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West Midlands

Great-crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus ©Mike Lane Website

The West Midlands is a metropolitan county in western central England with a 2014 estimated population of 2,808,356, making it the second most populous county in England. It came into existence as a metropolitan county in 1974, formed from parts of Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire. The county consists of seven metropolitan boroughs: the City of Birmingham, the City of Coventry and the City of Wolverhampton, as well as Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, and Walsall.

There are 23 Sites of Special Scientific Interest in the county. One of these SSSIs is Sutton Park in Sutton Coldfield, which has an area of 970 hectares (2,400 acres). As a result, it is one of the largest urban parks in Europe, and the largest outside of a European capital city. The park also has national nature reserve status.

There are numerous rivers that pass through the county, including the River Tame. The river basin is the most urbanised basin in the United Kingdom, with approximately 42% of the basin being urban. The River Tame is fed by the River Rea, River Anker, and the River Blythe, which in turn is fed by the River Cole. The River Sowe and River Sherbourne both flow through Coventry. The River Stour flows through the west of the West Midlands county.

Birdwatching in the Birmingham and West Midland Area.

The County of West Midlands being landlocked and far from the sea is not high on birder's lists of places to visit. However, nearly three million people live and work in this great county. What's more, millions more have to visit to both work and play. So if you have time on your hands and want to go birding in the West Midlands here are a few places to visit.

Please note that the expanding West Midlands Bird Club website now has pages for the various branches.

Top Sites

Edgbaston Reservoir

Satellite View

About 2 miles from Birmingham City centre this 64-acre canal feeder reservoir is surrounded by the urban sprawl of Birmingham. Yet it can prove to be a lifesaver to the birdwatcher trapped by business meetings. Birds to be seen include common water, park and garden birds, with waders and terns on passage. A large gull roost can also be found. Timing - Mid week is best, as this is a popular boating and recreational area. Once again try to avoid the human disturbance by arriving early morning or evening. Access - Easily accessible by public transport from Birmingham city centre.

Saltwells Wood

Satellite View

A mixed habitat reserve (62 acres);which is part of the Blackbrook Valley with deciduous woodland, streams, canal towpath, farmland, heathland , reservoir and claypits. The woods and claypits have been declared a site of special scientific importance. (SSSI) and were made the first nature reserve in the West Midlands. This is a good site for wetland and woodland birds. For those wishing to mix business and pleasure the reserve can be found at the rear of the Enormous Merry Hill Shopping Centre. There is a visitor centre in the middle of the woods where an excellent display of the local birds, mammals and flowers can be found. Although mostly easy walking there are parts that require one to be reasonably fit. Timing - Once again try to avoid the human disturbance by arriving early morning or late afternoon. Access - Easily accessible by public transport from Birmingham and other /West Midland Town centres.

Sandwell Valley

Webpage

Satellite View

The first ever Urban RSPB reserve. 25 acres at the eastern end of the 1000 acre expanse of Sandwell Valley (more later). A warm welcome awaits you at a recently refurbished visitor centre built with children and education in mind. The reserve covers the eastern end of a balancing lake and has two small man made islands which attract nesting gulls, a small marsh area great for snipe, fields and hedgerows for the more common farmland birds. The whole area covered by the valley is good for birds at any time of the year, but especially at passage time, when almost anything can be seen. Grasshopper warblers have been known to breed, while kingfishers are resident. Lapwings, Reed and Sedge warblers often attempt to breed and sometimes succeed. Late summer and autumn bring a wide selection of the common waders. Timing - An early morning or late afternoon visit is best, either before or after the inevitable dog walkers. Access - Easily accessible by public transport from Birmingham city centre or from junction 7 of the M6 and/or junction 1 M5.

Sandwell Valley Country Park

Satellite View

1000 acres of open space between Birmingham and West Bromwich crossed by the M5/6 motorway link. The area to the west of the motorway is the best for birdwatching with a mixture of woodland, scrub and rough grassland surrounded by untended hedges. The addition of small pools make this a haven for birdlife with all of the common woodland and farmland birds available. Timing - Once again try to avoid the human disturbance by arriving early morning or late afternoon. Access - Easily accessible by public transport from Birmingham/West Bromwich city centre or from junction 7 of the M6 and/or junction 1 M5.

Sutton Park

Satellite View

Sutton Park is Birmingham's largest park, covering 2,400 acres consisting of woodlands, heathlands and wetlands. The entire park was recently designated a National Nature Reserve by English Nature, Sutton Park Visitor Centre, Sutton Park, Park Road, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B74 2YT, Tel: 0121 355 6370

Contributor

Andy Mabbett

Additional Material

Webmaster, West Midland Bird Club

andy@pigsonthewing.org.uk

http://www.westmidlandbirdclub.org.uk/

County Recorder

Kevin Clements

26 Hambrook Close, Dunstall Park, Wolverhampton WV6 0AX

01902 568 9997

west-mids-recorder@westmidlandbirdclub.org.uk

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 271

Useful Reading

The New Birds of the West Midlands

- covering Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, and the former West Midlands County - Graham Harrison and Janet Harrison 496 pages, colour photos, line drawings, maps. West Midlands Bird Club 2005

ISBN: 0950788120

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Where to Watch Birds in West Midlands

Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and the Former West Midlands - F Gribble, G Harrison, H Griffiths, J Winsper and S Coney Series: WHERE TO WATCH BIRDS IN BRITAIN AND EUROPE: HELM SERIES 312 pages, 53 maps, 24 line drawings. Christopher Helm due June 2007

ISBN: 9780713664195

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Trip Reports

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

Places to Stay

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Featherstone Farm Hotel - Wolverhampton

Accommodation

Featherstone Farm Hotel is a small, high class, country house hotel only one mile from Junction 11 on the M6, or Junction 1 on the M54, but nevertheless set in 5 acres of unspoiled countryside. Luxury restaurant specialising in Indian cuisine set in a luxury 16th century barn on-site.

Organisations

Friends of Edgbaston Reservoir

At the 11th AGM of Friends of Edgbaston Reservoir held in February 2001 it was agreed that the Friends should attempt to maintain a web site linked to other related local sites. This is the embryo…

RSPB - Walsall Members Group

Website

The RSPB Walsall Members Group was formed in 1968 and is one of the oldest groups in the country. Funds raised by group activities and sales of RSPB goods have allowed the group to contribute to various RSPB appeals and especially to support the local reserve at Sandwell Valley. The group also tries to encourage membership recruitment to the Society and to support youth activities. Membership is free to RSPB members. The group organises a programme of indoor meetings (all welcome!) and field trips.

RSPB - Birmingham

Website

This is the NEW Birmingham RSPB Members Group site. Created by mark.g-designs. We hope that you will find this site interesting and informative, if you have any comments or suggestions please e-mail John Bailey (Group Leader). We will bring to you news of forthcoming attractions including field trips, indoor meetings, guided walks and fundraising events. We shall also have links to other sites of interest including our sponsors. We welcome all new members to any or all of our events.

West Midland Bird Club

Website

e-mail: secretary@westmidlandbirdclub.com The West Midland Bird Club offers the widest range of indoor and field meetings for its members. Probably more than any other provincial bird club in the whole of the UK.

Wildlife Trust for Birmingham & the Black Country

Website

Previously known as the Urban Wildlife Trust, we are the only charity in Birmingham and the Black Country dedicated to safeguarding the future well being of the area's wildlife…

Museums

Birmingham University - Ornithology Graduate Certificate & Msc

http://www.ornithology.bham.ac.uk

University of Birmingham CertHE and DipHE courses in Ornithology are now upgraded and we are now recruiting for a new Part-time Graduate Certificate Ornithology course and a new Part-time MSc in Ornithology. The MSc is unique within Europe. We have also established a Centre for Ornithology and the courses are now run by Graham Martin from the new Centre. As before the courses are part-time taught at weekends and are open to people of all ages. Full details of the courses are now available on the web site - there is a link to courses from the home page that gives a lot of information…

Reserves

Harborne Nature Reserve

Webpage

Satellite View

Situated less than three miles from Birmingham city centre, Harborne Nature Reserve is comprised of two areas, totalling approximately nine acres of disused allotments forming part of Pereira Road/ Westfield Road allotments…

Marsh Lane Nature Reserve

Information

Satellite View

This recently-created reserve occupies former gravel pits, on the Packington Estate. Extraction of sand and gravel from approximately 75 acres started in 1995 and has now been completed. Two large pools which resulted each have a number of islands, and attract both wildfowl and waders…

RSPB - Sandwell Valley

Webpage

Satellite View

The area now known as Sandwell Valley is actually part of the Tame Valley, and was formerly made up of woodland, farmland and the Hamstead and Jubilee Collieries. After the closure of the mine, the building of the M5 and the diversion of a stretch of river to create flood defences, the area was landscaped for various amenities such as golf, sailing and walking. The main area of interest to birders lies to the east of the motorway and is made up of the RSPB's Sandwell Valley Reserve and the adjacent country park owned by Sandwell Council. The reserve contains marsh and reedbed and one end of Forge Mill Lake. There is a visitors centre and a nature trail with viewing screens…

Wren's Nest Nature Reserve

Website

Satellite View

To the north of the Reserve, the Ash woodlands on Mons Hill are home to birds like Nuthatch and Long-tailed Tits…

Forums & Mailing Lists

WMBC-WestMidlands

Mailing List

To post to list: WMBC-WestMidlands@yahoogroups.com

List contact: WMBC-WestMidlands-owner@yahoogroups.com

To subscribe to list: WMBC-WestMidlands-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

This mailing list is for discussion of birds and birding in the English county of The West Midlands, especially notable sightings and site reports, and the activities there, of the West Midland Bird Club (WMBC)

Blogs

Black Country Birders

Blog

Birding diary from the midlands, UK

Brightside Birding - Kay Donaghy

Blog

I'm a 31 year old female birder from Selly Oak, Birmingham. Most of my free time is spent out birding with my partner Max at various sites around Worcs, Warks, Staffs and West Mids.

Clayhanger Marsh Log

Blog

Wildlife and drinking copious amounts of beer and single malt whisky. Despite this I am renowned for being surley and antisocial, so if you ever meet me, don't be surprised if I glare at you menacingly, and walk the other way…

Lutley Birder

Blog

Bird and Wildlife sightings from the West Midlands, Worcestershire and the Scottish Highlands and Islands…

Stuart Collins - Alrewas Birder

Blog

Diary of birding on local patch and of trips away…

The Debonair Birder

BLOG

Primarily a birding blog mainly, focussed on the Midlands area…

Worcestershire Source - Reg the Birder & Kay

Blog

I first became interested in birds when I spotted a nuthatch in my garden several years ago. Having learned to identify the more common garden birds, I began heading out into the countryside near Wythall where I live to see what I could find…

Other Links

Gulls in the West Midlands Region

Website

This is a personal website which presents data and images relating to gulls in the West Midlands Region (the counties of Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and the metropolitan county of the West Midlands).

Photographers & Artists

Bird Carvings by Teresinha Roberts

Gallery

Teresinha Roberts carves ducks, geese and swans in lime and other hardwoods. The natural movement and rhythm of the birds is reflected in each unique piece and is a result of careful study in the wild…

Birds in Particular

Gallery

A selection of bird photographs from the West Midlands region and others - especially gulls…

Photographer - Mike Lane

Gallery

Welcome to my web site. I`m a full time wildlife photographer specialising in birds and mammals. Although I get to travel to foreign lands a great deal, my main love is British wildlife. I get far more satisfaction photographing humble wrens and chaffinches than exotic parrots in distant rain forests. 90% Birds!