Birmingham and the Black Country – an urban jungle

Environmental project shows extent of wildlife to be found in the region.

Between 24th and 27th April Birmingham and the Black Country took part in a global citizen science project called the City Nature Challenge for the first time and recorded over 1,300 species – more than any other European city area!

244 cities took part and Birmingham and the Black Country placed thirteenth in the world by number of observations and 31st in the world by number of species ahead of other UK cities that took part including Brighton & Hove, Bristol & Bath, Glasgow, Lancashire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, North East England, Nottingham.

Some of the highlights of the four-day challenge recorded by Birmingham and Black Country residents include:
• Weasel, rarely recorded in this area, spotted skulking along a brook in Harborne
• Red kites and ravens were spotted soaring above gardens in the Black Country
• Red deer were recorded on Brownhills Common
• Otter poo was sighted along the canals of north Walsall
• Wild orchids spotted in garden lawns
• The first record for the area of an insect, a Box Bug (Gonocerus acuteangulatus) in Kings Heath Park. This previously rare species was once only found in Surrey, but it is now rapidly moving northwards, possibly due to climate change.

The top ten recorded species were:
1. Blackbird
2. Wood pigeon
3. Robin
4. Magpie
5. Blue tit
6. Dandelion
7. Great tit
8. Speckled wood butterfly
9. Orange-tip butterfly
10. Carrion crow

EcoRecord, the Local Environmental Records Centre alongside the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country want to encourage local residents to continue to record wildlife all year round to help them better plan for nature’s recovery locally.

Whilst the results show just how diverse the wildlife of Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton is, nature is still in trouble. The latest State of Nature report highlights that 41% of UK species are in decline. Since the 1930s 97% of wildflower meadows have been lost and hedgehog numbers have fallen from 30 million in 1950 to just one million today. Insects are particularly at risk, dying out up to eight times faster than larger animals and 41% of insect species face extinction.

The Wildlife Trusts believe that everyone has a part to play in creating a wilder future and are urging us all to take Action for Insects with their new campaign. Take the pledge here for a free downloadable guide on how you can help insects where you live:

The Wildlife Trusts are also counting down to the start of this year’s 30 Days Wild – their 6th annual national nature challenge to do something wild every day for the month of June. You can sign up here for online resources and inspirational ideas for the whole family.

Andy Slater, EcoRecord Officer, said: “I was amazed that so many people took part in the City Nature Challenge and want to thank everyone for their time and effort. These records will be incredibly valuable in shaping nature’s recovery across Birmingham and the Black Country and we need residents to keep recording wildlife all year round.”

Gareth Morgan Head of Education at Birmingham and the Black Country Wildlife Trust,added: “We are delighted with the results and hope that this will inspire more people to connect with nature on a daily basis. 30 Days Wild is an ideal place to start!”