A VOLUNTEER group in Westhoughton is striving to protect the town's wildlife — and is looking for new members.

Friends of Eatock Lodge, a small group of volunteers from Westhoughton, met at Eatock Lodge Local Nature Reserve to clear a footpath for animals and the general public, while they also cleared a ditch to make way for amphibians such as toads.

These activities, which took place on Saturday morning, are part of the group's series of winter conservation projects.

Friends of Eatock Lodge was formed in 2010, with the aim of improving Eatock Lodge and promoting its use for leisure and education.

The nature reserve is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, foxes, dragon flies, butterflies, toads and birds.

Trevor Benn, a member of Friends of Eatock Lodge, said: "This makes a huge difference to the Westhoughton community and it allows wildlife to thrive.

"We care about where we live and we are willing to give up our time to show how nice a place Eatock Lodge is. It's like an oasis.

"You get a great sense of achievement from doing something like this — it's sociable, it's outdoors and it's energetic."

Mr Benn added: "We asked Lancashire Wildlife Trust if we could do some activities over the winter, and one of those was to clear the ditch to allow amphibians such as toads to lay their eggs.

"By clearing the footpath, we're not only making it easier for the public to access the nature reserve, we're also creating a den for the hedgehogs with the leftovers.

"The nature reserve is a vibrant place, particularly in spring, so there's never been a better time to join the group."

Eatock Lodge is a six hectare local nature reserve in Daisy Hill, off The Hoskers, on the former site of a coal mine that has been returned to nature.

You can find out more about Friends of Eatock Lodge by visiting www.westhoughtoncommunitynetwork.co.uk/eatocklodge.

If you want to join the group, you can email eatocklodge@gmail.com.