My Countryside: Naomi Wilkinson

This week Naomi Wilkinson travelled to Glenesk in search of the elusive golden eagle. She tells us about bird-watching in Scotland, her passion for the coast and how she thinks our wildlife compares to the rest of the world.

2nd June 2016
©BBC Countryfile

I've always had this general love of the outdoors. My family have always gone for walks on Sundays and the garden and wildlife have been very much a part of my life. My mum was a member of The Wildlife Trust when I was growing up and mum and dad have both been heavily into gardening all my life.

I was doing children's television for a really long time, then I got a call from CBBC Live 'n' Deadly. They had Steve Backshall already lined up to present it as the animal expert and they wanted someone with live TV experience to be the voice of the children. After Live 'n' Deadly the BBC developed the spin-off show, Naomi's Nightmares of Nature which is now on series four. Since starting in 2010 on wildlife programmes it's gone a little bit crazy and I've been completely immersed in animals and the outdoors.

I was lucky to be invited to help judge the Countryfile Photographic Competition last year with Bill Bailey and John Craven, which was a real privilege. Obviously, Countryfile is so popular and the competition gets an enormous amount of entries, but it was quite a shock to get the whittled-down 3000 photos! They were really tough decisions to make as the pictures were so good but that was a really, really nice welcome to the Countryfile team.

I do like to take photographs of wildlife when I'm on my travels but I've often got my back to the animals because I'm facing the camera. When a whale is doing an incredible breach and I'm not even looking at it, it is a bit annoying!

For this week's show in Scotland I was so hoping to see a golden eagle in the wild and it sounded like it would be a real possibility, but sadly the weather was totally against us. It got so misty, quite rainy and very cold, and so we didn't get to see one. Then Andy Malcolm, our contributor who works up there, sent a message saying that the day after we left was brilliant and he saw loads; adders, a slow worm and an eagle flying past carrying a grouse in its talons! So it was the right time of year, the right time of day (we got up really early), but sadly luck was not on our side.

The birdsong when you just stood and listened was incredible and it was lovely having Andy there, as he could identify most of them by their calls. We did see a ringed ouzel, which is really rare and we're lucky to have spotted it so that was great, and I also saw meadow pipits and a red grouse which I haven't seen before.

Andy has seven terrier puppies at the moment and it was brilliant getting to meet them. Also, it is so light up there at the moment, we woke up at 4.30am and it was light already and stayed light until really late at night. I love the long days.

I'm just back from a weekend surfing in Saunton which was wicked! I'm not very good, I just enjoy it. I read the little phrase that said "the best surfer out there is the one who is having the most fun". I think that's true, I certainly believe in that.

I'm a seaside girl: North Devon and North Cornwall are my absolute favourite places. Also Rhossili Bay is supposed to be brilliant for surfing, so I need to go there, I've heard it's like the Cornwall of Wales!

I think the general feeling is that UK wildlife is not as exciting as around the rest of the world, but I don't think that's true at all. It's just about opening your eyes to it; in every single place in this country you will find exciting wildlife busily doing things right on your doorstep. Luckily, I've been with a lot of experts who've been able to highlight things that I otherwise would have missed. 

©BBC Countryfile


 Watch Naomi on Countryfile this coming Sunday (5 June 2016, BBC One, 19:00) 

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