Monday, May 5, 2014

The Life of Birds.gif: Part 1

The Life of Birds is an 8 episode BBC nature documentary series that ran in 1998. It is one of the predecessors to smash nature docs like Planet Earth and Life and for bird people it's a must watch. In fact, if you're reading this and you haven't watched The Life of Birds I highly recommend you stop reading and do it now. It appears to be on youtube, but you could also just, you know, buy it.
Like the other documentary series mentioned above, it is narrated by naturalist and great man David Attentborough. Unlike those, Sir Attenborough wrote and 'starred' in it. You see, The Life of Birds belongs to a somewhat different era of documentary film making- one where the naturalist is front and center.
Watching this show you really get a great sense of the man- his endless wonder at nature, his enthusiasm for science, and his kindness towards the animals are all evident. David Attenborough is not only the pioneer of the modern nature documentary, he's the bridge between the old way of doing things and the new. He might be a giant in the field, but here he's also very much a human. An adorable human.
Even without the presence of D. AttenB, the Life of Birds series would be a delight. To convince you, my viewing audience, I've made some .gifs just from the first few episodes. It really is a remarkable series, especially if you're used to the more slickly produced recent BBC nature offerings. You can see the beginnings of an incredible machine. These shows are notable not only for the high investment of time and effort into getting the best shots, but for their pioneering of new technology, both computer and camera.
For a series nearly 20 years old now, sometimes that ends up looking a little silly, but always in an utterly charming way, interspersed with some still top-notch footage and info about birds. Today's .gifs obviously focused on the man himself, but next time we'll take a look at some of the more impressive specimens on display. Tune in next week for more birds.gif and assorted other amateurnithology.

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