Monday, 4 October 2010

Hiding in the Bush: On assignment for the BBC 'Africa' wildlife series

Filming in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique, for a new BBC wildlife series about Africa - I have just spent two amazing mornings in my portable canvas hide positioned beside a waterhole teeming with birds - pelicans, yellow-billed storks, spoonbills, and more, all gorging themselves on fish trapped by the receding waters of the dry season.

In most places I film it's all about getting close to animals but in the African bush it's a bit different - much of the time I am trying to keep away from the dangerous ones. The riverbed where I have the hide is bordered on both sides by trees, thick bush and tall grass which poses a serious threat of lions - they like hiding in such places for animals to come to the water. Having reached the relative safety of the hide (escorted by an armed guard) I soon discover there is a crocodile in the waterhole. At the time, I thought it was a small one because all I saw was it's eye slowly appearing above the surface a few metres away and then vanishing without even a hint of a ripple on the water. Later that day I saw a huge crocodile sunning itself on a sand bank and could see exactly how small a large crocs eyes really are ! Apparently as long as it can't see me behind the thin canvas it won't think I am edible.

A week later a very rarely seen bit of crocodile behaviour unfolds by chance in front of the camera while we are watching a section of river. Thanks to the wonders of modern zoom lenses I was able to record the event at a safe distance of about 50 metres. You'll have to watch the series - due to be broadcast in late 2012 - to find out exactly what happened.