As we walk around The Devisdale and Denzell Gardens, it's easy to take for granted the different species of trees, hedgerow, scrub and grassland that exist there. We may even see the ponds simply as a water feature. However, at the soul of The Devisdale is a carefully drawn-up management plan that ensures every species that inhabits the area is given the best possible chance of protection in order to ensure its survival.
The Tawny Owl for example nests and roosts in trees and tree holes and eats the rodents that like to hide in the rough grass. The Green Woodpecker also nests and roosts in trees and frequently on grassland as well as in rotten wood.
The hedgerow and scrub, including gorse is managed to allow flower and fruit which in turn feeds all manner of Finches. Finches are mainly seed eaters, though they tend to feed their young on animal protein so again the land becomes a provider.
Above: A chiffchaff
In the summer the Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Black Cap can been seen on The Devisdale when the insects are in abundance.
Different bird species have different nesting strategies. Some prefer the highest forks of the hedge to nest, some lower down in the hedge bank so it is important to ensure the hedges are not all trimmed to a regular height as this would not be the best way to attract such a diversity of wildlife.
The Pipistrelle Bat is another creature that can be found on the Devisdale. The species is particularly fond of the water sources and herb rich grassland and hedgerow which generate the insect food they require for survival. A bat on The Devisdale is at least safe from its main predator - the domestic cat. Bats are also integral to the environment and are a good indicator of the wildlife we often don't see - such as the insects they feed on.
Buzzards, Sparrow Hawks and Kestrels can often be seen hovering above The Devisdale or perched on tree branches whilst surveying the land for a mouse, vole or even a baby rabbit.
The Grey Heron is a frequent visitor to Denzell Gardens where he can be seen waiting patiently by the ornamental pond where he feeds on fish, amphibians and small mammals.
The Devisdale has been the subject of ecological surveys since the 1990s. The Site of Biological Importance (Grade C) identifies a part of The Devisdale as being of particular local nature conservation importance. This was designated by the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit in February, 2006. The SBI covers the northwest and northeast corners of The Devisdale along Dunham Road. The designation line runs straight across The Devisdale from the kissing gate in the track that divides The Devisdale from the grounds of Denzell House.
From the earliest of the ecological surveys of the site this area has been identified as the most 'species rich'.
The combination of native grasses and sedges (common bent, red fescue, sweet vernal, Yorkshire fog, tufted hair grass and field woodrush) with flowering herbs (birds foot trefoil, meadow buttercup, lesser knapweed, sneezewort, common sorrel and lesser stitchwort) supports a complex community of insects and animals.
The Friends of Denzell Gardens and The Devisdale have worked hard to support and implement habitat improvement projects on The Devisdale.
A grant from Greening Greater Manchester allowed for the installation of a wildlife pond in the northwest corner of the Devisdale. Local schools worked with the Friends to sow the margins with wildflower seed. The mature pond has attracted frogs, newts and several species of damsels and dragons - brown hawker and broad bodied chaser dragonflies, and the common blue damselfly.
Photo credits: Freepik