As the ice melted 10,000 years ago, the clay areas of
Birmingham became boggy and waterlogged. The first people to settle in
Birmingham sensibly chose to live higher up, where you're standing now,
where the rock underneath your feet is sandstone.
Sandstone is red, yellow or brown and it looks like compacted
because that's what it is! The sandstone you're standing on
formed between 290 and 205 million years ago when the area was a dry plain.
The heat and pressure caused the sandy earth to compact to form sandstone.
Water drains away easily through sandstone and who'd want to live in the
clay bog when you could live on solid rock?
does sandstone form? Listen to Ed Hough »
Have you ever wondered why Birmingham doesn't have a
subway trains system? It's something the council are looking at, so perhaps
one day, we'll have a tube network like London and Newcastle.
Most people think Birmingham is very flat, but New Street
is a slope - you can see the land rise towards Victoria Square.
|The top end of New Street
Walking through the heart of the city, it's easy to think
there's no wildlife here at all but all around you, creatures are making
it their home. Roofs, canals and parks provide a habitat for enterprising
birds and animals. The city centre supports an urban 'ecosystem'. Plants
attract insects, then larger creatures move in and feed on the insects.
Birmingham is home to some very rare birds - black redstarts.
There are only a handful of breeding pairs in Britain, most of them in
London and Birmingham. They're about the size of a sparrow; the males
are black with a dark red tail which can be seen when they're flying.
It's unlikely you'll see them but you might hear them - they make a high-pitched
chirping, which, if you're familiar with the songs of more common birds,
definitely sounds unusual!
Black redstarts nest in rubble walls, cavities and roofs
- they like Birmingham's 'brownfield' sites - derelict areas. The Wildlife
Trust are putting up redstart boxes which are long and narrow in attempt
to encourage more of them to nest here. Their habitats are protected and
developers have to take care not to disturb the birds.
Find out more about these birds at www.blackredstarts.org.uk.
Find out more about The Wildlife Trust at www.wildlifetrust.org.
Kestrels and sparrowhawks live in Birmingham, especially
in older buildings like churches, and recently a pair of peregrine falcons
are known to be nesting up the BT Tower!
If you're out in the city at night, you might see bats
- another of Birmingham's rare creatures. Find out more about them on
Some animals are pests in cities. Pigeons feed on waste
food and all their droppings have to be removed because they damage buildings.
Rats are also a city problem. The best way to deal with pigeons and rats
is to take away their food - so the public are encouraged not to feed
birds and to use rubbish bins.
Some stranger animals are becoming pests... Wild minks
(which may have escaped or been released from mink farms) are fast breeders,
very resilient and rapidly becoming a pest in the rivers and streams they
inhabit. They eat all kinds of small creatures and birds' eggs. They're
already living in Birmingham but they've not been sighted in the city
Arrive at Victoria Square.
map of this stage