News, stories and reports from Forestry Commission Scotland and the National Forest Estate

Loch Lomond: a year in the wild

‘Loch Lomond: a year in the wild’ is a new nature documentary produced by Tigress and Group M Entertainment that was filmed in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. The filming took place over a year – often in secret locations – and was shown on Channel 5 as a series of four films, following wildlife throughout the seasons. It is a story of birth and death, predators and prey, struggle and survival, in one of Britain’s wildest places.

Dave Anderson, Conservation Manager based in Aberfoyle, was involved with the filming. Here he gives us an insight into the filming and explains a bit about his role.

You’re a Conservation Manager – what is that? What’s your working day like?

I don’t really have a typical day. One day I could be checking a harvesting site for sensitive species, or out sitting in a hide trying to catch golden eagles to fit satellite tags to help study their behaviour. I could be taking a school group into the woods or sitting in a meeting room advising district planning team on environmental sensitivities within new land management plans. I like to think on my feet and keep my local knowledge fresh by being out and about.

Can you tell me about your favourite place within the Trossachs National Park? What’s special about it?

I can’t say that I have a particular favourite place within the Trossachs National park. Many places are important for me for different reasons – sometimes it’s the view and sometimes it’s a special memory, such as walking along a high ridge and stumbling across a fox sleeping on a rock, seeing a fish spawning in a small burn or watching a merlin in full flight chasing a golden eagle from its territory! I suppose just sitting somewhere quiet, having my lunch overlooking a hill and loch and not knowing what might catch my eye. It’s the unexpected that has always been special to me!

What motivates you each day? What do you love about work?

I’m a very self-motivated person particularly when it comes to my passion. I love getting up and out and working with likeminded people. This could be building an artificial nest to encourage Ospreys into a quite area of the forest, or felling trees along a burn side to open up the ‘riparian area’ and help improve the habitat for invertebrates and small mammals.

What brings you to a forest when you’re not working?

I am regularly in the forest as this is the place I feel most at home – my work and my hobbies take me there! While some people go to football matches, I head to the wild places, to fish, to walk or ring birds!

Why is this series being made now?

I think it came through the Director wanting to highlight national parks and Channel 5 were interested enough to take up the proposal. Despite being on the doorstep of Glasgow, once you are off the beaten track Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park really is a wild place!

How many FES staff were involved during the filming and what expertise did they provide?

There were four other staff members involved at different times, building hides, helping get camera men into hides, using Argo cat’s to move people and equipment, moving baits to encourage predators. One of our most important roles was helping to find interesting topics for filming, using our local knowledge to find the sites and the species.

Can you tell me about some highlights of the filming for you personally?

There were many! However, being contacted by the SSPCA after a female hen harrier was shot illegally and its chicks being taken in to care gave me the opportunity to help the young birds back in to the wild. The process was filmed, documenting a real conservation effort with other partners. We fostered both chicks into two separate hen harrier nests and awaited the outcome. To watch the chicks being accepted and eventually fledge gave us a great sense of achievement. I was really pleased that the story could be told through the filming.

What was the best part of the process?

It was all interesting, from putting in the cameras and hides to helping with parts of the text. Working with good people is always rewarding.

What were the biggest challenges?

Baiting eagles and getting the camera men on site and into the hides without being seen!

What surprised you most?

I suppose the biggest thing that surprised me was the number of target species we tried to cover over such a short time scale! One year is not long to cover such a massive project. The fact that it all came together so well has pleasantly surprised me.

The films are still available to watch on catch up. Why should we tune in?

I think British wildlife programmes are really important. Many people know the plight of a number of rare species from around the world (and rightly so). However, there are a range of local species which have very interesting lives and struggles. Wildlife programmes that focus on our own special places and native species help to inform people about creatures and habitats which they can relate to. ‘Loch Lomond: a year in the wild’ is a must see for all!

Footage from 'Loch Lomond: A Year in the Wild, produced for Channel 5 by Tigress Productions Limited and GroupM Entertainment Limited. © Tigress Productions Limited and GroupM Entertainment Limited 2014