West Midlands

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius ©Mike Lane Website

The West Midlands recording area is co-terminus with the metropolitan county in western central England that has a population of around 3 million people, making it the second most populous county in England after London and one of the most heavily urbanised counties in the UK.

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 Cities of Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton, as well as Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, and Walsall. Birmingham alone has well over one million people.  It is a landlocked county that borders the counties of Warwickshire to the east, Worcestershire to the south, and Staffordshire to the north and west.

The west of the county encloses the valley of the River Tame and its tributaries and between Solihull and Coventry there is part of the Forest of Arden and the rivers Sowe and Sherbourne.

Despite the urbanisation 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.

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.

Birding the West Midlands

The County 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 there and can find places to bird. 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 some good places to visit are listed below.

RSPB Sandwell Valley ©Mark Lane

Note that the expanding West Midlands Bird Club website now has pages for its various branches. It covers parts of adjacent counties too.

Top Sites
  • Edgbaston Reservoir

    InformationSatellite 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

    WebpageSatellite 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

    WebpageSatellite 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

    InformationSatellite 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

    InformationSatellite 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
County Recorder
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 293

Useful Reading

  • A Checklist of the Birds of Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and the West Midlands and Guide to Status and Record Submission

    | Written & Published By West Midland Bird Club | 2011 | Edition 3 | Paperback | 32 pages, b/w illustrations, tables | ISBN: Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • The New Birds of the West Midlands

    | (covering Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, and the former West Midlands County) | Graham Harrison & Janet Harrison | West Midlands Bird Club | 2005 | 496 pages, colour photos, line drawings, maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780950788128 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Where to Watch Birds in West Midlands

    | By F Gribble, G Harrison, H Griffiths, J Winsper & S Coney | Christopher Helm | 2007 | Paperback | 343 pages, 53 maps, 24 line drawings | ISBN: 9780713664195 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Museums & Universities
  • Birmingham University - Centre for Ornithology

    We employ birds as model species in the investigation of general principles and mechanisms that are central to understanding key questions in biology and the environment.
  • Birmingham & Black Country Wildlife Trust

    The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country is one of 47 local trusts working to make the United Kingdom a better place for people and wildlife.
  • Friends of Edgbaston Reservoir

    Facebook Page
    They aim to promote Edgbaston Reservoir as a site of nature conservation and heritage to provide a means of recreation and leisure for the people of Birmingham people of Birmingham.
  • RSPB Solihull Local Group

    The group's aim is to support RSPB members in their birdwatching and conservation activities, to encourage new members to join and to raise money for RSPB activities. The group holds meetings usually on the first Thursday of the month from September to April and organises walks and field trips to birdwatching sites.
  • RSPB Sutton Coldfield Local Group

    The aim of the group is to make belonging to the RSPB as enjoyable and informative as possible. We hold indoor meetings on the first Monday of every month from September to June. Our field meetings also take place monthly from September to June. All our activities are aimed at anyone interested in birds - beginners and experts are all equally welcome.
  • RSPB Walsall Local Group

    The RSPB Walsall Members' Group (as it was then called) was formed in 1971 and is one of the oldest groups in the country. Since its formation a full programme of indoor meetings has been held each year, for the benefit of local members and to raise awareness of the work of the RSPB.
  • WMBC Kidderminster Branch

    Branch Chairman - Situation Vacant Email. kidderminster@westmidlandbirdclub.org.uk For all general enquiries please use the contact details for the Branch Chairman - Roger Pannell
  • WMBC Solihull Branch

    Branch Chairman - Richard Harvey. Tel. Mobile 07989 556125 - Email. solihull@westmidlandbirdclub.org.uk
  • WMBC Stafford

    Chairperson - Chris Evans - Email. stafford@westmidlandbirdclub.org.uk Branch Details The winter indoor meetings of Stafford branch of the WMBC restart in the New Year at a new venue
  • West Midland Bird Club

    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.

Abbreviations Key

  • *National Nature Reserves in the West Midlands region

    MapSatellite View
  • LNR Harborne Nature Reserve

    InformationSatellite View
    Harborne Nature Reserve is owned by Birmingham City Council and managed under agreement by the West Midland Bird Club. This small parcel of land, just in excess of 3.5 ha lies approximately three miles from Birmingham city centre. The reserve is shared with working allotments and is comprised of native trees, developing Oak woodland and grassy hillside that drops into the valley of the Chad Brook. There is also a conifer plantation and small wetland area that adds diversity to the reserve. Alder trees that line Chad Brook are an attraction to winter finch flocks and in summer there is a good range of breeding birds that include a variety of warblers and Grey Wagtail can be found along the water course in winter. Common Buzzard is a not infrequent visitor.
  • LNR Marsh Lane Nature Reserve

    WebpageSatellite View
    Marsh Lane Nature Reserve at Berkswell (between Solihull and Coventry) lies adjacent to and in the flood plain of the River Blythe, a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It opened to permit holders on the 1st of July 2001. RMC Aggregates Western, originally part of the RMC Group and now CEMEX, started the extraction of sand and gravel from approximately 75 acres in 1995 and the gravel extraction was completed in 1999.
  • LNR Park Hall Nature Reserve

    InformationSatellite View
    Park Hall is a large area of remnant farmland and estate grounds on the eastern edge of Birmingham, lying in the valley of the River Tame between Castle Vale and Castle Bromwich. The scarp slope along the south of the reserve has three ancient woodlands, while the grassland below contains various wetland habitats which follow the old line of the River Tame. The reserve also includes about a mile of the River Tame itself.
  • LNR Peascroft Wood

    WebpageSatellite View
    Peascroft Wood was planted over a century ago by the Midland Reafforesting Association as part of their pioneering work to cover the scars of industrial dereliction. Their foresight has provided one of the few areas of woodland in the east of Wolverhampton. The trees of Peascroft Wood grow on old mounds of coal spoil and the foundations of cottages which were demolished early in the 20th century. This complex topography has resulted in a woodland with a diverse and interesting structure.
  • LNR Pendeford Hill

    WebpageSatellite View
  • LNR Saltwells Wood

    WebpageSatellite View
    Lady Dudley planted Saltwells Wood in the eighteenth century to hide the scars of coal mining. The descendants of the Oak and Beech still survive and are home to many species of woodland bird, such as Treecreeper, Jay and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Wild Garlic and Anemones are found in the wood together with carpets of Bluebells.
  • LNR Smestow Valley

    InformationSatellite View
    Smestow Valley Local Nature Reserve (LNR) is a haven for wildlife, with around 50 hectares (120 acres) of meadows, scrubland and woodland.
  • LNR Smestow Valley

    InformationSatellite View
    Smestow Valley Local Nature Reserve (LNR) is a haven for wildlife, with around 50 hectares (120 acres) of meadows, scrubland and woodland. It is close to the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal and Smestow Brook. One can enjoy the walk for birds and flora and even cycling down the former railway track. The route now features a flat and mainly level path, making it easy for walkers and cyclists and generally pretty accessible.
  • NNR Saltwells

    InformationSatellite View
    Management: Saltwells is an urban geological site managed by Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, alongside Wren’s Nest geological NNR and the Canal and River Trust.
  • NNR Sutton Park

    InformationSatellite View
    Sutton Park is a large urban park located in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, West Midlands, England. Most of the park is a National Nature Reserve; large parts are also a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It is one of the largest urban parks in the United Kingdom. The park covers about 2,400 acres (970 ha). It consists of a mix of heathland, wetlands and marshes, seven lakes, extensive ancient woodlands (covering approximately a quarter of the park), several restaurants, a private 18-hole golf course on its western edge and a municipal golf course to the south, a donkey sanctuary, children's playgrounds and a visitors' centre.
  • NNR Wren's Nest Nature Reserve

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Wren's Hill Road, Dudley, DY1 3SB - The Wren's Nest NNR car park is adjacent to The Caves Inn where there are limited spaces available. It's open from 9:30 to 16:00 Monday to Friday and for events on the weekend. The Wardens House is located at the end of the drive where the old Mons Hill College once stood which is now a housing development site.
  • RSPB Sandwell Valley

    WebpageSatellite View
    This enchanting urban green space, once used by the nearby colliery, now flourishes with wildlife. RSPB Sandwell Valley is a fascinating mosaic of different habitats providing homes to a variety of wildlife. Wildflower meadows bloom with colour and buzz with insect life. Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and bathe in the woodland's relaxing atmosphere. The scrub is ideal for nesting birds and fills with winter thrushes feasting on the winter berries. Our wildlife garden might spark some ideas for giving nature a home in your own garden, and the ponds are full of life to explore.
Sightings, News & Forums
  • Bird Forum West Midlands

  • Recent Sightings From around the four counties

  • West Midlands Birding

    Facebook Page
    Welcome to West Midlands Birding, a place where birders with an interest in the Counties of Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire & the West Midlands...
  • WestMidsBirding

    Twitter Page
    Latest Rare & Scarce Bird News from across the West Midlands Region.
Other Links
  • A R Dean - Birds in particular

    Alan R. Dean is a British ornithologist with a special interest in gulls and warblers. He lives in Solihull, West Midlands.
  • Gulls in the West Midlands Region

    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).
  • Neil Duggan - Out for a Duck

    Redditch, England, United Kingdom Whilst always having an interest in birding from a young age never really found my way to develop into serious hobby until recent years.
Photographers & Artists
  • Bird Carvings by Teresinha Roberts

    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
  • Photographer - Mike Lane

    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!

Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND

Skip to content