Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Dung Beetle makes Mountain out of a Sand Dune - BBC #Africa #Sahara

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Africa - Sahara, tonight, 9pm on BBC One

This week David Attenborough takes us to Northern Africa and, arguably, the greatest desert on Earth, the Sahara. On the fringes, huge zebras battle over dwindling resources and naked mole rats avoid the heat by living a bizarre underground existence (see clip below). Within the desert, tiny swallows navigate across thousands of square miles to find a solitary oasis, camels seek out water with the help of their herders, while dung beetles gather their poo and roll them across mountainous sand dunes.. some of which 'sing'! Sounds like fun, but the reality is that in the desert life can be tough. When nature is overrun, some are forced to flee, some endure, and a few seize the opportunity to establish a new order.

This Dung Beetle makes a mountain out of a sand dune.

The Naked Mole Rat

David Attenborough has chosen the naked Mole Rat as one of his Natural Curiosities in his new series on the Eden Channel. This clip shows how natural behaviour of the mysterious Mole Rat was filmed for this weeks episode of Africa.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Springboks jump for joy on the Cape #Africa #Attenborough

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Episode one brought us the gobsmacking scene of gladiatorial rubber-necked giraffes, episode two brought the terror of giant cannibal prehistoric monster birds. Last week twitter was alive with innuendo following the elephant sex scene and the following battle. This weeks episode of Africa takes us to the Cape, where if this clip of jumping springbok below is anything to go by, it could be a much more joyous occasion... but watch out for the sharks!

Southern Africa is a riot of life and colour because of two great ocean currents that sweep around the continent's Cape. To the east, the warm Agulhas current generates clouds that roll inland to the wettest place in southern Africa. To the west is the cold Benguela current, home to more great white sharks than anywhere else. Moisture laden fog rolls inland, supporting an incredible desert garden.

Table Mountain, Cape of Good Hope (Photo: BBC)

Where the two currents meet, the clash of warm and cold water creates one of the world's most fabulous natural spectacles - South Africa's sardine run. This is the greatest gathering of predators on the planet, including Africa's largest, the Bryde's whale.


Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Cute Kangaroos and the Kangaroo song!

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Next weeks episode of Natural World 'Kangaroo Dundee'. 
Here's a sneak preview...

Monday, 21 January 2013

Britain's Biggest Every Quarry Blast

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If you like rock and big explosions then you'll love this. Britain's Biggest Ever Quarry Blast - 50,000 kgs of explosives were used to blast 200,000 tonnes of granite. Here's the mega-blast in slow motion and then again in real time. 

Jaguars Born Free - A wildlife filmmakers holy grail

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Natural World, Jaguar Born Free, Monday 21st Jan 2013, BBC 2

Jaguar are a holy grail of wildlife filmmaking, and one that I was lucky to have filmed for myself a few years whilst making 'Secrets of Our Living Planet'. Most of my encounters were from the relative safety of a boat as a jaguar relaxed on a river bank before disappearing into the dense deep jungle. How do you film real, intimate behaviour of such an elusive, rare and dangerous animal? It's an opportunity that producer/cameraman Rob Sullivan couldn't miss - three tiny orphaned jaguar cubs are discovered in a Brazilian forest and a human family decide to take the place of their mother, to train them to become wild again. Over two years the cubs must learn to climb trees, swim, and hunt for their dinner. If they can be successfully released, it will give new hope to these rare animals. 

Behind the Scenes

Jaguars Fight

You can read about my experience filming Jaguar for 'Secret's of Our Living Planet', and here's some of my favourite Jaguar Photographs from that trip...

Jaguar relaxing in the shade

Toothy yawn of a Pantanal Jaguar

Jaguars Toothy Grin

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The Man Who Planted Trees - Inspiring animated short film (1987)

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Inspiring, timeless, powerful... Winner of the Acadamy Award for Best Animated Short Film and Short Film Palme d'Or in 1987, this is a charming animated masterpiece about a man who devotes his life to planting trees. Directed by Frederick Back and edited by Norbert Pickering, this is the full English language version translated by Jean Roberts and narrated by Christopher Plummer (the orginal version is in French language narrated by Philippe Noiret). 

Jean Giono, the author of the short story upon which the movie is based, wrote the story after American editors in 1953 asked him to write a few pages about an unforgettable character. They intended him to write about a real unforgettable character, but he created the fictional Elezeard Bouffier. When the editors objected that no Bouffier had died in Banon, he donated the story to all humanity. It was soon after published by Vogue in 1954. Many people have assumed that Bouffier is a real person.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Gulp! Giant Cannibal Prehistoric Monster Birds - #Attenborough #Africa #BBCOne

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Last week it was gladiatorial rubber-necked giraffes. This week it's giant cannibal prehistoric monster birds. Africa is the most surprising and fresh blue chip wildlife series in years - don't miss tonights incredible episode 'Savannah'. BBC One, 9pm (repeated on Sunday).


East Africa is a land which is constantly changing. To survive here, creatures must be able to deal with unpredictable twists and turns - wet turning to dry, feast to famine, cold to hot - no matter how hostile it becomes. From dense forests to snow capped peaks, steamy swamps and endless savannah, this unique and varied land is also a haven for life, supporting large animals in numbers found nowhere else on Earth. But away from the familiar, forever-travelling herds, there are a huge cast of other characters - lizards that steal flies from the faces of lions, vast dinosaur-like birds who stalk catfish through huge wetlands, and an eagle who risks everything on the arrival of ten million bats from a far off rainforest.

Monster bird reveals dark side - read more on BBC Nature 

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Eric Idle sings for Wonders of Life - Brian Cox's NEW SERIES

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Wonders of Life by Brian Cox - COMING SOON to BBC2

7 billion years ago, the fundamental laws that previously built stars, supernovae and planets contrived to create this complex, diverse and unique force. This is the story of the amazing diversity and adaptability of life, told through the fundamental laws that govern it, and revealing the milestones in an epic journey from the origins of life to our own existence... 

For those who need a little more convincing watch the trailer (below), quite possibly the best series  trailer that I've ever seen from BBC science, featuring a new version of the Galaxy song, exclusively rewritten, reworked and rerecorded by Eric Idle.

@ProfBrianCox "Just recorded a bit of music for #bbc wonders of life with an up and coming musician :)"

Humanity is extremely significant

“There was one knob from The Daily Telegraph who wrote the most catastrophically stupid piece claiming that I thought humanity was insignificant. I posted a polite response underneath the article, explaining that the basis of Wonders is that humanity is extremely significant. The paper loved it, and they thanked me for driving so much traffic to the site.” - Prof Brian Cox

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Gladiatorial giraffes battle with whip like necks - watch now! #BBCAfrica

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If anything will encourage you to switch on the new BBC Wildlife series AFRICA at 9pm, BBC one, then this is it - Gladiatorial giraffes battle with whip-like necks. Jaw-droppingly incredible!

Find out more about the series in my previous posts: Attenborough TV Spectacular & A New Year Treat and on the BBC Africa webpage

Find our more about this remarkable behaviour on BBC Nature