Celebrities can be guides into natural world
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.