1. Canal life
Canals are the great wildlife lure of Birmingham, providing 60km of valuable habitat for wildlife in surprisingly tranquil surroundings. Grey herons are one of many species you’ll see on their banks.
2. Moseley Bog and Joy’s Wood Nature Reserve
Once at risk from development, Moseley Bog is the inspiration for the ‘Old Forest’ in Lord of Rings (Tolkein grew up nearby). There is both woodland and fen vegetation – come for bluebells in spring, or the rich diversity of lichens and mosses.
3. Portway Hill
A former quarry that is now a grassland reserve with bee orchids, hare’s-foot clover and marbled white butterflies.
4. The Library of Birmingham
Has two terraces with space for wildlife; the local Wildlife Trust runs open days here. Look out for the city’s peregrines on the nearby BT Tower.
5. Wyrley & Essington Canal
Runs from Wolverhampton to the M6 toll road, passing through Pelsall North Common, a lowland heath with great crested newts and specialist heathland butterflies. Polecats have even been recorded, too.
6. Brownhills Common
On the outer fringes of the West Midlands conurbation, Brownhills Common is 40ha of lowland heath that offers a sanctuary to red deer. Also good for short-eared owls in winter and common lizards in summer.
7. RSPB Sandwell Valley
About 5km from the city centre near the M5/M6 junction. Highlights include nesting sand martins, warblers and lapwings.
8. Doulton’s Claypit SSSI
A nod to the West Midlands’ industral past, this is now part of Saltwells Nature Reserve and features a beautiful bluebell wood.
9. Moorcroft Wood
A 100-year-old woodland planted on the site of spoil heaps and quarry workings. Pools throughout the reserve have aquatic plants such as club-rush and mare’s tail, and the central lake is home to mallards, moorhens, coots and great crested newts.