Spring is late this year, and when it finally arrives, the race is on to find a mate and start a family. Black bears and beavers in the west, wood frogs in the south and 20,000 gannets in the east all have one thing on their minds.
How do animals experience the world around them? How does what they see impact their place in nature and how has their place in nature impacted what they see? We asked Professor Thomas Cronin to show us how the most interesting and prolific eyes in the animal kingdom work and how they came to be.
2018 • Nature
Dr Helen Czerski examines the hottest natural phenomena on the planet - lightning. Bolts of lightning five times hotter than the surface of the sun strike our planet over 3 million times every day - and yet we still know little about this deadly force of nature. Now, specialist photography is revealing how lightning travels through the air, high-speed cameras are unlocking the secrets of upward lightning that's triggered by our urban landscapes, and scientific expeditions are capturing rare images of intense electrical discharges over 80 kilometres wide.
The most extreme and wild parts of New Zealand are in the South Island, which lie towards Antarctica, in the path of the tempestuous 'roaring forties'. This is home to some of the most rapidly rising mountains in the world, the Southern Alps. From hyper-intelligent parrots to sinister snails with teeth and magical constellations of glow-worms, this is the story of New Zealand's wildest places and its most resilient pioneers, all of whom must embrace radical solutions to survive.
The sound of the cuckoo is to many the very essence of spring, yet behind the magical call is a bird that is a cheat, a thief and a killer. Just how does the cuckoo trick other birds into accepting its eggs and raising its young? Why don't the duped foster parents react as they watch the baby cuckoo destroy their own eggs and chicks? And why do they work so relentlessly to feed a demanding chick that looks nothing like them and will soon dwarf them? In this film, new photography is combined with archive footage and the latest scientific findings to solve a puzzle which, as narrator David Attenborough explains, has perplexed nature watchers for thousands of years.
Fish dominate the planet's waters through their astonishing variety of shape and behaviour. The beautiful weedy sea dragon looks like a creature from a fairytale, and the male protects their eggs by carrying them on his tail for months. The sarcastic fringehead, meanwhile, appears to turn its head inside out when it fights. Slow-motion cameras show the flying fish gliding through the air like a flock of birds and capture the world's fastest swimmer, the sailfish, plucking sardines from a shoal at 70 mph. And the tiny Hawaiian goby undertakes one of nature's most daunting journeys, climbing a massive waterfall to find safe pools for breeding.