Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Watch 30+ UK TV Channels LIVE

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Watch 30+ UK TV Channels LIVE
In addition to BBC iPlayer it's all you could ever need.

TVCatchup is a free online service for viewing certain digital terrestrial channels live without the use of a television receiver. The service is currently under beta and is only legally available to users in the United Kingdomdue to licensing restrictions that limit the showing of streams to those users who can already legally view the same content on their television receiver. You are legally required to hold a UK TV license if you use TVCatchup.

Natural World: Bearwalker of the Northwoods

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BBC Two, 8pm Wednesday 28th October

"It’s a total joy to have Natural World back on our screens, and you couldn’t ask for a stronger start to the new series than this. Dr Lynn Rogers, a softly spoken biologist, is the Burl Ives of the bear world. He loves bears with a quiet passion, and has spent a lifetime in the woods of North Minnesota building up trust with these fabulous creatures. Unlike Timothy Treadwell, he doesn’t sentimentalise bears or claim a spiritual affinity with them. But he does believe they are grossly misunderstood and that people often have a knee-jerk fear of creatures that are highly intelligent and surprisingly timid. This film is a labour of love in every possible sense – beautifully produced, filled with stunning footage in an achingly beautiful part of the world and presented by a man of the utmost decency. What more could anyone ask for?" David Chater, The Times

Monday, 26 October 2009

'Life: Extraordinary Animals, Extreme Behaviour' - Mammals

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Mammals dominate the planet. They do it through having warm blood and by the care they lavish on their young. Weeks of filming in the bitter Antarctic winter reveal how a mother Weddell seal wears her teeth down keeping open a hole in the ice so she can catch fish for her pup. A powered hot air balloon produces stunning images of millions of migrating bats as they converge on fruiting trees in Zambia. Slow-motion cameras reveal how a mother rufous sengi exhausts a chasing lizard. A gyroscopically stabilised camera moves alongside migrating caribou, and a diving team swim among the planet's biggest fight as male humpback whales battle for a female.

The Elephant Shrew

Once known as the elephant shrew, the rufous sengi is permanently hungry and must hunt and feed industriously and efficiently in order to fuel its frenzied lifestyle. For maximum efficiency, the sengi creates an intricate netweork of pathways through the undergrowth that enable it to reach prey more easily. The sengi carries a mental map of these pathways, and should trouble appear, its speed and intimate knowledge of escape routes help it win the day. As an enemy, such as a lizard, appears, the sengi leaps into action and shoots off down the trails at high speed. Like most mammals - and unlike reptiles - the sengi's legs are directly underneath the body which makes for greater speed and agility. This female not only outruns the reptile, but outwits him and it's just as well, as she has a youngster to care for.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Panther Chameleon Tongue Firing - filming for 'Life in Cold Blood'

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50 miles of the coast of Africa is the tropical island of Madagascar, a biodiversity hotspot which is home to half of the world's 150, or so, species of chameleons. I've been a fan of one species in particular since I filmed them for 'Life in Cold Blood' back in 2007, you may also have seen them demonstrate their unique feeding technique during the recent amphibians and reptiles episode of 'Life' on BBC One.

The species is Furcifer pardalis, the Panther Chameleon - perhaps the most beautiful of all chameleons. It's also one of the largest in the world, with males growing up to 20 inches (50 cm) long (more than twice the size of their female counterparts).

The males are not only larger but are much more extravagantly coloured than the females and can be found as one of a myriad of different colour-morphs - each betraying their geographical origin. The subjects of my photographs are found in the Antsiranana and Sambava areas where they are a blend of red, green or orange. If you were to encounter a male lurking in the lush vegetation of Nosy Be or Ambanjathe you might think it a completely different species for these individuals are vibrantly blue. There are many other colour types and patterns found across the island making Panther-spotting a real treat.

The Females however remain a much less exciting tan and brown colour - and so along with their diminutive size are much trickier to spot.

 Female Panther Chameleon
  Female Panther Chameleon

 Male Panther Chameleon

Here's the clip from 'Life in Cold Blood'.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Life: Reptiles & Amphibians

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Reptiles and amphibians look like hang-overs from the past. But they overcome their shortcomings through amazing innovation.

The pebble toad turns into a rubber ball to roll and bounce from its enemies. Extreme slow-motion shows how a Jesus Christ lizard runs on water, and how a chameleon fires an extendible tongue at its prey with unfailing accuracy. The camera dives with a Niuean sea snake, which must breed on land but avoids predators by swimming to an air bubble at the end of an underwater tunnel. In a TV first, Komodo dragons hunt a huge water-buffalo, biting it to inject venom, then waiting for weeks until it dies. Ten dragons strip the carcass to the bone in four hours.

The Venezuelan Pebble Toad
Venezuela pebble toads have a very unusual defence mechanism, shared with only a few close relatives. They roll themselves up into a ball and bounce down the hill, away from danger. These tiny amphibians weigh so little that if they hold their muscles rigid, the bouncing doesn't damage them at all. Pebble toads also breed communally, so a single nest can contain over 100 toads. One nest found had 103 toads and 321 eggs in it.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Life: Extraordinary Animals, Extreme Behaviour

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If you don't own a TV then get one for this (and make sure that it's HD). 'Life' is a jaw-dropping, pant-wettingly exciting visual feast that will keep you hooked till Christmas. Narrated by Sir David Attenborough this 10 part series will breathe Life back into the aching void that was left when the end credits of 'Planet Earth' rolled back in 2006. And if you thought that was mind-blowing then this is sure to blow your socks off. Quite simply 'Life' will never be the same again...

Read on for a glimpse of some of the treats coming to your screens.

Our planet may be home to more than 30 million different animals and plants. And every single one is locked in its own life-long fight for survival. Life uncovers some extraordinary strategies they've developed to stay alive and to breed.

Using state-of-the-art filming techniques, this 10-part BBC One series, narrated by David Attenborough, is about extreme behaviour. It's survival of the fittest in their battle against daily life or death challenges. Mind-blowing behaviour captured for TV for the first time includes cheetahs working together to bring down prey twice their size; the courtship battle, known as the heat run, of the humpback whale; a huge number of enormous Humboldt squid joining forces for night-time hunting; and the legendary, fearsome Komodo dragons bringing down their buffalo prey.

Four years in the making, Life is full of surprises, drama and spectacle. It's nature but not as you know it. There are strange creatures such as the star-nosed mole, the stalk-eyed fly and the weedy sea dragon. There are epic spectacles including millions of fruit bats darkening the Zambian sky, dozens of polar bears feasting on a whale, and a billion butterflies cloaking a forest in Mexico.

To find out more visit

Friday, 9 October 2009

BBC announces production of Nature's Miracle Babies

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Artificially inseminating giant pandas and administering fertility treatment to an 80-year-old turtle are just two of the challenges that will be captured on film following the announcement of a Natural History Unit commission for BBC One.

Nature's Miracle Babies will investigate the ground-breaking science, dedication and perseverance of some inspirational individuals as they endeavour to make a difference to the survival of some of the world’s most threatened species.

Presenter Martin Hughes-Games, of Autumnwatch, said the programme would be ‘a highly charged personal journey for me’. ‘Many of the animals are just a hair’s breadth from extinction and sometimes the hopes of an entire species is concentrated in a few tiny, vulnerable babies,’ he added.

Commissioning editor for science and natural history Kim Shillinglaw, who will oversee the series, said: ‘This series promises to be a fascinating look at the struggle to save some of the world’s most vulnerable creatures, and demonstrates our commitment to the Natural History Unit and its ability to make distinctive and original programmes. ‘Stable investment through the licence fee gives us the ability to take risks, innovate and take years if needed to deliver programmes viewers will love and remember.'
From a BBC Press release.

VIDEO: Why did the Chameleon cross the road?

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To get to the forest on the other side ofcourse...

As we drove through BR Hills Nature Reserve we noticed this beautiful chameleon crossing the road. Usually elusive, it stood out against the road surface. Chamaeleo zeylanicus is South India's only chameleon.