Wild at heart

TV Times - - Natural History - Sarah Sel­wood

a new se­ries re­veals the amaz­ing ways that na­ture has adapted to life in amer­ica’s leg­endary, but bru­tal, Great Fron­tier…

equoia trees are only found in the Sierra ne­vada moun­tain range and at nearly 300ft tall they are the world’s largest sin­gle trees. Liv­ing in their shadow is a bright red wild­flower, the Snow Plant, which has no need for sun­light, in­stead steal­ing raw ma­te­ri­als off its big neigh­bours. In ex­change, they pro­vide a life­line for the beau­ti­ful anna’s hum­ming­birds, that help in plant pol­li­na­tion.

‘It’s a fas­ci­nat­ing story,’ says Pa­trick. ‘The Snow Plant is a par­a­sitic plant that taps into the roots of the Se­quoia tree to get its nour­ish­ment. It comes out in early spring and it at­tracts the Anna’s hum­ming­birds early in the sea­son

when they are des­per­ate for good sug­ary nec­tar.’

Sdoc­u­men­tary

Yee-ha! Thanks to John Wayne and Clint East­wood, for many of us, ‘The Wild West’ con­jures up cine­matic im­ages of rootin’ tootin’ cowboys wear­ing Stet­sons and rid­ing around dusty towns on mag­nif­i­cent horses.

But there’s so much more to Amer­ica’s leg­endary great fron­tier than sa­loon bars and sher­iffs, as new BBC2 na­ture doc­u­men­tary Wild West: Amer­ica’s Great Fron­tier shows us this week.

Over mil­lions of years, pow­er­ful forces have formed here some of the most dra­matic land­scapes on Earth – from the con­ti­nent’s hottest deserts and red rock canyons to tow­er­ing snow-cov­ered moun­tains and a mag­i­cal coast­line.

It’s a bru­tally tough area to live in, but na­ture has found some ex­tra­or­di­nary ways to sur­vive. And over three episodes, the se­ries gets us up close to the an­i­mals and peo­ple who have man­aged to tame this place to call it home.

‘The se­ries is about the nat­u­ral his­tory, the land­scape and the peo­ple of the Wild West,’ ex­plains pro­ducer Pa­trick Mor­ris, who has over 27 years ex­pe­ri­ence in mak­ing wildlife doc­u­men­taries, in­clud­ing David At­ten­bor­ough’s award-win­ning Life.

‘There are three dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent worlds – the clas­sic deserts, the great moun­tain ranges of the Sierra Ne­vada and the Rock­ies, and the great Pa­cific coast­line and Sea of Cortez.

‘It’s steeped in leg­end and fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory, with an amaz­ing di­ver­sity of wildlife and some of the most dra­matic land­scapes any­where on Earth.’

The se­ries was filmed over two years, with Pa­trick’s team mak­ing over 30 dif­fer­ent trips to nine Amer­i­can states to un­earth fas­ci­nat­ing and unusual sto­ries.

Here’s what to ex­pect in Wild West: Amer­ica’s Great Fron­tier…

is pre­viewed on pages 42-43 avvy coy­otes are in­fa­mously cam­era shy, but the team tracked some down at a golf course in the mo­jave desert, the hottest place on Earth.

‘We were try­ing to film them scav­eng­ing, but the peo­ple who run the golf course told us that at cer­tain times of the year the coy­otes re­ally go af­ter mi­grat­ing birds stop­ping to drink at the pools there. It shows just how adapt­able coy­otes are – they are able to live in all sorts of dif­fer­ent habi­tats.’ at home in the wild: Coy­otes can adapt to their con­di­tions

Wild West: Amer­ica’s Great Fron­tier sun­day / bbc2 / 8.00Pm

al­lies in na­ture: The Snow Plant and an anna’s hum­ming­bird

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