Iolo Williams talks about his fascination with golden eagles

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While filming golden eagles on Uist for Autumnwatch, Producer Jo Stevens asked presenter Iolo Williams about his experiences with Golden Eagles.

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Jo: Why are golden eagles special to you Iolo?

Iolo: As a young lad I Ioved reading books and learning new things. My favourite book was from the Ladybird series, the ‘Birds of Prey’. It had a Golden Eagle on the cover and I remember looking at it and thinking, ‘wow, that is a proper bird!’ As an adult I’ve spent a lot of time watching White-Tailed Eagles which are cracking birds but they’re not very active compared to Golden Eagles. The classic eagle of our imagination is the Golden Eagle.

The other thing about Golden Eagles is they are really difficult to see. Whenever I’ve gone to look for them in the past it’s been in the Scottish Highlands and they’ve just been a speck in the distance. You’d consider yourself lucky if you got closer than a mile to one.

 

Jo: What are the challenges of filming Golden Eagles on Uist?

Iolo: Golden eagles have remarkable eyesight so you have no chance of getting close to one before it’s spotted you. That makes it very hard to film them, and of course if they fly off you can’t follow them easily – even with a vehicle you’ve got no chance of keeping up with them not least because it’s very windy in this part of the world, so the birds can ride the gusts and be miles away in no time. It’s probably fair to say that if you do manage to film an eagle it’s because that bird has let you do so.

 

Jo: How does this trip to Uist compare with previous experiences with Golden Eagles?

I’ve had the best views of Golden Eagles I’ve ever had here on Uist. We’ve been privileged to be in the company of this one family for 4 days, following them constantly. It’s nice because it’s as if they’ve decided to allow us to follow them, to watch them hunt rabbits, watch them messing about, landing on the dunes and spending time being a family. And if they didn’t want us around all they need to do is take one flap of the wings and they’re away on the wind.

During this trip the birds have more relaxed, more tolerant of our presence than I’ve experienced before. To watch them last night in the autumn light, as it reflected off the golden head of the eagle was just stunning. That is one of the things that will stay with me now until I die. It has been a real privilege.

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