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Brookheys Covert

This ancient semi-natural woodland is a SSSI. The wood is dominated by oaks with ash, birch and rowan. There are several marl pit ponds with their associated flora.

Location
The reserve lies within the Dunham Park Estate, 2 miles (3.2km) south west of Altrincham (O.S. Grid Ref.: SJ742904).

Access
From the B5160 which runs north west from the A56 at the Bowdon traffic lights (Charcoal Lane), take the class 'C' road running north at Dunham Town. In 1.5 miles (2.4km) turn right at the crossroads beyond Whitehouse Farm and the crematorium, then in 400 metres turn left on the lane to Brookheys Farm. The stile entering the reserve is on the left just before the Sinderland Brook which crosses the lane before Brookheys Farm.
Alternatively, take Sinderland Road from the A56 in Broadheath, when the lane to Brookheys Farm is on the right in about 1.25 miles (2km).
The reserve is open to members at all times, however the access gate off the lane to Brookheys Farm is closed from April to June to deter casual visits.

Status
The reserve, which is classified as a SSSI, is managed by agreement from the Dunham Massey Estates, now owned by the National Trust. The covert occupies approximately 4.5 acres (1.8 ha).

Topography
The woodland sits on fairly level ground, surrounding a series of 'marl pits' which have subsequently flooded, forming a series of ponds.

Flora
The reserve contains two main habitats, semi-natural oak woodland, and a series of ponds. The oak wood contains other tree species including crab apple, elder, holly, sycamore, hazel and various willows. There is a good representative woodland ground flora, most evident in the spring and early summer. Bluebells are abundant, as are species such as dogs mercury and yellow archangel. In places there is dense rhododendron R. ponticum, originally planted for game cover. The dense shade form this shrub results in little herb growth underneath it. The spread of rhododendron is being carefully watched and controlled, as in small patches it can provide useful cover for birds. Some of the marl pits are stagnant, some connected by channels, have a slow through-flow of water and some are completely colonised by marsh vegetation.
The main botanical interest of the wetter areas is water violet Hottonia paulstris which grows fairly abundantly. Other wetland species flourish, including kingcup, nodding bur-marigold Bidens cernua and greater spearwort Ranunculus lingua.

Fauna
The marl pits have a rich invertebrate fauna, which is well documented. Mammals are not conspicuous but fox, rabbit, stoat and grey squirrels can be seen, together with other small mammals. The covert is well used by birds, some of which nest. Heron, kingfisher, kestrel, little owl, treecreepers, blackcap, spotted flycatcher, sparrowhawk, jay, and both greater spotted and green woodpeckers are amongst the 57 species recorded.

Brookheys Covert
Brookheys Covert
 
 
Water violet
 

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