, January 22.

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