It’s sexy time with the arthropods! This week David Attenborough takes a look at the courtship rituals of the creatures beneath our feet. But lovebugs won’t want to take tips from these bugs. The male Chilean rose tarantula, for instance, weaves a silk mat; deposits sperm on it, then sucks that sperm into a finger-like appendage near his mouth before he looks for a mate. Then there’s the gruesome, but surprisingly effective, coupling of praying mantis. The cinematography is as amazing as ever, catching the mating battles of tramp ants and providing luminescent footage of the courtship dance of Tanzanian red claw scorpions.
Making of David Attenborough’s Galapagos, which is aired first, offers an unrivalled and actually far more interesting view of the dramas that went into capturing all that footage. The way all the shots have been so calmly edited together makes the process look so effortless, but nothing could be further from the truth. There are broken helicopters and broken camera cables that threaten the whole enterprise and the grunting of mating tortoises that threaten to drown out Attenborough’s pieces to camera. This making of programme also includes the discovery of a previously unknown species of pink iguana, as well as the final television appearance of the last-remaining member of another species – the iconic long-necked tortoise known as Lonesome George. “He’s about 80 years old and he’s getting a bit creaky in his joints,” whispers Attenborough. “As indeed am I.”
Colin Stafford-Johnson journeys through one of the most bewitching islands in the world, featuring the wildlife and wild places that make it so special. In the first part of this two-part mini-series, Colin explores corners of Cuba that few outsiders have seen. Amongst the wonders he encounters is the bee hummingbird, the world’s tiniest bird, found nowhere else on the planet, and the spectacle of thousands of crabs migrating en masse.