A Natural History of Sutton Park


Sutton Park is an area of about 900 hectares (2,200 acres) in the Sutton Coldfield district of Birmingham. It is located in the north of Birmingham, centred roughly at National Grid Reference . Sutton Coldfield was formerly an independent town within Warwickshire, so the Park falls into Vice-county 38 (Warwickshire) for biological recording purposes.

Most of the park has never been cultivated, and is a mixture of woodland and heath with a number of streams and man-made pools. The heaths and bogs are now a rare habitat in the Midlands and support plants and animals not found in the surrounding areas. The park is a National Nature Reserve, managed by Birmingham City Council under a management plan agreed between the council and .

For more general information about Sutton Park, see the .

Starting in about 1988, Peter Coxhead and Harold Fowkes (now sadly deceased) were engaged on a project to document the natural history of Sutton Park. Three booklets were published through the under the general title A Natural History of Sutton Park. The intended fourth booklet was never published in printed form.

Much of the work consisted of collating existing records, particularly those held by the Biological Records Centre, Warwick Museum. Many other people contributed their time and expertise, including George and Maurice Arnold (birds), Stefan Bodnar (birds, vertebrates), Malcolm Clark and members of the Birmingham Natural History Society Mycolological Section (fungi), Les Evans (butterflies and moths), Steven Falk and colleagues from Coventry (insects), John Field (bryophytes), Wayne Rixom (spiders) and John Walton (lichens). Professional surveys of invertebrates were carried out in 1996-1998 by Steven Falk and Steven Lane and in 2018-2019 by Steven Falk and Chris Kirby-Lambert.

Records are now put online and are regularly updated (see below for links to checklists on the web). The text part of the booklets is also being put online.

Submit a record.

Drawing of a Weasel
Drawing of a Weasel by Natalie Walker

Checklists on the Web

Checklists available online have links in the table below.

The online checklists use various symbols and abbreviations. For an explanation of these, see Key to Symbols and Abbreviations in Checklists.

PlantsBryophytes (mosses and liverworts)ChecklistRecord List
Vascular Plants (ferns to flowering plants)ChecklistRecord List
Fungi and LichensFungi (plus Oomycota and Mycetozoa)ChecklistRecord List
Lichens (lichenized fungi)ChecklistRecord List
InvertebratesArachnids (mostly spiders)ChecklistRecord List
Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)ChecklistRecord List
Diptera (true flies)ChecklistRecord List
Insects other than Lepidoptera and DipteraChecklistRecord List
Invertebrates other than those aboveChecklistRecord List
VertebratesBirdsChecklistRecord List
Other Vertebrates (fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals)ChecklistRecord List

Any additional records will be very gratefully received. E-mail me via  e-mail address. Species name, group, date and name and address of the recorder are essential; a location within the Park is useful. Any records, however common the species, are useful in order to keep the database up-to-date.

Drawing of a Wheatear Drawing of the Round-leaved Sundew

(Above) Drawing of a Wheatear by Vanessa Nixon, from A Natural History of Sutton Park -- Part 3: Birds

(Right) Drawing of the Round-leaved Sundew by Harold Fowkes, from Part 1: Vascular Plants


Three booklets in the series A Natural History of Sutton Park were published. They are somewhat out of date now. The checklists online are more recent and are updated from time to time.

Slightly updated versions of the text part of the booklets is being made available online in PDF form.
The "large" versions linked below can be read on screen. Both versions are designed to be printed back-to-back (duplex) on A4 paper. The "booklet" versions can then be folded to make an A5 booklet.

Date of last printed editionRevised text – designed to print duplex
Part 1: Vascular Plants 1997 Large, booklet
Part 2: Fungi, Lichens and Bryophytes 1993 Large, booklet
Part 3: Birds 1995 not yet available
Part 4: Animals not yet available

If you do want a paper copy of the original booklet, they are still available at a reduced price plus the cost of post and packing. Each booklet is A5 size, professionally printed with a laminated card cover, and includes:

Print out the order form and post it to me (the address is on the form).


Bioblitz events are held in Sutton Park every year, usually involving schoolchildren on a Friday and the public on the following Saturday. Records from these events are added to the checklists linked above. Some further information and images can be found at the links below.

Talk on Sutton Park

Peter Coxhead is available to talk about Sutton Park -- see his .