Hill Hook Local Nature Reserve - A hidden oasis among residential streets
Hill Hook Local Nature Reserve is located in Four Oaks, Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, not far from Sutton Park. This hidden oasis of green, bordered by residential streets, is an outstanding site with a wide variety of habitats ranging from grassland, scrub and dry woodland to open water, marsh and alder carr woodland. This provides habitat for a wide variety of plants and animals.
The large pool originally provided water to Hill Hook Corn Mill, which operated from the mid 1600's, and was sadly demolished in the 1970's. The Mill Pool now provides the focal point for the 7.7 hectors reserve. More information about the history of the mill and the surrounding area can be found at http://www.hillhooklnr.org/index.php
The site is owned by Birmingham City Council and managed jointly by them, The Birmingham & Black Country Wildlife Trust and the Friends of Hill Hook Local Nature Reserve.
Wildlife and Vegetation
Hill Hook LNR is made up of a very good variety of habitats with the Mill Pool, marginal vegetation, streams, wet Alder and Willow woodland and marsh, through to hedgerows, established and regenerating broadleaved woodland, scattered scrub and meadow.
The whole site is a very attractive and valuable setting which acts as a green corridor for wildlife extending from the border of South Staffordshire countryside through the residential area into the north of Birmingham.
The varied and rare flora includes wetland species such as Lesser Reedmace, Greater Tussock Sedge and Marsh Cinquefoil as well as established woodland indicator species with Bluebell, Yellow Archangel, Wood Anemone, Moschatel and Opposite Leaved Golden-Saxifrage. Meadow plants are represented by Common Spotted-Orchid, Cowslip and many others.
The vegetation around the Mill Pool has good botanical interest, here Lesser Spearwort, Pink Purslane and Marsh Cinquefoil can be found. The wet Alder woodland has a good understory, with Guelder Rose, Dog Rose, Rowan and Holly, the waterlogged areas are often dominated by Water Horsetail, Sedges and Ferns. In the drier areas the flora is typical of local woodland with Bluebell, Foxglove, Bramble, Hedge Garlic and Ivy.
The Mill Pool is a great attraction to wildlife. There are plenty of large Carp which can be seen as they roll at the surface. Amphibians including Frogs and Common Toads, along with a host of invertebrates such as Dragonflies and Damselflies, make the pool and its edges their home.
Many bird species either breed or overwinter on the reserve. Of the waterfowl Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Pochard, Goosander, Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck, Canada Geese and Greylag Geese are regularly seen. Woodland birds include, amongst many, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Wren, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper, Nuthatch and Tawny Owl.
The regenerating woodland provides good habitat for Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap. Swallows, House Martins, Sand Martins and Swifts feed over the Mill Pool in the Summer and Winter visitors such as Waxwings have been seen. Grey Wagtails nest along the banks of the stream running from the Mill Pool.
The area to the north of Hill Hook Road has regenerating woodland and meadow. Summer is the best time to see the meadow flowers, butterflies and other invertebrates such as dragonflies, damselflies, hover flies and bee.
Spring is a great time to visit to see woodland flowers such as Wood Anemones and Bluebells, when the Nature Reserve is alive with bird song.
The Friends of Hill Hook LNR is a local group of The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and The Black Country and they help manage the Reserve with support from Birmingham City Council. Regular practical conservation days take place through the year and volunteers have undertaken tasks from woodland thinning, coppicing, Sycamore and scrub control to tree and hedgerow planting.
Several public events are held throughout the year including an International Dawn Chorus Day event, and bi-annual Bat and Moth Nights and organised walks for which there is usually a very good turnout. More details of these and other events can be found by following the links below.
Visiting the Reserve
Hill Hook LNR is located approximately 400m south of Blake Street Station in the northern suburbs of Sutton Coldfield. Private residences border the reserve on all other sides except for a playing field to the southwest, currently leased by the local cricket club. Bradgate Drive is to the west, Sandhurst Road to the south, Balmoral Road to the east and Netherstone Grove to the northeast. There is pedestrian access to the LNR from Netherstone Grove, Bradgate Drive and Hill Hook Road.
To the north, between Hill Hook Road and Blake Street, is a large rectangle of land comprised of small pockets of woodland, scrub, grassland and tall herb. This part of the reserve is an important extension, linking the reserve to form a linear corridor to the golf course to the north and the surrounding countryside.
If you want to visit to the reserve or would just like more information about the site, information why not download our free visitor leaflet from the downloads section below.
Grid Reference: SK105003
The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country
0121 454 1199 ext 207
Link to the local group's website
Friends of Hill Hook Nature Reserve have their own dedicated website, which you can visit at: www.hillhooklnr.org/index.php
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