One of the wonderful things about nature is it’s ability to provide entertainment to so many people.
The strap-line on our RSPB uniform is; ‘Nature is amazing, help us keep it that way’ and I’m sure many of you could offer stories of natural amazement.
One of the main duties as the Visitor and Promotions Officer for RSPB Sandwell Valley & Middleton Lakes, is the ability to listen, talk and discuss all aspects of peoples interaction with nature. I’ve heard many wonderful accounts involving birds, insects, reptiles etc. Close encounters, first time sights, just about every aspect of human/natural world contact.
Last weekend I was at the Wild about Tamworth event where many local nature reserves, animal rescue centres and wildlife groups got together to show their wares. Despite the hot but welcome weather, crowds of visitors were soon thronging amongst the exhibitors’ marquees.
I was there promoting our new reserve at Middleton Lakes and spent the day chatting to people about the wonderful walks, the beautiful butterflies, the slippery grassnakes and everything else found in our 400 acre site.
By the end of the day, although I could hardly summon a syllable, I felt uplifted in spirit purely because everyone I spoke to had a wonderful story to tell. This is not an unusual experience for anyone involved in similar roles, nature has that effect on many people.
On our stand that day were three very willing and very competent ladies who had given up their Saturday to help me promote the RSPB. Their role was to perform face-painting heroics to an endless line of eager youngsters, all desperate to have horses, whales, sharks, frogs painted about their person. Not a single request for anything unrelated to nature and animals. All went away very satisfied with an excellent job done!
Including one very quiet girl who I guess must have been about 7 years old – quite shy, unsure if she wanted to be painted and outwardly nervous. Her parents were standing next to her as she asked to have her face painted like a rabbit.
My volunteer was determined to make a good job of her first face-rabbit and worked slowly and carefully. To her great credit the little girl kept perfectly still.
Eventually the rabbit was applied and the girl slowly lifted a mirror to look at herself. The squeals of delight she gave out were worth all the effort we had put in to make the day go well. She grinned from ear to ear which made her face even more rabbit-like.
Yes, nature is amazing and all it takes is a little face paint and a whole lot of imagination.
* Chris Edwards, Visitor & promotions Officer, RSPB Sandwell Valley & Middleton Lakes