Last week, David Attenborough introduced us to some of the remotest habitats on the planet with the first episode of Planet Earth II. This week his focus is on mountains, where only the hardiest of animals can survive. The program opened with stunning snow-capped vistas and the appearance of a snow leopard.
The first major scene introduced Ibix showing off their mountaineering skills in the Arabian Penisula. When a family came down for water, they were chased by a red fox. It was fascinating to see how swiftly they move to escape danger. Watching the ibix dart up and down crevices gave me a serious case of vertigo. I felt as out of breath as the fox by the time the family were finished scaling the slopes.
Next, viewers were treated to the incredible sight of golden eagles hunting in the Alps. A stunning camera perspective showed what it was like for an eagle to drop from the sky at 200 miles per hour. This transitioned into two eagles fighting over the corpse of a fox. The slow motion shots of a male colliding with a female were visceral and breathtaking.
This was followed by a light-hearted look at grizzly bears waking from hibernation. A mother lead her cubs into a valley to teach them how to rub against trees. In the stand out scene of the episode, the bears ‘danced’ near the trees in order to spread their scent.
The fun continued in the form of a bobcat tenaciously searching for a meal. The cat travelled through snow and ice, hunting for mice, ducks and squirrels. It was a great example of the lengths animals go to survive in extreme temperatures.
A warmer climate came next, with a look at the Andean mountains. Viscacha hopped in and out of crevices, trying to make the most of the sun. The camera also recorded the highest flamingo colony in the world. The birds were at the mercy of freezing water and ultraviolet rays, but it didn’t stop them from going on parade. Their mating dance was entertaining and bizarre.
Then, the focus returned to snow leopards in the Himalayas. The big cat is one of the most mysterious animals in the world, and to see them on camera was amazing. A mother wandered the slopes with her two-year-old daughter. In a heartbreaking scene, two males fought over the mother, putting the cub in danger. The mother valiantly tried to keep their attention on her, with the dominant male keeping her trapped until they’d mated. The mother and daughter were filmed a month later, seperated but alive.
Finally, the ‘diary’ extract revealed how the camera crew captured a golden eagle in flight. This was done by relying on a professional paraglider who acted out how an eagle soars. He wore a helmet camera that allowed him to capture a first person view of the landscape and the footage was used for the eagle scene.
‘Mountains’ might not have had the harrowing pace of ‘Islands’ but it was every bit as gorgeous and vibrant. The next episode is Jungles, so check back next week for my review.
What did you think of Mountains?