Highbury Park is a haven for wildlife as well as for people. Grassland, ancient hedgerows, marshland, scrub, streams, pools and remnants of woodland are all to be found in the park as well as a host of ornamental trees and shrubs. These habitats are home to a wide range of plants and animals
The government body, English Nature, and Birmingham City Council have recognised the wildlife value of Highbury Park by giving a ‘Site of Local Importance for Nature Conservation’ (SLINC) designation to parts of the park based upon the three pools and a strip of woodland (the latter being in the grounds of Uffculme School). The SLINC survey is available here.
In 1975, B. Teagle, surveyed the plants in the park as part of what became an influential book called ‘The Endless Village’. Teagle’s book highlighted the fact that wildlife was to be found in towns as well as the countryside – a finding that has been made again and again. A more detailed survey was then carried out in 1990 by the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country.
The park is dominated by grassland. It is at first sight a simple green sward, but on closer inspection, the diversity shown in the different flower and moss species give clues to the underlying geology and soils, the dampness and even the land use history of the area. The old hedgerows with hawthorn and mature oak trees link with the areas of scrub and trees. In the spring, typical woodland plants can be found including Pignut, Bluebell and Dog’s mercury, the latter being a particularly special plant as it is an indicator of old woodland.
The pools are all quite different in character the southwestern pond also known as the Lily Pond supported spiked water-milfoil in 1990 but has recently become colonised by New Zealand stone-crop (a small plant sold in garden centres for ponds but which has become a menace when released into the wild. It stays green throughout the winter and can outcompete other wetland plants for light and nutrients).
The central pond is surrounded by ornamental woodland of beech, ash, oak, crack willow, alder, sycamore etc. The damp, rocky inflow area has a lining of mosses and liverworts and Water Starwort can be spotted in the pool. The bank supports Wood Melick an unusual and attractive woodland grass.
The Northwestern pond is all but dried out and shaded with Branched bur-reed, Yellow Flag and variegated canary-grass.