Monday, 26 May 2008
Sunday, 25 May 2008
On a few nights every year, when the moon is full and the tide is at its highest, ancient horseshoe crabs come ashore in their tens of thousands to spawn and lay their eggs in the sand. It's these eggs that the birds are feasting on, giving us two spectacles for the price of one. This mass arrival of Horseshoe crabs is a sight that goes back 450 million years, right back to the Ordovician period when we first find them in the fossil record.
As a paleontologist I have always been fascinated by the trilobites, a group which saw their last 250 million years ago. Peering into their petrified eyes I've often wondered how amazing it would be to go back and see the huge numbers and diversity of these creatures which once scuttled and swam in the ancient seas. This is my opportunity to fulfill this dream, at least in part for Horseshoe crabs are the closest living relative to the Trilobites, and this is the only place in the world where these can be observed in such large numbers. In the few days I have been in Delaware Bay I've seen more and more of these enchanting Arthropods come ashore and crawl around my feet. The scientists assure us that this is just the vanguard and if we're lucky we should see Horseshoe crabs up to our knees in one giant mass spawning frenzy. In all this activity (relatively sedate compared with the ravenous birds which eagerly gather) many of the males often get left upside down, or partially buried under the sand, stranded as the females wonder off back to sea. So as I walk along the beach I take every opportunity to rescue these abandoned males, flipping each one back over as a personal homage to the intricate fossils I have sitting in my cabinets at home.
We have over a week left to finish the sequence and things are shaping up wonderfully.
- Paul Williams, Delaware.
Thursday, 15 May 2008
Each programme looks at a different geographical area, and the Wild China team wasn't always sure what they'd find on their travels. “The sub-tropical south is a poor, and poorly researched, area, so getting precise information about what could be filmed, where and when, wasn't easy,” Chapman says. Eventually they fetched up in a remote area of Guizhou Province. “We were taken to Zhongdong cave, where it transpired we were to be lodged. Arriving as dusk fell, we were led under a wide arch beneath a huge cliff to find an entire village of 18 families housed inside the cave, including a school with six classes, plus a menagerie of cows, goats, pigs and chickens.”
Sometimes, of course, Chapman and his team had to rely solely on that vital weapon in the armoury of the natural history film-maker - infinite patience. “Red pandas are shy, rare creatures which live in dense mountain forests and spend a lot of time in the treetops. A key to our success in filming them were the Chinese scientists, who suggested we try an area, at a more accessible altitude, where they'd been spotted during the winter. But, even so, we were able to observe them only fleetingly.”
Premiering in spring 2009, the 20x30-minute series will see Backshall delve into the habitats of scorpions, hunting dogs, stingrays, tiger snakes, red back spiders, kookaburras, sloth bears and giant centipedes, on a journey that will take him to South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, India, Europe and North and South America.
Wendy Darke, NHU executive producer, said: "Steve's Deadly 60 combines the best of the natural history and children's expertise to give the CBBC audience a real life, around the world, adventure and close encounters with 60 of the most deadly animals on the planet.
"Filmed in a way that makes the viewer feel a part of Steve's gang, this is true warts-and-all television, right down to an encounter with a Great White Shark with a very excited Steve and a cameraman who was seasick throughout the whole piece."
Backshall added: "I feel very passionate about wildlife and Steve's Deadly 60 gives me the chance to bring this wonderful world of animals to life for children. In the series we learn that we have nothing to fear from the majority of animals featured but in their world, even the smallest and most bizarre creature can be deadly."
Wednesday, 14 May 2008
Filmed and Directed by Rick Rosenthal
Produced by Katya Shirokow
Series Editor Tim Martin
Tuesday, 13 May 2008
BBC 2, 20:00–20:50
Audience: 1.6 Million, 8.2% Audience Share
Paddington Bear celebrates his 50th birthday this year, but behind the children's story is a very real creature that still lives in Deepest Darkest Peru - the Spectacled Bear. Little is known about the habits of this elusive creature, and as narrator Stephen Fry reveals, many of our assumptions were wrong.
Sam Wollaston The Guardian,
Small bears with spectacles, enormous children, miniature god-botherers: that's what's on offer today. The bears in Natural World (BBC2) are charming. Well, to begin with anyway. The spectacled bear, so called because of the markings on its face, is the only surviving bear in South America. So Paddington was one, being from darkest Peru. Now there aren't many of these elusive creatures left. They mooch about in the forests, climbing trees in search of marmalade. And when they venture up on to the high Andean plains, they put on duffle coats and Wellington boots.
Actually, I think the programme's whole Paddington connection is being slightly overdone. Michael Bond, his creator, originally had his bear coming from Africa, until his editor pointed out there weren't any bears in Africa, so it was changed to Peru. But I don't think Paddington was especially modelled on spectacled bears - he didn't have the facial marking for a start, and he certainly didn't rip cows to shreds. Still, it seems to be amusing Stephen Fry, who's doing the commentary, and who seems to think he is narrating Paddington. Either that or he thinks that everyone who watches Natural World is seven years old.
Monday, 12 May 2008
aerialcinematography.com is a useful website covering everything from camera mounts and aircraft to crew personnel.
Stephen Fry has delivered the second of the BBC's creative lectures on the future of public service broadcasting in the UK.
"Before I can even think to presume to dare to begin to expatiate on what sort of an organism I think the British Broadcasting Corporation should be, where I think the BBC should be going, how I think it and other British networks should be funded, what sort of programmes it should make, develop and screen and what range of pastries should be made available in its cafés and how much to the last penny it should pay its talent, before any of that, I ought I think in justice to run around the games field a couple of times puffing out a kind of “The BBC and Me” mini-biography, for like many of my age, weight and shoe size, the BBC is deeply stitched into my being and it is important for me as well as for you, to understand just how much. Only then can we judge the sense, value or otherwise of my thoughts."
"This lecture is about the future of public service broadcasting or, to give it today's fashionable acronym, PSB. I am saved the need to define PSB because OFCOM, in the person of its Chief Executive, Ed Richards, has defined it for us. He says it is broadcasting that aims to do four things: to increase our understanding of the world; to stimulate knowledge and learning; to reflect the cultural identity of the United Kingdom; and to ensure diversity and alternative viewpoints..."
Wednesday, 7 May 2008
Tuesday, 6 May 2008
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