Winter bites in Wales but it is nothing compared to the harsh conditions faced by the creatures living in the Arctic that must battle against the elements to survive.
In a new four-part series on S4C, the familiar voice of Wales’ foremost naturalist Iolo Williams guides viewers through the wild winter of the Arctic.
The series is a co-production with broadcasters from other European countries and invites us to the rugged landscapes of Scandinavia, Greenland, Iceland and Finland to explore the lives of some of the world’s unique creatures that have evolved to survive the extreme temperatures.
“It’s hard for anything to survive in the Arctic – even in summer. Most of the birds choose to leave when autumn comes, as life is too difficult for them,” says the naturalist who was brought up in the village of Llanwddyn, Powys. “The summer is very short and only lasts around nine weeks. It’s warmer but still not very warm, so many of the animals are keen to hunt for food and to mate before preparing for hibernation.”
The cameras follow the efforts of many of the creatures as they attempt to survive the winter. While some compete for food, others choose to hibernate. Among the animals featured are Arctic foxes, elks and polar bears.
“I’ve been to the Arctic about four or five times in the past,” says Iolo who now lives in Newtown. “The animal that made the greatest impression on me was the polar bear I saw in Svalbard. Polar bears have adapted perfectly to their surroundings and are one of the few animals that consider us as food.
“One of the more interesting creatures to appear in the series is the wolverine – a very fierce animal. In some respects, it has a temperament similar to a Jack Russell!”
But not all animals encountered are strangers to us in Wales. Birds that can be spotted in Wales, such as seagulls, crossbills and woodpeckers also feature. All this against the backdrop of breathtaking views of the unforgiving landscape.
The series is a NDR Naturfilm / Studio Hamburg Docklights production in co-operation with ARTE, WDR, ORF, S4C, SVT and Parthenon Entertainment Limited for the National Geographic Channel.
Arctig Gwyllt Iolo Williams
Sunday, January 25, 8pm, S4C
Also Tuesday, January 27 at 11.00pm, S4C
With English subtitles