White Falcon, White Wolf
Arctic Diary: Tracking Wolves: Friday, August 23: Signing Off

Although this Arctic adventure has been fairly static in mileage terms compared to my normal expeditions, it has been a really tremendous journey for me and has been both extensive and wide reaching in personal terms.

I’ve really enjoyed the camaraderie, friendship and company of the production crew and have fortified my huge admiration for a team of people that will remain very special in my thoughts for years to come.

Their dedication, tenacity and downright endurance in capturing and portraying the incredible wonders of our wildlife are facets that any of my trainee expedition members would learn heaps from.

I can’t wait to see the final programme, which is part of the new series of Natural World; scheduled to be aired on BBC 2 in the new year.

I’ve also journeyed in so many other ways too. From the emotional ups and downs of a gravely ill mother, for whom I nearly had to depart from this project, to the in-depth knowledge I’ve gathered from my team of wildlife experts.

I have also wrestled with what style of book to write and how should that book be (I’m still not sure); finally, the incredible journey of discovering what an Arctic summer is like in all its glory.

Goodbye to Lucy

As for the wolves, the subject of our expedition, my experience has been nothing less than magical.

Luckily I came here with an open mind because, like so many others, I was brought up on the fears and fables of wicked wolves, such as the ones in Little Red Riding Hood and Three Little Pigs.

Having encountered real wild wolves many times during my winter expeditions I have built up a huge amount of respect based on their obviously complex behaviour and their tolerance of such adverse conditions.

This respect has been enhanced on this trip, especially by a bonding with one particular wolf – Lucy.

I met her in the first few days of being here and spent an hour-and-a-half alone with her on my penultimate day; it was as if she had come to say goodbye.

My overall thought, as I sit finishing this report, is how incredibly privileged I feel to have experienced such a wonderful summer and if I have any words of wisdom they are these.

All too easily, we consider ourselves bound by our daily activities and often trivial commitments.

Take a look at these boundaries and if you feel the need to experience life beyond them then prepare yourself carefully and when you feel the time is right, go beyond that comfort zone and extend the realm of your experience.

I feel as though I represent the embodiment of a normal person, but many years ago decided not to be bound by “normal”.

Since then I’ve come to learn that almost everyone has more under their bonnet than they believe and that many dreams and aspirations are truly achievable. Live life to the full, you won’t regret it.

Before I sign off for the final time, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the enormous help given to me by the crew: Charlotte Godfrey; Jonny Keeling; Mark Smith; “H” (Harry Hoskyns-Abrahall); Mike Dilger; Ian McCarthy; and of course the bosses, Fergus Beeley and Tim Martin.

Finally, my family – Lori, Mac, Kirsty and Helen – who constantly and loyally put up with my absence, and the Walker family for hosting a fantastic surprise return party!

  • kim

    wow! the show was amazing! we really enjoyed (my dad and I)!

  • AndyStr

    Super story and stunning pictures. Having “stalked” wildlife myself with a camera in National Parks I know that it can take hours to just get that one shot. Patience is the key. Thanks Mark for the relentless camera work an the great shots!
    Having an Alaskan Malamute F5 Wolf hybrid myself I recognized a lot of my pooch’s behavior in the film – especially the rodent hunting including the quick tail wag just before they get the prey. People so miss-understand these complex creatures in their human arrogance. Yes, they have to kill for a living but they are not monsters. Who wants to read more about “of wolves and men” may get the book by Barry Holstun Lopez.
    Maybe because wolves and humans have similar social traits dogs have become man’s best friend.
    What I love in this nature program is that it did not go for the spectacular “kill pictures” but rather for the daily life of those arctic predators, their struggle but also relaxing moments enjoying the short warmth of the summer.

    Andy

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