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Sandwell Valley Naturalists Club, Sandnats, is an active group of enthusiastic amateurs and professionals, who arrange indoor and outdoor meetings and study the natural history of the Sandwell Valley. They aim to identify all finds, and keep accurate records.
Newcomers, whether beginners or experienced naturalists are warmly welcomed.

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The Club

The Sandwell Valley Naturalists Club was founded in 1975 by 27 naturalists, both amateur and professional, who were concerned about the future of the valley within its urban setting. Several recording projects were initiated and have been in the main continued over the past years by an increasing number of enthusiasts.

In order to guard against inappropriate or intrusive developments in the Sandwell Valley, the Club liaises on matters of nature conservation with both Birmingham City Council and Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, through its staff at Sandwell Park Farm. In general the area under the jurisdiction of Sandwell lies to the West of Park Lane with Birmingham overseeing the area to the East of Park Lane. (see map)

Sandwell Valley

Sandwell Valley lies in the English West Midlands and is an oasis of green in the centre of an essentially industrial area. The valley has woods, parkland, marsh and fields, and is rich in wildlife. A noted RSPB Bird Reserve is situated in the valley, overlooking one of the several pools in the area.

The valley is actually a valley of the river Tame, and takes its name from the Holy Well, or Sand Well, which is near its centre. There is evidence of human activity in the valley going back to the Stone Age, between six and eight thousand years ago. There was continuous human habitation around the Sand Well from the 12th century until the early 20th century.

A Benedictine Priory was built close to the Holy Well in 1156, On the site of an earlier Hermitage, and was occupied for several hundred years. The Priory was finally demolished in the sixteenth century. The remains of the Priory, in one form or another, existed until the eighteenth century, when Sandwell Hall was built, though some of the original Priory structure was incorporated.

The Hall was the residence of the Earls of Dartmouth for many years. It passed out of their hands and was demolished in 1928. The area immediately around the Priory and Hall site is designated as a conservation site, and an intensive archaeological survey was carried out between the years 1982 and 1988. Sandwell Park Farm, the home farm for the estate has been extensively restored and opened to the public as a visitor centre, with museum and farm with both rare and common livestock on display.

* 'Readers wishing to look at the recent history of the Valley in more detail might find Peter Shirley's article in the Sandnats Bulletin 2008 especially informative.'   Sandnats Bulletins


Links to maps of Sandwell Valley

Map of Sandwell Valley         Streetmap         Interactive Google Map

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Meetings are held usually on the first Wednesday every month, throughout the year.
We hold indoor meetings from October to March and these are normally held at the RSPB Centre, off Tanhouse Avenue, Hamstead, West Bromwich.

Field meetings are held from April to September at a Variety of locations within the Valley or at other locations in the Midlands where the fauna or flora is of special interest. In these cases the Club provides site information and advice with regard to the terrain and other matters that members or visiting friends may find useful.

The Club is fully insured with BTCV in case of mishaps and this insurance is annually renewed.

Conservation work, previously carried out by club members in Sot's Hole, a very interesting part of the valley, is now in the hands of the recently formed Friends of Sot's Hole.

Members are encouraged to submit records of animal and plant species found in the valley, and all records are sent to the The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and Black Country for inclusion in their database - EcoRecord.

Special Projects

The 'Uncommon Insect Survey' was updated in 2012

For a number of years members annually carried out a Garden Bird Survey, noting birds in or around their gardens from the beginning of November to mid March.

Members also contributed to a Harvest Mouse Project in conjunction with Sandwell Valley Country Park and Dudley Zoo.

For many years, members have been regularly recording the animals, plants, fungi and insects they have found in the Valley and the species lists are regularly updated.

Uncommon Insects Survey-updated 2012

Earlier projects

Harvest Mouse Project | Garden Bird Survey | Sandwell Valley Plant List

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