They say ‘There’s no place like home’ and for wildlife filmmaker Gordon Buchanan, it takes more than growing up in a place to truly appreciate its beauty. It takes coming home again. Born and raised on the Isle of Mull off the west coast of Scotland, Buchanan set off when he was 17 years old in pursuit of his dream of filming the animals and natural settings of faraway places. But presented with an opportunity to return home after 15 years abroad to film the wildlife on Mull, he was happy for the chance to take a new look at his native land, through his camera lens. In the process, he found more admiration for it than ever before.
The Isle of Mull is the fourth largest Scottish island, and its 300-mile coastline supports a wide range of species. Although animals such as otters, seals and dolphins are often seen there, the island is most famous for its eagles. The golden eagle, one of the most familiar birds of the region, presents a magnificent display of colorful plumage and powerful features. And another inhabitant is getting lots of attention — the white-tailed sea eagle, which was once extinct in the area, but has since been re-introduced and has taken up residence on Mull. It has a striking appearance, an enormous 8-foot wingspan, and impressive hunting tactics. The sea eagles can eat anything from fish to the occasional lamb, and can be seen soaring through the air with their prey dangling from their sharp talons. It’s no mystery why their growing presence has become a source of pride for the island. And for Buchanan, who left Mull before the birds were re-established in the area, the eagles were an exciting addition to his home turf.
As Buchanan says, there is “always something to film” while exploring Mull. He heads off in all directions, finding otters like those he remembered watching as a child and stumbling upon sights he never dreamed of seeing. It’s a spectacular setting, combining the changing moods of sea and sky, woodlands and coastline with the quaint and dreamy feel of the place, which now attracts a multitude of tourists but still manages to maintain its unique character.
Watch as Buchanan rediscovers his homeland, surprises himself with new findings, and falls in love all over again with the splendor and magic of Mull.
Eagles of Mull premieres Sunday, May 3 at 8pm on PBS (check local listings).
Photo © Iain Erskine c/o Carolyn Naylor