Living on the urban wild side

Pair of marbled white butterflies in Westerland Valley Country Park, June 2020. Photo: Groundwork So

Pair of marbled white butterflies in Westerland Valley Country Park, June 2020. Photo: Groundwork South - Credit: Groundwork South

The grey squirrel moves across the ground in that jolting stop-start manner that these animals have. It is searching through dead leaves for something, a fallen nut or seed perhaps?

Now is the time of year for these creatures to prepare for coming hibernation, so a high-protein snack would probably not go amiss.

While spotting these tree-dwelling mammals may be one of the more common wildlife encounters we have in our urban green spaces, within Torbay we are fortunate enough to have places where we can see, or hear, plenty of other creatures both great and small.

From the deer that roam Cockington Country Park – on occasion seen bounding across the cricket pitch! – to the bird life of Clennon Lakes – from kingfishers to water rail and plenty in between – each of Torbay’s green spaces plays an important role in providing a home for a variety of different wildlife.

Follow the stream that feeds the lakes at Clennon up the valley and, after a brief tour of Paignton Zoo and a subterranean voyage under the busy King’s Ash Road, you find yourself in Westerland Valley Country Park.

Clennon and Westerland share more than just a stream. For example, both places are home to or visited by ten out of Britain’s 18 bat species and it is possible to spot marbled white or brown hairstreak butterflies at each location.

On occasion the sites are even visited by less common wildfowl such as the mandarin duck.

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Clennon and Westerland share something else, passionate groups of volunteers who want to help care for these important places.

These are local people who give their time to help ensure there continue to be places within and around our towns where wildlife can not just survive, but it can thrive.

What is more, their efforts don’t just benefit wildlife they also help ensure that others in our community has the chance to experience the ‘wild’ side of our urban green spaces.

To find out more about getting involved with conservation tasks and activities within Torbay Green Spaces please contact Hannah Worthington on 07940510616 or email