Location and Topography
Tameside lies in the east of Greater Manchester, bordering West Yorkshire and Derbyshire to the east. The borough takes its name from the River Tame and straddles the river catchment of the Mersey basin, as well as the foothills of the western Pennines. Its altitude varies from 75 m above sea level (asl) in the west to the highest point in the east, Hoarstone Edge, at 497 m asl.
UK BAP Priority habitats found in Tameside include upland Oak and lowland broad-leaved woodlands, lowland dry acid grassland, and springs and flushes. The high land to the east of the River Tame supports a very significant proportion of Greater Manchester's moorland (upland heath and blanket bog).
Four canals cross the borough, including the Huddersfield Narrow Canal SSSI and the Hollinwood Branch Canal SSSI. The rivers Tame, Etherow and Medlock flow through Tameside and provide important habitats for wildlife.
Hay meadows at Werneth Low Country Park are a rare habitat which has been lost from much of Greater Manchester.
Two species of Hare are found in Tameside, the Brown Hare which lives in the lowland meadows and the Mountain Hare, which frequents the high moorland and changes its coat to white in winter. Each year Skylarks announce the arrival of spring on the moors with their evocative song.
Wildlife can be found in the heart of the urban areas with Foxes making use of the parks and gardens to hunt and raise their cubs. A pair of Black Restarts nested in 2009, the only GM district apart from Manchester where this species breeds.
The European protected species Floating Water Plantain (Luronium natans) occurs in the Huddersfield Narrow Canal SSSI, Peak Forest Canal SBI, and Ashton Canal (East) SBI together with Grasswrack Pondweed.
Audenshaw Reservoirs are an important site for wintering wildfowl and also hold the largest winter gull roost in Greater Manchester.
The ancient woodlands such as Great Wood look spectacular in spring when the woodland floor is carpeted with Bluebells, Lesser Celandine, Wood Anemone and Wood Sorrel.
Wildflowers such as Hay Rattle grow in the remaining lowland meadows.
Speckled Wood and other species of butterfly can be seen on the wing on sunny days. Dragonflies and Damselflies hunt for insect prey over the ponds and lodges.
The charismatic Water Vole can still be found along some of the borough's canals and brooks but is rarely seen.