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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  • Comment number 9. Posted by Anne-Marie

    on 8 Nov 2012 13:10

    Great to read Iolo's blog re the eagles. Fab insight into what motivates and forms our wonderful wildlife presenters.

    I have just bumped into Iolo filming red squirrels in Grasmere - such a generous person making sure others could see the red squirrels even tho he was there especially to film them. Thanks Iolo and are you on twitter?!

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  • Comment number 8. Posted by fonsraes

    on 2 Nov 2012 10:22

    a remark about the "pine marter" shown different times.
    In my opinion it is a "stone marter"

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  • Comment number 7. Posted by northernjock

    on 2 Nov 2012 10:00

    Clearly Autumnwatch producers dont appear to care whether their presenters are insulting their scottish viewers and last nights show wasnt any better - more LOCKS. Now we also have KAY-PER- KAY-LEE and not CAPPER-KAY_LEE. I called Aigas centre this morning to complain to the producer and was told they have been inundated with complaints about the same thing. Well I've had enough and put in a foraml wrtten complaint to the Beeb. I dont expect a reply, but I'm damned if I'm letting them sweep yet another complaint under the carpet and I encourage other bloggers to do likewise.

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  • Comment number 6. Posted by Mallymack

    on 1 Nov 2012 22:14

    Twiggybam is right - I posted a note on the first night after becoming irritated with the presenters talking about the lock not the loch, too. The show is otherwise first class. Somebody please ask them to get this right before tomorrow!

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  • Comment number 5. Posted by davmcn

    on 1 Nov 2012 10:18

    Twiggybam You're a boring old pedant. All the children in St Albans were trick or treating.

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  • Comment number 4. Posted by northernjock

    on 1 Nov 2012 09:04

    Brilliant show last night particularly the Golden Eagles part. However, Ive tried the easy way, now please note this is a FORMAL COMPLAINT. As per posts 1 and 3 above, please ask your presenters to spend a little bit of time today talking to some local scots or scottish team members and practice saying LOCH (Lawww CHHHH not K at the end) Whilst your at it, please pronounce MOOR properly , its MOOOORRRR not More or Moar. Your presenters are supposed to be professionals and I'm sure well paid by the license payers, so pull yous socks up beeb. PAUL DEANE Please reply here if you would like me to get in touch re a formal letter of complaint because I think you owe it to your viewers to sort this out.

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  • Comment number 3. Posted by eclectica

    on 31 Oct 2012 23:24

    I have to agree, please please please BEG the presenters to stop saying "lock", its a loch. There is no 'K' anywhere in the word! I appreciate the way english people speak is not as well pronounced as scottish folk, but they dont need to add a letter that is not there.

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  • Comment number 2. Posted by lwsam01

    on 31 Oct 2012 20:54

    What type of light do you use on the night vision images and what type of still image cameras do you use ?

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  • Comment number 1. Posted by Twiggybam

    on 31 Oct 2012 20:52

    Please tell the English Autumnwatch presenters to pronounce loCH properly, not loCK & inform Michaela that on Halloween in UK we go guysing, not trick or treating as in USA! Thanks.

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