The Friends of Hartshill Park
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Wildlife

The park contains a variety of wildlife reflecting the different habitats present. The steep slope that characterises the park has evolved over time, with the Fowlea Brook at the base, a sandstone cap at the summit and a clay bedrock in between. Part of the park was used for farming and the fringes supported small industries. A marl pit was used for landfill until the first reclaimation scheme took place in the early 1970s.

Grassland

The areas that were once grazed have become rough grassland consisting of numerous types of grass, including creeping bent, Yorkshire fog, timothy and fescue. The seed is important as a food for songbirds and the foliage provides a habitat for butterflies, moths, beetles and other insects, and small mammals that feed off them. The predominant grass in a particular area reveals much about the underlying soil. Sedges and rushes grow in the places where you are likely to get wet feet and couch grass prefers loose, freshly dug earth. Rye grass shows in the summer where recent drainage has been made and other foliage has not yet invaded the seeded area.

Woodland

The mature trees in the area that was once part of the Convent grounds are ideal bat roosts as decay begins to set in, providing the holes and niches that they favour. Grey squirrels also use the high canopy although they are not native to Britain. Their habit of burying nuts aids the germination of trees such as horse chestnut and hazel. Ferns are able to cope with the low light levels, drawing nutrients from the rich layers of leaf litter. Bluebells make a haze of colour in clearings where they take advantage of the sun in the spring before the leaf cover forms in the summer. Many types of fungi can be found, some feeding on dead and decaying trunks and branches.

Millenium Copse

The millenium copse is a plantation of various native saplings. They will grow at different rates and to different mature heights. Most natural woodland evolves from scrub, with progressive changes in the predominant species and (subject to environmental factors) culminating in trees with the densest canopy such as beech. Saplings present in the copse include hazel, field maple, elm, sweet chestnut, wild pear and oak.

Ponds

There are 5 large ponds in the park, one of which, the laundry pond, is named after the local trade it provided water for. Only the boardwalk pond stands out in the open, all the other having some tree cover. Where trees overhang the ponds, the natural balance is difficult to maintain due to leaf fall and lack of natural light. With all the ponds, unless careful conservation work is routinely carried out, nature will take its course and the ponds will become choked with flag iris, reed mace and duckweed, and will eventually silt up. All the ponds support insect life that is vital to birds, bats, frogs and newts. Herons and moorhens, that feed off frogs, newts and small fish, are regular visitors.

Scrub and Hedgerow

This growth is typically associated with wasteland areas and signifies the rebirth of nature from decay. Shrubs, mainly hawthorn, planted in the 1970s have developed into an area of deciduous scrub, and gorse and broom have begun to populate the undisturbed grassland. Low growing trees and bushes provide nesting sites for small songbirds, a group that is becoming rare in its traditional habitat due, it is thought, to intensive farming methods. Honeysuckle and wild roses scramble around some of the park entrances. Brambles form spiky thickets and in late summer, blackberries are available to pick.

Japanese Knotweed

In the summer, this invasive plant, originally brought to the UK as an addition to Victorian gardens, forms large stands in damp areas. Enjoying the climate, this perennial has become difficult to control as there are no indiginous predators and it is spread easily through the movement of soil or water containing pieces of root and stem. The dense thickets formed by this plant means there is little native vegetation where it grows, reducing the habitat of our native species. A control programme carried out over a number of years, and continuing, has brought the plant under control in the park.