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The Insatiable Appetite

   1998    Nature
The next instalment focuses on dietary needs and how different species have evolved beaks to suit their individual requirements. The latter come in a multitude of forms. Blue tits and goldfinches have beaks akin to tweezers, with which to extract seeds, while the hawfinch's razor-like bill can deal with a cherry-stone. However, the crossbill is the only finch that can twist its mandibles in opposite directions. Jays store acorns for winter by burying them in the ground, whereas woodpeckers can keep up to 60,000 of them in one tree trunk. Sap is also desirable, and there are a variety of methods used to obtain it. The hoatzin is the only specialised leaf-eater, and accordingly has a digestive system more akin to that of cattle. Plants recruit birds to aid pollination, and offer nectar as a reward. Hummingbirds eat little else, and the sword-bill's beak is the longest of any bird in relation to its body. Insects are also highly prized, and Galapagos finches are shown to possess some ingenuity as they not only strip bark, but also use 'tools' to reach their prey. Crows are hailed as being among the most intelligent birds, and one is shown using a twig to spear a grub within a fallen log. The robin is an opportunist, and Sir Attenborough observes one seizing morsels as he digs a patch of earth. In South America, a cattle tyrant sits atop an obliging capybara and uses its vantage point to spot passing food that may be dislodged by its grazing partner.
Series: The Life of Birds

The Silk Spinners

   2005    Nature
Silk is the invertebrates' great invention, used in a range of ways from from the protective stalks of lacewing eggs to the amazing hanging threads of New Zealand's 'glow worms'. Spiders, though, have taken silk-spinning to extremes. The common wolf spider has no web, but the female is a gentle parent, encasing her eggs in silk and carrying the precious bundle wherever she goes. The bolas spider uses a ball of sticky silk soaked in a copy of moth pheromone to lure its prey. Millions of communal spiders live and feed together in a vast, towering web - an arachnophobe's nightmare.
Series: Life in the Undergrowth

Plant Predators

   2002    Nature
The plant eaters take on the largely indigestible, spiny and poisonous defences of plants with some spectacular physical adaptations to diet. Plant Predators demonstrates the particular (and often peculiar) adaptations of herbivores
Series: The Life of Mammals

Insect Hunters

   2002    Nature
Mammals from tiny shrews, giant anteaters, armoured armadillo to bats have specialised in eating insects. Some have evolved into complex and effective hunters, even pursued their prey into the skies
Series: The Life of Mammals

The Indian Ocean Coastal Waters

   2009    Nature
The tropical Indian Ocean is home to the Spice Islands. Characterised by beautiful sandy beaches, fringing coral reefs and coastal mangrove forests, this is a vibrant nursery area for marine life, such as whale sharks, crabs, seahorses and a great variety of fish. The coastal areas are where humans have the most direct impact on the ocean's resources.
Series: Oceans
Space Race
Space Race

   2005    Technology
Inside the Medieval Mind
Inside the Medieval Mind

   2008    History
The Nazis, A Warning From History
The Nazis, A Warning From History

   1997    History
Reel Rock
Reel Rock

   2014    Culture
Through the Wormhole Season 8
Through the Wormhole Season 8

   2017    Science
The Nazis, A Warning From History
The Nazis, A Warning From History

   1997    History
Colour The Spectrum of Science
Colour The Spectrum of Science

   2015    Science