Saturday, 5 March 2016

Return to the River

When we think of ground breaking wildlife documentaries we probably think of exotic locations and animals, like snow leopards hunting in the mountains of Pakistan, or killer whales hunting seals in Patagonia or even giant centipedes catching bats in caves in the Amazon - so it is somewhat of surprise to that wildlife behaviour possibly never recorded before has been filmed on the river Ock here in Abingdon.

Filmmaker Stephen De Vere – who has filmed sequences for the BBC’s Life of Birds, Life in the Freezer, Africa and most recently the sparrowhawk sequence in The Hunt - has spent the past few years filming and documenting the wildlife in English rivers for his film ‘Return to the River’.
(c) Stephen De Vere
It might not have the cinematic scale of the recent BBC wildlife documentaries, but it does provide a more personal insight into our rivers and by returning to the same spot several times he documents the changes in the river and the behaviours of the animals - it seems he is revisiting old friends as he reveals their secret worlds.

Whilst the kingfisher and otter footage is sublime, it was not filmed in the area, it is another charismatic animal – the water vole -  that was filmed on the Ock.
Charting their behaviour, from their first emergence in spring and the establishment of their breeding territories, to seeking out new food sources and avoiding predators – by climbing trees and it is this seldom seen behaviour that has possibly never filmed before.
This was originally recorded in this blog (even if the camera work is somewhat shoddy and there is the everpresent incessant drone of the A34) and even inspired Stephen to seek out the water voles on the Ock (I even get a credit at the end of the film).

It is Stephen's determination, creativity and professionalism that has exceeded anything recorded in this blog and the way he has captured their behaviour which makes these shy, endearing and now unfortunately very rare creatures the stars of the film.

For anyone with an interest in river wildlife, this film is highly recommended and not just because a leading wildlife cameraman has chosen to film on our local river.

More information on this and Stephen’s other film ‘Through the Garden Gate’ can be found at:

And Stephen is also on Twitter:

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