A fascinating look at the secret, underground world of the ant colony in a way that has never been seen before. At its heart is a massive, full-scale ant nest, specially-designed and built to allow cameras to see its inner workings. The nest is a new home for a million-strong colony of leafcutter ants from Trinidad. For a month, entomologist Dr George McGavin and leafcutter expert Professor Adam Hart capture every aspect of the life of the colony, using time-lapse cameras, microscopes, microphones and radio tracking technology. The ants instantly begin to forage, farm, mine and build. Within weeks, the colony has established everything from nurseries to gardens to graveyards. The programme explores how these tiny insects can achieve such spectacular feats of collective organisation. This unique project reveals the workings of one of the most complex and mysterious societies in the natural world and shows the surprising ways in which ants are helping us solve global problems.
In Herne Bay in Kent, Steve makes a jaw-dropping discovery of sharks teeth on the beach. Looking at how bad fatbergs are for the arteries of our seas. Plus we soar high over Mull with Sea eagles, and Chris meets a photographer who believes we have the best marine life in the world.
The Great Butterfly Hunt tells the story of incredible journeys. The first is that of the remarkable Monarch migration, which is the longest insect migration on Earth, is. The second story is that of Fred Urquhart, the determined Canadian scientist who spent 40 years trying to discover exactly where the butterflies mysteriously disappeared when they flew south for the winter. The Great Butterfly Hunt is a beautiful and colourful one-hour program that combines the spectacular visuals from Flight of the Butterflies with the production’s behind-the-scenes look at how such films get made. On Thursday, January 2, when many Canadians will be groaning about the long grey winter ahead, The Great Butterfly Hunt will remind audiences of the promise of spring. And, at a time when the monarch population is in rapid decline, viewers will have an opportunity to watch one of Nature’s most dramatic feats unfold.
This instalment is the first of several to concentrate on mammals. The platypus and the echidna are the only mammals that lay eggs (in much the same manner of reptiles), and it is from such animals that others in the group evolved. Since mammals have warm blood and most have dense fur, they can hunt at night when temperatures drop. It is for this reason that they became more successful than their reptile ancestors, who needed to heat themselves externally. Much of the programme is devoted to marsupials (whose young are partially formed at birth) of which fossils have been found in the Americas dating back 60 million years.
From the snow-covered Dolomites to the blue of the Mediterranean; the landscape of Italy is already a favourite for many people. Away from the premium travel destinations, however, rare species such as the Apennine chamois, greater flamingos and basking sharks can be found in natural settings.