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Italy from Alpes to Tuscany

a country in the south of Europe stunningly beautiful from the tip of her toe to her Alpine summits [Music] [Applause] [Music] Italy is packed full of natural wonders secrets and elemental forces [Music] always ready to surprise [Music] and impossible to team [Music] [Music] [Music] late winter in the Italian Alps 800 kilometers of rough rugged high mountains stretching from the French to the Slovenian border [Music] [Music] spectacular but also freezing cold and threatening for those who want to survive here [Music] only specialists like the Alpine ibex can master the extreme conditions they have taken over the zone between the edges of the forest and the ice [Music] the animals are Friedel and astonishingly good climbers the meals also carry an important set of horns up to a meter long all these qualities have turned them into a living symbol of the Alps Alpine ibex were as good as extinct surviving only here in the Italian national park of gran paradiso today however they’re also reestablished in other alpine areas with each passing day the Sun is in the sky for longer but the snow stubbornly remains even in low-lying areas a bearded vulture with a wingspan of almost three meters he soars above the peaks these majestic birds were eradicated around 1900 but in the last few decades they’ve been reappearing in the Alps around 100 bearded vultures live here today they’re also dietary specialists we get by on bones that’s why they avoid the victims of winter at first giving others the right-of-way the cruel makes the most of the short time with the carcass the piece doesn’t normally last for long the king of the skies the Golden Eagle has discovered the food source with his Hawks eyes his visions around three times that of a human dead shammies ensure his survival as well as that of crows and ravens now in late winter the Golden Eagle also feeds on carrion the Eagle can’t carry prey which is heavier than himself so everyone has to take their place at the carcass every day the eagle needs a good 200 grams of meat the Eagle dissects the pre with his beak although his real hunting weapons are his extremely strong claws capable of penetrating a chemise skull so the crow should take care italy’s golden eagle population has been estimated at around 500 breeding pairs in the alpine region most of the suitable habitats are occupied alpine chuff’s our two mountain experts living above the treeline [Music] the aerial acrobats occupy the highest peaks literally playing in the wind it’s been documented that the follow Mountaineers up to 8,000 meters in Nepal [Music] the outstanding gliders reach more than 200 kilometers an hour in descents [Music] beneath them lies the unique world of the Dolomites [Music] the Dolomites form the heart of the italian out [Music] and every evening is different mountains and clouds constantly create new pictures in the sky [Music] at first light the next morning curious sounds from the mountain forest the capercaillie Europe’s largest game bird performs his portrait dance for the ladies during breeding season the testosterone level of the birds who can grow up to a meter high increases dramatically the otherwise very shy and rarely seen are now highly aggressive attacking even humans despite his best efforts on this morning the remains without a head yet his courtship song seems to act like a wake-up call for nature finally the son gathers its strength [Music] the landscape is in flux few other regions in Europe change their appearance so radically throughout the year [Music] for months the vast precipitation has been bound up in ice and snow now the spring releases it crystal clear and shivering Li cold the mountain streams of the Alps are home to the Dipper [Music] she’s a real water baby the only indigenous songbird who regularly swims and dives being plumb she can maintain body heat for longer in the ice-cold water her bones are pretty heavy making it easier to dive under water she turns over stones in her search for insect larvae in the early mornings and afternoons the dipper goes in search of food and at noon a thorough grooming session the dipper greases its feathers extensively using secretion from the cream gland only then does the water run off perfectly the high mountain range practically inaccessible is a habitat for the sure-footed like shammies the solitude also attracts others however the shammies are cautious they’ve long known about the presence of this enemy the wolves have killed some prey every day they need to consume 10 to 20 percent of their body weight in meat some four to eight kilos in contrast to Germany there’s never been an attempt to eradicate wolves in Italy in the early 1970s however there were still only around 100 of them left in 1976 they were officially protected under law and since then the population has multiplied nevertheless wild wolves are shy only with a lot of luck will you ever catch sight of one in Italy the Sun climbing higher with each passing day ensures the supply of meltwater from the high mountains [Music] [Music] spring needs a little time up here still it won’t allow itself to be held back [Music] more star pain streams in Italy feed into the longest river in the country the pole at its mouth to the Mediterranean it forms a huge Delta today an important Nature Reserve [Music] the poor Delta into regional park is Italy’s most prized bird sanctuary [Music] in a few places the Delta at the Adriatic Sea is extremely rich and fish but they don’t let themselves be snatched from their backyard that easily the hunt demands a politic performance from the Little Egret [Music] the birds hunt much more successful in small groups than alone the herons beak serves as a harpoon in fact its entire body construction including the neck is designed for the purpose the hunters are on the prowl for big game the experienced bird grabs the red swamp crawfish so skillfully that he can’t use his pincers some quick realignment and head shaking breaks the crabs weapons then the whole procedure again flush him out give him a jab then you get pinched with a bit of luck you might come across a female crab they have considerably smaller pincers Little Egrets are common in the Delta for a hundred years their numbers have been growing almost everywhere in the past they were intensively hunted their decorative plumage was highly coveted in the fashion industry and sometimes traded more expensively than gold living much more secretively is the purple heron its breeding colonies are always hard to reach before feeding the parents first check out the lie of the land around the nest safety is the highest priority only then do the young get to the food the extensive flood land of the Delta is tailor-made for the purple herons 300 to 400 couples are said to be breeding here in the rest of Europe the birds are set to lose perhaps three-quarters of their habitat through climate change a Koi Koi Koi coos were first introduced from south america for their fur by now they’ve occupied vast parts of Eurasia and they’re successful progress is likely to continue we’re generations of salt workers once toiled today the supply ducts and facilities of the former industry lie derelict humans move out and animals move in in 1985 the Salt Works were abandoned three years later the park was opened a hole in the old wall surfaces for the Kestrel to settle in but they don’t build nests originally pigeons wanted to nest here but they have no chance against the Falcons the male brings back a lizard perhaps for the last time only one chick is left in the hole his siblings have already moved out [Music] today a gusty wind sweeps the Delta the young birds hesitate not ideal conditions for takeoff and landing [Music] staying on your feet is dangerous enough a broken wing would mean certain death the daily flight exercises are canceled the poor delta is one of the most treasured natural landscapes in Italy humankind and nature have formed the Delta together in this case a true success story for biodiversity the Nature Reserve has continued to attract new species ever since its foundation the greater flamingo the largest of its kind arrived all by itself [Music] they obviously feel at home here and they’re staying in the year 2000 greater flamingos bred for the first time in the lagoons of camacho these days the colony can reach up to ten thousand birds in good years [Applause] thus the poor Delta has become one of the most important breeding grounds in the whole of Europe within only a few years [Applause] in pre-roman times greater flamingos were probably widespread in the Mediterranean region but wealthy Romans prized flamingos tons as a delicacy causing a massacre [Applause] the constantly increasing population in the poor Delta is encouraging atonement through Nature Conservation 2,000 years later flamingos are nutrition experts treading water stirs up microorganisms the edge of the beacon the tongue together form a system to filter the plankton from the water laborious but unrivaled only sometimes is there time for disagreement relative to body size their necks and legs are longer than those of any other bird and it’s exactly those long legs which turn mating into a balancing act for the meals [Music] while the female gives up even watching [Music] flamingos are among the most sociable birds on earth when preparing for takeoff however everyone needs their own space [Music] with around one and a half meters of wingspan they can reach up to sixty kilometres an hour so stages of five to six hundred kilometers per day are no problem for them meanwhile summer has arrived in the Italian Alps pastures and meadows become one big flower garden globe flowers are blooming and the colorful fire lilies are attracting visitors [Music] lush hillsides in pale lilac a sea of snakeweed life can really be enjoyed here how old a farmer who grew up in the mountains still feels connected to tradition and nature his footsteps do not go unnoticed the ASP Viper has poor visibility in the flow’ry meadow but she still notices the slightest human or animal movement the Viper prefers to exercise caution around cows and people every couple of days the farmer checks that everything is alright on the pasture the cows are part of his life they mean everything to him as always he’s brought a few treats with him in his rucksack the cows are already waiting for them cattle who still live in the open air this is agriculture with respect for nature whatever the mountain farmer gives his animals they give him right back this coexistence can still be found in some parts of the Dolomites today the warning signal of a Marmot it announces someone’s approach they recognize the farmer however and seem to know that he causes no danger life up here is comfortable now lush greenery and not as many insects as at lower altitudes sitting around in the Sun makes you thirsty the Red Deer calf wants his mother ever since birth doe and calf have been connected by an invisible scent bond the mother recognizes her offspring by the smell of a secretion from its pre-orbital gland whenever the calf wants a drink it opens the gland then mom knows for little ones thirsty the fool the calf becomes the more the gland closes again that’s enough now the farmer is already preparing for the long winter he learned his skills with the side from his father it doesn’t matter how steep the mountain meadow is he from the Alpine Arabs ensures his animals survival over winter all trees of the starting point for his reconnaissance flights the Roselia longicorn is one of the most colorful beetles the male’s occupy and defend a small patch of dying would preferably beech tree as soon as the larger females allow meeting starts lasting around an hour afterwards he stays in the area as a precaution to stave off potential rivals the female feels for cracks in the wood with a pointed tip in her hindquarters she wants to lay her eggs if she could finally be left in peace that is [Music] summer doesn’t last long here in the Italian Alps soon the evenings will be shorter again and the shadows longer [Music] south of the Alps one of the most famous regions on earth the rugged peaks give WETA gentle hills and a mild Mediterranean climate [Music] as soon as the morning mist lifts she appears Tuscany [Music] a mosaic of vineyards and Smallwood’s olive groves and crop fields endearing and full of treasures great and small [Music] history at every turn ancient villages evolved over centuries appeared of jackdaws enjoying some quality time their marriage lasts a lifetime the village tiger has the situation and his freeze under control but below the village in a small oak grove troubles brewing the stag beetle the largest of its kind in Europe has raised his weapons his enlarged antler like of her jaw arrival has also scaled the tree conflict lose [Music] using their forceps both beetles try to lever up their opponent and fling him from the branch unless the intruder decides to beat a retreat she lured the male’s using pheromones and has watched the fighting she will only meet with the winner the male skillfully shields his new partner not allowing her any escape from his love cage yet again his forceps come in handy enough romance now she will concern herself with a laying of the eggs the resulting stag beetle larvae were considered a delicacy in ancient Rome [Music] the many insects who live here a tractor bird which is becoming more and more rare [Music] the Hoopoe is unmistakable thanks to its mottled crone he feeds virtually exclusively on large insects and their larvae so he loves the old sun-drenched droves which are full of food [Music] under the trees a singular orchid paradise everything of distinction is represented here the lizard orchid or freeze and marsh orchids [Music] the ear is filled with the scent of time wild and meadow Arabs are her favorite delicacies the Herman’s tour toys she knows exactly what she wants fevering very specific plants and blossoms today it’s the yellow ones to that end she covers 80 meters a day sometimes even four hundred still that’s how the tour toys clocks up 12 kilometers in a whole year in the middle of the countryside a sea of poppies typical Tuscany [Music] wherever it’s too steep for agriculture in demolished areas and on steep edges that’s where they live [Music] bee-eaters they’re among the most colorful birds in Europe of course such a flashy plumage needs careful attention the bee-eaters arrived late from their African winter quarters only now in June have they started to dig their burrows they’re busy for two to three weeks digging up to 2 meters deep and shifting 5 to 6 kilos of Earth in the process they wear down their beats by about 2 millimeters the constant tunnelling not only creates dusk but also leads to parasite settling in the feathers so grooming becomes very important the eaters are skillful aerial hunters able to spot a larger insect from up to 60 metres away a short flight leads to success that’s required 400 times a day – then greeting the male gives the prey to the female as a bridal gift this shows a willingness to meet up to 10 times a day in order to maximize the chances of success [Music] from the heart of Tuscany to her most southern coastal stretch Marama [Music] this is home to around 9,000 of an ancient breed of Longhorns cattle the mare amana who live alongside the wild animals they’re constantly accompanied by a flock of cattle egrets the birds exploit the rich insect life around the cattle thereby making their work easier the cattle have a light ordered muzzle a typical feature of the extinct or ox the Bulls can grow up to 1.7 meters at shoulder height I wonder who lives more dangerously here the cattle or the egrets Marama was a malaria infested swampland up until last century or old coat-of-arms features four letters standing for hardship malaria sweat and blood no other breed of cattle could better manage the harsh living conditions since the animals feed on aromatic herbs and grass all year round their meat tastes especially good the Cowboys of Maremma the so called GU teri ensure the well-being of their horses and cattle they’re working animal as the Mara Manu a horse known for sure-footedness and agility in difficult terrain the horses are also patient motivated and tough [Music] the bhooteriya are masters in the saddle real men and they need to be here in the Wild West of Tuscany in the year 1890 according to legend Buffalo Bill was here in Italy with his men he held a competition with the Butera to see who the best Cowboys were the American Cowboys maintained v had one and the butchery said the exact opposite [Music] but to the Southern Alps the alpine lake is crystal clear and smooth as ice on this autumn morning only the Nutcracker is agitated meaning there’s something in the bushes brown bears live very secretively and reclusive lee for good reason for centuries the great predator was feared by humans brown bears were mercilessly slaughtered in many places including Italy around 100 animals still live throughout the country in three separate populations one group lives in the a de Melo Brenta Nature Park and continued before 1999 their number had shrunk to three animals as a result ten further bears were introduced from Slovenia with great success the strictly protected group has by today reached over 40 animals again the Bears have already laid down fat reserves for their winter dormancy here they show just how extremely mobile even a colossus of a bear can be autumn in the Alps arrives quickly even the trees take precautions [Music] larches lose their needles but they break down the green leaf pigment of summer beforehand storing the valuable substances in their trunk and roots the needles turn yellow [Music] insect hunting was the highest caliber the white whitetail knows whether it’s worth a look the deer Herot has found a rotting arena only the strongest stag the dominant male stays near the female the weaker ones keep their distance [Music] the doles and calves who have moved away from their heads tirelessly keep the boss at bay by the start of the rutting the stag has reached his maximum weight he loses around a quarter of it through leadership stress again and again he boldly stakes his claim digging around in the earth an extensive wallowing are typical behavior traits of the dominant male his hormone levels are extremely raised during rutting his urine smells so strongly of male pheromones that even humans can detect it for competitors it should be sufficient warning he demonstrates his superiority with an imposing stance swaggering gait and his head held high he constantly strides up and down his head checking eligible females further readiness to conceive higher up the snow is appearing again [Music] on clear nights it’s already getting bitterly cold [Music] a cross bill in search of minerals only no in early winter does rutting season begin for the shammies in dramatic hunts and chases the dominant male keeps his rivals from the haird away from the door job done now back to the lady shammies are cloven-hoofed an extremely skilled at climbing the wedge their hooves into the ground and their back legs longer than the front ones allow them to stand better on slopes even better climbers are the ibex whoever lives in the high mountains must have a head for Heights and be sure footed from childhood on the IBEX have turned climbing into a fine art there are over 40,000 of them in the Alps today they all have ancestry in Italy at the start of the 19th century only 100 ibex were living in gran paradiso all the animals alive today descend from those same 100 the young bucks are practicing their horn thrusts and really letting rip we build up experience in the group the prominent men are in the mood to meet they constantly pick up the saint of the doors on their tongues the approach cautiously no she doesn’t seem to be quite ready yet gradually peace reigns once more among the animals only those starting winter thickly coated and well nourished have a chance of seeing next spring in the Alps [Music] from now on energy conservation is top priority if it’s getting too dangerous up high one can always head down to the valleys [Music] and serious disputes should be avoided the IBEX seek protection in the herd relying on experienced leaders the high mountains allow their inhabitants normos dates [Music] for half a year snow and ice will occupy the far north of the country then once again life will flow back into even the mountains this is Italy stunningly beautiful and wild .

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