The Luangwa Valley in Zambia experiences one of the toughest dry seasons imaginable. Seven months with no rain and spiralling temperatures. And with this year’s El Nino conditions the drought is threatening to be even more intense than usual.
In this episode, Iolo investigates the courtship and nesting behaviour of birds, including the amazing courtship display of great crested grebes at a reservoir near Pontypool, the impressive sky dance of hen harriers in the dramatic Cambrian Mountains, how nuthatch use mud like cement to prepare their nest in a woodland near Harlech, and why long-tailed tits near Newtown are exceptional nest builders. On the Lleyn Peninsula near Trefor, he looks at why one colony of shags nest earlier than any others in Wales, and in Pembrokeshire he finds out where house martins nested before they used our buildings. Iolo also looks at the variety of places birds like to nest, from little ringed plovers on shingle banks along the River Tywi to puffins underground on Skomer.
For most of the Earth's history, life consisted of the simplest organisms; but then something happened that would give rise to staggering diversity, and, ultimately, life as complex as that which we see today. Scientists are still struggling to figure out just what that was.
Metamorphosis seems like the ultimate evolutionary magic trick - the amazing transformation of one creature into a totally different being: one life, two bodies. From Ovid to Kafka to X-Men, tales of metamorphosis richly permeate human culture. The myth of transformation is so common that it seems almost pre-programmed into our imagination. But is the scientific fact of metamorphosis just as strange as fiction or... even stranger? Filmmaker David Malone explores the science behind metamorphosis. How does it happen and why? And might it even, in some way, happen to us?
2013 • Nature