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.


  1. 2014? that's a long time to be waiting on tenterhooks.

  2. Does it take such a long time because it's HD?

  3. Sorry, but I've got be a bit circumspect about what I give away...the filming only started this year, goes for another two years, then a year editing (heaven knows quite why). 3 or 4 years is not unusual for a top of the range series.

  4. Fantastic stuff - never a dull moment next to a teeming watering hole. I've just been filming something very similar with the annual fishing party birds in Zambia's South Luangwa Valley, albeit just as a short promo clip -

    I look forward to reading more adventures soon...

  5. Sorry folks - correction to the 'Africa' series broadcast time - it will be late 2012 not 2014 !

    And, no, HD (high definition) does not take any longer to edit than standard definition.

  6. very glad it was croc watch and not croc munch bro! Georgie

  7. The sequence appears in Episode 4 'Cape' of the Africa TV series.

    First showing in UK on BBC1 9pm 23rd January 2013.