Wildlife cameraman John Aitchison often finds himself in isolated and even dangerous locations across the globe filming wildlife, and in this series he reflects on the uniqueness of human experience, the beauty of nature, the fragility of life and the connections which unite society and nature across the globe.
2/5. It's July and twelve hundred kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, on the island of Spitzbergen, wildlife cameraman, John Aitchison waits for eider ducklings to hatch. It's a cold and hostile environment, but it's where Louis Nelson chose to build his cabin and this is where John is staying. Louis is an eider farmer; he harvests the down which the female eiders pluck from their breasts to line their nests. This gathered down is used to fill eider downs. It's a form of sustainable harvesting which works for both parties. Louis protects the eiders from predators and in return only takes the surplus down which the ducks replace. Since he began this work he's attracted more birds to the colony. There are now some 3000 birds, compared to 1600 when he started. The nesting ducks are a powerful draw for other animals -like gulls and foxes which will steal the eggs, and polar bears. They are a very real threat. Louis has had to fortify the cabin against them and John's hide provides little resistance against one inquisitive visitor (fortunately when John isn't inside). Trying to film eider ducks hatch and make it to the water's edge is anything but easy as John quickly discovers, especially when there are polar bears about!
Presented by John Aitchison
Produced by Sarah Blunt.