Wild Isles filming locations revealed
Wild Isles locations revealed for David Attenborough's spectacular new series exploring British wildlife
The new five-part David Attenborough natural history series on the BBC is promising to be one of his best documentaries ever.
Wild Isles celebrates the diverse species and landscapes found on the islands of Britain and Ireland, together with the more than 6,000 lesser islets that make up our archipelago.
Renowned conservationist Sir David Attenborough presents the programme, going on location with the film crew, who took three years to shoot this stunning series.
Wild Isles filming locations
On the stunning Shetland Isles, the Wild Isles team filmed orca and seals for episode one. In a filming first a pod of killer whales communicates with one another before going silent as it approaches a group of harbour seals, so as not to scare them off. Then the killer whales work together to isolate one seal from the group.
It is no surprise gannets were the star of the show at Bass Rock, one of our favourite places in Scotland and the UK to go wildlife watching.
It is also one of BBC Presenter Megan McCubbin's favourite places: "There are few places in the UK that can make you feel like you’ve travelled back in time. Stepping foot in a habitat that’s truly wild and seemingly unimpacted by humans is rare, but Bass Rock is one of those special places for me. It is home to a staggering 150,000 northern gannets during the peak of the breeding season."
Farne Islands, Northumberland
If the Wild Isles need puffins its no surprise they headed to the Farne Islands in Northumberland, one of our favourite places in the North of England
Michaela Strachan says: One of my favourite places for wildlife in the UK is a group of islands off the Northumberland coast where, in spring, you are guaranteed to see puffins. But puffins are not the only A-listers. The Farnes support a cast of thousands: razorbills, guillemots, shags, cormorants, kittiwakes, terns, grey seals and so much more.
Michaela Strachan, BBC presenter
At Islay White-tailed eagles are filmed hunting geese, the first time the whole hunting sequence has been filmed. Formerly extinct in the British Isles, around a dozen white-tailed eagles now winter in Islay. Capturing the whole hunt required a co-ordinated team of specialist long-lens camera people and wildlife spotters. The white-tailed eagles ranged over vast areas so the team had to keep in close communication, positioned in hides at eagle hotspots around Islay. It took several trips and more than 70 days filming.
The series also features several stunning locations cared for by The Wildlife Trusts. They include;
Wild Isles viewers will be entranced by the puffins and Manx shearwaters that call this special Welsh island home. Skomer is less than a mile off the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast and is well known for its puffins who arrive to breed between April and July.
Manx shearwaters also breed in burrows on the island, returning here from the coast of South America in late February and March and staying until the end of October. They are known for their distinctive, haunting call as they fly onto the island at night to feed their young. Sir David was filmed on Skomer, entranced by the endeavour of these wonderful birds.
With its beautiful watery vistas and huge array of wetland birds, nightingales and warblers from Africa – and later on, watch swallows and martins sweep over the water's surface feeding on small flies. The Wild Isles team was drawn to this nature reserve by the buzzards that hunt rabbits in the species-rich grasslands that surround the lakes.
The limestone grassland at this precious hillside is one of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s most treasured habitats. A Site of Special Scientific Interest, Daneway Banks is covered in large ant hills on which wild thyme grows – these provide the perfect place for its star inhabitant, the large blue butterfly. Wild Isles filmed the extraordinary life cycle of this butterfly that shows how this once extinct butterfly depends on ants, wild thyme and wild marjoram. Please keep to paths if you visit, to protect these rare insects.
This is the UK’s finest remaining example of enclosed lowland grassland and a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its fabulous wildflowers and is so rich in wildlife because the land has been farmed traditionally without the use of artificial fertilisers. Visit in late April to see thousands of delicately patterned snakeshead fritillaries and walk through the meadows in June to see wildflowers such as meadow saffron, tubular water-dropwort, orchids and the extremely rare downy-fruited sedge. In winter wading birds such as teal, lapwing and snipe forage on the wet meadows.
This is a fabulous place to see birds! In spring watch for great-crested grebes famous courtship ritual as they dance and shake their heads at each other. Reed warbler, waders and terns drop in on their summer migration. As winter advances shoveler and wigeon join the other ducks present all year round and occasionally the endangered and secretive bittern pays a visit. Watch out for the sight that drew Wild Isles to visit – the hobbies hunting dragonflies over the water. White-tailed eagles can sometimes also be seen here, attracted by the fish in the lakes.
Prior’s Wood, Hutton Woods and Lower Woods
Prior’s Wood is renowned for its bluebells that thrive in the ancient woodland from late April. Bluebells were voted the nation’s favourite flower and are a protected species – they are under threat in some places from habitat destruction and cross breeding with the Spanish bluebell that escaped from gardens. The Wild Isles team filmed the arum, also known as Lords and Ladies or Cuckoo-pint, that grows in Hutton Woods and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s Lower Woods – it attracts flies with its unusual scent.
Craig Bennett, CEO of The Wildlife Trusts, says: “The BBC’s Wild Isles series will leave viewers astounded by the drama and beauty of the natural world that surrounds us here in the British Isles. The Wildlife Trusts have been proud to support the co-producers – our fellow nature charities RSPB and WWF – by providing some of our spectacular locations. It’s given us a golden opportunity to shine a spotlight on the remarkable wildlife that calls these special places home."
The BBC’s new wildlife series, Wild Isles, presented by Sir David Attenborough, has been co-produced by RSPB, WWF and the Open University
Main image: Skomer Island © Wildlife Trusts
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