The recent natural history series Earthflight has been interesting to watch.

It follows birds as they fly around the planet, the sort of thing the BBC have done many times. Only this time the idea is to take the bird’s eye view.

And it is amazing where advances in digital, miniaturization and lens technology can take us. Some of the shots would have been unthinkable even a decade ago.

Here is my quick synopsis. Truly staggering photography is spoilt by gratuitous segways (usually to footage of large ferocious animals other than birds) and an inane sales copy narrative. But, hey, not every audience wants to hear Sir David all the time.

The images are so amazing that figuring out how they did it takes the mind away from what the bird sees.

Maybe it is a bit like the experience with flight simulator games. We know we cannot be up in the air because we are holding a game console and so part of us stays attached to that reality. It was similar with images of flight.

My brain said that it was not possible to be 1,000 feet up gliding on thermals across an Andean mountain top and so I did not see the landscape below as the condor might, even though the camera was right there on its back (at least that’s what we are supposed to think is how it was done – I have my doubts).

The footage I remember though was taken in conventional fashion. It was of 40 or so Andean condors chattering around a carcass at the end of a landfill site on the outskirts of Santiago. The narrator tells us that the carcass is provided for the birds so that they are not at risk from the bulldozers that are spreading out the garbage.

It was not so long ago that the Andean condor was classified as an endangered species by the IUCN. It is better off today with a near threatened classification,  but remains susceptible to human influence.

Only here were 40 individuals on a rubbish tip. And this is a good thing?

I’ll leave you to decide.



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