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A caracara flies off with a delicious penguin egg in the Falkland Islands. Turns out it's a BBC spycam... and the rest is movie magic.
Wildlife filmmaker John Downer and his crew spent 8 months infiltrating penguin colonies for the 2013 BBC documentary mini-series, “Penguins — Spy in the Huddle.” How did they accomplish this, you ask? By deploying 50 spycams cleverly disguised as rocks, snowballs, eggs and yes — animatronic, lifesize penguins.
The film crew recorded 1,000 hours of penguin behavior spanning Emperor Penguins in the Antarctic, Rockhopper Penguins in the Falkland Islands and small, shy Humboldt Penguins in Peru's Atacama Desert. (Let's see: squee times three, times 1,000 hours. Squee thousand? Check my math).
First, you haven't really lived until you've seen a Cyborg Penguin glide up to a colony like it's no big deal — "Hey, you know how I'm always on my belly, not really doing or saying much? Ignore that and let's go waddle to our distant breeding grounds."
Second — and here’s the insane part — some of the best footage was actually captured by a striated caracara, also known as a "Johnny Rook" in the Falkland Islands. This falcon species really likes to eat penguin eggs. The caracara saw a delicious egg just lying there, for crying out loud, and decided to fly away with it.
Only it turned out to be a BBC eggcam, producing “the first aerial of a penguin colony shot by a live bird.” It's as glorious as it sounds.
Over time the spycams were eventually accepted into the penguin colonies, as the following incidents suggest:
But the work also carried some significant risks to the equipment: