Museum staff joined with representatives of other local organisations concerned with biodiversity for an excellent if occasionally wet day in Whitworth park. The park is adjacent to the Whitworth Art Gallery and is extensively used by local people. School children got involved collecting different insects from the trunks of trees. Sawfly larvae (see earlier blog) were common on the low branches of ash trees and were probably the commonest thing they found. Surveys revealed considerable variety of birds, insects and plants including many interesting species. Greater spotted woodpeckers were probably the star of the bird world. Snails were surprisingly absent despite a thorough search by Laurence Cook. Among the insects it was very good to see small tortoiseshell caterpillars on the nettles. These beautiful butterflies are now in some decline.
I spent most of my time looking at the plants in the park. There are a remarkable number of different trees, from apple and cherry to sycamore, beech, London plane, lime, and many different species of oak and whitebeam. Among the herbaceous plants we noted a few stands of Japanese knotweed, which may be cause for concern if allowed to spread. There were literally dozens of different species around the margins of the park and it was clear that margins and edges were the most valuable areas as far as biodiversity is concerned.
As well as the wildlife in the park, there are exhibitions in the Art Gallery. I met Bryony Bond, a former member of the Museum team and she showed me the wallpaper exhibition. It’s worth a visit, many of the designs such as this one by Damien Hirst, are inspired by nature.