In the city

A view showing houses in the distance and wildflowers in the foreground.The green city of Exeter

Under pressure from a changing countryside, much of our wildlife has now found a welcoming home in our towns and cities

An urban red fox stares just past the photographer.From foxes to peregrine falcons – it’s amazing what you can discover

  • Wildlife has adapted to our city habits turning office blocks into nest sites and rubbish bins into food sources
  • Gardens, parks and allotments provide greens spaces with a variety of wild and cultivated plants that is wider than that found in much of the countryside

Brownfields and green fields

A male banded demoiselle (by Andrew Taylor).

Brownfield sites are the name given to former industrial spaces. When people abandon these places wildlife quickly moves in. They make excellent growing conditions for plants such docks, teasels and dandelions.

The absence of people from brownfield sites leaves them as tranquil havens and great places for common lizards and slow worms to bask in. Dragonflies, butterflies and rare bees also forage among abandoned buildings and wasteland.

Plymouth, Exeter, Barnstaple and Torbay contain excellent green infrastructure – networks of parks, allotments, churchyards, railway sidings and water ways. In recent years their common urban mammals such as foxes and hedgehogs have been joined by new urban migrants including badgers and roe deer.


What does your garden grow?

Gardens are vital resources for wildlife. By doing simple things – putting out food, digging a pond, making nest boxes and letting areas go wild – it’s possible to attract a dazzling array of birds, insects and other animals to your patch.

Your garden can be a window on to local wildlife. A garden is the place to experience red admirals and bumblebees foraging in a flower border; goldfinches and great tits visiting bird feeders; and common frogs and grass snakes exploring the surface of a pond. 

Flowers and ferns grow outwards from a brick wall.At night the list of garden creatures will change. Tawny owls hunt, while bats search out the many moths that feed on the nectar of garden plants including jasmine and nicotiana. 

Devon Wildlife Trust’s own Cricklepit Mill, in the heart of Exeter, is a great place to start to appreciate the potential and diversity of an urban wildlife garden. More than 140 different plants grow there, while kingfishers, dippers, grey wagtails and otters frequently use its stream. 

Find out how to attract more wildlife to your garden here.


The Swift Tower on a roundabout in Exeter City Centre.Working for urban wildlife

We’ve been working with Exeter City Council to nurture urban wildlife and wild places since 2008.

Discover more about the wildflower meadows, community orchards and other work of Exeter Wild City.