Plants and Animals

Plants, Animals and the Ecology of the Park

Platt Fields has a great diversity of landscapes, plants and wildlife and we are slowly developing our knowledge of these, and how they might flourish alongside the human activities which take place within the park.

With this in mind, in 2008 the Friends commissioned a full BIODIVERSITY STUDY of the park in 2008. This lists the complete range of species of plants and animals which are found within Platt Fields, and proposes ways to increase their habitat, and numbers, wherever possible.

Download our Biodiversity Study (in PDF format):

The Biodiversity Report for the park has been assimilated into the Park Management Plan and is now used as a guide to future developments and improvement of the park. In this way, we hope to encourage a greater number of species to make Platt Fields their home over the forthcoming years. Specifically, our project list includes:

  • The creation of a 'hands-off' wilderness area, for wild creatures and plants.

  • The digging of a seasonal pond and ditch, with protective planting, to encourage habitats for birds, small mammals, fish and amphibians.

  • A dry- and wet- area wildflower meadow zone.

  • Planting designed to encourage more flowers (for bees and insects and needed by bats), fruits and berries (for birds, mammals and humans), herbs and vegetables (for humans).
  • Tree-planting: a new woodland area of deciduous trees and a woodland walk around the perimeter of the park.

  • A sustainable lake: the lake is the biggest single challenge, as it serves a number of functions that compete with each other - boating, fishing, model boat sailing, and wildlife. There are an unsustainable number of Canada geese living round the lake, that add a poisonous level of nitrogen to the water. Gone are the days when the park was regularly emptied, cleaned and refilled. Every year it has to be closed over the Summer, because of an outbreak of dangerous 'bluegreen algae', to the frustration of everyone. Teaching the public not to feed the Canada geese in order to protect 'the balance of nature' on the lake is a continuous challenge, and exemplifies how far from understanding nature our population has become.

Enhancing biodiversity may require some difficult decisions, as obtaining the correct balance of species may not be an easy thing to achieve, and we may need to make decisions about the park which may appeal to some, and yet not to others. Whenever such decisions need to be made the Friends promise to listen to the views of Park Users, and to discuss any planned proposals fully with the public - at one of our regular 'Open Meetings'.

The Friends produce regular 'Wildlife Reports' in our NEWSLETTERS. Copies of the some recent 'Wildlife Reports' can be read by clicking on the links above.

The following sections about the park's wildlife are being continuously updated as people provide us with us new information about the animals and birds they have seen. We intend to set up a Bird Watching Group and so if you are interested in joining this then please email and provide your contact details so we can get back to you regarding this group.


The Lake
The lake is a focal point for wildlife within the park and it supports a great diversity of waterfowl throughout the year.

Please DO NOT feed the birds with bread: wild bird pellets are available at the Lakeside Centre. The amount of bread going into the Lake is causing environmental problems, including Blue-Green Algae which can be harmful to wildlife and humans!

There are lots of signs up around the Lake asking people not to feed bread to the birds, in a range of languages, but often they are ignored. If you are reading this, please spread the word and help to protect the Lake - thank you.

Mute Swans breed on the lake, as do Domestic Geese, Canada Geese, Mallards, Coots and Moorhens. Tufted Ducks can often be seen on the lake, as can our resident rarity, 'Isis' a beautiful Egyptian Goose. In Winter over 100 Black Headed Gulls make the lake their home, as do many Cormorant - which eat our fish stocks (currently large Carp & the smaller Mirror Carp).

The Island
Our resident Herons have now breed on the island for the past two years - and so it is now protected as a nature reserve, and people are not allowed to go on the island. Canada Geese also breed on the island and their large numbers (far too many for the lake to support) are a source of concern to the Friends. Many of our other birds also nest on the Island and recently Ring Necked Parakeets (from nearby Birchfields Park) are also visiting the Island with a view to extending their range and settling in Platt Fields Park.

The trees on the island are now nearing the end of their natural life and many are now falling into the waters around the edge of the lake. Hopefully our Biodiversity Survey will suggest a suitable replanting regime. Do remember that the Island is a 'protected breeding area'and so please allow the birds some peace, and do not attempt to visit the island yourself.

The Ditch
Not the Nico Ditch (an ancient monument), but the drainage ditch which runs parallel to the 'Back Path' near the back of the BMX Track. This is an area the Friends are keen to develop as a haven for wildlife and we will be working to develop it over the next 12 months. The ditch will be dug out to improve its drainage capacity in the near future, which should resolve the problems of water collecting on the adjacent 'Back Path' during the Winter months

The 'Back Path'
This path runs from the Park entrance at Mabfield Road to the junction with the Hart Road path, and so it encircles a large part of the Southern boundary of the park parallel to Wilbraham Road and Hart Rd.

It is a favourite with Dog Walkers although in the Winter months it can become rather muddy. The trees along its route also provide an excellent opportunity for bird watching and Green Finches, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Long-tailed Tits, Chaffinches and Bullfinches have all been seen along this path. One of our plans for the future is to increase the number and variety of trees along the path to convert it into 'a Woodland Walk' and thereby increase its potential for wildlife and as a nesting site for birds.

Platt Brook Woodlands
Although Platt Brook itself is a bricked water course with little wildlife value the wooded areas on either side of the Brook are home to a great diversity of wildlife. Woodpigeons nest in the area, and Grey Squirrels are often seen here. As the trees are quite old it is in this area that a Great Spotted Woodpecker has been seen, and heard, on many occasions.

Many of our beautiful Black Poplar Trees were recently cut down in this area as a result of a major felling by the Council, and so a replanting scheme needs to be drawn up to replace them. It is hoped our Biodiversity Survey will assist in this aim.

The area is rough underfoot and leads to the open watercourse of Platt Brook; for safety reasons and because this is the area we have designated to be the Wilderness, people are not encouraged to walk in this area. We think that wildlife may be spotted from beyond the fencing on both sides, if the area is quiet.

The Grasslands
As Platt Fields is designated as the 'Major outdoor events centre for South Manchester' the park has a lot of open grassland for 'Events' and 'Sporting activities'. This has low value for wildlife although the Geese enjoy feeding on the grass, and Crows, Magpies and Thrushes can be seen foraging for food during the Winter months. The Biodiversity Survey has highlighted certain areas which may be reclaimed from mowing and be left fallow, so as to encourage wild flowers, butterflies, insects and birds to inhabit them. This includes the community orchard, which will be much less intensively mowed, to allow a greater wildlife corridor.

Seasonal Bog Area(s)
Near to the 'Back Path' and the drainage ditch are two areas which naturally become flooded in wet periods where natural ponds are formed . The Friends hope to develop these areas and plant them up with bog plants, and flag iris, etc. This will greatly benefit the biodiversity of the park, in areas which were previously neglected, and will encourage insects, dragonflies and frogs to live in these places which will in turn encourage different varieties of birds to make Platt Fields their home.