By José Manuel Serrano Esparza.
Thirty years have elapsed since the death on March 14, 1980, of a great man, Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, near the Bering Sea, in an aircraft accident, when the Cessna 185 plane in which he was flying along with Teodoro Roa García, Alberto Mariano Huéscar (both of them being camera operators, focusers, photography directors and supervisors of the choosing of lenses and emulsions, together with the lighting, with Alberto having started as Teodoro´s assistant in 1974) and the American pilot Warren Dodson, crashed against the snowed ground twenty kilometers in the south of the Eskimo village of Shaktoolik (northwest of Alaska), while they were shooting one of the stretches of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the most famous competition of this kind in the world, covering 1,200 miles between Anchorage and Nome.
During twenty years of impressive activity between 1960 and 1980 (beginning with his famous radio broadcast programmes which caused a sensation through the first half of sixties - along with his first TV collaborations in the program Fin de Semana, with a space devoted to Nature which was offered live from the TVE studios in Paseo de La Habana-, becoming the link between Spanish villages and big cities in the maelstrom of the rural exodus of millions of people searching for better living conditions as new urbanites, and following with his fifteen consecutive years working making audiovisual productions for TVE until his untimely death in Alaska in 1980, being 52 years old), Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, currently considered thirty years after his death the most important naturalist and zoologist maker of documentary films on animals and wild life of all time along with Jacques Cousteau (a personal friend of his, in the same way as Conrad Lorenz) and Richard Attenborough, created the astounding figure of 500 documentary films for 10 TV series, some of them legendary and internationally acclaimed like Planeta Azul (1970-1973), Fauna Salvaje, Fauna Ibérica, El Hombre y la Tierra (1974-1980), etc, that won great quantity of accolades and international awards, foreseeing in decades the current worldwide global ecologist concern.
EL HOMBRE Y LA TIERRA, A WORLD HERITAGE TV SERIES
This mythical image of an Iberian wolf running at twilight and belonging to El Hombre y La Tierra TVE series, enhanced by the legendary musical score created by Antón García Abril, became the hallmark of Félix Rodríguez de La Fuente´s flagship production and literally stuck millions and millions of people to the screen all over the world, with a total of 124 chapters filmed in Spain (92), Venezuela (18) and Canada (14).
Incredibly, 30 years after the death of the Spanish legendary naturalist, turned into great harbinger and standard- bearer of Ecologist Movement, this amazing production entirely shot in 35 mm with the cream of professional Mitchell and Arriflex cinematographic cameras and Carl Zeiss and Angenieux lenses available during seventies, goes on currently being in the top ranking of sales, now digitally remastered in DVD, frame by frame, both in image and sound, from the original 35 mm developed chemical emulsion colour negatives.
Besides, Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, a tremendous driving force in himself regarding everything he did and featuring incredible strength, energy and versatility enabling him tackling the most manifold tasks at top-notch level, was the founder of the Spanish delegation of World Wildlife Fund and implemented campaigns against pollution, against the exsiccation of the National Park of Tablas of Daimiel, against the extinction of the asturcon horse, etc, also being a diehard activist against the slaughtering of whales because of commercial interests.
Likewise, the unforgettable Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, guiding beacon and human icon for thousands and thousands of biologists, naturalists, zoologists, anthropologists, etc, both before and after his demise, not only in Spain but all over the world, was decisive in the fulfilment of the protection and survival of five wonderful species menaced with extinction: the Peregrine Falcon, the Royal Eagle, the Imperial Eagle, the Iberian Wolf and the Iberian Lynx.
IMAGE QUALITY AND FILMING PARAMETERS COMPARABLE TO THE BEST PRODUCTIONS OF HOLLYWOOD CINEMATOGRAPHIC INDUSTRY
On the other hand, as quoted by Kennart Smart (Director of National Geographic Nature Unit) Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente was the first naturalist pioneering the use of professional 35 mm movie cameras (until then the highest qualitative image levels in this domain were attained by 16 mm Bolex movie cameras with Kern Switar and Angenieux lenses) for making documentary films on animals in their environment, achieving to tell stories on animal behaviour that hadn´t been told ever before, and getting a sharpness, lack of grain and sharpness that marked a turning point in this scope, clearly beating even The Living Desert (1953) - a famous Walt Disney Productions 69 minutes documentary film on nature and fauna directed by James Algar and shot with ISO 12 16 mm Kodachrome film and Technicolor system on desert areas of USA, under a scorching sun, and whose remarkable definition made possible acceptable blow-ups to 35 mm for theatre projections-, and The Vanishing Prairie (1954), another outstanding 71 minutes Walt Disney documentary film entirely shot in 35 mm also in Technicolor system- that had been the reference in image quality regarding wildlife and nature films until the arrival of El Hombre y la Tierra, whose chapters were 100% shot with professional 35 mm cinematographic chemical emulsions between 1974 and 1980.
´The movies on Wildlife and Nature filmed by Dr. Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente surprised us and drew our attention, because both the image and sound quality was fantastic. National Geographic worked with 16 mm cameras, and sometimes with Super 16 mm ones. It was apparent that Félix worked with very advanced and extraordinarily elaborate cinematographic techniques ´
Kennart Smart, Director of National Geographic Nature Unit.
Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente always strove after attaining the most tremendous levels of image quality feasible at his time, on a par with the most prominent Hollywood productions, using heavy 35 mm Mitchell and Arriflex professional cameras connected to the cream of Carl Zeiss and Angenieux cinematographic lenses and the best chemical emulsions available then, making strenuous efforts to take different very heavy cameras up to specific locations from which filming his mythical productions.
One of them, El Hombre y La Tierra, was unanimously chosen in 2000 as the best TVE production in history by the Spanish Academy of Sciencies and Arts, and became quickly a world referent, being distributed in different languages to a lot of countries in which it often reached peak audiences, as happened in United States, where it was number one in the top ranking of documentary films broadcast on TV for millions of people, subsequently getting even further international fame and recognition, winning in 1975 the Great Prize of Montecarlo Rainiero Prince for the chapter titled "Prisoners of the Wood", the II Great Prize of Paris de L´Emision Scientifique de Television Centre National de la Recherche in 1977 for the chapter titled "The Social Hunter", the II Great Prize of Paris de L´Emision Scientifique de Television Centre National de la Recherche for the chapter titled "The Wise Vulture" in 1978 along with the Ondas, Antena de Oro and Golden TP 1976 to the Best Spanish National TV program.
Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente shaking hands with another world class naturalist: Jacques Cousteau. Both of them established a sincere friendship and mutual admiration.
Suffice it to say that there were some directors of both TV and Salvat Ediciones Editorial in Spain who had the chance of watching projected inside a cinematographic room on a screen the 35 mm bobbins shot by Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente team in the jungle of Venezuela and they all coincided: those wonderful images showed virtually unbeatable resolving power, contrast, color depth and visual impact, it all being enhanced by the accuracy of the world class focuser Teodoro Roa, who was at the moment one of the few professional TVE camera operators specialized on filming animals.
Dr. Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente and the camera operator Teodoro Roa.
Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, Teodoro Roa and Alberto Mariano Huéscar.
And they were right, because twenty six years had to elapse until the appearance of the high definition Heligimbal camera (able to turn 360º and featuring a very high quality zoom allowing to zoom in up to a distance of one kilometer with utter stability) introduced by the BBC in the first chapter of his television series Planet Earth in 2006 for somebody offering documentary films on wildlife and nature featuring comparable levels of spectacularity and innovation to those attained by Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente in its famous TV series El Hombre y La Tierra, though in terms of image quality, colour depth and above all impact, some Félix´s documentary series, above all El Hombre y La Tierra (both the chapters made in Spain and South America) shot with chemical 35 mm emulsion with Mitchell BNC and Arriflex cinematographic professional cameras won´t probably ever be beaten, thanks to its huge adaptability to any type of digital format that can appear in future, as was recently proved with the new DVD complete edition made by Divisa Ediciones - including all the chapters - of the aforementioned El Hombre y La Tierra series, with digitally remastered image by means of a last generation professional film scanner from the original 35 mm Kodak colour film reels developed in photographic laboratory during seventies and the four first months of 1980 and which were wisely kept by Genoveve Parmentier during almost thirty years, which has allowed through a highly updated digital technology a quantum leap in quality of image and sound (also remastered in a digital way from the excellent original Hi-Fi monophonic takes) in comparison with previous editions of El Hombre y La Tierra sold in analog VHS tape or the available youtube images, and the chance of relishing a terrific and fascinating audiovisual experience with any DVD or compatible Blu-ray player.
THE DIGITAL IMAGE AND SOUND RESTORATION AND REMASTERING ON DVD OF EL HOMBRE Y LA TIERRA TV SERIES MADE BY DIVISA EDICIONES: A LANDMARK IN THE HISTORY OF AUDIOVISUAL PRODUCTIONS ON WILDLIFE AND NATURE
The digital remastering and restoration on DVD of El Hombre y la Tierra (probably the most successful in history documentary TV series on wildlife and nature, watched during the second half of seventies by 800 million people in more than 40 different countries of the five continents, a figure which has outstandingly increased since the demise of the mythical Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, thanks to a number of further TV broadcasts) is one of the most important audiovisual projects devoted to wildlife and nature ever made in the world, and has been accomplished by Divisa Ediciones through the frame by frame professional digitization with a last generation film scanner with which every original 35 mm negative was scanned at 10 bits instead of 8, that are the usually delivered by a conventional system.
That enabled working with a colour gradation of 1024 tonalities for each one of the primary RGB colours, instead of doing it with the 256 tones which would have been attained with an 8 bit device, in such a way that the maximum feasible quality was obtained for the next step: the colour correction, which was fulfilled by means of a professional last generation digital corrector able to work with infinite layers, irregular masks and tracking points to follow the movements, and after this colour correction was made, the images underwent a digital restauration phase with painstaking removing of unstability areas, emulsion scratches, dust specks, splicing locations, etc) of the original 35 mm reels.
It all would have never been possible without the great foresight and wisdom of Marcelle Genevieve Parmentier, Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente´s widow, who has very carefully kept the many original Kodak 35 mm reels including the 124 chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra TV series (Venezuelan Wildlife, Iberian Wildlife, Canadian Wildlife and Alaska) filmed between 1974 and 1980.
The collection is made up by a total of 25 DVD discs, encompassing the 92 chapters of Fauna Ibérica, the 18 of Venezuelan Fauna and 14 of Canadian Fauna, and also including a biography on Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente written by her daughter Odile.
Poza de la Sal (Burgos). 2010. Foto: José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Poza de la Sal (Burgos) . 2010. Foto: José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Poza de la Sal (Burgos). 2010. Foto: José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Poza de la Sal (Burgos). 2010. Foto: José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Poza de la Sal (Burgos). 2010. Foto: José Manuel Serrano Esparza
The image quality of these DVD discs is amazing, but bearing in mind that the most updated Blu-ray players can reproduce DVD discs at their standard resolution or have the player upscale the DVD playback signal to attain 720p/1080i or in some devices even 1080p, we can go a step beyond and watch these marvellous colour productions almost in HD to practical effects, reaching a level of image quality that can only be defined as extraordinary, greatly keeping the resolving power, contrast and aesthetics of image of the original professional cinematographic 35 mm films used with Arri and Mitchell movie cameras by Félix´s team during seventies.
TOP-NOTCH QUALITY SOUND OBTAINED WITH PROFESSIONAL HI-FI MONOPHONIC NAGRA III NP AND NAGRA 4.2 REEL TO REEL TAPE RECORDERS BETWEEN 1974-1980 AND DIGITALLY RESTORED AND REMASTERED 30 YEARS LATER
Since the beginnings of sixties, Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente becamed very fond of listening sounds produced by different animal species, recorded by the analogue tape recorders then available in Spain, whose variety and quality didn´t usually reach the level of fidelity craved for by Félix, a man gifted with high auditive capacity, being used to listening to the animals in their natural habitat and whishing at all cost to be able to reproduce with maximum feasible the wide range of sounds emitted above all by praying birds and mammals in their most diverse living circumstances for their subsequent study.
After a lot of goings out to the countryside with different analogue to reel tape recorders and making many recordings without achieving the results he wanted, Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, with his typical stubborness and great autodidact ability, began to deeply study the professional sound recording systems existing by that time.
Till then, studio cameras were soundproof and solved the initial problem of direct sound, but couldn´t be used outdoors.
Félix had already in mind the creation of the documentary movies on fauna and nature filmed on wild landscapes, which would make him famous all over the world during seventies and who would turn him into the international referent in this scope, but before it, he had to find a solution for the recording of live sound in the outdoors documentary films he wanted to make: he needed noiseless cameras (he had also studied the various systems of synchronized sound and noise reduction blimps for 16 mm Bolex cameras) which could be used in all kind of biotopes, but besides, it was wholly necessary to have a professional high fidelity sound device getting the highest quality of sound, simultaneously being linked to the cinematographic 35 mm movie camera in such a way that it allowed the synchronizing of image and sound.
Finally, in late sixties he chose the portable professional reel to reel Hi-Fi monophonic full track tape recorder Nagra III NP (1962), featuring a very high fidelity of sound and Neopilot crystal sync (enabling the 100% working at the same time of both the tape recorder and the 35 mm movie camera connected without any wire, through an electronic beep which was recorded on the tape each time that the movie camera began filming, which allowed for the later synchronization with the picture), which had been the qualitative pinnacle used by Hollywood cinema industry regarding professional sound in outdoor shootings since 1963.
The Nagra III, whose first model had appeared in 1957, was one of the masterpieces of the famous based in Switzerland and Polish sound engineer Stefan Kudelski, who through a wise use of germanium transistors and a servocontrolled DC motor, along with a very hard aluminium chassis and above all a modulometer measuring the decibelic peaks, managed to create this legendary and very compact professional tape recorder, highly convenient to transport (it could use 12 cylindrical D batteries as a power supply) and using flexible cellulose acetate 1/4 inch tape. It was a very reliable and virtually indestructible contrivance, even under the hardest climate conditions, delivering an extraordinary sound quality that was only improved at those moments by the Hi-Fi stereo reel to reel Ampex 3-track (with Model 300-3 valve amplifier) heavy studio tape recorder used in the second half of fifties by the great sound engineer Lewis Layton to make the legendary RCA Living Stereo Sound recordings during the concerts of Fritz Reiner conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, along with other prominent world class musicians like Jascha Heifetz, Igor Piatigorsky, Artur Rubinstein, etc.
The Neopilot synchronizing system boasted such a quality and accuracy that it was almost 20 years in the market being the flagship of the professional cinematographic domain until late eighties, when it was replaced by the standard timecode, while the professional analog 1/4 inch (6.35 mm) tape was progressively substituted by the DAT System since mid nineties.
So as to realize the sound quality obtained by Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente with professional Nagra III reel to reel tape recorder (which would reach its apex with the tapes recorded by the sound technician Manuel Peña in the chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra deling with the acoustic war between night preying birds and rodents, as we´ll see later), it´s important to bear in mind that though modern high-end digital recorders are technically more precise, the qualitative building level and sound realism attained with the analog reel to reel Hi-Fi recorders made by Stefan Kudelski are simply superb and made up in 1957 at the moment of the launching of the model Nagra III a revolution in the concept of the highest level professional recording with portable devices, so they became the sound standard of Hollywood industry during sixties, seventies and eighties, three decades throughout which their sound quality was only beaten by the aforementioned High Fidelity Living Stereo Sound Recordings (firstly made with an Ampex-3 1/2 inch valve amplifier tape recorder and cardioid condenser Neumann U-47 and omnidirectional M-49/50 microphones), and above all since 1961 by the amazing Mercury Living Presence Stereo Sound Recordings firstly made with a 3 track valve amplifier Westrex 35 mm magnetic sound film recorder and omnidirectional Telefunken U-47, RCA 44BX, BK 5 and KM 56, using a three mike recording technique. Both the original three track RCA Living Sound recordings made on 1/2 inch (12.7 mm) tape and the three track Mercury Presence Sound Recordings made on large surface 35 mm celluloid, were subsequently mixed down to two tracks 1/4 inch (6.35 mm) tapes to get the masters for its stereo launching into the market.
They were then with difference the world reference in terms of sound quality, but exceedingly large and heavy, using valve amplifiers, very expensive to maintain and impossible to transport to outdoors locations.
That´s why the brainstorm of Stefan Kudelski, making the very small and portable Nagra III Hi-Fi monophonic recorder was immensely successful, since it was very convenient to take to any location irrespective of the climate conditions, was built like a tank, and the genius managed to get a great sound quality through the use of transistors, miniaturized components, optimized preamps, top class transformers and a very thorough circuitry with highly selected components, proved to be a great breakthrough.
In the same way, between 1974 and 1980, during the shooting of a number of chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra, a professional monophonic Hi-Fi open reel Nagra 4.2 tape recorder (handled both by the aforementioned Manuel Peña and Antonio Torreblanca, another great sound technician and a collaborator of D. Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente) was also used.
The Nagra 4.2 had appeared in 1971. It featured silicon transistors and an antidistortion circuitry with optimized audiophile components, including new specifications and even improved the the excellent sound quality of the previous Nagra III (1957), Nagra III NP (1962) and Nagra-L (1968) models, as well as adding more powerful microphones, superior preamps and built-in equalizers.
It can make recordings by means of microphones or through a signal line input, featuring three working speeds: 15" /sec (38 cm /sec) which is the one delivering more quality of sound, 7.5"/sec (19,05 cm /sec) and 3.75"/sec (9.5 cm/sec), NAB or CCI standard, along with two independent heads for recording and playback, modulometer and two microphone inputs (with different models of microphones preamplifiers available with Dynamic, T or Phantom power, depending of the type of microphone attached), and a further line input through a QCE cable.
Besides, it can flawlessly work at temperatures between -20º C and 72º C (with cylindrical D batteries) and between -55º C and 71º C with external power supply.
In the same way as the Nagra III NP, the Nagra 4.2 (in its NQL version featuring Neopilot system - with optional accessory QGX-3 Quartz Crystal Pilot Generator for wireless synchronized filming and selectable signal frequency between 50 and 60 Hz +- 0.001 % - which was the one chosen by Manuel Peña and Antonio Torreblanca, sound technicians of El Hombre y la Tierra) is very stable to extreme temperature changes and is built like a tank, but sporting the quality and thoroughness of a Swiss watch, boasting the quartz generated Neopilot 50/60 Hz system of synchronization to cinematographic cameras, as well as being able to work both with the external ATN-3 supply source and with 12 cylindrical D batteries inside.
Sennheiser MKH 816T professional directional microphone, the model used by Manuel Peña and Antonio Torreblanca to record live outdoors sound, connected to the Nagra 4.2 with a three pin XLR cable. Appeared in 1975 and featuring a weight of 350 g, 55.6 cm in length and a diameter of 1.9 cm, it was one of the first superdirectional microphones launched into market, with a low impedance capsule design making it virtually immune to high humidity and condensation, and the typical special preamplifier for condenser microphones, built-in within its casing, and enabling the transmission of the signal through a cable.
This kind of microphones only use resonators in the extreme high frequencies (where coloration phenomenon is not important), so they´re by far the best ones regarding fidelity and realism in the outdoors sound capturing, certainly extraordinary, with the added bonus of an excellent reproduction of the transient sounds.
It was used in a lot of chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra at a speed of 38 cm/sec to achieve maximum feasible qualities sound registers on wildlife and nature locations.
A Rycote windshield for professional Sennheiser MKH 816T similar to this was used by Manuel Peña and Antonio Torreblanca in different chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra. This accessory (completely surrounding both the microphone and its connector, creating a mass of still air around the mic) gives a great protection against noise brought about by strong winds, enabling its reduction up to 25 dB, which was specially useful during the shooting of El Hombre y la Tierra chapters made in Canada (Nahanni and Kluane National Parks) and Alaska, whose sound takes were made by Manuel Peña.
Since the human factor was and goes on being the key element for the quality of sound recordings, a top-notch monophonic recording made during fifties, sixties and seventies by a qualified sound technician or engineer, can sound better than a CD, SACD or DVD-Audio recorded in late nineties or during the first decade of XXI Century with much more sophisticated and expensive means.
And that is exactly what happened with the recordings made with Nagra III NP and Nagra 4.2 by Manuel Peña (a great sound technician and collaborator of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente) who made the sound recordings of all the 124 chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra Series (filmed in Venezuela, Spain, Canada and Alaska) between 1974 and 1980, without forgetting the invaluable help of Antonio Torreblanca and Manuel Barroso, who also cooperated with Félix in the sound side in some of his programs.
It´also important to bear in mind that both the Nagra III NP and the Nagra 4.2 are professional full track recorders in which the 1/4" (6.35 ) tape is recorded on the whole width of its cellulose acetate surface, in only one way, so the quality and fidelity of the sound obtained are excellent.
In the same way as happens with the digitally remastered impressive image quality of El Hombre y La Tierra DVD discs made by Divisa Ediciones frame by frame from the original 35 mm cinematographic chemical emulsions rolls (both the "normal" edition and the one recently launched into market in luxurious box for collectors), far superior to everything available before, both in VHS tapes and in youtube, the original 1/4 inch (6.35 mm) analogue tapes recorded in Hi-Fi with professional reel to reel Nagra tape magnetophones and also wisely kept through almost thirty years by Marcelle Genevieve Parmentier, has made possible Divisa Ediciones to digitally remaster such original sound, restoring the music, the effects and the narrations, mixing it all again to get top sound quality, as well as reducing to zero the residual noise inherent to every professional tape recorder (though in the Nagra III and 4.2 it was exceedingly low, because they were the elite of the portable recorders of its time, along with the Stellavox models) making possible today, more than thirty years later, the choice of two kinds of two very high quality digital sound listening when watching El Hombre y la Tierra DVD discs: a) Top-notch Digital Hi-Fi monoaural sound; b) Very good Digital Dolby 5.1 sound created from the original digitized and restaured Hi-Fi monophonic.
Professional condenser directional MKH 816T microphone with its Rycote windshield and wool container. It was optimized for live recordings in outdoors locations and the sound quality achieved by this legendary microphone was so remarkable, that it was used during eighties by the Audubon Soctiety for the recording of sound registers produced by different species of birds, and even John Feith, the engineer that designed the noise reduction filter for Sony, is currently a enthusiast user of it.
This combination was the outdoors world reference throughout the second half of seventies and well inside eighties, (until later models as the Sennheiser MKH 70 microphone sporting roughly half the weight, more accuracy and even more reduced levels of distorsion, were progressively replacing it), which gives an idea of the impressive level of sound quality craved for in every location and climate by the El Hombre y la Tierra team directed by Dr. Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente.
Antonio Torreblanca used highly skilfully the Nagra 4.2 connected to profesional directional Sennheiser MKH 816T microphone covered by a Rycote windshield to record all kind of natural ambient sounds in different chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra series, specially the ones dealing with the Iberian Wolf and filmed on River Dulce Valley, near the village of Pelegrina (Guadalajara), where Manuel Peña also took part in the sound register side.
It must be underlined that David Attenborough also used the Nagra 4.2 for the sounds recording in its series on wildlife for the BBC Life on Earth (1979), adding the updating enabling the SMPTE timecode recording at the beginning of the eighties, though shortly after, he chose the Nagra-IV-S stereo with which aside from the built-in pilottone crystal synchronizing, it was possible the timecode recording since 1984.
Therefore, it´s clear that in the same way as happened regarding image quality with his big Arri and Mitchell 35 mm cinematographic cameras, Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente attained the best sound quality available in the world with portable equipments until his death in 1980, making use of the best Nagra reel to reel professional tape recorders and being assisted by highly expert sound technicians like Manuel Peña and Antonio Torreblanca, getting a highly natural and dynamic sound featuring great definition, tonal neutrality and remarkable accuracy in the obtainment of the most delicate microinformations and all kind of details of different nature and wildlife locations.
The internal construction of the Nagra III NP reveals a painstaking care in every aspect related to the high accuracy mechanics and its decisive influence in the sound, without forgetting the impeccable thoroughness in the welding points (a key side to maximize the top-notch quality sound performance).
In this other image of the innards of the Hi-Fi monophonic Nagra III NP we can see the circuitry made with very high quality audiophile components.
The analog cicuitry topology of both the Nagra III NP and the Nagra 4.2, handcraftedly made without any compromise, with exquisitely chosen electronic components, is very apparent while listening to these El Hombre y la Tierra DVD discs, whose sound realism makes us feel the emotion of the live recording experienced by Félix and his collaborators more than three decades ago, since it is a crystal clear sound reproducing in a very truthful way the acoustic atmosphere in the middle of nature of each one of the places where a live recording for every chapter was made, with a minimal degree of auditive fatigue after a lot of hours relishing these audiovisual troves in DVD format.
Image of the Hi-Fi monophonic Nagra 4.2 showing the inner area of both its upper and lower area. In the same way as in the Nagra III NP, it excels because of its great beauty of design, the lavish abundance of aluminum and a mechanizing precision inherent to Swiss watch manufactures, made with long lived noble metals able to endure a hard outdoors professional use for decades.
An inside detail of the Nagra 4.2 lower area in which highlight a very refined transistors electronics, a brainstorm by the genius Stefan Kudelski, exceedingly high quality audiophile components chosen because of their sound virtues after a number of listening hours, and a hugely sophisticated circuitry for the time merging a truly high fidelity sound personality with very advanced assembly techniques. A faultless construction, guaranteeing the preservation of its efficiency for many years.
It´s important to bear in mind that though logically at present, already within XXI Century, a very high percentage of professional sound recording equipments are digital, it isn´t less true that a lot of sound engineers and technicians along with experts on sound effects, currently prefer using professional analog reel to reel Nagra tape devices for recording sounds with very wide dynamic range, which clearly proves the huge realism of the sound register, the true reproduction of the acoustic atmosphere where the recording was made and the live feeling they achieve, as well as being superior when tackling unexpected signal overloads.
It´s likewise a sound image sporting an indescribable realism in the different sound planes, keeping a flawless stability irrespective of the listening volume, something that can be uttterly enjoyed with Home Cinema equipments, thanks to the excellent digitization implemented by Divisa Ediciones from the extraordinary original monophonic Hi-Fi sound takes made by Manuel Peña and Antonio Torreblanca with portable high end Nagra III NP and Nagra 4.2 on 1/4 ´(6.35 mm) analog tapes.
Almost twenty years would have to elapse after the demise of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente until Chris Watson, probably the most important expert in the history of recording of sound for documentary films on wildlife and nature could improve the sound quality attained by Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente in El Hombre y La Tierra (1974-1980) in the David Attenborough´s The Life of Birds (1998) and The Life of Mammals (2002) series made for the BBC, respectively using the 16 bit solid state recorder and player Nagra ARES-C with Sigma-Delta AD/DA conversor and 16, 24, 32 and 48 kHz sampling frequencies with internal timecode and the Nagra DII with integrated 24 bit AD/DA converters, sampling frequency of up to 96 kHz stereo and obtention of the greatest dynamic range with a professional portable sound recorder, enabling to record a wider variety of sounds and using a significantly higher sound percentage, saving post production costs, and also featuring a built-in timecode.
However amazing it may seem, Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente was sure that future audio market would greatly be defined in audiovisual terms and along with the maximum feasible image quality he also looked for the excellence regarding sound quality, both in the recording and playback of it.
Therefore, both the users of large size plasma, LCD and LED TV Screens and the owners of Home Cinema Full HD equipments will relish not only a huge image quality sporting the excellent aesthetic qualities (colours saturation, exceptional sharpness, etc) inherent to the cinematographic 35 mm chemical emulsions, but also an impressive sound quality both when the main characters are the different animals and when Félix speaks, an utterly new experience now available to all the persons who watched the El Hombre y La Tierra TV Series during seventies, eighties and nineties in TV and VHS tape alike with a very inferior audiovisual quality which was at light years distance of the extraordinary quality of image and sound featured by these wonderful new DVD discs made by Divisa Ediciones.
HUGE MEDIATIC IMPACT IN SPAIN AND MANY OTHER COUNTRIES OF THE FIVE CONTINENTS AND EVERLASTINGNESS OF HIS MESSAGE
Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente made a tremendous impact both in the Spanish society and other millions of people living in different countries of the globe, by means of his very abundant appearances in a number of TV programs in late sixties and during seventies (stages which had been preceded by not less influent radio broadcast weekly programs on animals and nature), where he displayed his colossal knowledge on different zoological species both from the Iberian Fauna and from other continents alike, and he showed his millions of TV watchers the huge passion and stubborness with which he defended his conservationist and ecological ideas, his strenuous endeavours up to the last drop of his stamina to save animals in danger of extinction, his utter conviction and mastery on the topics he dealt with, his inexhaustible working capacity, his persistence steadily being the man assuming more risks to protect his teammates (for instance, during the shooting of anacondas rescue in Venezuela in one of the chapters of El Hombre y La Tierra, he´s always who takes each huge Eunectes murinus by the head and neck, a highly jeopardous action, as would be dramatically shown in the famous scene in which one of the powerful anacondas is about to kill him after loosing his grab and trying to bite Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente´s head, though he manages to push himself backwards in the last moment), his environmental concerns, his lifetime struggle for creating protected natural spaces and National Parks conceived as shrines for animals, his incredible enthralment and accuracy on speaking - always improvising without using any script or sheet of paper with data- always finding the appropriate word without repeating, putting all of his soul in everything he said on his beloved animals, the way in which he was identified as the pack leader by wolves, his love for children and so many more things. His message paid off, people haven´t forgotten him and more and more youngsters and adults alike are increasingly interested in the figure of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, a man of huge scientific and human stature whose remembrance goes on alive, because its message paid off and his flame shall never extinguish and whose pith has been masterly explained by Benigno Varillas in his great book Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente: His Life, A Message of Future, a 761 pages work that was very recently showed up on March 12, 2010 in trhe Ministry of Environment, Rural Environment and Sea Environment by the author, Marcelle Genevieve Parmentier and Odile Rodríguez de la Fuente, proving that thirty years after his death, the great Spanish naturalist and zoologist is more alive than ever, and which in my viewpoint makes up an indispensable reference for all those wishing to delve deeply into Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente life and work, along with a lot of sides regarding his character and unknown till now details on his biography, together with features clearly proving his very wide historical scope as a visionary man who anticipated in almost 40 years, since the beginning of sixties as to the tackling of ecological, environmental and scientific topics which would bring about a great social awareness already within the XXI Century.
The first sample of this book was given in Poza de la Sal (Burgos) to Policarpo de la Fuente, Dr. Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente´s childhood great friend, by Benigno Varillas.
" I do remember that when I was a child, after having gone to the high barren plateaus of Poza de la Sal, my village, and already coming back home beyond evening, with the first stars, the village smelt in a remarkable way. It was the chimneys fire which then smelled of charcoal, boxwood trees, waterproofed cloths, firewood. The village smell, maybe merged with the baked bread smell and the somewhat acid and warm smell of the domestic livestock. The smell my village had every time I returned in the evenings touches me right down to the bottom of my soul ".
Poza de la Sal (Burgos). 2010. Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza.
WORLD TOP AUTHORITY IN THE KNOWLEDGE ON A LOT OF PREY BIRDS
Dr. Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente holding his famous Peregrine Falcon "Durandal" (Falco Peregrinus). The great naturalist was one of the scientists signing in 1954 the Spanish Society of Ornithology. From this platform and thanks to the field studies he personally implemented, it was possible to protect both the Falcon Peregrine and the night prey birds in Spain in 1966, something for which was also highly instrumental the 1963 International Congress for the Protection of the Preying Birds in Caen (France), where he displayed his extraordinary research on the populations of Peregrine Falcon in Spain, an event very enhanced by Dr.Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente through his widespread worldwide relationships with other falconers and biologies (for instance, Michel Terrasse, VicePresident of Birdlife France was a great friend of his) fighting for attaining a change of mentality on preying birds, who were sadly deemed till then as harmful animals, so they were often killed by the use of poisons, shooting (even paying money for it) and pesticides. Always working at the end of his tether, Félix managed to achieve his goals in this regard, turning Spain into the flagship country on the study of prey birds through a wide assortment of conservationist laws.
Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente was always enraptured by the exceptional beauty and features of the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), and his idyl with this fairly beautiful bird prey began during thirties, being a little boy in Poza de Sal (Burgos), his native village, when one day, being by a big pool located in the outskirts, he suddenly heard a whistle and saw a Peregrine falcon diving steeply from a great height at an astounding speed (it can reach up to 400 km/hour in its stoop) against a flying duck, killing it with the impact of its claws at high velocity, with the duck still alive falling by him. This experienced exerted a huge influence in the life of felix and his future deep interest and study of different preying birds, steadily being fascinated by the falconry art which enabled a man to hunt in synergy with an utterly free bird, which after the flight came back to its hand.
The contact with this amazing bird prey (such is its beauty and elegenace that its variety Falco peregrinus brookei inspired director John Huston for the creation of the statue of the 1941 film Maltese Falcon, with Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor and Gladys George) was decisive during Dr Rodríguez de la Fuente´s youth to foster his interest in the world of animal etiology, which he´d subsequently stretch to many other species, birds and mammals alike.
And Félix, wholly aware about the need of conveying this conservationist message on prey birds to society, began writing a lot of articles on the topic in various magazines and made his first feature film: Wings and Claws: The Wonderful World of Birds, which won some prices like the Golden Archer of Gijon Festival.
Besides, he won an international award of falconry and started a life devoted to communication, both on radio and television, whose turning point was an incredibly successful appearance in the Spanish TV programme Fin de Semana, in which speaking on his beloved Peregrine Falcon "Durandal", he charmed millions of people.
Dr Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente with a golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) perched on his right hand. This highly powerful superpredator praying bird, featuring a tremendous visual capacity equivalent to high quality 10x binoculars enabling it to spot preys at a distance of up to 1 kilometer, was the main character in a number of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente´s documentary films, dumfounding the TV watchers with astonishing hunting scenes like the mythical one in which a huge golden eagle dives over a kid located on a very high cliff and captures it with its claws, quickly taking it (already dead because of the piercing of the mammal´s head by the golden eagle talons) flying to its nest, an incredible flight which was recorded from various angles throughout its whole trajectory with three 35 mm cameras located on different surrounding crags, proving that thanks to the big buoyancy planes of its wings, the golden eagle is able to transport much heavier animals than itself, as well as being a great acrobat of the sky in spite if its great size, so it can likewise hunt very small birds in flight.
On the other hand, Félix brought back to life in Spain the ancient art of hunting with golden eagle, which had almost extinguished both in Europe and rest of the world, with the main exception of the Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Mongolian eaglers, called Berkutchi or Kusbegi, who have developed the hunting with golden eagles (berkuts) for thousands of years, specially in the northern and central regions of Kazakhstan, a tradition and knowledge which was highly secretly transmitted from fathers to sons and which has historically converged on the Altai Mountains of Central Asia, with the city of Bayan Ulgii as a core.
Dr Félix Rodriguez de la Fuente was always fascinated by the high art necessary to train a golden eagle and the ancestral synergy between it and man hunting together, as one of the oldest methods of food obtaining, something that Felix knew had been mastered during Bronze Age on the Eurasian steppes several thousand years ago (as is proved by petroglyphs from the Andronov Age) and in Western Europe during Middle Ages, and he finally managed to become a world class expert in the training of both eagles and falcons.The visual sharpness of the Golden Eagle is one of the most perfect optical systems in Nature, and enables this superpreying bird to spot its preys up to a distance of 1 km.
RECOVERER OF THE ANCIENT ART OF FALCONRY
Falconry had been an art extinguished in Spain for 150 years, and there wasn´t any living falconer in the Iberian Peninsula when Dr Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente began his activity in this scope.
Already being a teenager in Poza de Sal, he often risked his life climbing with only a thick rope to reach the nest of different preying birds´ nests located in very high areas of mountains in order to watch them from a very short distance.So ardent was his craving for watching them from as few meters as posible, usually taking his father´s binoculars to also observe them while soaring at high altitudes.
By dint of tenacity and perseverance, Félix Rodriguez de la Fuente managed to acquire high knowledge on falconry reading a lot of almost forgotten medieval books written during XIII and XIV Centuries by Prince Don Juan Manuel, Canciller Pero López de Ayala and Juan Sant-Fahagun, along with the work on hunting with goshawk made in XVI Century by Fadrique de Zuñiga and Sotomayor, etc, until he became a world referent on falconry during mid sixties, beginning to write a lot of currently indispensable works on falconry, daily living with and training a wide assortment of preying birds, specially the sublime Peregrine falcon, of which he was top authority in the world until his death in 1980.
Therefore, Dr Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente became the link between the binomium Spanish medieval European works on falconry and two very significant works on falconry plus a further significant work also known by the great Spanish naturalist: De Arte Venandi cum Avibus written in 1248 by the Emperor Fredrick II of Hohenstaufen , another hallmark book on the study of birds of prey, and through his deep research on the etiology, ecology and population interactions of preying birds, he forestalled two decades to the great book Population Ecology of Raptors,written by Dr Ian Newton in 1979.
With his historical and highly important treatises and divulgative documentary films on prey birds, Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente pioneered from 1959 the revival of falconry in Europe, what is technically known as practice of the hunting with birds (even before J.G Mavrogordato, the other then world class expert on Falconry,whose activity took place in USA and author in 1966 of A Falcon in the Field), some decades before the appearance of later relevant works on falconry like A. Oswald The History and Practices of Falconry (written in 1982),E.Ford´s Falconry, Art and Practice (written in 1992),Wakasuri Minogus´s Takajou ha kataru-Takajou Niwa Arie san wo shinobu (A Falconer Tells-In Memory of the falconer Niwa Arie) written in 1996, N.Fox´s Understanding the Birds of Prey (written in 1996), Viktor Mikhalovich´s Sokolinaya okhota (Falconry)(written in 2005),Joe Roy III´s Duck Hawking-The Art of Falconry written in 2004, the Apprentice Study Guide of the California Hawking Club (Written in 2004), etc.
Dr Félix Rodriguez de la Fuente with his great friend Aurelio Pérez, a remarkable naturalist from Soria, known as ´Félix´s right hand´. Sadly demised in April 2008, Aurelio Perez was a world class expert in falconry and praying birds and worked for many years as Félix´s assistant during the shooting of the documentary films on praying birds, specially eagles and falcons. He was a great trainer of different species of eagles, hawks and also some mammals like wolves and genets.
Aurelio Pérez also reached international celebrity through the training of the famous ´milana bonita´ appearing in the movie Los Santos Inocentes, directed by Mario Camus and inspired on a novel written by Miguel Delibes.
Fauna Mundial, one of the most important encyclopedias ever made on animals and nature in general ever made in the world.
It appeared at the beginning of seventies and achieved an unprecedented success, being translated into 14 languages and selling over 22 millions of volumes.
This extraordinary work, also known in subsequent editions during eighties and nineties as Enciclopedia Salvat de la Fauna, was the fruit of a formidable team gathered by Editorial Salvat, whose driving force was Dr Rodríguez de la Fuente, who was the author of the texts, and other very young and thriving professionals of biology, naturalism, arts, and photography:
- Javier Castroviejo (biologist)
- Miguel Delibes (biologist).
- Cosme Morillo (biologist).
- Pedro de Andrés (biologist).
- Carlos G. Vallecillo (biologist).
- José Lalanda (sketcher).
- Ernesto Cerra (sketcher).
- Marcelo Socias (sketcher).
- Miguel Angel L. Castaños (sketcher).
- Des Barlett (photographer).
- Bruce Coleman (photographer).
- J. Burton (photographer).
- Nino Cirani (photographer).
- Gatti (photographer).
- B. Hunter (photographer).
- W.T.Miller (photographer).
- N. Myers (photographer).
- M. Quarishy (photographer).
- E. Hosking.
- J. Robert (photographer).
- A. Root (photographer).
- S. Trevor (photographer).
- C. de Klemm (photographer).
Fauna Mundial (Encyclopedia Salvat de la Fauna) was greatly made through a huge toil and effort at every moment, under the helm of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, whose working capacity was virtually impossible to follow, something which compelled the team to often work literally on the brink of exhaustion. For instance, there were times in which because of the very high standard of quality Félix wanted for this work, he made Miguel Delibes Castro (currently a prestigious and international level biologist and then very young) repeat his texts up to five times until they had the thoroughness wished by the Maestro.
Working conditions during the development of this colossal work were very hard, because it was weekly sold in Spanish newstands through fascicles, week by week, with the different volumes being finally bound in volumes and a total figure of 3,000 pages, an amazing figure for that period, making up the complete illustrated encyclopedia.
With this truly world class work, Salvat Editorial had tackled the greatest tour de force ever made in this domain, and the necessity of delivering a new fascicle each week for the huge quantity of purchasers brought about a lot of moments of maximum stress and fidgets.
Félix seemed to be never tired, his energy was inexhaustible, and the brutal working rhythm he established put everybody through his paces, what turned the Encyclopedia Salvat of the World Fauna into an invaluable life school for every member of the team.
The texts of this work are considered among the cream of the cream ever written on Fauna, and were greatly made by Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, who dictated them to a secretary that typed them, also painstakingly supervising the texts created by other members of the team, which were revised by Félix, line per line, word by word, until getting the tremendous level of accuracy he had a penchant for.
The success of this legendary Encyclopedia Salvat of the World Fauna was such that all the successive editions made between beginning of seventies and late nineties were quickly sold out and coveted by the millions of Dr Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente´s admirers both in Spain and abroad, because it was translated into a lot of different languages and it is nowadays on display in vast majority of natural museums all over the world, as Miguel Delibes Castro had the chance to verify, year by year, after the demise of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente in 1980.
On the other hand, apart from the high number of professional photographers hired by Editorial Salvat to make the pictures of this unique work, Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente supplied a great graphic documentation encompassing many colour slides made by him, which greatly fostered the work, without forgetting the wonderful drawings of animals both in black and white and colour and specific details of them made by the aforementioned professional sketchers, who fairly strengthened the quality of this editorial masterpiece (suffice it to say that in one of the pages devoted to the African elephant there are three sketches showing their milk teeth and molars´ evolution between 13 and 45 years), along with very interesting maps showing the geographic distribution of every species in different countries and continents, along with each scientific zoological name complemented by deep information on their physical features, habits, reproducing cycles, hunting techniques, longevity, etc.
But there´s more. This Encyclopedia Salvat of the World Fauna is even more unique and outstanding because Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente wrote a tremendously detailed caption under each photograph and sketch (and there are many thousands) with an incredible knowledge and passion for Fauna. This is absolutely amazing: it is all the same if a three pictures series depicts a leopard hunting a young papion in the Amboseli National Park in Kenya (18 page chapter 17 titled The Conquerors of Firm Ground devoted to papions), if a sketch depicts the courting of Lavanco dabchick Podiceps cristatus with the ceremony of the discovery and the subsequent three phase greetings (Chapter 76 Eurasia/North America Volume), if the picture shows the Kalahari oryx (Chapter 28 The Arid Lands of the African Southwest), if it is a Przewalski horse in Mongolia (Chapter 56 Ungulates of the Steppes), or the famous white gorilla Copito de Nieve at the Barcelona zoo (wonderful 20 page Chapter 41 The Gorilla, explaining his drinking way wetting his hand following his fellows´ technique when they´re free in their natural habitat), or if the photograph shows the sublime Iberian Lynx hunting in ambush (Chapter 59 The Mediterranean Lynx).
Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente had always both exceedingly deep knowledge and huge passion to spare, enabling him to write a highly informative caption under each photograph, an aspect in which the Encyclopdia Salvat of the World Fauna also excelled.
Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente writing down on a notebook inside a tent in Kenya, during one of the frequent trips he made to Africa - a continent which always enthralled him- during seventies.
WORLD TOP AUTHORITY IN THE KNOWLEDGE ON THE IBERIAN WOLF
Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente tightly hugging a wolf. His tremendous knowledge on this species of wild canids along with his direct contact with some wolf packs through decades, brought about that he was considered the boss by the rest of members of the group. This wolf would easily be able to kill Félix with a quick bite, but the mutual utter confidence between human being and the animal prevents it.
Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente with a cub of Iberian Wolf in Pelegrina (Guadalajara). The great love, admiration and knowledge on this species by the mythical Spanish naturalist was a decisive catalyst in its survival, because in late sixties only roughly 200 Iberian wolves remained in Spain and currently there are approximately 2,000.
A very young Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente caressing a wolf. Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente went beyond the initial studies on observation of wolves´ gestures carried out by the ethologist Schenkel in 1947 with colour illustrations (in which according to the different positions of the tale you could infer the menace degree with which it behaves regarding the other members of the wolf pack), and with the help of his great team of sketchers (Iván Fernández, Josechu Lalanda, etc), he developed a very deep scientific research on the body language of wolves, their various facial gestures and their meanings, along with the strong social hierarchy inside the pack, including the roles of dominance, submission and conduct patterns shown by means of olfactory, tactile, auditive and visual signals, together with pronounced submission guidelines inhibiting aggressive lethal fights, so enabling the survival of every member of the group.
An impressive image of Dr Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente fairly enraptured while he is fondling a wolf and smelling it.
An enraptured Dr Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente under the effects of a passion attack the day he listened to the world famous original soundtrack of the TV series "El Hombre y la Tierra" for the first time. The man by him is Antón García Abril, the great Spanish composer author of the music.
Dr. Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente shaking hands with King Juan Carlos I of Spain, while he´s bestowed one of the many awards he received during his professional lifetime.
Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente with a genet. Seeing images like this, it´s easy to understand why both during his life and after his passing away this man was called ´The Friend of the Animals´all over the world.
THE MYTHICAL CUADERNOS DE CAMPO OF DR RODRIGUEZ DE LA FUENTE
Within the exceedingly comprehensive production made by Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente during his lifetime, there´s one which was always considered as a unique trove of information on different species of animals: his world famous countryside notebooks made throughout two decades of hard work, depicting in a very painstaking way every aspect - even the most hidden ones- of each one of his most beloved creatures, which quickly sold out thirty years ago and are currently eagerly sought by naturalists, biologists, zoologists and enthusiasts of nature and its fauna as a whole.
They were a total of 60 field notebooks each one featuring 52 pages, launched by Editorial Marín, each one being a masterpiece merging highly in-depth texts thoroughly describing every detail of the species dealt on with amazing passion and brutal knowledge: apperance and size, variations depending on the age, hunting techniques, ecologic distribution, geographic distribution, ways to detect them, ecological ranking, territoriality, feeding, mating periods and rituals, dwellings for reproduction, cubs behaviour and development, familiar cohesion, zoological classification, ecological role and ranking, cronological frame of the reproduction cycles, natural enemies, speed and resistance, acoustic signals, hierarchy, corporal language, etc, it all being lavishly complemented by a large assortment of top-notch colour drawings, diagrams, schemes, statistics and bar graphics, geographical maps, etc.
The launching into market approximately thirty years ago by Editorial Marín of the Cuadernos de Campo of Dr Rodríguez de la Fuente represented a milestone both in the history of naturalism and ecologist movement. However incredible it may seem, these field notebooks are currently, already in the second decade of the XXI Century, looked for as jewels by biologists, naturalists, etc.
In this image we can see the 60 little volume complete collection of Cuadernos de Campo of Dr Rodríguez de la Fuente, thirty years after the death of the Maestro. Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza.
Front cover of the number 1 of the Cuadernos de Campo of Dr Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, dedicated to the Lynx.
The legendary sight of the Lynx.- Since ancient times the lynx has been referred to with legends linking it to practically supernatural powers. As a matter of fact, its named is based on Linceo, a mythological character able to see through the objects. Albeit evidently the lynx sight doesn´t pierce the matter, it features such a sharpness that it makes out its possible preys at large distances, as was proved by Lindeman in his famous field tests and which are schematically depicted here.
Ecological Distribution.- The Mediterranean or Iberian Lynx occupies currently a unique and exclusive biotopus within our Peninsula: the impenetrable formations of thicket and Mediterranean wood, needing indeed a great vegetable covering to survive, which it only finds nowadays in the unaltered maquis, garrigas and shady places of our central and Andalusian mountain ranges.
On top left: Mediterranean wood: The most distinctive vegetal species of the bioma occupied by the Lynx are likewise the most representative of our Peninsula.
Middle: Mediterranean thicket and wood.
On low left: Cork oak.
On low middle: oak grove
On low right: Madrone and broom.
The Lynx cubs.- They´re drab and rather clear throughout the two first months, also featuring scarcely developed whiskers and very thin brushes. From the fifth month of existence, they become very speckled. Only the adult ones sport the long panaches and beards.
Cachorro de 1/2 Mes. Dependen de la Madre: 1/2 month cub. They depend on the mother.
Ojos abiertos a los 8 / 10 días: Opened eyes eight or ten days after birth.
Madurez sexual altera el ritmo del crecimiento: Sexual maturity alters growth pace.
Peso al nacer 200 / 300 gramos: Weight at birth 200 / 300 g.
1/4 cachorros por parto: 1/4 cubs per delivery.
Juegos a partir de los dos meses: Playing since they are two months old.
Cachorro de 4 meses: 4 months cub.
Front cover of the number 4 of the Cuadernos de Campo of Dr Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, dedicated to the Night Preying Birds.
Appearance and Dimensions
Eagle Owl (Bubo Bubo)
Height: 65-72 cm.
Weight: 2500-3000 g.
Wing: 41.5 - 48 cm.
Wingspan: 155 -180 cm.
Beak: 4 - 4.7 cm.
Tarsus: 6.5 - 8 cm.
Tail: 22 - 28.5 cm.
Very big, with facial panaches. Tawny and drab mottled plumage. Red-orange eyes.
Long-eared owl (Asio Otus)
Height: 35-39 cm.
Weight of the male: 250 g.
Weight of the female: 300 g.
Wing of the male: 27.6 - 31 cm.
Wing of the female: 27.5-32 cm.
Wingspan: 85-100 cm.
Beak: 2.5 - 2.8 cm.
Tarsus: 3.5 . 4 cm.
Tail: 13.2 - 15.3 cm.
Medium size. Featuring panaches. Elongated head, not rounded like the carabo. Yellow eyes. The vermicular array of the ventral areas is cross-shaped.
Screech-Owl (Otus scopus)
Height: 20-21 cm
Weight: 78-92 g.
Wing of the male: 14.4 - 16.4 cm.
Wing of the female: 14.4 - 16.6 cm.
Wingspan: 49 - 54 cm.
Beak: 1.7 - 1.8 cm.
Tarsus: 2.5 - 3 cm.
Tail: 6.3 - 7 cm.
Small, with ears. Highly vermiculated grey drab. It is more elongated than other small owls.
On the left.-
Grande y rechoncho: Big and chubby.
Plumaje muy mimetico: Very mimetic plumage.
On the right.-
"Orejas" muy largas: Very elongated ears.
"Orejas" no muy visibles: Not very visible "ears".
Muy pequeño: Very small.
Cabeza redondeada: Rounded head.
Disco facial muy marcado: Rather pronounced facial disc.
Fase gris: Grey face.
Fase parda: Drab phase.
Tawny Owl (Strix aluco)
Height: 37-46 cm.
Weight of the male: 331- 490 g.
Weight of the female: 336 - 495 g.
Wing of the male: 24.5 - 27.3 cm.
Wing of the female: 25.5 - 27.5 cm.
Wingspan: 90 - 100 cm.
Beak: 2.7 - 2.9 cm.
Tarsus: 3.4 - 4.5 cm.
Tail: 14.5 - 16.5 cm
It features the same size as the Buho Chico, but with rounded profiles, without ears and with black eyes. They can be drab or greyish colour.
Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
Height: 33 - 39 cm.
Weight: 330 g.
Wing of the male: 26.5 - 29 cm.
Wingspan: 91 - 95 cm.
Beak: 2.3 - 3 cm.
Tarsus: 5.5 - 6.2 cm.
Tail: 11 - 12.5 cm.
It is very white on the ventral areas and golden on the dorsal ones. A few of them feature cinnamon colour. Its eyes are black and his face white.
Disco facial muy marcado: Highly pronounced facial disc.
Muy blanca: Very white.
En edificios: in buildings.
Little Owl ( Athene noctua)
Height: 22 - 27 cm.
Weight: 124-198 gr.
Wing of the male: 15.2 - 16.9 cm.
Wing of the female: 15.6 - 17.7 cm.
Wingspan: 57 - 61 cm.
Beak: 1.8 - 2.1 cm.
Tarsus: 2.9 - 3.4 cm.
Tail: 7.5 - 8.3 cm.
It is small and tubby, with a big head. It has yellow eyes, whitish belly and drab speckled chest.
¡Muy abundante! : Very abundant!
Pequeño y rechoncho: Small and tubby.
1 Localización acústica: Acoustic spotting
The Weapons of the Night Hunter (Behaviour)
On starting the hunt, owls remain motionless on their lookouts, listening to the noises made by rodents while they´re moving and eating. Owls are able to spot the preys to capture them in full darkness.
Atención: Paying attention.
Penachos plegados: Folded panaches.
2 Localización óptica: Optical locating.
Usually, after spotting the rodent through its ear, the owl tries to locate its position. The stereoscopic sight enables the owl to accurately know the distance between it and the rodent.
3 Hunting flight
Once it has spotted the location of the prey, the owl dashes into it with powerful and deep wing strokes ending in a sliding with its wings half folded. The structure of its plumage becomes the flight soundless.
Silueta aerodinámica: Aerodynamic silhouette.
The capture is always made with the talons, with close with a mathematical precision on the victim body. Death is brought about by pressure and wound in vital organs.
To practical effects, every night preying owl follows the same guidelines of predatory behaviour: in the evening they shake off the drowsiness of its daily immobility and set about a silent flight towards their lookouts and watchtowers, in the midst of the hunting territories. From there, they spot their possible preys through their ears. Once they have accurately determined the location of the victim, they appraoch without making the slightiest noise and dive over it. The fearful traps of the powerful claws of barn owls and owls will close on the mouse or rabbit without these have had any chance of becoming aware of the attack.
Though he usually hunts stalking, highly often he doesn´t wait for the preys being at its reach and begins a plundering flight, even hitting the underbrushes with its wings in order that the rabbits scare away, so being able to capture them.
Vuelo prospector: Exploration flight.
It always hunts from a lookout. Once it has spotted the prey, it plunges over it in a very abrupt but silent dive, in the same way than all the night preying birds.
Ataque súbito: Sudden attack.
Vuelo prospector: Exploration flight.
Cernido: Hovered flight.
Ataque vertical: Vertical attack.
Barn Owl: It often hunts in open fields, using sometimes a very peculiar technique: it flies over the sown lands at low altitude and when he detects a rodent or an amphibian, it hovers to spot its exact location and falls flat. It all happening at a height not exceeding 2 meters.
Persecución aérea: Aerial chase.
Hawk Owl: It doesn´t only resemble the sparrow hawk because of its shape and name but also behaving as a diurnal preying bird as to its hunting techniques; it lineally persecutes its prays - most times birds - and hunts them in full flight.
Little Owl: It often hunts in broad daylight, mainly birds it reaches thanks to the speed of its dives and evolutions made at a low altitude over the ground.
Persecución Lineal: Linear chase.
Front cover of the number 3 of Dr Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente´s Cuadernos de Campo dealing with the wolf.
It is the biggest, most energetic and popular of the European mammal predators. Both robust and slender, its silhouette portraits the inexhaustible runner and efficent killer: its deep chest, its warped loins and the long and muscled limbs are traits of the champions of endurance; its convex skull, its upright and watchful ears, its transparent eyes and its protruding snout indicate sharp ear, keen eyesight and infallible smell. Its massive jaws and powerful dentition - providing its face ´an oriental appearance´ show an exceedingly lethal apparatus.
Thanks to so high psychic and physical qualities, the wolf has been able to survive in spite of the ruthless war against him made by man.
Its coat features remarkable individual and racial differences ranging from the white Artic wolves to the melanic ones from the North American woods. In the Iberian wolf the chromatic shades vary from greyish drab - sporting rather silvery hues- and the reddish drab, with high percentage of ocre tones.
In the typical scheme of the Iberian wolf we must underline the black lines of the front limbs, which have given the race its name - signatus - , the face outline in which there´s an alternance between dark and light tones - with a pronounced white stripe around its lips-, the large greyish spot of the withers - resembling a saddle - , the tuft of black hairs on the tail tip, and finally the much clearer back of its ears.
Body Length: 1.10 - 1.40 m.
Tail: 30 - 40 cm.
Withers height: 75-80 cm.
Peso: 35-45 (maximum 65 kg).
Perfil Cóncavo: Concave outline.
Envés Auricular (Llamativo): Ear Back (showy).
Caso Excepcional Lobo Muerto en Polonia Alcanza Peso Límite 90 kg: An exceptional case: Dead Wolf in Poland reaches a maximum weight of 65 kg.
Silla de Montar: Saddle.
Diseño Facial: Facial Profile.
Diseño del "Signatus": Outline of the ´Signatus´.
Vientre Pálido: Pale Belly.
Cola, Mancha Central Negra: Tail, central black spot.
Cola, punta negra: Tail, black tip.
Punta Cola Hasta el Corvejón: Tail tip reaching the hock.
Nowadays, finding a wolf in nature turns out to be specially difficult. The searcher managing to locate it can notch a true success. The scarce samples still living in the Iberian Peninsula remain limited to the most barren and least travelled areas of the northwest quadrant. At present, he can be greatly considered to be a mountain inhabitant, but this isn´t its natural biotope at all.
Some decades ago, wolf was widespread all over the Iberian Peninsula, occupying every classic bioma of our geographic space: salt marshes, oak and cork oak trees woods, Mediterranean wood, even half-deserted like the Southeast ones, cerealistic steppes, caducifoious woods, conifer woods and high mountain.
In all of its habitats wolf has featured an impressive ability to move from one place to another, with operating ranges of up to 100 km per day; such an autonomy and his relative nomadism prvides the deceptive feeling that the quantity of wolves is bigger, since the same specimen can be detected in different locations during a short elapse of time.
Therefore, we must state that wolf occupies - or at least can occupy - every large bioma of our country.
The graph shows the staying time in each of the various depicted biotopes.
Montaña: Mountain. Bosque de Coníferas: Conifer wood. Bosque caducifolio: Caducifolious wood. Bosque Mediterráneo: Mediterranean wood.
Estepa: Steppe. Ríos, Lagos y Marismas: Rivers, lakes and salt marshes. Costa: Coast.
Wolf Cubs, Young Wolves and Adult Wolves:
The broods are composed of a variable number of cubs - between 1 and 11-, more commonly between 4 and 7 pups. At this moment, their fur coat is shot and black and they´re called wolf cubs. The suckling period lasts between 3 and 5 weeks during which the male feeds the female by regurgitating the foods. After the weaning, the she-wolf stays by the cubs and they all are fed by the male - which is sometimes helped by the wolf pack - without moving away from the surroundings of the lair during the three long months encompassed by cubs´ growth.
Wolf cub up to 5 weeks.
After three months and coinciding with the first short trips of the family, the wolf cubs become young wolves when they change their pelt into another one greatly resembling the summer fur coat of their progenitors.
Young Wolf from the end of lactation to late summer.
Eight months after their birth, in full winter, the young wolves appear as stout as adult wolves, albeit covered in a rougher pelt in which both the facial spots and the saddle are less pronounced.
Young Wolf 1st Winter.
Young Wolf 2nd Summer.
After their first year of life, the young wolves lose their winter fur and they appear indistinguishable from the adults, covered with the short and tight summer pelt.
Summer 1st Winter Fur.
On reaching their first and a half years after birth, the young wolves become adult ones.
Speed and Resistance:
While running, wolf is slower than a lot of its preys. As we indicate in the sketch, even seemingly clumsier animals -like the muflon- or smaller - like the fox - are able to develop a quicker run. The theoretical antilogy that a relatively slow animal manages to feed upon other being faster is solved when we learn its hunting tecniques, and above all its huge resistance in the running, enabling him its pace through hours, in such a way that they wear out any of its preys. Uninterrupted running wolf journeys of up to 200 km without any stop have been verified. Everything they lack as sprinters is made up for by its performance as indefatigable long distance runners.
Lobo: Wolf Zorro: Fox Muflon: Muflon Gamo: Buck Galgo: Greyhound Liebre: Hare Venado: Stag
The year of the wolf:
Pelo Invierno: Winter fur. Pelo Verano: Summer fur.
Clan Familiar: Familiar clan. Celo: Heat. Gestacion: Gestation. Lactancia: Lactation.
Lobeznos y Lobatos: Wolf cubs and Young Wolves.
Manadas: Wolf Packs. Aislados: Isolated. Aislados Grupos en Cubiles: Isolated Groups in Lairs.
Semana: Week Dos Mudas: Two moltings.
Peso en kg: Weight in kg. Evolucion del Peso de los Lobeznos: Evolution of wolf cubs weight.
Denticion: De leche 28 piezas: Dentition: 28 milk teeth. Lobezno: Wolf cub.
Adulto 42 piezas: Adult 42 teeth. Lobo: Adult wolf.
Incisivos: Incisives Caninos: Canines Premolares: Premolars Molares: Molars.
ACOUSTIC WAR BETWEEN NIGHT PREYING BIRDS AND RODENTS: EL HOMBRE Y LA TIERRA STRENGTHENS EVEN MORE ITS POSITION AS UNDISPUTED WORLD FLAGSHIP REGARDING QUALITY OF IMAGE, SOUND AND COMMENTS AMONG THE DOCUMENTARY SERIES DEVOTED TO WILDLIFE AND NATURE, EVEN CLEARLY BEATING NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC AUDIOVISUAL PRODUCTIONS
Between 1974 and 1980 Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente achieved with his El Hombre y la Tierra series qualitative levels of image, sound and depth of content unknown till then in the scope of documentary films on fauna and nature, using for it professional 35 mm movie cameras and high end reel to reel Nagra III NP and Nagra 4.2 hi-fi monophonic tape recorders, it all being complemented by his own commentaries full of huge knowledge and passion, which brought about the astonishment and admiration of Keenant Smart (Director of the Nature Unit of National Geographic), because until then the best documentary films on animals were made with 16 mm - or very few times in Super 16 mm- Bolex cameras and Kern Switar primes or Angenieux zooms.
The arrival of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente and the first chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra shot in 1974 in the Venezuelan jungle with heavy 35 mm professional cinematographic cameras made a sensation within the international naturalistic and biological domain, which would be subsequently backed up by further chapters on Iberian Fauna with such species as the wolf, the golden eagle, Spanish Imperial Eagle, the lynx, the genet, etc.
Nevertheless, there are in my viewpoint three chapters in which El Hombre y la Tierra reaches even more extraordinary heights which will be exceedingly difficult to beat in future: the ones devoted to the Iberian night preying birds (eagle owls, long-eared owls, tawny owls, screech owls, barn owls and little owls) in their acoustic war against the rodents in the middle of the darkness.
With his typical mastery exhibiting his documentary films as stories, Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente shows us with images and sounds how in full night darkness the night preying birds located on their lookouts try to spot through their ears the rodents to hunt them, while these strive after feeding themselves making the fewest possible movements and noise to avoid to be detected.
Besides, these chapters make up a prodigy of cinematographic technology and sound engineering, beginning with the installation of minute short wave radio transmitters who are put inside one of the long tail feathers of different species of night preying birds chosen beforehand, whose location is monitorized by Carlos Sanz (then a student of Biological Sciencies and currently a prestigious naturalist) with a short wave receptor Falconer 4 enabling the tracking of the night preying birds up to a distance of 8 kilometers.
Later on, a 3 meter hide is built, and Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, a camera (often Teodoro Roa) and the sound expert Manuel Peña spend a lot of whole nights inside it.
We are watching fascinating moments which were an international turning point in these kind of documentary films.
Teodoro Roa´s experience and talent with the 35 mm Arri camera and its cinematographic lenses, above all at full aperture, are really impresive, playing with the depth of field planes and a lot of different framings as a full-fledged master, making use of a very wide range of cinematographic techniques under fairly dim light conditions and attaining splendid results remarkably enhancing the stately beauty of the Iberian night preying birds that are consecutively appearing very concentrated and listening on the screen and subsequently hunting their preys in the midst of night darkness.
The optical quality of the lenses at full aperture is incontestable. They´re extensively using the best cinematographic lenses available in the world then at their widest f stops, and it is very apparent in the amazing image quality, since however good a Full HD plasma, LCD or LED screen between 32 and 50 inches may be, if the quality of the lenses with which the image is taken don´t make the grade, is virtually unfeasible to get professional quality images.
Likewise, the frequent use made of very sophisticated slow motion cinematographic techniques by the 35 mm movie camera operators of El Hombre y la Tierra render these eerie images even more dramatic and unique.
On his turn, Manuel Peña makes a brilliant work, recording all the sounds with his professional reel to reel Nagra III NP hi-fi monophonic tape recorder with Neopilot sync to camera, having previously installed some microphones in different areas of the wood where the action is taking place. The usual background noise begotten by the combination of microphone and preamp (in the latter brought about both by its inherent noise and the noise signal called thermic noise) and disturbing the recording of low level sounds, have been reduced to negligible levels, praiseworthily holding sway over the phons and the ASA "A" area of frequency response.
You can watch perfectly how the modulometer of the Nagra III NP tape recorder reaches intermediate intensity decibelic peaks when the rodents are eating and top levels when the night preying birds make noise on catching them with their claws, while the rodents cry.
The quality of the recorded sound is top-notch. The sound engineers of Divisa Ediciones have taken maximum advantage of the original reduction up to practically insignificant levels of modulation noise, medium range distortions and tape background noise attained in the analog 1/4 inch (6.35 mm) reels by Manuel Peña with the Nagra III NP at a speed of 19,05 cm/sec during the original sound take (the most important key factor) more than thirty years ago, which proves once more than the labor of a professional sound technician and his working methods are fundamental to record an excellent live sound, along with the possibility of using microphones ( different to the ones in the camera) and high end filming and recording equipments (Nagra and Arri respectively) during the second half of seventies, perfectly synchronized by the Neopilot system.
The spectator feels the live thrill, due to the flawless location of the sound image, in a Hi-Fi monophonic sound clearly going beyond the PCM stereo in terms of quality, thanks to the superb original sound takes made more than thirty years ago and to the professional digitization of the analog 1/4´(6.35 mm) tapes made by Divisa Ediciones, and boasts a sound quality slightly over many modern digital recordings of compact discs carried out with HDCD code/filter and on the threshold of the qualitative level obtained by Super Audio CD format through digital DSD coding.
It´s an extraordinary Hi-Fi sound quality, comparable to the original Hi-Fi monophonic quality of sound of the different 16 minutes 1/4 ´ (6.35 mm) tapes recorded by expert British sound engineers (belonging to the shooting film) with each of the two professional Nagra III NP reel to reel recorders connected wireless to two cinematographic cameras (Arri 16 BL with Angenieux 12-120 mm f/2.2 with 400´ magazines) through Neopilot crystal synchronizing system and used during the early stages of the Get Back Sessions rehearsals in the Twickenham Studios at St Margarets, London, on January 3, 1969, which were edited thirty three years later by Yellow Dog Records in 2002 with the title The Beatles Stereo A-Cam B-Cam at Twickenham. January 3th 1969, availing themselves of the fact that during that specific day, both Nagra III NP recorders worked simultaneously, each one with its own microphones, so it was possible more than three decades later to synchronize the sounds from the analog tapes A and B recorded on that January 3, 1969 by each one of the Nagra professional magnetophones and get a remarkable binaural stereo effect, something which wasn´t possible with the rest of Nagra tapes of the Twickenham Get Back Sessions, because from January 4, 1969 till January 31 of that month (the date in which the recordings finished) the cinematographic cameras used the same audio feed.
In these chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra devoted to the acoustic war between night preying birds and rodents. he quality/noise sound ratio, the frequency response waveform and the sound planes stratification are excellent. There´s a complete immersion of the listener into the existing ambient during the moments of the real live sound take, a kind of return to future in which personal experiences and emotions are shared with Félix and his collaborators, in the same way that the aforementioned Nagra recordings of the Beatles at Twickenham Studios make you believe that you are there, above all if you listen to them through headphones.
This is Stefan Kudelski ADN sound.
The stress reaches a lot of peak levels while the spectator watches and listens to the development of this acoustic war between night preying birds and rodents, and at the same time you can see how Félix, Manuel Peña and a camera operator are standstill inside the hide during complete nights, enduring very low temperatures, a climax being brought about with every attack of eagle owls, long-eared owls, screech owls, tawny owls, barn owls, little owls and hawk owls on mice, dormice, etc.
Owing to the excellent sound amplification of the live take with microphones located in the wood and connected to the Nagra III NP Hi-Fi, we can listen to the sounds made by the rodents while they are eating, the flight of the night prey birds when they change their watchtowers to optimize the spotting of their preys, the lightning diving attacks over the rodents that are hunted, the moment in which the claws of each night preying bird pierce their victims´ bodies and how these ones cry during their last seconds of life.
Once more, the technically exceptional original live sound take (on which everything depends to a great extent) has managed to get a fabulous precision in the faithful capturing of the sound atmosphere of the moment, perfectly dimensioned, with a very tangible sound stage, plenty of informative density and accuracy in the display of the different planes in which there are sounds, giving rise to great realism and an outstanding reduction of the auditive fatigue, since besides, the wholly metallic construction of the Nagra III NP guarantees both an impeccable structural integrity and an immunity with regard to all kinds of external vibrations.
They are practically imperceptible sounds at the height of night darkness, but the ability of the Nagra III NP to record the decibelic low intensity acoustic signals with amazing definition turns out to be of invaluable help for the successful differentiation of the most various sounds sent forth by the diverse species of night preying birds and rodents, without forgetting the very pure and pronounced silences during the impasse moments fostering even more the sound personality of the professional monophonic take in High Fidelity.
Later on, during the filming of El Hombre y la Tierra chapters shot in Canada (Canadian Fauna), Manolo Peña made in July of 1979 another exceptional work recording all kind of ambient sounds, animal sounds and machine sounds (piston engined hydroplanes, helicopters, jet engine driven boats, etc) in wonderful landscapes of the Nahanny National Park, Kluani National Park, Yukón Territory, Vancouver Island coast, etc, being one of the pioneers in the use of large windshield for external mike connected to his Nagra 4.2, significantly reducing the noise brought about by powerful winds frequent in these areas.
Everything suggests that Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente perfectly knew that future digital technologies would enable this huge audiovisual quantum leap in quality with which both the current generation and the next ones will be able to watch his immense bequest on large Plasma, LCD and LED screens approaching to a theatre quality in image and sound alike.
This man was truly extraordinary, irrepeteable and unforgettable. A multidisciplinar visionary that went more than three decades beyond his time and a deep humanist, very exacting in the work with his collaborators but mainly with himself, frequently at the end of his tether.
It must be underlined that after Félix´s demise, in both the professional cinematographic domain and the audio high end scope, throughout eighties were used professional reel to reel Hi-Fi tape recorders featuring sound quality and specifications superior to the Nagra III, as the Nagra IV-S with Neopilot synchronization, the Nagra IV NQS-TC with timecode and separate heads for recording and playback (both of them with speed choices of 38, 19 and 9.5 cm/seg) and in a lesser percentage the fabulous Stellavox designed by Georges Quellet (sporting even further electronical miniaturization and mechanic accuracy) as the SP-8 and the SU-8, the sound quality, reliability and resistance to the toughest professional use of the Nagra III (an icon design by Stefan Kudelski which revolutionized the professional recordings of the Hollywood cinematographic industry since the beginning of sixties) was still so remarkable that a lot of scientists and naturalists went on using it in their experiments and field tests.
To mention only an example, in 1986 the expert American ornithologist Douglas A. Nelson from the Research Center of Rockefeller University in Millbrook, New York, used a Nagra III at a speed of 19 cm/seg and coupled to Sennheiser MKH 816 microphone to record sounds emitted by field sparrows in 98 different areas, with the sound being subsequently transferred to a computer at a 20.8 kHz sampling frequency for its analysis by means of a special software program and further study, which enabled him to state that field sparrows (Pusilla del Spizella) integrate information of at least five different traits in the recognition of the song typical in its species, but give more importance to information from a constant feature and to the song frequency than to the information stemming from variant features.
This way, it´s apparent that regarding sound quality, Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente used the best of the best available in the world until his death in 1980, and being aware about the huge significance of the original sound take, he looked for great sound technicians like Manolo Peña and Antonio Torreblanca to optimize the final results as much as possible, which he utterly attained, for together with an exceptional image quality, the El Hombre y la Tierra DVD discs enable to relish an audiophile Hi-Fi experience in digital monophonic sound or an excellent and very spectacular Dolby 5.1, it all thanks to the good work made by Divisa Ediciones sound engineers, almost thirty years after the chapters were made.
CANADA: THE ICING ON THE CAKE OF AN EXCEPTIONAL CAREER
Invited by the Government of Canada and with the support of the Service of Nature Protection of canada, the Department of Fishing and Environment of Canada, the Canadian Embassy in Madrid and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa, Dr. Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente filmed between 1979 and 1980 the 14 last chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra series in Canadá, being deeply impressed and infatuated by both the landscapes and the rich wildlife of this great country, which he masterfully depicted with amazing shootings among which highlight:
a) Nahanni National Park.- Coming by aircraft from Whitehorse (capital of the Yukon Territory) El Hombre y la Tierra team lands on a little airport of Nahanni National Park and undertakes the ascension of the South Nahanni river (one of the most spectacular wild rivers of North America, being 540 km long and flowing into the Liard River, which on its turns feeds the McEnzie river that empties into the Glacial Arctic Ocean), with the aim of reaching the impressive Virginia Falls (96 metres, twice the height of Niagara ones ), travelling 250 km in three stages from a established point on board of some very fast stainless steel boats driving them 80 km/h upstream, thanks to their Berkeley jet engines able to attain such a speed against the current.
It´s part of the very beautiful north section of the Canadian taiga, an area which hasn´t mostly been trodden by man, because the 476,560 hectares Nahanni National Park (declared World Heritage Site in 1978, a year before Félix´s arrival) is located on the virgin zone of Canada Northwest Territories and can only be explored by aircraft or fluvial vessels, since there isn´t any terrestial route or road linking it with Fort Simpson.
It´s an area sporting a wide orographic variety: mountain ranges, rolling hills, high plateaus, incised valleys, canyons between 460 and 1200 m deep and an intricate labyrinth of caves inside its mountain ranges.
The temperatures oscillate between extremes of 0º C and 27º C in July and August and -50º C during the winter months.
We see a vegetation with profusion of firs and birches, along with an entanglement of rivers and meanders surrounding Nahanni river Basin, together with a rich fauna -made up by more than 40 species of mammals and more than 180 species of birds- of golden eagles, mooses feeding on subaquatic plants (one of them is photographed by Félix), beavers, trumpeter swans, giant uapiti elks, etc, without forgetting the species living in its boreal wood like caribous, grizzly bears, wolves, lynx, etc, and the ones inhabiting on its high summits like Dall´s sheep, Rocky mountain goats, etc.
On the other hand, the waters of Nahanni river contain 16 different species of fish.
The shooting conditions are rather tough, for the boats advance at full speed and Félix, Teodoro Roa and Alberto Mariano fight at the end of their tether to film all the landscapes and animals progressively appearing around both sides of the boats during their voyage through Nahanni river, so looking for maximum feasible stability, install a huge tripod on the deck of one of the boats with a 35 mm Arri camera on it, while they also film handheld with a second Arri 35 mm camera from another of the boats. The naturalists Carlos Llandres and Patrick Lowsey, who are also part of the El Hombre y la Tierra team, make likewise a praiseworthy labour helping in everything they can.
Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente is enraptured watching so much beauty, and explains everything we see with a tremendously lavish description of details and data of all kind. This man is a living computer, with a prodigious memory and very deep knowledge on Zoology, Biology and Animal Ethology. He lives every second with top passion and intensity, knowing as nobody how to transmit it to the audience.
Félix is exceedingly fascinated by Canada.
Suddenly, after some days of upstream navigation, they arrived at the very dangerous area of quick waters of Nahanni rivers, in the canyons, a very risky zone because of the presence of rapids with rocky outcroppings, where the old pioneers were bound to tow the canoes from the bank.
The Nahanni, a wild river featuring a remarkable geological history, carved four deep canyons on the rock, keeping its excentric course.
But Félix is with very experienced Canadian jet engined boat pilots, whose great knowledge of Nahanni river enables them to drive the vessels without touching either the rocky outcrops or the rolling stones shoals.
Finally, after a three days voyage through Nahanni river against the current, they arrive at Virginia Falls, whose deafening noise fills everything.
The sight is gorgeous. Teodoro Roa and Alberto Mariano enchant us with images shot from every direction, audiovisually revealing the Nature strength in one of its maximum expressions.
The power and energy of the immense water torrent of Virginia Falls are awesome, in the same way as the mist impregnating a significant percentage of the zone.
The Maestro is enthralled by emotion, joyful, astounded. Once and again, the boats move very near the massive water fall, while Teodoro and Mariano film this wonder of nature and treasure of Canada.
Suddenly, the climax arrives when Teodoro Roa begins masterfully moving the zoom, making unforgettable close-ups of the Virginia Falls waters dropping en masse while framed by the mist (in the middle of the clangour recorded by the sound technician Manuel Peña with his Hi-Fi monophonic Nagra 4.2), and then there´s a merging of the Virginia Falls waters with the turbulent surface of Nahanni river waters, the chapter ending with further close-ups of the waters of Virginia Falls while a very nice music is heard as a background music.
b) Grotte Valerie: Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente solves the mystery of the Frozen Cemetery of 116 skeletons of Dall sheep.- In 1979, during the stay of El Hombre y la Tierra team in the Nahanni National Park, Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente undertook one of the most risky and difficult enterprises of his life: the thorough inward exploration of the Grotte Valerie, a huge cave located inside the north wall of the First Canyon of Nahanni river, with a very arduous access, whose entrance is on a steep 300 hundred meters cliff and where the skeletons of 116 Dall sheep had been found during the previous years, all of them having died because of unknown reasons inside the cave, and featuring an antiquity of 2,500 years.
Both the Grotte Valerie and its Great Room where were the 116 skeletons of Dall sheep had been discovered in 1972 by Jean Poirel, a remarkable Canadian explorer and parachustist, born in France and resident in Montreal, who had found 250 caves in Nahanni National Park during four expeditions made in 1964, 1970, 1972 and 1974, the most important one being Grotte Valerie, to which he gave his daughter´s name, and he also made a lot of significant cartographic maps, measuring of the length of a lot of caverns by means of highly accurate devices and topographic writing downs which paved the way for the strengthening of Nahanni National Park, whose main driving force was the Canadian Premier Pierre Trudeau.
But the enigma surrounding the death of the 116 Dall sheep 2,500 years before went on unresolved, for the very low temperatures in Winter, Autumn and a good percentage of Spring, only enabled the secure access to the cave during the months of July and August, though always with a temperature inside the cave of -15º C resulting in quick hypothermias. Besides, its floor was very slippery, with a constant jeopardy of falls and accidents. The Dall sheep skeletons had been quickly marked and dated through the carbon 14 technique, but it hadn´t been possible an in depth investigation inside the Grotte Valerie, because of the hypothermias and the many logistic difficulties of conveying to the cave the very heavy lighting equipment necessary to properly illuminate it.
Needless to say that the very dangerous working and staying conditions inside the cavern, wholly in darkness, with alternations of tunnels and very narrow passages featuring a height between 1 and 1,5 meters, made virtually impossible the transport of very big 35 mm movie cameras and their lenses, and above all of powerful and very heavy lighting appliances.
There had been all kind of hypothesis in Canada on which had been the real cause of the death of so many Dall sheep, an authentic shambles in which 116 of them had died. They were all surmises and the riddle remained unexplained.
Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente had already gleaned information about Grotte Valerie, having had access to all the reports made on Grotte Valerie by both Jean Poirel and Canadian scientists, including the perfect numbering and dating of each one of the 116 Dall sheep skeletons, together with a black and white photographic dossier, and in June of 1979, once on Nahanni National Park with the El Hombre y la Tierra Team, and after having reconnoitering 250 km of the South Nahanni river on board of fast boats going upstream until reaching Virginia Falls, he decided to tackle the scientific research of Grotte Valerie and try to find an answer to a puzzle whose keys had been indecipherable for more than ten years.
Therefore, El Hombre y la Tierra team got ready to fulfill a feat: the conveyance of almost a ton of lighting equipment (ten 800 watts quartzs, clamps, tripods, 100 square meters of cable, 2 autonomous quartzs of 650 watts, three batteries for the 650 watts quartzs, 4 front lamps, three chargers, 15 batteries of 2 volts and 60 amperes, a very comprehensive medical kit, etc) which coming from Vancouver on a plane, had arrived at Fort Simpson, and from there it had been transported in three flights towards El Hombre y la Tierra base camp in three flights by a little piston engined hydroplane, while the transfer of all the supplies for the mounting of the base camp and the fuel for the helicopter was implemented for three jet driven fluvial vessels.
Once in the base camp, the approximately 1,000 kilos of lighting equipment had to be transported by helicopter towards the surroundings of the Valeria Cave, since it was impossible the landing of the aircraft on the steep 300 meters cliff on the river South Nahanni in which the entrance to the cavern is placed, so all the stuff had to be very accurately and carefully lowered in some trips by the helicopter with a big net linked to the aircraft by means of a cable.
This risky adventure begins with the moving of the 1,000 kg of illumination equipment with some small piston engined planes and fluvial boats up to a camp made by El Hombre y la Tierra team on an area of nahanni National Park located at approximately 10 minutes by helicopter from the cliff in which the Valeria Cave is.
Ten trips of the helicopter from the base camp to the cavern were needed to transport all the electric and cinematographic elements required for the filming, since Félix and his camera operators knew that to try to solve the enigma it was necessary to light everything with the maximum power feasible and also to shoot and document both the different areas of the cave and every Dall sheep skeleton, perfectly preserved in the Great Chamber of the Valeria Cave thanks to the very low steady temperatures that it has had for thousand years, with a high percentage of its galleries being frozen.
The audience is given a clear idea of the difficulties and risks of this operation by the watching of the helicopter flying near the giant cliffs. Due to the rough orography of the ground, the aircraft can´t drop the members of El Hombre y la Tierra team on the entrance of the cave, so they have to reach it through a trail, and once there, the helicopter will unload all the equipment in a total of ten trips.
The goings and comings of the helicopter are filmed. Bruce, its experienced Canadian pilot, with outstanding precision, forces his way between the many firs by the Valeria Cave entrance, without touching them, preventing the hanging net net with all the equipment fastened to the chopper with a cable from getting caught on the branches of any of them, and softly takes off all the equipment on a little shelf opening beside the mouth of Grotte Valerie. Highly showy utterly shots made by Alberto Mariano from bottom to top in which we can see the helicopter and the big net linked to the helicopter through a cable, clearly show the risks taken by Bruce, the aircraft pilot, whose trips from the main camp to the mouth of the Valeria Cave have a duration between 10 and 15 minutes.
We often see the helicopter blades passing very near the rock walls of the imposing cliff. But the most strenuous thing is still to come: the conveyance of all that equipment (approximately weighing one ton) along 800 meters of the cave (whose total length is almost 2 km) until reaching the Great Chamber of Grotte Valerie, in which the frozen skeletons of 116 Dall sheep are. Everything is checked, specially the 15 large truck batteries (each one featuring a 30 kg weight) that have to make possible the lighting of the cave, whose very low internal temperatures considerably dwindle the duration of any artificial luminous source.
All the members of El Hombre y la Tierra team are aware about the dangers of going into the cavern, because all the equipment has to be manually carried taking it on the shoulders with rucksaks under very hard conditions , often through very narrow passages, with a huge cold, on slippery terrain and the hypothermia constantly on the lurk. There´s also the risk that a member of the team could miss or be isolated because of any reason inside the cave, so they decide to mount three camps between its mouth and the Great Room of the Grotte Valerie.
Dr. Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente´s face reveals a huge anxiety. It´s perhaps the most difficult adventure in his whole lifetime and he strives after reducing as much as he can the risks for his collaborators. Félix is the first advancing, helped by some of his teammates, who tie down one of the heavy 30 kg truck batteries to the framework of his rucksack, and taking it on his back, he starts walking slowly through the Valeria Cave. Images show vividly the context of extreme roughness of this hauling for a courageous man who in spite of being 51 years old still has huge stamina and boundless perseverance. His example stirs the rest of the team members, who take more truck batteries and other different equipment, advancing slowly behind Félix.
Each meter seems an eternity. Most times they must advance very strenuously. After a few minutes, many of them are almost exhausted. Cold has begun making an effect on them, but albeit more and more slowly, they continue to advance moving forward, keeping themselves in contact, as near as possible one another, lighting the areas just in front of them both with individual lanterns attached to their helmets and powerful portable reflectors they grab in one hand.
They know that they´re bound to make things as soon as possible, because if they run out of electrical energy to illuminate the Great Room of the Valeria Cave, they won´t be able to film the skeletons of the 116 Dall sheep and its surroundings to try to solve the mystery of their deaths.
After a lot of suffering and advancing through the same tunnels and narrow passages crossed by the Dall sheep 2,500 years ago, they mane to reach the Great Room of the Grotte Valerie and the great moment arrives when Alberto Mariano switches on all the big batteries utterly illuminating the place.
All of a sudden, they realize that their efforts and risks have been worth: before their eyes appears the skeleton of a young Dall sheep male half buried into the ice and perfectly preserved thanks to the very low temperatures.The floor, completely frozen, has it trapped.
The ceiling of this Great Room is a big ice filigree, and Teodoro Roa delights in filming it with his Arri 35 mm movie camera. It´s fossile ice, sporting a blue tonality, which has probably been unchanged for the last 100,000 or 200,000 years. The emotion is unutterable. There are panoramic shots of the place, along with close-ups of specific areas.
At a few meters distance from the hall is the accumulation of skeletons, in whose beginning are young males and females, while the adults are mainly in the bottom.
They light and film every skeleton in detail. Highly dramatic moments are being lived. This is a flull-fledged Frozen Cemetery of Dall Sheep. Dall sheep usually get into the labyrinths of caves of Nahanni National Park, above all in Winter, looking for warmer temperatures than outside and also to lick the mineral salts contained by the walls of these caverns, going out of them when the circumstances are favourable.
Then, What could happen? Which was what killed such a great quantity of these animals? Why the vast majority of them died so close one another in the Great Room of the cave? Which made that not even one of them could escape after going into the Grotte Valerie?
We see a large male with its almost intact horns, together with many other skeletons and a vast quantity very well preserved remains of Dall sheep who died in the most various positions and sparsed throughout this big natural crypt.
The stress becomes unbearable. The faces of the members of Félix team clearly reveal the shock brought about by everything they´re watching and for which they are not able to find an explanation.
But a few seconds later, the conundrum denoument comes to an end: the camera is shooting Dr. Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, who is examining the area of the Frozen Cemetery and its surroundings, when unexpectedly his facial expression changes utterly and becomes visibly affected by something.
Dr. Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, with his typical intuition, experience and ability for the reading of natural grounds, has just solved the mystery of the death of the Grotte Valerie Dall sheep, the terrible reality of what happened there, which he begins to explain in detail.
All of a sudeen, there´s an eerie close-up of a female of Dall sheep with its baby, died in a very convulsed and agonizing posture. The mother fought until the last moments, trying to escape and save its baby´s life. This is undoubtedly one of the most dramatic moments in the history of El Hombre y la Tierra series.
A FORCE OF THE NATURE
A very young Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente the day he beat the 400 m record during the Universitarian Championships held in Valladolid in 1946, when he was 18 years old.
We can realize his amazing natural physical strength, his huge width of shoulders and his very powerful muscles.
Since his childhood, Dr Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente spent a lot of hours in the countryside, always trying to watch his beloved animals from the shortest feasible distances, and was used to making a lot of kilometers walking or running.
It all turned him through years into a formidable athlete featuring great strength and power, complemented by high doses of stamina, resistance to the fatigue and incredible perseverence in everything he did, to such an extent that vast majority of times his collaborators found very difficult to follow his working pace.
Dr. Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente seemed to never get tired and always took the biggest risks when the team had to deal with dangerous species, as was apparent during the shooting of the Venezuelan chapters of "El Hombre y La Tierra" in which he was the man grabbing the neck of every giant anaconda.
Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente in Kenya speaking with two other naturalists. The tremendous physical strength of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente is highly visible in this image if we compare for example the width of his arms and legs with the other two men.
AN IMPERISHABLE REMEMBRANCE
IMPORTANT INSTITUTIONS AND PEOPLE PRESERVING FÉLIX RODRÍGUEZ DE LA FUENTE´S LEGACY
- Félix Rodríguez de La Fuente Foundation.- Created in 2004 by the family of the world class naturalist having as an aim to safeguard, projecting and fostering his life, works and legacy, updating it through new projects encouraging the harmony between Man and Earth.
It is a private and independent foundation, whose President is Marcelle Genevieve Parmentier.
- Marcelle Genevieve Parmentier.- Widow of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente and President of his Foundation. A woman who deserves the greatest accolades, because she suffered very much with the untimely passing away of his husband, and has endured the elapse of time since 1980 with praiseworthy discretion and elegance, waiting for many years until finding the best moment for the inception of the Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente Foundation. She was the great support of the Maestro until his death, and helped him raise a lot of wolf cubs and birds of prey, specially in his starting years as a naturalist after giving up his work as an odontologist.
- Odile Rodríguez de la Fuente.- General Manager of the Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente Foundation and Vicepresident of it.
One of the three daughters of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente. She features a great physical resemblance with his father, also sharing his passion on speaking about nature and wildlife.
A key figure in the preservation of Dr. Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente´s remembrance and work, along with the spreading of his scientific, social and environmental bequest.
She is a University of Los Angeles (California) Bachellor in Biological Sciencies and Cinema and Television Production, having also specialized on Audiovisual Media in the National Geographic Department in Washington, D.C, where she was working for four years and a half.
A great lover of agriculture and the concept of the earth as a living entity.
- Alvaro Will.- He´s presently the General Manager of the Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente Foundation. He´s a lawyer specialized in International Relations and Law, Information Technologies and Cooperation to Development, also sporting know-how in TIC and Third Sector.
Antón García Abril.- Great composer and creator of the mythical music of El Hombre y La Tierra series, maybe the most impressive and awesome soundtrack ever made in the world for a documentary film on wildlife and nature.
A key figure in the life of Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente, both were great friends and went often to the Madrid de Los Austrias area to have lunch.
Antón García Abril was present the day of the first projection of the mythical scene of one of the chapters of El Hombre y La Tierra series in which a royal eagle captures a kid on a high cliff and takes it flying a lot of hundreds of meters up to its nest. He saw cry Dr Félix Rodriguez de la Fuente on watching it projected on screen with the original 35 mm Kodak chemical emulsion bobbin in a special room with cinematographic king size screen.
Today, thirty years after the demise of the unforgettable Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, Antón García Abril´s legendary musical score of El Hombre y La Tierra goes on making people feeling under a spell and stopping everything they are making to watch each chapter of this memorable World Heritage TV series (above all in DVD or upscaled Blu-ray, an absolutely dazzling audiovisual experience, which we can confirm) shot in 35 mm with David O´Selznick quality parameters).
This is in my viewpoint a musical feat at the reach of very few.
- Miguel Molina.- Camera operator belonging to the team of El Hombre y la Tierra and a survivor of the aerial accident of Alaska on March 14, 1980 in which the pilot Warren Dawson, Dr. Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, the camera operator Teodoro Roa (then one of the best specialists in the world on filming of wild animals) and the camera operator assistant Alberto Mariano Huéscar died instantly.
Miguel Molina and Dr. Rodríguez de la Fuente had arrived at Alaska on March 11, 1980, while Teodoro Roa and Alberto Mariano Huéscar had been there since February 28, 2010, shooting the Iditarod Sledge Dog Race.
On March 13, 1980, Dr. Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, Teodoro Roa, Alberto Mariano Huéscar, Miguel Molina and the pilots of the two El Hombre y la Tierra team aircraft had dinner together.
Tony, one of the pilots, told Miguel Molina that he had a pawl of the crankshaft loosing oil, and he had had to be replacing it, so there wasn´t any of it left.
The next day, March 14 1980, was Dr. Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente´s birthday, and the El Hombre y la Tierra team prepared to travel on board of two hydroplanes.
In the first one, the USA pilot Warren Dawson (on front left of the cabin), Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente (who went on the right of the pilot), Teodoro Roa (behind on the left) and Alberto Mariano Huéscar (behind on the right) took off.
In the second place, an Eskimo TV aircraft, also painted in orange color, took off, and thirdly, the hydroplane manned by the pilot Tony and Miguel Molina on his right took off.
A few minutes later, when they went flying over the iced surface, both of them saw the first aircraft in which the pilot Warren Dawson, Dr. Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, Teodoro Roa and Alberto Mariano Huéscar went on board, falling spinning until crashing against the frozen land, after the hydroplane had lost one of their floats.
During the thirty years that have elapsed since then, Miguel Molina has been in a discreet and elegant second place, though he was one of the few persons who shared with Dr. Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente his last hours of life.
- Angela Minaya.- Direction Secretary of El Hombre y La Tierra. A woman featuring great working capacity, mental strength and thoroughness in everything she did. Dr Felix Rodriguez de La Fuente trusted utterly on her.
She travelled with the mythical team that shot the 18 chapters of Venezuela belonging to El Hombre y la Tierra series, and was very near Felix when the huge anaconda was about to tear his head apart.
She was very impressed on watching live the Amazonic jungle remote tribes, and still remembers the tremendous working pace of Felix, and his amazing constant scheming of ideas.
Angela Minaya was a key figure in the huge international success of El Hombre y La Tierra series all over the world (it was broadcast in 30 countries and even reached number one audience of documentary nature and fauna programmes in USA) and has remained in a very discreet role through the thirty years elapsed since the death of the Maestro.
She also implemented a significant labor throughout the many months spent by El Hombre y la Tierra team in the area of Pelegrina, Guadalajara (raising a group of wolf cubs which had been found inside a wolf lair, until they became adults) on a camp located in the glen of the River Dulce, using a Olivetti Lettera 32 typewriter to type everything Dr. Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente told her, as well as jotting down a lot of data of all kind.
Probably a number of important things wouldn´t have been feasible, specially in the moments when people were on the brink of exhaustion because of Felix´s boundless energy and constant toil, without Angela Minaya, who endured the pressure and transmitted strength to the rest of members of the team.
- Luis Miguel Domínguez Mencía.- Prestigious naturalist and director of documentary films, who was one of the direct collaborators of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente during seventies.
He´s widely known for having made a lot of TV series on nature and animals, though he has also implemented a significant work in radio, conducting programs like Al Cabo de La Calle, El Ciempies, or Todos Somos Naturaleza.
Likewise, he takes part currently in some broadcasts of the Spanish TV Cuatro Channel Fourth Millennium directed by Iker Jiménez.
His last production is Treasure from the South, a four chapter documentary series on the fauna and flora of Andalusia and his Mediterranean climate.
He has also been a member of the directive board of entities like Adena/WWF, Greenpeace, Survival International and WATU, having excelled as a great advocate of animals in dange of extinctions like the Iberian wolf.
He is a great admirer of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente and a man who feels himself utterly identified with Félix´s philosophy of life and his naturalist and conservationist message.
Besides, he has won a lot of important prices related to nature, research and science:National Prize of Arts and Popular Traditions (1987); Prize to the best scientific TV series (1994); Prize Jules Verne to the Best Divulgative Series (1994); Honour Accesit of the Prince of Asturias Prize for Young Researchers (1978 and 1983); Prize of the Federation of Friends of the Earth (1988), Prize Healthy Life (2003), etc.
His main written books are: Guide of the Street Fauna; Walking through Lower Manzanares River; Our Land, Our Life; Do you want to be a naturalist?And within his TV series we must underline: Vietnam, Life After Death; Amazonia, Last Call; Natural Spaces; Live the Way; Discover Your Gulches; Treasures From The South; Going to the Countryside without lunch; The naturalist at home; The Show of the Records; The Sight of Anselmo; The Friend Bull: Naturalists, etc.
He was also the creator in 2001of the Exotarium, the only center existing in Spain devoted to the gathering, lodging and care of exotic animals, which held around 500 different animals and existed until 2009.
Juan Carlos del Olmo.- Prestigious naturalist and currently General Secretary of WWF Spain, a position he holds since 1996.
He is another great admirer of Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente, who exerted a huge influence in his life, in the same way as happens with all of his enthusiasts.
He´s a skilful ringer of birds and has collaborated since his youth with a lot of conservationist organizations,. having also made a number of documentary films for TVE, and is one of the flagships of the Climate Coalition of thirty organizations belonging to various scopes asking for a basic agreement independently on the political parties in power in order to build a common fighting way against the global heating menacing our planet.
He is likewise a world class expert on the effect of the deforestation for the presently uncontrolled cultivation of soybean, stating that if we don´t begin outlining mechanisms to stop that bias, establishing criteria to decide the areas where soybean can be grown or not, there will be a moment in which not even a tree will exist either in Amazonia, the Chaco or in the rest of South America, without forgetting his concern about the firstly promising biocarburants which have currently become a nightmare, because top priority must be to guarantee the sustainable origin of raw materials.
- Benigno Varillas.- Writer by trade and author of the excellent authorized biography of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, a colossal 761 pages book encompassing tons of very interesting data and details of all kind related to the life of the great Spanish naturalist and maker of documentary films on animals. A lot of years of hard research and love for Félix´s legacy have been necessary for the launching of this indispensable work.
Throughout almost thirty years elapsed since Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente´s death in 1980, Genevieve Parmentier waited patietnly and wisely until the circumstances allowed the inception of the Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente Foundation, having also kept with great foresight more than 2,000 original documents and letters written by Félix, together with 400 recordings made by him with his voice and broadcast by Radio Nacional de España during the second half of sixties and many tapes of lectures, press conferences and interviews, an huge legacy greatly unknown by the public and whose access was granted to Benigno Varillas by Odile Rodríguez de la Fuente, Félix Daughter and a key figure as to the spreading and knowledge of the thought and work of the world famous great Spanish naturalist and conservationist.
The book Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente: His Life, A Message for the Future, launched into market in March 2010 and which has unveiled plenty of unknown till now information and data, has settled a before and an after in the knowledge on his figure, life philosophy, future projects, revolutionary environmental ideas, immense scientific and cultural equipment, and even the pioneering vision of internet and the global society of knowledge together with a highly extensive concept of the cosmos and how to focus the future of human being as a species, all of which was in the mind of this extraordinary man who was Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente.
He also founded the environmental journalism section of El País newspaper, in which he worked between 1973 and 1978.
Founder and Director of Quercus ( the senior magazine in Spain devoted to the observation, defense and study of Nature) between 1981 and 2001.
He edited the Memoirs of José Antonio Valverde (an eminent biologist and naturalist who was one of the inspiration sources and a personal friend of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente) between 2003 and 2006.
Columnist of the Sunday supplement of El Mundo newspaper in 1995.
Founder of the Association of Friends of Nature in 1972 and of Greenpeace Spain in 1984.
National Prize of Environment in 1989.
- Joaquín Araujo.- A prestigious naturalist who was a collaborator of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente during his six last years of life between 1975 and 1980. He has written more than 150 books on nature, national parks, Mediterranean woods, various species of animals, the water as key ingredient of life, the rural world and culture, the Pyrenees, ecology, Lanzarote, the valley of La Rioja, natural spaces of Extremadura, the Royal Eagle, protected species, the world of the jaguar, how to speak to the chuldren about Nature and Environment, etc.
He´s the Commissar of the Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente Itinerant Exhibition which has gathered audiovisual documents on the work made by the world famous Spanish naturalist died in 1980 since October 2005.
He is one of the most prominent experts on Wildlife and nature in Spain, having been bestowed a lot of prizes and awards during his professional background, among which highlight:
- Healthy Life Award to the best article on biological agriculture (1983).
- Special Prize of the 5th International Cinema Contest of Madrid 1984 to the best script for the programs " The Oak Grove" and " The Grazing Ground " of the Noah´s Ark TV series.
- Prize of the Cinema Festival of Riga (Latvia) 1984 for the Noah´s Ark.
- Prize Global 500 for divulgative labor United Nations 1991 in favour of environment, which was awarded to him by the King of Sweden on June, 5 of that year. This is a very important award, which was previously granted among others to Sir David Attenborough and Jacques Cousteau.
- Environmental Award 1993 of Madrid Town Hall for the best press labour as editor of the Biosphere Supplement of Diario 16 newspaper.
- Adenex Award 1995 for his work as a creator of the Vento Biological Reserve in Extremadura.
- Finalist of the Espasa Calpe Essay Prize for his book " XXI: Century of the Ecology ".
- National Prize of Environment of Communication Media 1997.
- Prize 2000 as recognition to the best Spanish TV series of all time for El Hombre y la Tierra, whose alma mater was Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, a TV series which was finished by Joaquín Araujo after his demise, as author of the further texts and scripts.
- Prize of the National Congress of Environment 2000 for his trajectory in communication media.
- Nomination for the Hollywood Oscar 2003 and Goya Prizes of that year as a director of the Spanish team in the Jacques´s Perrin film " Nomads of the Wind " (2002).
- Ondas Prize 2003 as a member of the program directed by Pepa Fernández.
- BBVA Foundation Prize 2006 for his spreding labor regarding the values of biodiversity.
He is also author of an important biography on Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, written in 1990: "The Voice of Nature: The Biography of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente". Salvat Editorial.
- Miguel Pou Vázquez.- President of the ONG Félix Project and the Federation of Associations of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente. He is a zoologist and naturalist who has won a lot of awards, amongst them the World Fund Prize for the Wild Life (1983), the Second Prize of the Prince of Asturias for Young Investigators (1984), the Second Prize Holland of Phillips (1986) with an astounding research of 2,200 pages which attained the creation of the Natural Reserves of the Llobregat River Delta. He is also a Professor of Communication and writer. He has been a lot of years implementing a dream come true: the creation of the greatest database in the world on Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente.
He has written three great books on Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, titled "Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente: The Man and His Life", "Félix, The Animals´ Friend" (an improved revision and enlargement of the previous one) and "The Wonderful Childhood of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente".
- Carlos Sanz.- Prestigious field biologist, naturer and wildlife photographer and documentary film maker. In 1975, being a Biological Sciencies student, he began collaborating with Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente in different chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra, helping Félix to raise a five wolf cubs brood whose mother had been shot in Villadiego (Burgos).
During the shooting of the filming of the three mythical chapters on Night Prey Birds of El Hombre y la Tierra, Carlos Sanz, already then a great photography lover, used Yashica TL Electro-X (with Yashinon-DX primes) and Nikon F2 Photomic (with Nikkor S.C Auto 50 mm f/1.4 to make pictures of eagle owls, long-eared owls, tawny owls, screech owls, barn owls and little owls, mainly of their bright eyes, of their massive earlaps, of their sharp talons protected by the feathers, of the velvety flight feathers with its lacking fringe leading edge to soften the air friction, enabling a noiseless flight, etc.
Likewise, Carlos Sanz was a collaborator of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente using the short wave Falconer RB-4 radio receptor which received the signals sent by a minute short wave emitter which had previously been placed inside the hard hollow stems of the wing feathers of each night preying bird by Félix and Aurelio Pérex for their spotting and tracking up to distances of 8 kilometers.
Having a great passion for the wolf, Carlos Sanz had in Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente an admired teacher who was a key factor in his decision of becoming a biologist, and during these thirty years gone by since Félix death, he has bred some wolf packs, living with them and being integrated within their social structures as one of their members.
He has photographed the most various species of the Iberian Fauna: the lynx, the gold eagle, the woodpecker, the dormouse and many more, including the genet, of which he´s a significant expert.
Likewise, his work as a recognized documentalist working as an adviser, script writer, biologist and field naturalist has included El Hombre y la Tierra, Naturaleza Ibérica, La Marisma y el Llano, De Polo a Polo, Enclave Verde, Madrid: Ritmo Salvaje, La Ruta Alternativa, Las Montañas del Lobo, La España Salvaje, etc.
He was director and script writer of the tv series Pacto con Lobos.
Creator of the Zoological Center Carlos Sanz Wolf Productions, in which a lot of scenes on the intimate life of the Iberian wolf were shot for more than 10 years, including the birth of a litter of wolves inside a wolf lair, it all complemented with images on various social and cultural aspects and measures carried out in Spain for the preservation of this species.
On October 1, 2006, Carlos Sanz reached the Spanish TV audience record of that year, with two millions of viewers during the first day of broadcast of the two chapters The Iberian Wolf and Its World and Legend and Reality of the Iberian World.Coauthor of the book Friend Wolf with Julio García Robles in 2001.
He has also been author of excellent photographic reportages for the magazines Periplo, Natura, Ambienta, Biológica, etc.
He owns a very comprehensive photographic archive on fauna, flora, landscapes and human aspects of Spain and America.
Prize 2008 EDC Natura for the preservation of Nature.
Prize 2008 Panda WWF/ADENA of Environmental Communication awarded to his itinerant Friend Wolf exhibition.
After the passing away of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente in 1980, Carlos Sanz has been a very important naturalist in the preservation of the Iberian Wolf species and the spreading and knowledge on this species.
- Miguel Delibes de Castro.- Eminent biologist, son of the world class writer Miguel Delibes. He was the Director of the Biological Station of Doñana Park for twelve years. He is currently the world´s greatest authority on the Iberian Lynx, one of the most beautiful animals on earth. He made an astounding doctoral thesis in 1977 on the trophic ecology of the Iberian Lynx and has developed an extensive labor as a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, working in different research groups in Spain, Argentina and Mexico, being also an advisor during the 1992 Rio Environmental Summit on Biodiversity.
He is President of the Spanish Society for the Preservation and Study of Mammals, having made a wide range of field works and scientific studies appearing in many books and articles written by him, and he is considered nowadays an international level biologist.
He is currently the Director of Ecology of Carnivores of the Doñana Biological Station, where he studies the Iberian Lynx within the programmes for preserving this endangered species.
He started his professional activity in late sixties, collaborating with Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente as a redactor of the extraordinary Encyclopedia Salvat of the Fauna.
- Carlos de Prada.- Naturalist, journalist and writer. A great expert on all kind of topics related with Fauna and Nature. He´s taken part very actively in a wide range of both TV and radio programs devoted to wildlife, has also written a lot of books and countruyside guides. He has been a great admirer of Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente since his childhood, and has spoken about his figure in many debates and broadcast spaces.
- Miguel Ledo.- He´s a Superior Technician in Audiovisual Productions. Another great admirer of Dr. Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente. He has worked for different televisions, but descovered his true vocation thanks to the documentary series España en la Vereda along the journalist and naturalist Carlos de Prada, also being a lover of nature, fauna, and wild flora since his childhood. He´s often spoken on the huge historical significance of Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente in a lot of lectures, programmes and debates.
- Manolo Peña.- An expert sound technician and collaborator of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente in a number of chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra. He made from inside a 3 meter high hide, by means of a professional reel to reel Nagra III NP monophonic tape recorder and some microphones located on various areas of a wood, the recordings of the sounds emitted by different night prey birds and rodents (the former ones standing still to spot their preys through the ear since they´re practically invisible at night, and the latter ones trying to feed themselves making the least possible noise and movement not to be detected) during the chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra dealing withthe acoustic war between eagle owls, long-eared owls, tawny owls, screech owls, barn owls, little owls, etc, and mice, dormice, rabbits, etc, in the middle of an almost utter darkness.
- Antonio TorreblancA.- An expert sound technician and collaborator of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente in a number of chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra, registering natural ambients with the professional reel to reel Nagra 4.2 monophonic tape recorder, obtaining top-notch quality hi-fi sound.
- Manuel Barroso.- An expert sound technician and collaborator of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente in a number of chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra.
- Suso Garzón.- A prestigious naturalist, personal friend of Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente.
- Continuadores de Félix Rodríguez de La Fuente.- A praiseworthy oraganization devoted to steadily foster the memory of The Friend of the Animals, striving after making his work and legacy known to new generations of youngsters interested in both the preservation of fauna and the welfare of nature. This remarkable group of Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente enthusiasts have been working for 24 years gathering information on the Maestro, pioneer of the Spanish Ecologism, and had managed to make a gorgeous publication: The Magazine of Felix Followers.They´re currently trying to develop the " Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente Camps " 30 km in the south of Ordesa, with the intention of imparting ecologist awareness as a meeting place of Felix continuers of both Spain and abroad alike.
Among other of their aims is the creation of a museum on Dr Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente.
- Josechu Lalanda.- Great collaborator of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente and his main drawer of animals. Félix´s great capacity of description enabled Josechu Lalanda make impressive sketches, something which was clearly shown when he depicted the way in which different predators hunted.
- Joan Salvat.- General Director of the Editorial Group Salvat during late sixties and seventies, when Dr. Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente made the world class Encyclopedia Salvat of the World Fauna.
- Rafael Onieva.- Still photograph expert. Collaborator of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente in a lot of chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra, using a wide range of professional equipment:
a) Canon F1 with semispot metering and manual focusing Canon FD lenses featuring Brrech Lock mount.
This clever choice by Rafael Onieva was instrumental during the chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra filmed in Canadá (Nahanny National Park, Kluane National Park, etc) where very low temperatures are very frequent, because the Canon F1 didn´t need any battery (only for the light meter) and was designed to perfectly endure temperatures between 60º C and -30º C, along with humidity levels of 90º.
On the other hand, the Breech Lock special mount of these pre nFD lenses was the best, because it was very similar to a bayonet and enabled to keep the objectives wholly rigid while being attached to the camera, without any loosed spaces anywhere.
b) Motorized medium format Hasselblad EL/M with central shutter Carl Zeiss CF lenses. A real luxury, clearly showing the technical level of El Hombre y la Tierra team.
Rafael Onieva used this camera in different chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra, both in the Iberian series for example near Pelegrina (Guadalajara) during the breeding of wolves and in the Canadian Wildlife series, for instance in the chapter titled ´ Rescue Operation ´ (DVD 25 of the Divisa Editions collection) dealing on the saving of bald eagles in Yukon River, where he appears using this 6 x 6 cm format camera with a special handle to optimize the handheld shooting and a coupled prism HC3-70.
- Carlos de las Heras.- Camera assistant. Collaborator of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente in a lot of chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra.
- Antonio Soubrier.- Camera assistant. Collaborator of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente in a lot of chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra.
- Faustino Ocaña.- Camera assistant. Collaborator of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente in a lot of chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra.
- Pedro Sevilla.- Montage technician. Collaborator of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente in a lot of chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra.
- Miguel Angel Pinto Cebrián and Suso Cubeiro.- Authors of the book The Three Skies, Child Adventures of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente.
- Javier Ceña.- Prestigious naturalist who was a student of Biological Sciences in mid seventies, when he met Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente and became one of his collaborators during the raising of some wolf cubs in Pelegrina (Guadalajara), where he also fed tawny owls.
- Herminio Verdú.- Maker of the legendary La Aventura de la Vida radio programmes throughout seven years, between 1973 and 1980, which were broadcast on Thursdays of every week and in which The Maestro got levels of expectation never seen before in Spain, reaching all the boundaries of the Iberian Peninsula, thanks to the portability of little transistor radios, which brought about that he was followed by millions of listeners both in the great cities and villages, and even in the field by agriculturists, cattle breeders and shepherds.
He was one of the most deeply affected persons by the death of the Maestro and remembers perfectly the incredible radio live speeches made by Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente without any kind of script, improvising everything with huge levels of accuracy in his words, sporting boundless knowledge and passion and reaching the pith of all the listeners, every day, without exception, something unheard-of till then and which highly probably nobody will be able to emulate in future.
- José Laiz Blanco.- Naturalist and collaborator of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente in a number of chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra.
- Fernando L. Rodríguez.- Naturalist and collaborator of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente in some chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra.
- Luis Serrano.- Naturalist and collaborator of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente.
- José Luis Nava.- Naturalist who has performed a significant role after Félix demise in the development and promotion of the Las Hoces del Riaza shelter, one of the most important sanctuaries of the Spanish geography from an ornithologist viewpoint, including a lot of varieties of eagles, vultures and other birds.
A stubborn fighter for the salvation of the griffon vulture and hooded vulture in the Iberian Peninsula.
- Carlos Llandres.- Prestigious naturalist, collaborator of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente in different chapters of El Hombre y la Tierra and in the Canadian series The Adventure of Life, directed by Félix.Expert ring installer of the Spanish Society of Ornithology.
Collaborator of Periplo and Aire Libre magazines.
Director of the Castilla-La Mancha Environment Courses.
Professor of Ornithology in the courses of Natural Environment of the Community of Madrid.
Director of Guías de Doñana, S.A.
Founder and Director of Projects of Madre-Tierra Productora S.L.
Director, script writer, producer and maker of a lot of TV series on Iberian and African fauna for TVE, Canal Sur TV, etc.
Author of the books on nature and fauna Las Rapaces(1980, WWF), La Perdiz Roja (1985, Fundación J.M.Blanc), Check List of the Birds of Doñana National Park and Border Areas of Cádiz, Huelva and Sevilla (1988, Guías de Doñana), Las Aves de Doñana (1990, Lynx Editions), Sevilla y sus Aves (1996, ZigZag Producciones S.L), etc.
- Javier Castroviejo.- President of the Spanish Committee of El Hombre y La Biosfera. He was one of Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente´s collaborators in late sixties and beginnings of seventies as a member of the legendary staff of biologists, naturalists, photographers and drawers who made the historical Encyclopedia Salvat of the Fauna, weekly bought by millions and millions of people for a lot of years through fascicles which were subsequently bound.
- Fidel José Fernández.- A personal friend of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, with whom he had a steady direct contact between 1972 and 1980.
President of the Fund for the Fund for the Refuge of the Hoces del Riaza..
Promoter of the Refuge of Montejo.
An outstanding expert in the making of censi of preying birds, storks, herons, etc, specially in Segovia, Burgos and Soria provinces, a task for which he has devoted 35 years of his life.
After the death of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente in 1980, Fidel José Fernández has been a very important figure in the survival of griffon vulture and hooded vulture and different preying birds in Spain, personally supervising the population development of them year after year, and being in permanent contact with mythical WWF Spain guards like Jesús Hernando Iglesias, alma mater of the Refuge of Montejo.
- Pedro Retamar.- Author and biographer. He is both a journalist, photographer and specialist traveller on nature and ecotourism. A frequent collaborator of the supplements El Viajero y Tierra of El Pais newspaper and chronicler of the blog "botasvagabundas". He´s likewise author of the illustrated books: Naturaleza Monumental de España, Villas Medievales, Los Rostros del Paisaje Español and Senderos Perdidos (abridging some of his most outstanding reportages published in El Pais.
He has made great pictures and reportages on the routes used by Dr Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente to make his legendary documentary films, specially the Cazorla Range in Jaen, where the Maestro filmed unforgettable sequencies of the El Hombre y La Tierra series, on the bellow of the stag on the shores of El Tranco reservoir, the heat of the mountain goat on the ranges of El Pozo and La Cabrilla, and the hunting of kids by royal eagle, which are already a part of the indelible memory of many lovers of nature.
FELIX HASN´T DIED
Copyright Text and Indicated Photos Jose Manuel Serrano Esparza. LHSA