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The Mastery of Flight

   1998    Nature
The second programme deals with the mechanics of flight. Getting into the air is by far the most exhausting of a bird's activities, and Sir Attenborough observes shearwaters in Japan that have taken to climbing trees to give them a good jumping-off point. The albatross is so large that it can only launch itself after a run-up to create a flow of air over its wings. A combination of aerodynamics and upward air currents (or thermals), together with the act of flapping or gliding is what keeps a bird aloft. Landing requires less energy but a greater degree of skill, particularly for a big bird, such as a swan. Weight is kept to a minimum by having a beak made of keratin instead of bone, a light frame, and a coat of feathers, which is maintained fastidiously. The peregrine falcon holds the record for being fastest in the air, diving at speeds of over 300 km/h. Conversely, the barn owl owes its predatory success to flying slowly, while the kestrel spots its quarry by hovering. However, the true specialists in this regard are the hummingbirds, whose wings beat at the rate of 25 times a second. The habits of migratory birds are explored. After stocking up with food during the brief summer of the north, such species will set off on huge journeys southwards. Some, such as snow geese, travel continuously, using both the stars and the sun for navigation. They are contrasted with hawks and vultures, which glide overland on warm air, and therefore have to stop overnight.
Series: The Life of Birds

Climbing Everest with a Mountain on My Back

   2015    Culture
Every year, over a thousand climbers try to reach the summit of Mount Everest, with the annual record for successful attempts currently standing at 633. But of that number, nearly half were Sherpas - the mountain's unsung heroes. Yet the Sherpa community has remained secretive about their nation, culture and experiences living in the shadow of the world's highest mountain. Now, for the first time, they open the door into their world. Without the expertise of the Sherpas, only the hardiest and most skilful climbers would succeed. Every day they risk their lives for the safety of others, yet they seek neither glory nor reward, preferring to stay in the background. Following the stories of four such Sherpas - Phurba, Ngima, Ngima Tenji and Gelu - this film reveals the reality of their daily lives, not just up the mountain, but with their families after they return home.

Feathered Dragons

   2011    Culture
In a late Jurassic forest in what is now China, an Epidexipteryx escapes from a juvenile Sinraptor by climbing a tree. It finds a beetle grub in the tree bark, being shown to use its elongated fingers in a similar way to a modern day aye-aye. However, its prey is stolen by another, larger Epidexipteryx, and after a brief bout of posturing, the smaller individual goes to find more food. It drops a second grub to the forest floor, where the other Epidexipteryx retrieves it, only to be killed by the juvenile Sinraptor. The episode then cuts to a desert in late Cretaceous Mongolia, where a Saurornithoides is shown brooding a nest of eggs. When it leaves the nest, an Oviraptor raids it, fleeing when the troodontid returns. The Saurornithoides is suddenly attacked and eaten by a Gigantoraptor, which then heads to compete in a breeding ritual for mates. The males use their feathers for display, a brief fight between two erupting at one point, allowing the females to choose the best suitor. The episode finally cuts to an early Cretaceous forest in China, where a Xianglong is being hunted by a Microraptor, which uses its feathers to pursue the gliding lizard in the air. A Sinornithosaurus attacks it, and after a brief chase the Microraptor manages a lucky escape. The Sinornithosaurus, alongside two other members of its species is then shown hunting a Jeholosaurus and its three young. The group brings down the parent, the narrator explaining that their possibly venomous bite allowed them to tackle animals much larger than themselves. A montage is then shown of the feathered dinosaurs featured in the programme, with the narrator saying that Microraptor not only hints at how flight might have developed, but also that dinosaurs still live amongst us today, as birds.
Series: Planet Dinosaur
Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich
Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich

   2020    History
Space Deepest Secrets
Space Deepest Secrets

   2019    Science
The Nazis, A Warning From History
The Nazis, A Warning From History

   1997    History
How the Universe Works Season 4
How the Universe Works Season 4

   2015    Science
Planet Earth
Planet Earth

   2007    Nature
The Normans
The Normans

   2010    History
Human universe
Human universe

   2014    Technology
The Nazis, A Warning From History
The Nazis, A Warning From History

   1997    Culture