• Of Hives and Hornets

    Over the last six weeks our volunteers have been eagerly watching a hornet's nest down on the path that leads from the Hide to the Tame River. With cameras ready in hand they've headed down each weekend to record its progress, documenting the different stages of nest building. The nest itself is being constructed inside the hollow of an old gnarly oak tree - one of the oldest on the Sandwell reserve. It's estimated to…

    • 21 Sep 2018
  • Reflections on a Theme

    Since last September the hardworking volunteers at RSPB Sandwell Valley have been working on a small patch of land tucked away between Storytelling Corner and one of our Pond Dipping ponds. Following an extremely harsh winter and sky-rocketing temperatures this summer, the reserve has endured three very difficult seasons, But now, as Autumn approaches and promises to blanket us in warm amber and rouge, it seems the earth…

    • 13 Sep 2018
  • Stand and Stare

    With the summer holidays in full swing we're all looking for the opportunity to set aside work and relax, whether it's spending time with friends, visiting new places or simply stepping out into the great outdoors. It's a well known fact that going outside, being surrounded by the natural word, is sure to help bring down those stress levels. But what is it exactly that helps us to relax? A refreshing breeze? Listening…

    • 16 Aug 2018
  • A cheer for the Love Island link to nature

    Guest blog by Samantha Lyster - Communications Manager, Birmingham.

    It’s a rare situation where national political debate is sparked by women wearing bikinis. Not since the outcry over the Protein World marketing campaign, featuring an athletic model in a two piece, has swimwear prompted collective conversations over social issues, but then we’ve only recently had the British phenomenon of ITV’s Love Island.…

    • 6 Jul 2018
  • RSPB Sandwell Valley - What it means to me

    It is often difficult to answer the question about why you enjoy a site so much. What is it that brings you back time and time again?

    My history with the RSPB at Sandwell Valley stretches back to my childhood almost 15 years ago. With a budding interest in wildlife, a family member living in Smethwick sold the place easily, talking about flocks of waterbirds as far as the eye can see, and for my unexperienced self, a…

    • 5 Jul 2018
  • Volunteers Week 2018

    Volunteering means different things to different people. For some it's about giving something back to the community; for some it's a way to make new friends and learn new things; for some it's a boost of self-confidence; and for some it's simply a way of life. We've had many volunteers come to RSPB Sandwell Valley over the years, and each individual has a special and unique story to tell. Find out what some of our volunteers…

    • 7 Jun 2018
  • My Visitor Volunteer Experience by Laura

    I started volunteering at RSPB Sandwell Valley near Birmingham in March 2018 as a Visitor Volunteer. This role sees me at the very front of your RSPB experience, answering questions and serving you ice cream on a hot afternoon. On a normal day I spend my time doing a variety of different things: from craft work to making sure the centre is clean and welcoming. I decided to become a volunteer as a stepping stone after…

    • 1 Jun 2018
  • Top 5 butterflies to spot this month

    We’re all of a flutter!

    It feels like it’s been both summer and winter these last few weeks, with blazing temperatures on one day and relentless rain the next - not to mention the thunderstorms and rather astonishing displays of lightning! But one thing we have noticed is that after the clouds have cleared and the raindrops have settled, the wildlife always comes back in full force to remind us that the summer…

    • 1 Jun 2018
  • Smelly Sandwell Valley by Sue Fox

    After a few weeks volunteering at RSPB Sandwell Valley, usually on a Tuesday, I found that this was the day when, once every few weeks, the tanker comes to collect the waste from the septic tank! That got me thinking, what does all the wildlife make of the smells on the reserve? I love going round the reserve smelling the flowers, but do all the animals and plants smell things as well?

    (oystercatcher and coot)


    • 17 May 2018
  • My first month as a Learning Assistant Intern by Christina Nijar

    It’s been about a month since I joined the RSPB Sandwell Valley team and it'a been bit of a whirlwind so far. Having previously just finished my master’s degree in outdoor education, I was looking for a way to expand my experience and also to volunteer my time to a cause I believe in.

    My role here is to assist the learning officer, Gretel Cooper, at Sandwell with the delivery of schools on reserve sessions…

    • 14 May 2018
  • Owen helps save the albatross!

    Hi, I am Owen!

    I am not only speaking for myself, but for the Eco-council at Witton Middle School in Droitwich. I wanted to help nature, so I joined my school Eco-council. When I found out about the Albatross Appeal, I suggested we should collect stamps for it, and our Eco-teacher said that we could. The RSPB sent us a stamp collecting kit which I put together and took to school. We put it by the school library. I spoke…

    • 11 May 2018
  • St George and the Dragonfly

    Almost everyone knows the great legend of St George and the Dragon, the brave knight who fought to rescue a princess and later became known as the Patron Saint of England. As the sunshine is shining and we're spotting more and more species across the reserve, we thought it'd be fun to see which of our residents could play the parts of the characters in the legend. Alas, here be no dragons. However, if we look closely…

    • 20 Apr 2018
  • The elusive butterfly and other tales

    Spring is late this year and every time we cleared the snow on the reserve we had more a week later, but last Sunday was warm and pleasant so we set off to Cannon Hill Park in Birmingham to find our first butterfly of the year. The bees were active, we identified honey bee, buff-tailed bumblebee, tree bumblebee and hairy-footed flower bee, but no butterflies. The next day the weather was back to normal I had an odd thought…

    • 5 Apr 2018
  • SpawnWatch

    You may have heard of the Big Garden Birdwatch, but have you heard of SpawnWatch? For the next two weeks our volunteers will be keeping an eye out for our amphibian friends and any frog spawn – those amazing little green clumps of jelly! We’re working with BBCARG (the Birmingham and Black Country Amphibian and Reptile Group) to see how much frog spawn we can find.

    Sometimes you can see frog spawn as early…

    • 28 Mar 2018
  • Spring, spring, spring!

    After being hit by stormy winds and snowy blizzards from the east, we’re all waiting in anticipation for spring to finally arrive. The lake is no longer frozen over, the birds are happily chirping away and the sunshine is now beginning to appear once again from behind those grey clouds. Here at RSPB Sandwell there’s signs of new growth all over the reserve, from the delicate blackthorn blossoms to the budding purple of…

    • 16 Mar 2018
  • Volunteering at RSPB Sandwell Valley by Jenni Wilding

    I have been volunteering at the RSPB Sandwell Valley Reserve for over a year now, and my only regret is that I didn’t start volunteering sooner, having lived in the local area for a fair number of years. I mainly do the Friday work parties, but occasionally get involved with other events. It’s great to not only spend more time outside helping with habitat improvement, but also have the opportunity to enhance other peoples…

    • 9 Mar 2018
  • Sandwell snipe almost steal the show... but not quite

    I often say that I always leave Sandwell Valley as a volunteer with a new memory which will often stay with me for a while – last Friday in the hide was no exception – a joyful couple of hours in the afternoon with two memories.
    We had a few snipe flying in and out for the first hour but nothing prepared me for the show which 5 or 6 of them put on just to the right of the hide a little later. I think this…
    • 1 Mar 2018
  • Dipping into Forest Bathing

    The Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, offers the RSPB another pathway to connecting people with nature, and to develop a unique wellness approach that could potentially help those suffering from stress.

    In recent years thanks to on-going campaigns to dispel taboos around publically discussing depression and stress, the UK is now taking a more progressive attitude towards easing stress and anxiety…

    • 25 Jan 2018
  • Winter Weather and Super Sightings

    After a month or so of snow and frost icing over the car park and freezing part of our lake, we’re back into full swing here at RSPB Sandwell and looking forward to what the New Year will bring. The plants and weeds by the visitor centre windows have been strimmed back to encourage regrowth, and we now have a gloriously unhampered view of the reserve all the way down to the lake and the walkway beyond.

    We’ve been…

    • 19 Jan 2018
  • Trees and the wood wide web (part 2)

    “Underground there is another world” said Suzanne Simard, one of the leading researchers on the wood wide web. It is a world that is very difficult to picture. It might be hard to believe but a pinch of soil can contain miles of tiny thread like fungi – so imagine what a whole woodland contains.

    For our wood wide web interpretation we have tried to represent the linkages between the trees, just to give…

    • 19 Dec 2017
  • Trees and the "wood wide web" (part 1)

    The way that I look at trees changed a while ago when I first came across the idea of the “wood wide web”. Rather than being slow growing solitary things, existing in their own space, it turns out that trees are connected and a wood is not a collection of individual trees but a community.

    Research has found that trees share food and information through an amazing underground network made up of tree roots…

    • 28 Nov 2017
  • Amazing gall wasps

    It is quite a regular thing for me to see something that makes me marvel at how amazing nature is. Every now and again though something really does make me catch my breath. It was one of those moments a couple of weeks ago.

    Now I think galls are pretty amazing – those strange lumps, bumps and balls that you see on trees. The idea that an insect can lay its egg in a plant and then change the chemistry of the plant to…

    • 18 Oct 2017
  • Autumn comings and goings

    The cycles of the natural world are bringing us back to autumn and those cycles see some birds leaving us until next Spring and others arriving for the winter. We have some new boards up around the reserve celebrating this great movement of feathered life.

    What do you think of when you think of autumn migration?

    I tend to think mostly about things leaving – the ‘goings’ – like the swallows and swifts off on their…

    • 17 Oct 2017
  • Volunteering at Wild Wednesdays - by Eleanor

    My name is Eleanor but most people know me as Ellie.

    I have always enjoyed being outdoors since I was a young child and believe that all children should have the opportunity to be involved and learn about local wildlife and nature. I am currently training to become a primary school teacher at University of Worcester and I have been a volunteer at RSPB Sandwell Valley for a year. I joined RSPB Sandwell to spend more…

    • 16 Aug 2017
  • Enter the Dragonfly

    We've had some absolutely fantastic finds during the last month at RSPB Sandwell. Although the weather's been touch and go, summer one day and autumn the next, nature has bloomed all around us and many species have made a home at the reserve. This week we were greeted by some absolutely beautiful dragonflies! This one here is a female southern hawker who's recently hatched and should be with us up until mid-September…

    • 12 Aug 2017