A walk on the wild side
From climbing trees to diving with sharks, Miranda Krestovnikoff goes high and low in her adventures around the natural world. Whatever the role - television presenter, RSPB President or mum - she always tries to pass on a love of wildlife, and never lets the weather get the better of her.
As a child, Miranda either spent her time in her family's copper beech tree, peering into the squirrel drey or inside, tending to her 'menagerie' of pets. So when it came to embarking on a degree, biology was a natural choice. After that, she began working as a runner in television. "I always wanted to communicate my passion for wildlife. That's why I went on to become a presenter."
On screen, Miranda's been known to don camouflage to observe deer and search for insects in back gardens across the UK. And while she feels "any encounter with a wild animal is special", as a keen diver the experiences that really stick in her mind are underwater.
"I had a particularly memorable time with grey seals around the Farne Islands. They're very intelligent and inquisitive, and looked at me in a puzzled way as if asking 'why do you need all this stuff?' Then they started pulling my diving kit - all the hoses and tubes - wondering, 'what does this bit do?'" In her experience, getting up close and personal with animals is down to patience and, often, pure chance:
"There's nothing you can do to engineer those encounters. Sometimes it's about sitting still for a very long time. Other times, it's just luck."
Whatever the weather
Patience is key when filming wildlife. But television's tight timescales can make that difficult. It means Miranda has to be outside in all conditions, often at the mercy of the weather.
On one occasion, she found herself searching for basking sharks. Windy conditions made every wave look like a fin and, after day one, the crew hadn't captured a single shot. But thanks to perseverance, and a touch of good fortune, they spotted one right at the end of the final day - just as the captain was turning back to shore.
"So" Miranda says, "we leapt into the water and had twenty minutes swimming with a shark."
Then there's rain. Despite her professional kit, Miranda once had to completely abandon filming deer for The One Show. "It was one of those rare times where it rains all day, non-stop. By ten in the morning the camera was so wet it stopped working, so we had to come in, pull it apart and use all the hotel hairdryers to dry it. I remember thinking, 'if the camera's giving up, that must be our cue to get a cup of tea'."
But days like that don't happen often. And Miranda rarely lets the weather take over. She says, "When I see a forecast that's cold and rainy, I don't change my plans, I just adapt. I put on my waterproofs and go out. Then consume large amounts of hot chocolate afterwards."
Making a connection
Her energy and enthusiasm for everything from blue sharks to blue tits have made Miranda a familiar face on television. "I try to show people what's actually outside their window. I want to get those people to admire the beauty of creatures and show them how accessible wildlife is."
Because, by taking notice of our surroundings, Miranda believes we pick up on transformations to our environment - and climate. "I think if people notice changes and those changes worry them, hopefully they'll do something. If we all make a small difference, surely it will add up to something big."
For Miranda, the key to this is re-attaching people with the natural world:
"I feel we've become disconnected from the environment around us. We need to make those connections again so we all care a little more about what we see."
A desire to reconnect people with nature has led Miranda to get involved with groups on a local and national scale. As Green Ambassador for Bristol, European Green Capital 2015, she's bringing her pragmatic, proactive approach to her hometown. "Rather than moaning about the lack of green space and transport issues, let's look at what we can do to make things better."
At the same time, she's President of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) - a role that involves everything from opening bird reserves to giving talks. But the thing she most enjoys is meeting people. "As a presenter you don't encounter your audience much, because you're talking to camera. So it's really important to meet people face-to-face and show them that the person they see on TV is as passionate about their subject in real life, too."
Photo credit Nick Krestovnikoff.