Birmingham is a haven for birds, according to a new wildlife census. Ed Chadwick reports.

Birmingham has been found to be a haven for rare and exotic birds after the first-ever census of winged wildlife in the city.

The two-year study by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Birmingham University and more than 100 volunteers recorded only the second-ever sighting of the notoriously elusive red kite in Birmingham.

Bright green ring-necked parakeets, likely to be escaped pets which have bred, were spotted in Perry Park.

Twitchers also caught sight of the little ringed plover, a species of which only 825 pairs are known to migrate to the UK every summer.

The city is again attracting water birds, including moorhen, cormorants and geese, which were once banished by the industrial pollution which choked rivers and brooks and made them uninhabitable for fish.

City leaders say the survey is proof that wildlife is booming around the city’s waterways and nature reserves and hope it will allow conservationists to keep attracting birds to Birmingham.

Dr Stefan Bodnar, Birmingham City Council’s biodiversity officer, says: “The survey is the first of its kind and a tremendous effort of all the partners and volunteers that have taken part.

“This information really helps us to understand the city’s wildlife and advises how to manage these green corridors to improve biodiversity.

“In turn it will hopefully give local people access to a wider range of bird life.”

The project was the first major survey of wildlife in streams, rivers and parkland within Birmingham, to try and map the populations of local wetland bird life.

It studied more than 50kms of habitat across Birmingham and recovered more than 10,000 individual bird records.

The disused Harborne Reservoir, near Reservoir Road, was found to be a hot-spot for fauna and was the location where both the red kite and the plover were sighted. Experts say that improving water quality across the city has seen soaring numbers of grey heron and grey wagtail.

Common species of garden bird were also found to be thriving with encouraging numbers of magpie, great tit, wren, carrion crow, blue tit and robin noted in the study.

It is hoped the survey will provide a baseline for future to allow experts to monitor changing populations of individual species and measure the success of conservation work.

Coun Martin Mullaney, the cabinet member for leisure, sport and culture, said: “This new survey has given Birmingham a much better understanding of the habitat and locations of our wetland birdlife.

Through this a better management of bird activity can be provided and give the public better access to wildlife in our beautiful parks.”