Filming Hebrides: Islands on the Edge in spring

Monday 27 May 2013, 15:50

Springwatch Guest Blog Springwatch Guest Blog

To make a film about a wild place is like writing to someone you love; you really have to care. And it takes time to know a place well enough to care, just as it does a person.
For almost twenty years I've lived on the west coast of Scotland and I've seen its many moods. Spring here can be a soft glory of opening bluebells and oak woods full of warblers' song but late May can also bring storms with 110 knot gusts, as happened when I was filming Hebrides – Islands on the Edge. 
Winds like that threaten lives but they define a place too. This landscape shapes its inhabitants so Hebridean animals are necessarily tough and resourceful, like their people. In that wildest of springs I filmed a family of redstarts which survived against the odds when their food supply was devastated by the storm. A family of short-eared owls was less lucky. 
Distilling the essence of spring into a film takes many days in cramped hides, days of cold and sun and rain, but after a long stormy winter I long to see and to hear this transformation, to smell and touch it.
  
You can feel the Spring arrive deep inside yourself as well as in the world outside. It feels like a heart-felt sigh.
@johnaitchison1
#BBCHebrides
www.johnaitchison.net
Hebrides – Islands on the Edge website  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p014g3q2
John's work will be featured again later in the spring, in Wild Cameramen at Work, to be transmitted initially on BBC Scotland.p019jd1d

Guest blogger: John Aitchison (Wildlife Cameraman/Producer/Presenter)

To make a film about a wild place is like writing to someone you love; you really have to care. And it takes time to know a place well enough to care, just as it does a person.

For almost twenty years I've lived on the west coast of Scotland and I've seen its many moods. Spring here can be a soft glory of opening bluebells and oak woods full of warblers' song but late May can also bring storms with 110 knot gusts, as happened when I was filming Hebrides: Islands on the Edge. 

Sunrise from Rum Sunrise from Rum by John Aitchison

Winds like that threaten lives but they define a place too. This landscape shapes its inhabitants so Hebridean animals are necessarily tough and resourceful, like their people. In that wildest of springs I filmed a family of redstarts which survived against the odds when their food supply was devastated by the storm. A family of short-eared owls was less lucky.

Distilling the essence of spring into a film takes many days in cramped hides, days of cold and sun and rain, but after a long stormy winter I long to see and to hear this transformation, to smell and touch it.  You can feel the spring arrive deep inside yourself as well as in the world outside. It feels like a heart-felt sigh.

You can watch Hebrides: Island on the Edge on BBC Scotland or iPlayer. Follow John on Twitter at: @johnaitchison1#BBCHebrides and visit his website: www.johnaitchison.net

John's work will be featured again later in the spring, in Wild Cameramen at Work, to be transmitted initially on BBC Scotland.

Comments

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 1.

    This was a superb series, beautifully done. Inspirational! Just sorry us down south couldnt watch it on tv!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 2.

    The doncaster area has the most diverse range of wildlife in the UK. As far as Conservation goes, the area also has the worse Council in the UK.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 3.

    I would just like to congratulate John Aitchison, because some of the footage in Islands on the Edge has just blown me away. It is camerawork of the very highest order. Marvellously composed and framed. John Aitchison has always done a great job of communicating his work as well. Keep up the good work.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 4.

    I've been lucky enough to have watched the 4 episodes. outstanding stuff as usual but is there any explanation why the series is not being shown throughout the UK ?
    http://naturewatch.freeforums.org/memberlist.php
    have a look and see if you recognise anyone...then tell them to get posting again !
    thanks , SNJ.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 5.

    Superb series, easily watchable on your TV via iPlayer :-)

    My only gripe - why wasn't it available in HD on iPlayer...

  • rate this
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    Comment number 6.

    I do agree I'd have loved there to be a HD version on the iPlayer.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 7.

    Outstanding series visually and apprec. all hard work into making- but partner (from STW) is volcanic with Ewan's pronunciation of machair...she was countin them thru episode 3 - 10 X and blew another gasket on ep. 4 ...we're up to 3 machairs on Iplayer so far!! Surprised given he is Scottish ..we and other have commented the tone of EG's delivery is abit mono..kinda like Discovery channel...sorry Ewan!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 8.

    Loving the brilliant wildlife & stunning scenery footage of this series, watched episode 1 on Iplayer & got to get others in before 2nd June.

    I do agree with Angloscotswoman about the delivery by EG - so monotone & dreary I am finding it a tad depressing. Hope it improves with the next episode? If not I will have to watch with the sound off!!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 9.

    Great filming ruined by a very miserable and negative commentary. They tried to create drama by implying that fish couldn't spawn, seal pups were drowning, whales were trapped and about to die, otters were scared of being killed, swallows were too late fledging, eagles were starving in the nest, the storm destroyed everything, the drought caused havoc, etc, etc. Needless to say, none of those things actually happened!
    Why can't we celebrate the joy and beauty of nature without trying to create artificial drama?

 

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