Bullfinch. Photo: Eddie Dunne
A new podcast series documenting nature as it springs back to life for 2021, has been launched by BirdWatch Ireland in partnership with Laois and Offaly County Councils.
“In your Nature” will be anchored by Laois native Ricky Whelan, Project Officer with BirdWatch Ireland, and the well-known media voice of Niall Hatch, Development Officer with BirdWatch Ireland.
It is part of a series of nature events underway by The Heritage Office of Laois County Council. The campaign – called Nature is good for You, part of the Healthy Ireland “Keep Well” campaign.
“In your Nature” will be available each Monday from March 1 for six weeks. Further series will follow in the summer and autumn. The podcast will be free and available on all leading podcast providers, including Spotify, SoundCloud and Apple Podcasts.
The spring series of the podcast will feature topics like the dawn chorus, nest boxes and looking at nature during lockdown. The podcast will also look at wider biodiversity, including spring plants and the bogs of the midlands.
Below: Ricky Whelan
Ricky is well known in Laois from his work around the county on swift conservation, and also his roles with the Irish Wildlife Trust and Abbeyleix Bog Project. As a true Midlands conservation expert, he is the ideal person to lead out the podcast. An experienced communicator, Ricky delivers regular events and lectures on various bird and biodiversity related topics and has contributed to many radio broadcasts and podcasts both in Ireland and the UK.
“I’m delighted we could team up with the local authorities and the Keep Well Campaign to produce this podcast. Just talking about birds and nature excites me and lifts my mood and I hope our audience also gets a lift from listening and in-turn feel a little closer to nature," he said.
Niall Hatch, Birdwatch Ireland
Niall Hatch has been a keen birdwatcher and wildlife enthusiast since childhood and has travelled the world pursuing this interest ever since. Niall has contributed to a wide variety of radio and television broadcasts both in Ireland and abroad and is a wonderful advocate for birds and biodiversity.
“When I’m not actually out watching birds, my favourite thing in the world to do is to talk about them. Ricky and I often have great chats about birds and nature anyway, so the logical next step was to record them and let others eavesdrop on our conversations. More people than even before have been turning to nature and developing an interest in wildlife in recent times, and we’re hoping that people are going to enjoy listening to our podcast as much as we enjoy making it,” he said.
In your nature challenges
The launch of the Podcast will be marked by a series of “In your Nature Challenges” on Laois Heritage Forum social media. Each week, the public will be invited to take part in a particular challenge relating to the theme of that week’s podcast – with some nice prizes.
To enter each challenge, use the hashtag #InYourNature on Laois Heritage Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages and submit a photo, a drawing, a video, even a piece of writing, showing or describing your adventure. A prize will be awarded each week.
Catherine Casey is Heritage Officer with Laois County Council.
“We know that this period of lockdown has been very hard on everyone, but we also know that many people have been taking solace and inspiration from nature at this time. As part of the Keep Well Initiative, we are reminding everyone how getting out in nature can be good for your mental and physical health. We hope that the new “In your Nature” Podcast and the Challenges will encourage people to learn more about the biodiversity in their neighbourhood, and take part in some fun challenges to share what they learn,” she said.
To go with the podcast and help with the challenges the newly reprinted “Gardening for Biodiversity” book and colouring book are still available to download from laois.ie/gardening-for- biodiversity and hard copies are available for free from Laois County Council, who commissioned the nationally successful books.
The In Your Nature Podcast is brought to you by BirdWatch Ireland, Laois and Offaly County Councils and the Keep Well Campaign, an initiative of the Government of Ireland with funding from the Healthy Ireland Fund and the Sláintecare Fund delivered by Pobal.