Exploring Sutton Park during a volunteer event
The secrets of Sutton Park in Sutton Coldfield were uncovered as Woodland Trust volunteers attended a ranger-led guided walk the other week. Meeting up at the visitor centre, the group met park ranger Matt and before setting off he described the site’s mosaic of habitats including woodland, grassland, heathland, marshland and wetland. It is described as one of Europe’s largest urban parks and is just 6 miles from the centre of Birmingham. It is a National Nature Reserve and a SSSI.
From the visitor centre, which is situated near the ‘town gate’ entrance, the group headed into the holly hurst woodland area and then out across some of the grassland and heathland areas in a circular route. Matt was extremely knowledgeable about the park and covered a broad range of topics, including park management and conservation, wildlife, grazing, local history and folklore. The park includes a ‘hanging’ tree and a ‘witches’ tree, which make up part of a collection of stories about the site.
Tree species found at Sutton include oak, birch, holly and alder with larch, spruce, pine, horse chestnut and sweet chestnut being a few examples of introduced species. Certain parts of the park are grazed by cattle and other parts by Exmoor ponies. As we walked through the grassland areas we were able to spot a number of invertebrate species, including a large variety of butterfly species. Matt found evidence of water vole activity and at one point had the group searching through the long grass looking for water vole droppings.
Following the walk the group returned to the visitor centre and were able to find out more about the park through the various interpretation panels and by asking Matt some last questions over tea and cake.
Amanda Brookes – Volunteer Development Officer: Central