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A walk on the wild side in city reserve; Park allotment attracts wide range of animals.

Byline: by MARY MURTAGH Environment Reporter

A WILDLIFE and nature haven is being created on a city allotment site.

Birds, wildflowers and spring bulbs are thriving in a corner of Harthill Allotments in Calderstones Park.

The tiny reserve, called Harthill Copse, has been created on two plots after Liverpool City Council decided to preserve the area for nature.

The reserve is home to mature trees, some more than 60ft high, and thousands of native British bluebells, wild narcissus and snowdrops have been planted.

Gardeners have also introduced red campion, nettle-leafed bellflowers, greater stitchwort, foxglove and agrimony to the copse.

A variety of nest boxes, bat boxes and a bird-feeding station are dotted around the woodland.

More than 30 bird species, including goldcrest, nuthatch, lesser spotted woodpecker and a family of blue tits, have been recorded along with foxes, stoats, woodmice, short tailed voles and hedgehogs.

Catherine McMahon, who helps looks after the copse with fellow allotment holders, said: "It is a fabulous place. There are about six volunteers who look after it. It is all about improving the biodiversity of the site.

"The range of birds we get is brilliant and they help with pest control for the allotments. Last week a black cap, which is one of only 3,000 birds that stay in the UK over winter, was photographed on the site.

"The copse benefits allotment holders and the whole community, including dog walkers, bird lovers and park users."

However, the newreserve has not been popular with everyone.

Some allotment holders wanted to bring the plots back into cultivation to allow people to grown their own vegetables.

Last year, vandals attacked the copse felling trees but fans of the copse have vowed to protect the nature reserve.

There are plans to include a bog garden and a covered pond. Bat boxes and hedgehog boxes will also be installed.

Schools will be invited to attend the reserve as part of lessons in learning about the environment.
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 23, 2009
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