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Welcome to my Nightmares of Nature.
I'm Naomi Wilkinson and I'm coming
face-to-face with the nightmares of the animal world.
The ones that make your spine tingle, your heart beat faster
and your blood run cold.
What's that noise?
Are they truly terrifying? Or is there a twist in the tale?
Come with me as I shine a light on wildlife's
deepest, darkest secrets.
And see if you can guess which will be my worst nightmare.
This time I'm in America, cowboy country,
in the heart of Yellowstone!
In this natural wonderland
live the wildlife that America is famous for -
bears, wolves and bison. Yee-haa!
But as well as getting a look at these big beasts,
there are plenty of other creatures to keep me on my toes!
First, I'm heading into the park on the trail of probably
America's most iconic hunter, the wolf!
The haunting howl of a pack of ravenous wolves
is the soundtrack to any wild nightmare.
From fairy tales to myths
and legends, wolves are cast as evil, bloodthirsty predators.
But is this wicked reputation deserved?
Should I really be afraid of the big, bad wolf?
It's time to find out.
We all got up at 4 o'clock this morning!
We need to be wide awake
and in the park early to stand any chance of seeing the wolves!
But Yellowstone Park is huge, and wolves
can effortlessly cover over 50 kilometres a day when hunting.
They shy away from people
and are easily hidden in this vast wilderness.
I'm going to need some help to track them down.
Luckily, Linda is a professional wolf tracker.
With her knowledge and tricks of the trade,
we're in with a chance.
We've heard that there's been a sighting of a wolf this morning.
It seems to be a bit elusive, but we're on the hunt!
There, there, there, there, there! Go, go, go, go.
There, there, there! Mark!
I'm on him. He's off the road.
And a wolf on the prowl certainly
moves a lot faster than me and the crew!
Is everybody in?
There it is, up there, going up the hill!
So we just saw the wolf cross the road in front of our car,
and now it's heading away from us up the hill.
So why is it on its own, Linda?
He is out looking for prey right now. He's hunting, looking for prey.
-All by himself?
Just trying to see if he comes across any elk, for instance.
So elk would be the main thing he's looking for?
Yes, 90% of what these guys eat is elk.
-So one wolf could take down an elk on his own?
-He could, he could.
The alpha male could.
Hopefully he'll hang around long enough for us
to get a really good look at him.
Is he still there?
He is still there, he just lay down. He's napping in the sun right now.
Wolves are a serious nightmare of nature
as they're such a formidable predator.
How do they actually hunt?
They'll look for a herd of elk out here, and they need to get them
running to assess a weakness.
Wolves will target a sick or old animal, but
even an injured elk is a handful. A bull can weigh over 300kgs,
easily six times more than a single wolf.
And it isn't defenceless. But the wolf family is organised.
The smaller, faster wolves lead the chase.
And the larger ones move in to try and finish off the kill.
Imagine trying to pull down something that size with your teeth!
It may look like a one-sided battle, but not every chase ends in a kill.
In fact, as little as one in ten hunts mean a meal for the wolves.
When they do get food, they'll go
and regurgitate some of it to the pups.
Meaning that the mother will literally vomit up the food
and the pups will eat it?
Exactly! It does look just like they're throwing up!
And it happens so quick.
They go... and it flies through the air,
and the pups eat it before it hits the ground!
-Ha ha! Catch the sick? Oh, eugh!
I think we've got quite lucky in finding this one
because they cover a lot of miles.
It's a great view of a wild wolf through the binoculars,
but he doesn't look much of a nightmare from here.
So, do wolves really
deserve their evil, nightmarish reputation of fairy tales,
when we know they're shy and elusive?
They're fantastic family team members,
and they have such a tough time bringing home a meal.
I don't know. Could wolves really be anyone's worst nightmare?
The wolves have shown that it is tough surviving out
in the wilderness, but the green valleys of Yellowstone
suddenly seem easy when I head up into the jagged mountains
at the top of the world.
On Nightmares of Nature we don't just look for
nightmarish animals, but sometimes nightmarish places.
It doesn't get much more breathtaking than here.
It might look pretty, but it can also be lethal.
Check this out.
Bit of a nightmarish place to live!
But believe it or not, there are some animals that manage it.
These are the aptly-named mountain goats.
# High on a hill was a lonely goatherd... #
The sheer rocky cliffs
they live on are extreme, buffeted by winds and terrifyingly high.
But the goats traverse them with a mountaineer's ease,
to nibble scraps of vegetation and essential minerals from the rocks.
Their thick coats shield them from the harshest weather,
and their nimble hooves splay to help them grip loose rocky surfaces.
They are so comfortable living on the edge
they even have their babies up here.
If an old nanny goat can climb these cliffs,
I'm definitely giving it a try.
Are you ready?
As ready as I'll ever be!
Oh! Don't look down!
See the problem is, all this rock underfoot is so loose,
its a real danger for the mountain goats.
Can you imagine that crashing down on top of your head?
That's going to give you a headache!
Climbing is all about balance, poise, skill and nerves of steel!
The grips on my shoes work like the soles of a mountain goats feet.
Rough and textured, so they're really grippy.
They don't have any trouble keeping a foothold.
My leg doesn't go that far!
This wind is crazy!
The problem with these cliffs is you're so exposed to the elements.
I'm nearly being blown off by the wind, the blazing sun
is beating down on me, but other times of year
there would be avalanches or lightning thunderstorms.
And look what I've found over here!
Right on the mountain there's some mountain goat hair,
which proves that a mountain goat has stood exactly
where I'm standing now without a harness, without ropes,
without a helmet - and they were absolutely fine!
I'm on top of the world! Ha-haaa! Hooray!
That is utterly terrifying terrain!
To be out there 24 hours, seven days a week,
whatever the weather, no, thank you!
Surely a mountain goat's terrain has got to be a nightmare of nature.
From a nightmare place to hang out, to a time of day
when normally we're tucked up in bed having sweet dreams.
The night time is when humans are out of their depth.
In the wild, we're utterly exposed.
Nocturnal animals have big eyes
to see in low light, and their acute hearing, sensitive noses
and delicate whiskers help them get around with ease.
Compared to wild animals, our sense of smell is very poor.
We can barely see by moonlight,
so we need to rely heavily on our hearing to tell us what's around us.
And the crew have something of a challenge for me.
"Your challenge is to sit in the dark...
"and we may have some surprises in store." Oh, great(!)
Sitting here in the dark with just a night-vision camera,
I'm going to have to rely on my limited senses
to guess what's around me.
Shadows and light shapes just start
to look like they're things moving.
I don't know if it is my eyes or the crew playing tricks on me.
It's not happening, Naomi. Nothing is moving!
Oh! I just heard some twigs snap straight ahead of me.
Oh my goodness. What's that?
That is not a sound I want to hear!
I can't tell whether that is one of our crew pretending to be a wolf,
or whether that is really a wolf howl!
Ah, this is horrid! I tell you what, this is horrid!
Please be crew!
I don't know if it is the crew or if it's nature.
A nightmare of nature!
Just as I've about had enough,
I hear the one sound I've been waiting for.
-Naomi, crack your glow stick, we're coming to get you!
I've done it! I did it! Yay! Where are you?
Where are you?
Are you over there?
Eventually reunited with the crew, we head out bright and early
to track down another Yellowstone nightmare.
At this time in the morning, the wild woods are alive with sounds.
But one creature I didn't expect was going to get me
out of bed at 5 o'clock in the morning is an owl!
But what is such a nightmare about an owl?
I'm hoping forest expert Dan can explain.
And he knows just where the owls might be.
Dan's very enthusiastic.
He's raced on ahead and we're all getting left behind!
Who's that?! Who's that up there?
-That looks like the female.
-How do you tell?
The female's the bigger of the two.
Look at how much she can turn her head.
She's wonderful, isn't she?
I'm kind of encouraged that she's not sitting with the male.
That means the male is out hunting.
Dad's bringing food to Mom, Mom decides which chick gets fed.
This nest started with three chicks and the third rarely survives,
because you need lots of food for three chicks to make it.
About 10 days ago, I actually witnessed the third chick
was fed to the other two chicks, piece by piece!
At one time, I even saw the foot of the chick sticking out
of the other chick's mouth.
Just part of nature. Nothing goes to waste.
That's a nightmare start for the chicks, isn't it?
-Shall we go see if we can find one?
-Let's do that.
Yup, there he is.
Do you see, he's right there?
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!
He didn't really get Mum and Dad's good looks, did he?
He will, it's coming.
It'll take him till October to look like an adult.
His feathers are all matted and look like mouldy, old wool!
It's all for warmth.
Poor little thing.
-Hit with the ugly stick!
'Until they can fly,
'the chicks get around by clambering along fallen branches,
'and they're not always high up.'
There he is!
-Look at him looking at us!
-He's looking at us!
Straight through. Aren't you peculiar looking?!
You can see how you could walk past them in the forest...
-They blend in so well. He's like part of the wood.
Look at his funny old big feet!
That's one thing he does have right now - big feet and a big bill.
He's got the big eyes, big feet, big bill.
His body has to grow into those.
He's like a little...puppet!
'Whilst on the ground the chicks are quite vulnerable,
'so Mum keeps a close eye on them.'
She just flew overhead, she's right above us.
Be careful, she might not like us here.
She's right up above us right now!
You can see the bond between the mother and its offspring
is just so strong.
She has got her eye on us.
She knows that we're trying to look at her chick,
and I don't think she's very happy about it.
We don't want to get dive-bombed by her, really!
Because great grey owls strike with unnerving precision!
They hunt using their phenomenal hearing to pinpoint prey.
Even a blanket of snow offers no protection.
They use their piercing talons to hunt, punching through snow
and down into the undergrowth to grab their unsuspecting dinner.
'Now, the swooping hunt may be majestic,
'but what happens next isn't so pleasant.'
So how do they eat their prey?
Imagine now. The female will fly in,
and the chick will reach out with his bill and they'll hand off,
-so he gets the head...
..and then he will then start putting it down his throat,
"Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!" - just gobble, and you'll see it
slowly go down his throat until it disappears.
He looks at you with the tail sticking out, then it'll go on down.
Then his body will absorb the flesh from the prey,
and then, after a few hours,
he will regurgitate the fur and bones
that his body couldn't absorb.
-And that's an owl pellet.
So, if I break it open...
Oh, wow, look!
So are these little bones of rodents and things?
Yeah, a leg bone.
Hold on, what else have we got?
I've got a whole skull here!
(Wow!) And that was inside this pellet!
Their table manners really do leave a lot to be desired then!
The more I find out about these great grey owls,
the more I discover they are a nightmare of nature
in the way they look and almost everything they do!
'Surely, the gruesome gobbler that swallows its own brothers
'and sisters has got to be my worst nightmare!'
Right, I'm going for my very own teddy bears' picnic.
because I'm heading up into the woods with local expert, Nathan.
We're going to see if we can try and track down some black bears.
# Picnic time for teddy bears... #
-Nathan, I am all ready to go, I'm set!
-Wow, what do you have there?
I've got my supplies with me... Honey sandwiches!
Ooh, honey, that's a bear's favourite food.
-We might have to leave that behind.
Doesn't matter, I've got crisps.
Ooh, those might be too loud.
Doesn't matter, I've got a drink,
-in case I get thirsty.
-Too sweet, I think.
Well, what DO we need to take?
There's one very important thing. It's this pepper spray,
which, in the unlikely event a bear charges you,
you can spray it.
-So aren't these bears friendly?
-They may not be.
This is not turning into the picnic I had in mind.
Black bears are big and powerful, armed with strong teeth and claws.
And bears don't like surprises...
especially if they're with their cubs.
Lured by the smell of people's food, some head into our towns,
and they quickly learn when there is an easy meal on offer.
Using their brute strength, they can rip their way into anything...
..and become a real nightmare neighbour...
'I want to find out if, here in the woods,
'the bears are such a problem.
'But the thought of those claws means I'm sticking close to Nathan.'
This is quite nerve-wracking,
as we have no idea where they might be hiding.
-What was that noise?
Oh, watch your step there.
Oh, hang on, what's this?!
Ah, look at this.
That looks like some fairly fresh...
Is this an average amount of poo that a bear makes?
It can be a lot more than that, actually,
-so that's kind of a modest pile...
-And can we tell what it's been eating, by looking at it?
Mostly vegetation. If we kind of pick through it a little bit,
there's some shoots of plants within it.
-Yeah, ugh! There's maggots in it!
Well, that's what comes in and eats the bacteria in the poo,
after the bear poops it out!
And will they become flies or something?
Absolutely, yeah, they will become flies.
It doesn't really smell very much, does it?
It's not that strong.
But, maggoty poo, that's disgusting!
'So, some fairly fresh sign
'means we're definitely in a bear's backyard.'
This little stand of trees right here looks promising.
For actually coming across a bear?
Hopefully not this close!
-Whoa, lots of poo!
-LOTS of poo!
And then over here is like a big hollow, so what's that?
This is the bear's bed.
-The bear has dug itself...
-It scoops a hollow to sleep in?
Yeah. Just pull that stuff back
so they have a nice, cool resting place, and curl up in that.
Why does it poo right by its bed?
-I guess it's convenient, right?
-Your bed, your bathroom...
-Yeah, I guess, like an en suite?
So can you get a scale of how big the bear is by looking at this bed?
Often, you can.
This part that's a little bit dug-in is cooler,
so they'll have their belly in there,
and the rest of them will kind of sprawl out.
Shall I try it out for size?
-I think you should. Give us an idea of how big this bear was.
-You can say you've been in a bear bed.
-Yeah, that's quite cool!
Hope the bear doesn't come back while I'm in here,
-wanting his bed back!
So how do I compare to the size of this bear, do you think?
I think the bear was a little bit bigger than you are...
-Is it comfortable?
So many pine cones and bugs and poo. I don't think I want to stay here!
'Well, the life of a bear
'isn't quite for me.
'But, keen to spot one, the crew and I head off into the park.
'And we're in for a big surprise.'
We've just pulled over cos a mother black bear and her two cubs
have apparently been sighted there in the meadow, so we'll hang about,
and, fingers crossed, we'll get another appearance.
'In Yellowstone Park, you can watch wildlife right from the road.'
I just saw something move right on the distance... Big, black head.
There she is, there, there, there!
Right on the horizon of the green grass!
Big, lumbering black shape... and there's her cub!
My hands are trembling so much,
I can't even keep my binoculars still!
She's looking right at us!
Really shiny black coat,
Even from this far away, she looks huge!
'And she is drawing quite a crowd.'
This is what you call a true bear jam.
Everybody just slowing down to get
a great view of the bear and her two little cubs playing.
Can't say I blame everybody for having a look.
It's really quite exciting to be here,
and this just happened in a matter of minutes.
Those little cubs are adorable!
Little fluff balls!
'This bear is totally chilled out.
'So relaxed, she's even taking her cubs for their first-ever swim.'
So even in the middle of the day, the cubs are really active,
just playing around like little kids, just having fun in the sun!
Oh, I'm happy we've seen them today!
Oh, this is great!
'In the wild where they belong,
'could these bears really be seen as a nightmare of nature?
'Well, Yellowstone has been full of surprises.
'Getting close to a black bear and her cubs...
'spotting a wild wolf, and meeting some rather 'orrible owlets.'
'Let alone the crew playing tricks on me in the dark,
'and dangling off the side of a mountain.
'So, which is my worst nightmare?'
Well, actually, it's none of those.
But it is an animal that's been with us everywhere in Yellowstone.
Ooh, go away! Ooh! Woh!
While we've been filming, it's been a right pain in the neck,
leg and bottom.
Ew! I hate that noise
when it's right by your ear. Zizz!
'And, whilst they're annoying for me...
'they can be a real menace to wildlife.'
It's only the females that bite, and they need blood to make their eggs.
They track us down by our movement, our smell,
and by the carbon dioxide in our breath.
So, if you want to avoid being bitten, don't move,
don't pong and don't breathe!
So is there anything good about mosquitoes?
Well, they are food for a huge amount of animals,
but, quite frankly, that is not enough to convince me.
They are definitely my Yellowstone Nightmare of Nature.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd