DALS WILDLIFE SITE { WILDLIFE OF NORTHERN ENGLAND}

WILDLIFE OF NORTHERN ENGLAND

Hunters Hill quarry.

Hunters Hill Quarry is the latest acquisition to come under the care of West Lancashire Countryside Ranger Service  being owned now by the West Lancashire Borough Council. It is the most remote {except for the Cheshire Lines} of the sites maintained and cared for by them being, as the name suggests, high on a hilltop north east of the village of Parbold.

From the small car park a pathway leads on to the site. Within a matter of yards there is, on the right hand side , an area where great views of the surrounding countryside below which sweeps away into the distance.

Below - The surrounding countryside.

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Below  one of the well maintained pathways at the site

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Hunters Hill ---Bit of history.

Hunters Hill Quarry  was worked for over 200 years quarrying sand stone and only closed in 1982. Since then nature has reclaimed her own and it has become a haven for wildlife. Large amounts of work has been {and still is} being undertaken to enhance the locality for wildlife and visitors alike. The maintenance and management is carried  out by the West Lancashire Countryside Rangers based at the Beacon Country Park Upholland West Lancashire.

The capable team led by Head Ranger Dan Massey, along with volunteers have been given the task which will be ongoing  making the site an interesting place to visit for all who love the countryside and its inhabitants.

In 2010 a survey was undertaken, at the request of the West Lancashire District Council, by the Bowland Ecology which listed the key habitats found within the confines of the 3.7ha site. The habitats are diverse for such a relatively small area and are listed as follows.---

Semi-natural broad-leaved woodland.

Scrub, dense/continuous

 Species rich grassland.

A mosaic of heath land

Temporary pools

Dry dwarf shrub heath

Scattered trees.

 

Habitat Action plan.

 In order to maintain a viable site that enriches the regions wildlife, and to help visitors to have an enjoyable stay, a long term plan is required which takes on board the requirements of both. This has led to a ten year habitat management plan for the site. Below is selection of some of the work which is to be carried out under the plan { which will also contribute towards the aims of the Lancashire Habitat and Species Action Plans }

                                                THE PLAN AND HABITATS

BROAD-LEAVED WOODLAND------The aims in the plan for this habitat includes ---protecting and enhancing wildlife interest within the existing woodland by implementing traditional woodland management.

To prevent encroachment of Rhododendron ponticum { see link to INVASIVE ALIEN SPECIES }

To create some woodland clearance especially birch trees at a rate of 10% per year in rotation . This will allow ground flora to become established and clear out weak or injured trees, which will benefit the woodland and the wildlife.

Below rhododendron can become very invasive and needs to be controlled

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Species rich grassland..

The aims of the plan for this habitat includes maintaining the current flora.

To prevent scrub encroachment.

Encourage structural vegetation within the grassland.

Prevent nutrient enrichment by dogs.

The existing flora includes knapweed, self heal, bird's foot trefoil and marsh orchids all of which attract insects which in turn attracts the birds thus being an important component of the ecosystem. 

Below---bird's-foot trefoil above and orchids below enhance the grassland

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Dry dwarf shrub habitat.

The aims of the plan include Protecting and enhancing wildlife interests of the existing dry, dwarf, shrub present on the site.

Other objectives in relation to the long term aim of heathland management at the site are --

increase the area of heathland habitat by undertaking woodland clearance along with continued monitoring.

To prevent the succession of the surrounding woodland habitat along with monitoring.

Below---gorse flowers are beautiful but the shrub needs to be controlled to stop encroachment.

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Temporary pools.

The aims for this habitat include to protect and enhance the wildlife interests of the existing temporary pools present at the site. It is hoped that many amphibians will benefit from the management of the pools, which includes that consideration should be given to re-profiling of temporary pools if the proceed to dry out. 

Other objectives in the habitat plan.

These aims are  management of existing recreational signage present at the site, and future reviews, maintaining  existing footpaths and prevent the use of unauthorized footpaths.

Incorporating dog fouling signs and the provision of bins.

To utilise the site for educational purposes which will include working with schools and events arranged by the Rangers service which will include educational walks.

Ensuring that access is provided for all users where this is possible.

The full plan is comprehensive and all its contents are to large to fit within the confines of this page and the above are a small but relevant selection of them.

 

The future prospects.---

The future potential for this site is very promising and the site can only improve as the plan is being implemented. I will look forward to many more visits to this hidden gem and future developments and conservation issues will be included at the link CONSERVATION ISSUES AND CONSERVATION UPDATES.

BELOW-- Earlier this week I visited the site and found these delightful primroses growing on the land adjacent to the car park. April 2011.

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Link to the West Lancashire countryside web site. Once on the home page click Ranger service.

Thank you for visiting.