Monday, December 31, 2012

Shenandoah Black Bears To Be In Discovery Channel Series

Shenandoah National Park Black Bears

In April of 2011, I was given the coolest opportunity of a lifetime. I was contacted via email in December 2010 by a young lady named Evie Wright of Wild Horizons Ltd, a UK-based documentary filmmaker. She saw my wildlife photos on Flickr and that is what initiated our correspondence - isn't the Internet such a powerful medium? At the time, Wild Horizons was contracting with Discovery Channel for an upcoming series about North America and she wanted to know if I could get them positioned into key areas for Black Bears emerging from their Winter dens.

Of course I said yes, and told her that it was not a 100% guarantee, but rather a 50/50 chance, as the bears are hard to find in the mountains in early Spring when they first emerge from their dens - they are lethargic and food is scarce. They do not travel much and will stay in one confined area until both of these conditions change. At first they will 'hang out' in trees for several days until they shake the lethargy.

So basically they contracted me to help them locate wildlife, emerging Black Bears in particular. They came to Shenandoah National Park twice during the Spring in 2011 and I was able to help them locate this Black Bear and her tiny Cub, which they managed to get some spectacular footage of (more info here). They also got some footage of newborn twin whitetail fawns, coyotes, wild turkeys and Spring scenery from some of the overlook vistas.

They sent an award winning cinematographer on both instances, Martyn Colbeck. Working mainly for the BBC's Natural History unit based in Bristol, UK, Martyn has filmed sequences for many of the best known blockbuster series produced by the BBC over the past 15 years, most recently the highly acclaimed LIFE OF MAMMALS. He won an Emmy in 2007 for Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming for his work with the PLANET EARTH series.

Some video footage of the Sow and Cub that I took with a small, standard definition Sony video camera. She keeps the tiny cub beneath her most of the time but every now and then it wiggles out and offers a glimpse. The background sound that you'll hear is water running off the steep ridge due to some very heavy rains that fell a few days prior.

Here is the promo video trailer that was given to me by the film crew. However it was created before they ever came to film at Shenandoah National Park so there is no SNP footage included.

The latest trailer that Discovery Channel is promoting: “North America” Coming to Discovery Channel in 2013

Although my helping hand in this epic series was very tiny, it is a life moment I will never, ever forget. I was in total awe of the HD video equipment they had plus the commitment to rise early each and everyday to hike in rough terrain until the daylight faded (while toting the equipment on their backs).

A Timeline Of My Posts On Flickr During The Filming

For more Black Bear photos, information and video clips, visit the black bears section of my Web site.