One of the aims of the Friends from the start has been to find out more about the plants and creatures that live in the Park. Our September 2010 newsletter included a report on the Bio-Blitz carried out that year. It recorded that in June Henry McGhie, of the Museum, had organised a “BioBlitz” that turned up “at least fourteen species of birds, including various tits and finches, blackbird, magpie, wood pigeon, carrion crow, robin, mistle thrush, black headed gull, feral pigeon and great spotted woodpecker; three bats were spotted around trees in the centre of the Park; a wood mouse; bumblebees and 78 species of insects, beetles, moths, butterflies, bees, wasps, spiders, centipedes, snails and slugs”.
Since then we have started on our project to enhance the bio-diversity of the Park by using the reduced grass mowing regime to start a wildlife area and generally provide the opportunity for the spontaneous growth of wild flowers. In 2011 Manchester Museum led a spring event in the Park – Wonderful Whitworth Wildlife- which gave an opportunity to see how things were going and the naturalists this time recorded 86 species, including a good showing of “lady’s smock” in the wildlife area, and I later came across this cinnabar moth whilst working in the Park.
The range of plants and wildlife in the Park is increasing since the maintenance regime has been changed to reduce the amount of mowing (and therefore cost). However the grassland margins are not “managed” in a way that will encourage the development of wild flowers. We need guidance and support on this so that the routine work of grounds maintenance is consistent with the aim of the Management Plan.
Another objective is to work with schools and the Whitworth Art Gallery to make full educational and recreational use, and to audit and record changes in of the bio-diverse areas of the Park,