Celebri­ties can be guides into nat­u­ral world

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

DID I ever tell you that I mix with very fa­mous peo­ple?

The kind of peo­ple you regularly see on TV are the kind of peo­ple I know very, very well.

Ob­vi­ously that’s not true although Reg Holdsworth from Cor­rie used to be my land­lord. I do meet the odd celebrity dur­ing my day-to-day busi­ness of pub­li­cis­ing the won­der­ful work of The Lan­cashire Wildlife Trust.

My most re­cent ac­quain­tance was Iolo Wil­liams, who is well­known to na­ture lovers for his ap­pear­ances on Spring­watch and other na­ture pro­grammes.

Iolo was in the area to film a Welsh-lan­guage show, en­cour­ag­ing our lovely neigh­bours to come down from the moun­tains and visit the north west of Eng­land.

Any­way, he leapt out of his car and shouted: “Yel­low rat­tle!” That would have con­fused some peo­ple, be­liev­ing it was some bat­tle cry from Iolo’s days play­ing rugby league for Rochdale Hor­nets.

In fact, it was an in­ter­est­ing ob­ser­va­tion as there was a large car­pet of yel­low rat­tle in front of him. Yel­low rat­tle is a well-named plant with yel­low, tube-like flow­ers ap­pear­ing from May to Septem­ber.

The rat­tle bit comes from the brown purses of seeds that ap­pear in sum­mer. If you walk through a wild­flower meadow you will hear the seeds rat­tling. This could be quite fright­en­ing if you be­lieve rat­tlesnakes live in the UK. They don’t.

It has ser­rated leaves with heavy, dark veins, which sprout op­po­site each other all the way up the stem. Stems have black spots.

Iolo pointed out that much of the yel­low rat­tle in Wales has van­ished, munched away by sheep and much of the plant also dis­ap­peared from here too as some farm­ers be­lieved it was an in­di­ca­tor of poor grass­land.

That is a strange re­ac­tion be­cause yel­low rat­tle is now used to turn im­proved grass­land back to meadow. It helps to cut down some of the dom­i­nant grass species by feed­ing off them. This al­lows del­i­cate species to push their way through adding a va­ri­ety of colour to our grass­lands.

The Wildlife Trust is work­ing with landown­ers and farm­ers to re­turn wild­flow­ers to our mead­ows and parks, which will boost the num­bers of bees and other in­sects, which, in turn, will pro­vide food for birds and mam­mals.

In the UK we have many great nat­u­ral­ists and many of them have made a name for them­selves on the TV. A recog­nis­able face is a good way of en­gag­ing more and more peo­ple in na­ture.

Add that to the fact that Iolo chat­ted to our vol­un­teers and staff, and was charis­matic and in­ter­est­ing com­pany all day. This is why he is so pop­u­lar.

He sug­gested that it must be a bit of a pain when TV crews visit our re­serves but, gen­er­ally, we are pleased to see them be­cause they help us to tell our story.

Even if that per­suades just one per­son to show in­ter­est in na­ture or join The Wildlife Trust it is worth any mi­nor dis­rup­tions to our con­ser­va­tion work.

By the way there’s a good chance I will be meet­ing Nick Baker in the next few weeks and I once met The Queen. Who’s a name-drop­per?

To sup­port the work of the Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and North Mersey­side. Text WILD09 with the amount you want to do­nate to 70070.

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