FILMING TRIP TO EASTERN GREENLAND
This time last year I was in eastern Greenland filming for the BBC series “SURVIVORS”. It was a fantastic trip to a really remote valley, just the kind of trip I love. We flew to Iceland where we overnighted. Next morning a twin prop plane took us to Constable Point on the eastern coast of Greenland. We had just enough time to get our equipment unpacked and ready for use and then we loaded up a Greenland Air helicopter to the brim with us and our stuff. A one hour took us north to the valley of Orsted Dhal. We quickly unloaded and the chopper was away home leaving us standing on the tundra surrounded by all our equipment. That us the bit I like best.
It took us the rest of the day to get camp set up and explore the area. The first think I saw were herds of Muskox grazing in the valley bottom. Muskox are real left overs from the Ice Age, they grazed along side Mammoth and Woolly Rhino over 60,000 years ago when much of Europe was covered with ice. They were all important prey species for out hunter gatherer ancestors. They are big powerful creatures which have to be treated with some caution. Several years ago I was chased by a bull Muskox in the far north of Greenland and it had been a frightening experience. I had had to run a good mile to finally shake him off. As they shamble across the tundra with there long fur blowing in the wind they have a very ancient feel, almost as though you were watching something from far in the past. I managed to creep very close to one herd with a long slow stalk which took a couple of hours.
I was filming Barnacle Geese which come to this remote valley to breed each summer. They are preyed on by Arctic Fox and I was lucky after a lot of searching to find a den with 4 cubs. Because the valley was so remote I don’t think any of the wildlife had ever seen humans before. That meant they did not know how dangerous we are and would often let us get very close or even approach us themselves. Arctic Foxes are hunted hard by Inuit and are usually very wary but this female very quickly got used to seeing me out on the tundra and would come over to see me.
It was such a privilege to be trusted by such a wild creature. When she came to see me I would often stop and sit down. She would do the same and we would just look at each other and I would talk to her and tell her how beautiful she was. After a while she would get bored and continue on her way to find food for her cubs. I filmed the cubs being fed and playing with each other like young puppies and I didn’t even use a hide.
Arctic Hares were rare in the valley but I managed to get very close to one and get some photographs. The hares are big, weighing more than Arctic Foxes. They look so out of place as the snow melts and leaves them white.