Sandwell Valley RSPB nature reserve, West Midlands

Flash flooding - Sandwell Valley

Lee Copplestone worked as site manager at Sandwell Valley nature reserve during a period with some serious flash flooding.

Summer flooding at Sandwell Valley

"Sandwell Valley nature reserve with its mix of habitats is on the outskirts of Birmingham next to the Sandwell Valley Country Park. My association with the site has so far spanned seven years but even in that relatively short time, I’ve seen the effects of our changing climate on the reserve.

Sandwell is an interesting site with a mixture of wet grassland and wet woodland habitats. Part of the reserve is a ‘balancing’ lake which is designed to take up flood waters from the River Tame and act as an overspill.

It appears extreme weather including flash flooding is a feature of climate change, so summer floods may become a regular risk we have to deal with every year.

Back in June 2007, we experienced serious flooding on the reserve. The hide was flooded and the main island covered completely by water.

Many of our lapwing chicks died as a result of the flooding. We estimate we lost between five and 10 chicks.

Given our reserve is an important toehold for lapwings in the area these losses are devastating.

Over the winter, I’ve noticed that the numbers of winter wildfowl visitors such as goosander are not reaching our reserve in the numbers they once did. We presume this is down to changing weather patterns as well."

Recycling rewards

"On a positive note, our great field teaching facilities enable our field teachers to focus on reducing our environmental impact by looking at recycling.

"For example, after lunch all the school children which visit us recycle the packaging used for their lunches in bins we provide. This is very thought-provoking for the children.

"As you can imagine, a huge amount of rubbish can be generated by 30 kids with crisps packets, plastic bottles, cans and associated packed lunch debris!"

Lee Copplestone, previously an RSPB site manager at Sandwell Valley nature reserve.