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Series / Earthflight

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Earthflight is a BBC One six-part documentary narrated by David Tennant that aired from late 2011 to early 2012. It uses various innovative techniques, such as cameras strapped to the backs of birds and filming from aircraft, to capture spectacular footage of flying birds from around the world, with each episode focusing on birds from a different continent. (With the exception of the second to last episode which combines Asia and Australia, as well as the last episode which shows and discusses the methods used to create the documentary)

This work provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Bears Are Bad News:
    • Played straight by the polar bear in the third episode, which threatens the nests and young of multiple bird species.
    • Subverted by the grizzly bears in the first episode, which the bald eagles use to provide them with salmon, and the brown bears in the third episode that are just there to feed on scraps left over by an Osprey.
  • Bigger Is Better: Andean condors easily displace other scavenging birds at carcasses, including Caracaras and Turkey vultures. This even applies to the internal social hierarchy of the Condor, with large males at the top of the pecking order, followed by females and then by brown feathered juveniles.
  • Brutal Bird of Prey: Each episode has at least one bird of prey species that hunts one of the other birds the documentary is following.
  • Butt-Monkey: The flamingoes in the second episode can't catch a break. No matter which lake they fly to, they are constantly hunted by African fish eagles, hyenas, and baboons.
  • The Cavalry: Though unintentional on their part, in both the third and fifth episodes, mobbing crows save other birds from birds of prey.
  • Creepy Crows: Crows are shown mobbing various birds of prey to protect their territory.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass:
    • Budgerigars can dodge falcons in flight, to the point that they can even break off to take a quick drink while fleeing.
    • A young, weakened snow goose manages to fend off a bald eagle long enough to escape from it.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The flamingos after being harassed by all manner of predators during the second episode are finally able to get some peace and quiet to begin their mating rituals by the end.
  • Enemy Mine: Lions and Vultures normally don't get along, to the point that some lions will try and kill vultures when there is nothing else to eat or if the vultures get annoying. Despite this, both species know that the other can lead them to sources of food and will keep tabs on one another for that reason.
  • Friendly Enemy: Foxes and sea eagles are normally predators of Japanese cranes, but due to handouts of food given by humans, they tend to be well fed and all coexist more or less peacefully with one another.
  • Giant Flyer: Many of the birds shown are quite large, but the Andean condor take the cake as the largest bird of prey in the world.
  • Groin Attack: Male guanacos do this when they fight among themselves.
  • Killer Rabbit:
    • Despite their small size, Crows can be formidable threats even to large birds of prey when attacking in sufficient numbers.
    • The Peregrine falcon in the fifth episode is a formidable bird of prey that is a threat even to Cranes twice its size thanks to its high-speed diving attack.
    • Foxes can prey on Cranes as well as Andean condors, both very large birds.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The speed attacks of peregrine and lanner falcons allow them to take down much larger birds such as cranes.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: The crocodiles in the wildebeest migration sequence (as usual). They pose less of a direct threat to the scavenging birds, but they do compete with them for carcasses. The caimans in the fourth episode aren't shown threatening the birds they feed alongside either.
  • Noble Bird of Prey: In addition to showing how brutal various bird of prey species are when on the hunt, the documentary also showcases how they are noble and majestic creatures.
  • Properly Paranoid: The reluctance of the scarlet macaws to land on the ground in the fourth episode proves to be well founded due to the presence of predators.
  • Scenery Porn: There are multiple aerial shots of famous cities and locations in each episode to help provide a bird's-eye view of the world.
  • Swans A-Swimming: Subverted with the Whooper swans who are shown to be very clumsy when trying to land on ice instead of in water like they usually do.
  • Zerg Rush:
    • Crows do this against birds of prey to protect their territory.
    • Vultures pull off a variant of this to lure a lion away from its kill. They don't physically attack the lion, but they gather in such large numbers that the lion is irritated to the point of trying to charge them down repeatedly and is eventually forced to seek shade to prevent overheating.
    • The gannets, dolphins, and other marine predators against a school of fish.