H is for Hawk: A New Chapter (TV Review)

It’s always a treat for me when something wildlife-themed comes on to the TV, and at the moment I am spoiled for choice. There was a fantastic documentary on Chris Packham and his Asperger’s and next week Autumnwatch returns. One programme that really caught my eye was H is for Hawk: A New Chapter.

Image result for H is for Hawk: A new Chapter

H is for Hawk: A New Chapter is a BBC documentary presented by Helen Macdonald, the author of a book of the same name on how she trained a Goshawk (one of the trickiest raptors to train) called Mabel after her father’s death. The documentary is almost a film rendition of the book, however this time Helen is training a new Goshawk who she names Lupin.

Falconry is not something I’ve really looked into before, so the film was really interesting in that it showed how falconers train their birds and the patience that it requires. Included are a few old traditions and superstitions that really are fascinating. And not only was it good from a falconry point of view, but it also showcased the lives of wild birds when Helen tried to watch some of her own.

Emotional is not a word I’d usually use to describe nature-based documentaries and films, yet this production was full of emotion as I learnt about the emotional connections between Helen and Mabel and her father. The snippets of reminiscences really helped to tie together a documentary that was informative and enjoyable.

While watching the documentary, I recalled the occasion when I saw my first wild Goshawk. Although it was only a glimpse, it was very memorable. It was at the time of year when birds are displaying prior to the breeding season, which makes them more visible as they arc over the forests. Below is a drawing of the encounter.

Goshawk drawing

I would thoroughly recommend watching H is for Hawk: A New Chapter. It is available on BBC iPlayer here.


Film Review: Creation (2009)

Title: Creation
Made by: HanWay Films & RPC (Recorded Picture Company)
This is the sad story about Charles Darwin as he struggles to write his most famous book, On the Origin of Species. He fights a mental war with the memory of his late daughter, Annie, which keeps haunting him in nightmares and illusions. He never says it, but Annie must surely be his favourite child as she is interested in everything he is and enjoys the stories he tells. He also has to write the book under the influence of his wife, Emma, who sought refuge in religion after the passing of her daughter. All historians should enjoy this film, as it reveals a lot about Darwin’s personal life and habits as well as what naturalists were like at that time. Did you know that he skeletonised pigeons? Did you even know he almost went mad writing his book? It also reveals how an average Victorian lived and behaved, including the wacky cures many doctors thought would work, and etiquette used in the era. A must watch for any naturalists and collectors.