The rain held off on Sat morning as Joe Walsh Tree Officer at the council introduced us to the trees in the park, whilst repeatedly stating his intention (which to our amusement he singularly failed to keep) to not go near contentious topics i.e. the tree felling that happened as part of the park development. I should add Joe and his department were not involved in that decision-making… As ever Joe was on top form with his storytelling, saving the redwoods origin saga for his finale piece.
Bat walk at dusk
The rain fortunately stopped in time for dusk so there were insects flying around for bats to feed on. We used bat detectors to hear the Common Pipstrelles echolocating as they foraged in the tree canapy by Lime walk.
Sunday morning Bird walk
Local birder Tony O’Mahoney infected us with his enthusiam for the birds in the park, explaining the varying parenting styles of Tufted Duck, Coot and Mallard. The heron nest on the island is trickier to spot at this time of year with all the new growth.
Highpoint was the sight of 4 Stock Doves, and a tit flock of blue tit, great tit, long tailed tit, coal tit, with willow warbler and nuthatch also included.
Wildflower and butterfly walk
Manchester’s most knowledgable local botanist Dave Bishop shared his pasion: “Take me to an interesting place to start” he tells me and then proceeds to spend the next 15 minutes rummaging around and pointing plants out in the grass by the path within a couple metres of where we were standing. He just can’t help himself!
The renovation works has disturbed the ground towards the top end of the park below the formal area and has thrown up all kinds of seeds that have been deep in the earth for many years.
It is coming to the end of the season for seeing butterflies, the Big Butterfly Count finishes end of August. We saw just 2 types: Speckled Wood and Small White.
Setting up the equipment in the fenced off area by the pond, we wondered if anyone would find us. I suspected that as soon as we got the nets out children would miraculously appear – and so it turned out! I just love the way kids can spend ages staring at tiny bugs. With magnifying sheets and identification guides we counted the points for each type of organism to measure the health of the pond.
The water clarity was high probably due to its recent refill, which means sunlight can penetrate which is important for the survival of many plants and animals but there is quite a bit of algae building up, which needs to get cleared.
We found the diversity of wildlife to be low with just some mites, spiders, water shrimp and various worm-like creatures. The water is acidic with a ph of 5.5. Last time we did a water survey in the pond 3 years ago the water quality was very poor then too and it hasn’t improved. This is something that needs to be addressed by park management in future.