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Birds At Sutton Park

Birds are almost unique among the inhabitants of Sutton Park, in that they travel great distances to and from the site. In recent years, there has been a marked increase in species such as Crow, Collared Dove, Canada Goose and Pied Wagtail.

The heathlands and wet mires are frequented by meadow pipits, Skylarks and Linnets. In Longmoor Valley, visitors are often treated to the sound of a Yellowhammer singing amidst the trees whilst Stonechats, Whinchats and Wheatear can be found among the heather and gorse ('whin' is a local name for gorse, hence whinchat).

Longmoor Valley's water-logged peaty soil, with the carpet of purple moorgrass, spaghnum moss and birch and willow, forms an important site for the Willow Warbler and Redpoll whilst Grasshopper Warblers also breed in the area.

The open grass/ heath areas support a high Short-tailed Vole population which are prey for the Kestrels which breed in the area. Occasional Merlin and Hobby, and even Hen Harrier, have passed through the park. In summer, Cuckoos can be frequently found due to the abundance of the Meadow Pipit nests in which they lay their eggs.

In the ancient woodlands, birds commonly encountered include tits, Green- and Greater Spotted- Woodpecker, Nuthatch and Treecreeper. The Tawny Owl's distinctive 'kvitt' call can often be heard at night. Other breeders include Blackcap, Spotted Flycatcher and Whitethroat with Sparrowhawks now being a common sight within the park.

The marshy reeds and the reedmace in the pools provide a valuable habitat for Reed Bunting and Reed- and Sedge- Warblers.

The winter population includes mixed flocks of small birds passing through the park featuring Redpoll, Goldcrest, Siskin, Chaffinch and Greenfinch. The conifers attract Crossbills in some years whilst the holly provides a prickly home for migrant thrushes and finches for whom these areas form important roosts.

Most visitors associate the pools with birdlife. Here, common residents include Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Mallard, Great-crested Grebe, Coot and Moorhen. In winter, their numbers are increased by Pochard and large numbers of Tufted Duck which have migrated from breeding grounds in Scandinavia. Other frequently seen species include Grey Heron, Goosander and Ruddy Duck, which breeds on the site.

The park's feathered residents will continue to change. Some species which vanished from the area long ago will probably return such as Buzzard, Goshawk, Peregrine and even Red Kite. With its management plan being sympathetic to birdlife, Sutton Park could act as a reservoir for species in national decline such as Snipe (who perform a spectacular mating display when 'drumming' in the Longmoor Valley) and Bullfinch, whose numbers have been increasing locally.

Recommended areas for spotting woodland birds include Westwood Coppice with Longmoor Valley well worth a visit during the summer.

Tel: 0121 355 6370
Email: sutton.park.visitor.centre@birmingham.gov.uk

Introduction to Sutton Park