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Have you visited Primley yet? If not you’re missing out and Dave is here to tell you why…

Who is Dave?

Dave is responsible for looking after some of the various conservation sites that are owned and managed by Wild Planet Trust including Clennon Gorge and Primley which are two nature reserves located right here in Paignton.

What is Primley?

Primley is a nature reserve that has been open to the public since 1994. However that hasn’t always been the case. The area historically was the old estate grounds for Primley House, which was the home of Paignton Zoo’s Founder Herbert Whitley. There was also a section that used to be kennels and aviaries as well as a group of impressive greenhouses.

What is special about Primley?

It’s a natural sanctuary in an otherwise quite built up area of Paignton. But more than that it is a visual swathe of green seen from wide and far owing to its elevation. Local nature reserves like this are vitally important to nature and whilst it lacks the rare species of some other protected sites it is a place where the common things get to be common. It offers both an open south facing grassland and the shelter of the trees in the woods.

What are the challenges looking after the Primley?

Sadly the biggest challenge is encouraging visitors to respect and protect its beauty.  The area is a haven for many native species as well as an oasis for local residents to explore. However some visitors have lit fires which can cause significant damage, litter can get dropped as well as dog mess not picked up. But thankfully these issues are few and far between as most people who visit Primley are respectful and cherish the place.

From a natural perspective climate change and tree disease are significant challenges which will only continue to grow so it’s vital for us to obtain a better understanding of the wider issues and preventative measures. Ash die back is a disease faced by many throughout the UK and this disease affects the lifespan of ash trees. As a result in the near future there will need to be wide scale felling of diseased trees for the safety of our visitors.

What is the main local wildlife that visitors may see?

Obviously the plants and trees are the easiest to spot because they don’t run away! There are some really nice trees in Primley and the flowering plant diversity is increasing too as the management work in the meadow improves the conditions. There are some really interesting invertebrates to be found too. How about a seeing how many different butterflies you can see? Can you find the elusive but massive great green bush-cricket in the later summer? As for the birds there is usually a pair of buzzards floating around the sky above the park and a favourite of mine is the great spotted woodpecker, see if you can spot a hole in an old tree that they have excavated for a nest. There’s plenty more to be seen you just have to get out and look!