Wildlife update March 20, 2019

As custodians of this precious green space, close to Birmingham city centre and surrounded by urban sprawl, we take our role in looking after the wildlife who visit here seriously. In recognition of the variety of species who visit, the wildlife area is designated a SLINC (a site of Local Importance for Nature Conservation). Pictured here, our volunteer wildlife surveyors, Andrew Curran (Left) and Brian Perry (Right), are running annual checks on our bird boxes— the nesting boxes are cleaned, at a time when they are not in use, to reduce the risk of parasites infesting young birds in the nesting season.

Brian explains: “We have two types of nestboxes, ones that can be removed from the tree and others that can’t. So the first photo shows us removing a box from the tree. The second shows Andrew with a fixed nestbox. It’s obviously easier to clean the removable boxes – if not, we have to clean whilst perched on a ladder. As the photo shows, Andrew has found a way to sterilise the box –  he’s pouring boiling water into it from a thermos!”

Thanks to the generosity of a Friend, who has supplied us with a regular delivery of bird seed for a number of years, the birds at Martineau Gardens are fed throughout the year. They enjoy a wild bird seed containing black sunflower, red millet, white millet, canary seed, naked oats, rape seed and wheat.

Find out more about the birds at Martineau Gardens here

Unusual moth spotted November 13, 2015

Red Sword-grass Moth ac Nov 2015

Once again, our wildlife volunteer surveyor Andrew Curran has spotted a moth unusual for this area of Britain. Resembling a twig, this is the Red Sword-grass moth (Xylena vetusta). The moth was recorded on the most recent moth session earlier this month. We understand this is a scarce visitor to the Midlands and is a new moth for our moth species record. Find out more about this moth here:





In summer we reported this beautiful moth – the Scarlet Tiger, and a new species to add to our list of wildlife. It’s also rare to see this moth in the midlands, find out more about this and its part as a possible climate change indicator here, with this article by MothsCount: http://bit.ly/1IrvfLs




Andrew with Brian Perry, regularly carry out moth trappings throughout the year, here at Martineau Gardens. Our moth trap is a light-box contained within wood – it’s put out in the evening, the light attracts the moths and a few fly in. The box is filled with cardboard egg boxes providing dark nooks ad crannies where moths can hide. The moths settle. The next morning, our willdlife surveyors inspect the egg trays, and the moths are released unharmed.

Wildlife volunteers surveying moths in summer at Martineau Gardens

Wildlife volunteers surveying moths in summer at Martineau Gardens

Identifying moth before it is released at Martineau Gardens

Identifying moth before it is released at Martineau Gardens

Yellow brimstone moth, recorded one summer

Yellow brimstone moth, recorded one summer


Dragonflies August 5, 2015

Southern Hawker Dragonfly    photocredit: B Perry

Southern Hawker Dragonfly photocredit: B Perry


Dragonfly larva emerging  photo credit: B Perry

Dragonfly larva emerging photo credit: B Perry

It’s this time of year that dragonflies emerge from our wildlife pool. Here are some fantastic photographs, taken by our volunteer wildlife recorder, Brian Perry.

One shows a female Southern Hawker dragonfly perched at the edge of the pool – this is the only photo we have of an adult dragonfly at Martineau Gardens. Congratulations to Brian!  The other photograph shows the dragonfly larva – it’s clinging to a stem before the adult dragonfly begins to emerge.  If you look carefully you’ll notice a white line behind its head, which shows that its skin is starting to split ready for the adult to come out.

Wildlife Report 27 April April 27, 2015

Wildlife Report  Monday 27 April 2015

Our wildlife recorder Brian Perry walks around the gardens, usually every Monday, observing wildlife happenings. Here is today’s report, just in:

Spring flowers: in the woodland (and elsewhere), the Bluebells are out; shade growing hedge garlic (look for the white flower and the garlic-scented leaves), a patch of dog violets and the yellow petalled celandine. More unusual species include the marsh marigold (by the pond), resembling  a giant bright yellow buttercup. Purple toothwort can be seen growing by the twisted hazel (near to the sundial lawn) and under the hazel by the Pavilion, there is a white wood anemone (the only place we have spotted this).

Birds: some summer visitors have started to arrive including blackcap and chiff chaff (they are both warblers).

Insects: a speckled wood butterfly was spotted, surprising because it is a little cool today (it is brown with cream spots).


Wildlife Report 28.4.2014 April 28, 2014

S Bluebells, april 2014, shd twi picWildlife Report just in!

Our  volunteer wildlife recorder Brian Perry has just popped in with  his latest wildlife report. Once a week he records sightings as he walks around the Gardens. The data is logged at Eco Record . Today, the lunchtime sunshine encouraged the butterflies. He spotted a peacock, a small tortoiseshell and a small white. Insects included a shieldbug and a St Mark’s fly. Birds included the tree warbler and summer visitors, the warblers chiff-chaff and blackcap. New flowers this week include the blue bell, the white flowering garlic mustard, red campion and cow parsely. Within the last fortnight one of our younger visitors, spotted a newt under a stone by the pond. We’ve also seen newts hibernating in the compost heap. Now is the time when they return to water to breed. If you like to know more about newts and their lifecycle – there’s a good introduction here on www.marinebiology.co.uk/freshwater-life/newts


7 October 2013 October 1, 2013

Wildife Report just in: Brian has just returned from his weekly survey of the Gardens.

Red-Green Carpet Moth, identified on a Moth Trapping Survey

Red-Green Carpet Moth, identified on a Moth Trapping Survey

Weather: Mild, still some insects around including tree bumble bee, common carder bee and dock bug

Some plants still in flower like the Deptford pink (this is scarce), hemp agrimony, borage, sedum and the brightly orange fox and cubs plant. In the pond, watermint is in flower.

Fungi – looking out, not yet

Birds: buzzard soaring overhead, heard bullfinch, nuthatch and longtail tits.

When you’re next at the Gardens, why not pick up a Nature Trail leaflet or pop into the bird hide to see our weekly record and you can always borrow binoculars from the office or browse our wildlife library in the Visitor Room.


Bat Box Checks September 12, 2013

Surveying the bat boxes at Martineau Gardens copyright Morgan Bowers

Surveying the bat boxes at Martineau Gardens
copyright Morgan Bowers

On a bright September morning, BrumBats came in to survey the bat boxes of Martineau Gardens. They were looking for evidence of bats roosting and collecting data about age and species. In woodland that’s carefully managed, as Martineau Gardens is, there are of course plenty of natural places for bats to roost, so there was a certain amount of excitement and trepidation as to whether they would actually find a bat roosting.

Morgan Bowers (our former Biodiversity Officer) put the bat boxes up  seven years ago: the boxes have remained undisturbed since then. Bats are protected by law – you need to hold a license (as Morgan does) to inspect a bat box and handle bats. Morgan was accompanied by two trainee Bat Surveyors, Rachel and Sam. Morgan and the team examined 20 bat boxes but it was not until the final three were inspected that they found what they were looking for. To our joy and surprise, four bats were found in the most surprising of places. Seven years ago, three bat boxes were located high up on the mast of the ‘shipwreck’, more as a talking to raise awareness with visitors rather than a place for bats to roost. Bats prefer shaded, protected areas.  One sleeping bat was carefully lifted from the box, inspected, weighed and its species identified. Morgan has been able to confirm that this is a female, Soprano pipistrelle bat, that has raised a baby bat (pup) this year. Though one of the UK’s most common bats, they are a protected species and their population is in decline. We’re very glad that the bats continue to find a home at Martineau Gardens, just 2 miles from the city centre.

Surveying a Sporano pipistrelle bat at Martineau Gardens

Surveying a Sporano pipistrelle bat at Martineau Gardens. Copyright Morgan Bowers

Do you have a bat box?

Enjoy watching the bats fly in and out in the summer months, look for droppings below, but, you mustn’t disturb them unless you hold a license (and that includes a shining a torch at them). Join BrumBats for bat walks, talks and to find out about training opportunities. http://brumbats.wordpress.com/

Bat Facts:

Did you know: a single pipsitrelle can eat up to 3,000 insects per night!

Baby bats are called “pups”.

The females usually give birth to just one baby a year (occasionally twins).

Soprano pipistrelles are so called because they echolocate higher than common pipistrelles.

Echolation – A sensory system in certain animals, such as bats and dolphins, in which usually high-pitched sounds are emitted and their echoes interpreted to determine the direction and distance of objects.

 Evening Guided Bat Walk – Wed 16 April, 2014 – click here for details

July – Wildlife News June 18, 2012

Brimstone Moth

18. July. 2012

This beautiful, bright coloured moth, was spotted by one of our Wildlife Recorders, during last night’s moth trapping session.






Wren Chick, Martineau Gardens

July has been a wonderful month for bird watching. We’ve seen buzzards soaring overhead, even a sparrow hawk landing in our summer meadow. We’ve also seen several species of birds raising their young, including a family of wrens nesting in the eaves of the Pavilion (pictured here). The chicks have now fledged. It’s been a pleasure to see the attentive parents flitting from the building to the garden and back, for food.


A Wren Pops In

This inquisitive wren popped in the office last week. Here it is surveying the gardens. You can see how tiny it is, it’s nestled itself in between a plug and  a garden fork. Only the goldcrest is smaller than the wren.

Wildlife Report May 28, 2012

28 May Wildlife Report

Orange Tip Butterfly, Martineau Gardens

Orange Tip Butterfly, Martineau Gardens

Today’s wildlife report just in! Every week, our wildlife recorder Brian Perry, walks the gardens, noting wildlife changes. Here’s his report for today:

The warm weather has seen lots of insects appearing. On the butterfly front, unusually early a painted lady, plus orange tip, small white and holly blue attracted to the flowers in the summer wildflower meadow. The meadow is a feast for the eyes with red campion and ox-eye daisy in abundance.

Red Campion in the Summer Meadow, Martineau Gardens

Red Campion in the Summer Meadow, Martineau Gardens

Elsewhere we’ve been following the progress of a great-tit family – the youngest has finally fledged and we have 3 sets of nesting blue-tits – you can hear the young if you visit soon. There are three types of ladybirds (7 spot, 14 spot and a harlequin, plus dock bugs and damselflies darting around. Wildflowers in bloom this week include fox gloves, yellow iris (by the pond), cow parsley, dog rose, bistort and forget me not.

Photo credits: B Perry

Blackthorn Blossom March 19, 2012

Wildlife report  – just in! BP reports this week, that the Blackthorn blossom growing in our young hedge around the bonfire field is in blossom. The blackthorn will produce sloes in autumn, which we will be adding to our jams. He’s also seen a couple of mallards on the pond and down in the woodland greenfinch, bullfinch, nuthatch, long-tail tit and a mistle thrush. Why not pop down to the gardens for a breath of fresh air and see what you can see this week.