Page last updated at 11:06 GMT, Monday, 30 May 2005 12:06 UK

Geese contest 'reality survival show'

Viewers and listeners will be able to follow the progress of six birds
Viewers and listeners will be able to follow the progress of six birds

The latest reality survival show is about to hit Northern Ireland's television screens.

But this time the contestants must avoid being eaten by arctic foxes, hunted or killed by cold and hunger.

Supergoose is a unique BBC Northern Ireland natural history project on TV, online and radio.

The stars of the show live on Strangford Lough during the winter and make an 8,000km round trip - the toughest migration of geese anywhere.

For the first time, people can follow this natural phenomenon and tale of survival against the odds by the Brent Goose.

A protected species in the UK, Ireland, Iceland and Greenland, the bird winters exclusively in Ireland before leaving in late spring to make the hazardous journey to their breeding grounds in north east Canada.

Iceland is a crucial stepping stone on the long and arduous migration to the Canadian breeding grounds and undoubtedly the most difficult leg is that which lies ahead
Kendrew Colhoun
Lead scientist

The BBC has teamed up with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) at Castle Espie on Strangford Lough, which has the biggest concentration of Brent Geese.

Viewers and listeners will be able to follow the progress of six birds fitted with special transmitters.

There will be two special programmes on BBC NI television presented by Darryl Grimason who will pick-up the birds' journey from Iceland.

This is where they embark on the most perilous leg of their journey over the Greenland ice cap to Arctic Canada.

There will be regular updates on The Saturday Magazine on BBC Radio Ulster and on a dedicated BBC website.

Kendrew Colhoun, lead scientist with the Brent Goose Project, said the project would provide essential information for the conservation and protection of the small and vulnerable population.

"Iceland is a crucial stepping stone on the long and arduous migration to the Canadian breeding grounds and undoubtedly the most difficult leg is that which lies ahead," he said.

Some 25,000 Brent Geese will head west to Canada
Some 25,000 Brent Geese will head west to Canada

"In the next week or so, some 25,000 Brent Geese will head west, making two sea crossings and going up and over the massive Greenland ice cap.

"This is a migration of epic proportions and through the satellite telemetry we will be able to find out how it is conducted."

Producer John Deering of independent production company Yamal Productions said what made the project so unusual "is that we have no control over what happens to our six geese".

"In an earlier experiment, not all of the geese survived - one was found in an arctic fox's lair, another on the kitchen table of an Inuit hunter," he said.

"But that's what makes this journey so captivating and you can follow the drama of the journey from your living room."

The six geese have also been named - Resolute, Homer, Geysir, Espie, Lagan and Myrar - the names being suggested by schools in Iceland and Northern Ireland.



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