Wildlife Sites in Greater Manchester
Watergrove Reservoir SBI
Watergrove Reservoir is situated high up on the edge of the moors above Rochdale and has spectacular views across Manchester to the Cheshire plain. Owned by United Utilities, the reservoir was constructed between 1930 and 1938 to provide drinking water for the people of Rochdale and is the largest in the district. Designated as a grade A Site of Biological Importance (SBI) in 2000, the site extends beyond the SBI boundary up onto a dramatic horse-shoe shaped moorland ridge which encloses the valley.
An upland reservoir, surrounded by largely unimproved acid grassland, which is a Greater Manchester Biodiversity Habitat. There are numerous small areas of marsh and flush across the site associated with ponds and streams, including a small nature reserve.
The landscape was transformed by the planting of over 100,000 native deciduous trees around the reservoir in the late 1980's / early 1990's, providing a new habitat for many species which did not previously occur in the area.
The reservoir and surrounding moorland is important for birds especially its breeding waders which include Common Sandpiper and Curlew whose evocative calls can be heard in spring. The grassland and wetland areas are home to Sedge Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler and Reed Bunting. In spring the plantations come alive with the song of Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Whitethroat. Lesser Redpoll can be seen and heard in display flight over the trees.
Large numbers of frogs head to the ponds in March to spawn. In summer the same waters are the haunt of seven species of damselfly and dragonfly.
Many species of butterfly are seen on the wing in summer including the now scarce Wall Brown, as well as more common species such as Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood and Red Admiral.
Mammals include Fox, Stoat and Weasel, although you will have to make an early start to stand much chance of seeing these elusive creatures.
The reservoir supports a colony of the European Protected species Floating Water Plantain. The wetland areas are brightened by the flowering of Marsh Marigold, Purple Loosestrife and Yellow Flag Iris. To the north of the reservoir along Higher Slack Brook hard fern, male fern and lemon-scented fern occur.
Whatever your interest there is a fantastic variety of species to see here from bird to butterflies, fungi to lichens, and mammals to mosses.
Parking at Trap Farm car park (SD911176) is free of charge. Climb the steps from the car park to the top of the dam for excellent views over the reservoir and valley.
Bird Hide - follow the track from Trap Farm car park round the east side of the reservoir. Access to the hide is along a path which runs west from the windsurfer's car park, on the west side of the centre.
There are 2 circular waymarked routes:
There are numerous other footpaths around the area, most of which is Access Land.
Public toilets at the back of the Windsurfer's centre.
With special thanks to Dave Winnard for information on dragonflies / damselflies and fungi recorded on the site.