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Fall, the third episode of THE WILD CANADIAN YEAR, chronicles a remarkable season of change when the great Canadian wilderness is transformed by bursts of spectacular colours, and magical forests of mushrooms emerge beneath the forest canopy.
Fall is a time of great migrations — three-quarters of all of Canada’s bird species fly south. On the vast tidal flats of the world-famous Bay of Fundy, massive flocks of semipalmated sandpipers feast and gather strength for their epic journey south. The world’s biggest tides provide an all-you-can-eat buffet for the hungry travellers, but as the waters rise, the resting hordes become targets for swift and powerful hunters: peregrine falcons. The sandpipers rise up in swirling, ever-shifting giant flocks that confuse the falcons. But the falcons have a hunting strategy that rarely fails.
With the harsh winter weather ahead, Fall is a critical time to prepare. The appearance of acorns and hazelnuts in the eastern woodlands send chipmunks, Canada’s master hoarders, into overdrive. With the seasonal clock ticking, they must race to gather winter supplies — and protect them from cheeky — and sticky-fingered — rivals.
Further west, the majestic Rocky Mountains provide a spectacular backdrop for an extraordinary seasonal courtship. Fall is the time of the rut for the continent’s largest deer species — moose. They engage in an intimate mating ritual, a tender encounter rarely seen between two titans of the North.
Beneath the turbulent waters of the rugged BC coast in the wild Canadian Fall, the giant Pacific octopus, the largest of its kind, broods her clutch of 80,000 eggs. The female octopus has spent the past 6 months tending her eggs and in the end, makes the ultimate sacrifice to ensure her young's survival. Also, in the seasonless depths of the Pacific, ancient enemies, the leather sea star and swimming anemone, engage in a bizarre and compelling dance between predator and prey.
For northern gannet chicks, fall is the season for a dangerous rite of passage. On the eastern edge of Newfoundland, thousands of young gannets cling to the cliffs. But it’s time for them to leave the safety of the nest and leap into the abyss. To reach the cliff edge they must run a deadly gauntlet of territorial, and fiercely aggressive, neighbours.
In Fall, every wild inhabitant of Canada knows it’s a brief but pivotal moment before winter arrives to The Wild Canadian Year.