Thursday, 26 March 2009

The Natural World: Uakari, Secrets of the English Monkey

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This evening, 26th March 2009.
BBC2 at 8PM

In the flooded forests of the Peruvian Amazon lives one of the world's rarest and most mysterious primates, the Red-Faced Uakari Monkey. Local people call them English Monkeys, because of their resemblance to sunburnt visitors. Now there's a new Englishman on the scene, Mark Bowler, a young biologist who battles through the forest in his quest to understand their secret lives. The film shows the first footage of these extraordinary monkeys in the wild and reveals why ice cream could be the greatest threat to their survival.

Produced by Peter Von Puttkamer & Sheera Von Puttkamer
Series Editor Tim Martin

Monday, 23 March 2009

Sony HD HXR-MC1P Mini-Cam / POV camera

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TV hire companies are beginning to offer a nice range of nifty little HD cameras. Bluefin TV (in the UK) recently told us about a new Sony mini-cam that they now stock.

Introducing the new Sony HXR-MC1P (bit of a mouth-full but still a sexy looking little camera).

It's ultra-quick to set-up and has full remote control, records upto 6 hours of content directly to a 16GB Sony Duo Memory Stick (or to a separate clamshell recorder). With incredible picture quality and full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution what more could you want from a mini-cam?.

Available from only £70 p/d (at least from Bluefin TV in the UK) which is a mere pinch of the £1000 per day hire cost when the iconix was first released. Here's a link to camera details.

Recording and playback is operated within the seperated handheld control unit, so no need for cumbersome and hefty external recording devices. By combining the Exmor and CMOS sensor technologies this little camera has low power consumption and can keep on going for a whopping 405 minutes. A tripod-screw hole on the bottom of the unit makes mounting easy. It's also splash-resistant for use in the rain or near water.


Friday, 13 March 2009

Yellowstone: Winter

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Programme 1 of 3:
Sunday 15th March, 8pm BBC 2
Series following the fortunes of America's wildlife icons in Yellowstone, the most extensive thermal area on Earth.

To survive in Yellowstone means surviving the Yellowstone winter: Yellowstone is frozen solid, locked in snow as deep as a house for over half the year. Whether you hunt for meat, live off stored body fat, or whether you simply hibernate you need to take every advantage, however slight, to save precious energy - then you might just make it through the winter to enjoy the green grass and balmy days of spring.

This nature documentary follows the grip of winter over the course of six freezing months and charts the fortunes of Yellowstone's wildlife in a finely balanced fight to survive. Bison use their massively powerful heads to dig with through some of the deepest snow in America to reach the grass beneath. A red fox dives listens out for mice scurrying six feet beneath the snow before diving head first into the drift to snap up its prey, while otters slide through Yellowstone's winter wonderland to find any remaining open water where they can fish. And all the while, as the herds of Elk and bison are gradually weakened by the cold, one animal gets stronger, the Wolf.

But all is not as it first seems - there are larger powers at work. Whether a wolf, a bison or an elk makes it through is intimately linked to Yellowstone's greatest secret. Sleeping beneath the ice and snow-covered surface is one of the world's largest volcanoes. In an extraordinary twist of Nature, everything from the freezing winter cold to the creation of a snow storm is determined by the power of Yellowstone's volcanic heart.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Events in the Natural World

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Monday, 9 March 2009

Nature's Great Events: The Great Flood

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Wednesday 9pm, 11th March on BBC One

The great flood in the Okavango turns 4,000 square miles of arid plains into a beautiful wetland. Elephant mothers guide their families on an epic trek across the harsh Kalahari Desert towards it, siphoning fresh water from stagnant pools and facing hungry lions. Hippos battle for territory, as the magical water draws in thousands of buffalo and birds, and vast clouds of dragonflies. Will the young elephant calves survive to reach this grassland paradise?

The experienced mother elephants time their arrival at the delta to coincide with the lush grass produced by the great flood. In a TV first, the programme shows the way they use their trunks to siphon clean water from the surface layers of a stagnant pool, while avoiding stirring up the muddy sediment on the bottom with their feet.

Bull hippos also converge on prime territories formed by the rising flood water. Two big bulls do bloody battle, at times being lifted out of the water by their rival. Lechwe swamp deer, zebras, giraffes, crocodiles and numerous fish and thousands of birds arrive in the delta. And, in a phenomenon never before filmed in the Okavango, thousands of dragonflies appear - seemingly from nowhere - within minutes of the flood arrival, mating and laying eggs.

As the flood finally reaches its peak, elephants and buffalo, near the end of their epic trek across the desert, face the final gauntlet of a hungry pride of lions. In a heart-wrenching sequence, a baby elephant is brought down by a lion in broad daylight.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Yellowstone Coming Soon

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The Natural World: Iron Curtain Ribbon of Life

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8PM 6th March 2009
When communism crumbled in 1989 it created an opportunity for wildlife. The Iron Curtain that divided communist Eastern Europe from the capitalist West had created a no-man's land protected by barbed wire and minefields - a last haven for many rare animals and plants. This film tells the story of the movement, led by Biologist Dr Kai Frobel, that set out to save the wildlife of this precious strip. Now as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain we can also celebrate the birth of the biggest conservation movement in the world, a ribbon of life stretching 13,000 kilometres across Europe, protecting everything from bears and wolverines in Finland to rare Eagles in Bulgaria.
Produced by Paul Reddish
Series Editor Tim Martin

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Nature's Great Events: The Great Tide

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Wednesday 4th March, 9pm, BBC One

A mighty army of dolphins, sharks, whales, seals and gannets hunt down the billions of sardines along South Africa's east coast each winter. This is the Sardine Run: an underwater Armageddon, the greatest gathering of predators anywhere on the planet, and the most spectacular event in the world's oceans. From intimate moments of the creatures caught up in the run, to the dramatic finale of this spectacular event, The Great Tide is an action-packed feeding-frenzy, filmed underwater, on the ocean's surface, and in the air.

However, in recent years the sardine run has become less predictable, perhaps due to the warming effects of climate change. If the sardine run does not happen, the lives of the animals caught up in the drama hang in the balance.

Pioneering a unique boat stabilised camera mount for surface filming, the Nature's Great Events crew capture all the high octane action as the predators compete for sardines, filmed with aerial, underwater and above water cameras. Super slow motion cameras also capture the very moment gannets plunge into the water, hitting it at sixty miles an hour.

A violent winter storm is the trigger for the sardines to begin their desperate dash. They are followed by a super-pod of 5,000 dolphins and further up the coast more predators gather. A shoal of sardines 15 miles long is pushed into the shallows and aerial shots show thousands of sharks gathering to feed on them.

The climax to the sardine run is a spectacular feeding frenzy as the dolphins round the sardines up into balls on which all the predators feast. Gannets rain down in their thousands, sharks pile in scattering the fish and a Brydes whales lunges in taking great mouthfuls of sardines.