"Magical Appearances" explores how swallows magically appear each spring and asks how did complex and beautiful insects like butterflies suddenly arrive in the summer.The discovery of the swallow’s epic migration and the revelation that butterflies could metamorphose into totally different looking adults were scientific stories both cloaked in mystery and controversy.
2014 • Nature
Svalbard in the Arctic spends many months of the year in complete darkness, an unrelenting frozen winter with temperatures down to -40 Celsius. But when the sun finally reappears, the landscape magically transforms from an ice world into a rich tundra, full of exotic plants, birds, arctic foxes, polar bears, walrus and reindeer. This film captures the changes in all their glory and reveals how this transformation is only possible thanks to some bizarre micro-organisms that feed on ice and the stunning abilities of migrating birds.
In nature, living long enough to breed is a monumental struggle. Many animals and plants go to extremes to give themselves a chance. Uniquely, three brother cheetahs band together to bring down a huge ostrich. Aerial photography reveals how bottle-nosed dolphins trap fish in a ring of mud, and time-lapse cameras show how the Venus flytrap ensnares insect victims. The strawberry frog carries a tadpole high into a tree and drops it in a water-filled bromeliad. The frog must climb back from the ground every day to feed it. Fledgling chinstrap penguins undertake a heroic and tragic journey through the broken ice to get out to sea. Many can barely swim and the formidable leopard seal lies in wait.
This episode continues the study of mammals, and particularly those whose young gestate inside their bodies. Attenborough asks why these have become so varied and tries to discover the common theme that links them. Examples of primitive mammals that are still alive today include the treeshrew, the desman and the star-nosed mole. Insect eaters vary enormously from the aardvark, giant anteater and pangolin to those to which much of this programme is devoted: the bats, of which there are nearly 1,000 different species. These took to flying at night, and its possible that they evolved from treeshrews that jumped from tree to tree, in much the same way as a flying squirrel.
Playful pets, fearsome fighters or deadly hunters? Millions of us have cats in our homes, yet we know very little about them. In this series, Liz Bonnin joins forces with some of the world's top cat experts to conduct a groundbreaking scientific study. With GPS trackers and cat cameras, we follow 100 cats in three very different environments to find out what they get up to when they leave the cat flap. In the first programme we discover how our cats see, hear and smell the world with the senses of their wild ancestors, and why this could be making life difficult for them in the modern world.