The Parkland and its Wildlife
Birkenhead Park, like all public parks, is the lungs of our towns and cities. As a vast green space, it is home to a wide variety of wildlife. From tiny insects to towering oaks, from Canadian geese to Himalayan Cedars, Birkenhead Park is a home for everyone.
The park's landscape
Although it looks naturally formed, Birkenhead Park was in fact carefully designed by human skill and thought. In 1844, its designer Joseph Paxton imagined it as a safe haven that would reflect the tranquillity and feeling of the countryside while in the middle of a busy town. And that is still very much true today.
Soon after entering the park, you can leave behind the hustle and bustle of the surrounding streets. You will be amazed by the hilltop trees overlooking the wide-open meadows, before losing yourself in the shady paths. The trees and shrubs have been placed in a way that constantly hides and then reveals views before your eyes. Along the way, you will find historic features such as the Swiss Bridge and the Roman Boathouse, nicely nestled into the landscape.
The many mature trees throughout the park not only provide excellent shade from the sun in the summer months, but are also vital habitats for birds, insects, bugs, and small mammals such as the park’s beloved squirrels. The small island on the lake in the Upper Park is a particularly good refuge for many varieties of birds.
The lakes, with their long sinuous shapes, appear like meandering rivers. Here you will find our resident populations of geese, swans, and ducks, as well as a variety of fish and other wetland creatures. We even have some turtles!
Birkenhead Park’s trees
Just as animal species, there are many differences between trees. Here at Birkenhead Park, we're lucky to have more than 1450 trees, some native to the UK, and some that originated as far afield as North America, Iran, and Western Himalayas.
Have you spotted our Holm Oaks? They are trickier to spot than our other typical lobed leaved Oaks due to their dark green, Glossy, Holly like leaves. Did you know that, although they're often referred to as Holm Oaks their botanical name Quercus Ilex means Holly Oak (Holm being an ancient name for Holly), and they are ever-green just like Holly?
Did you know we have a Cucumber tree? Although its name suggests it would naturally fruit cucumbers it doesn't. The unripe fruits from this tree, before ripening and turning red, do however resemble cucumbers therefore giving the tree its name. The Cucumber tree (one word) is a deciduous tree meaning it loses its leaves every Autumn. It also produces yellowish green flowers late spring to early summer.
Can you spot...?
You're never alone in Birkenhead Park. Animals, birds, and insects… a lot of them call the park their home. And that's even before we consider migratory birds or animals from surrounding habitats that use the park as a corridor.
If you're a bird-watcher, there are plenty of opportunities to fill up your book with sightings in Birkenhead Park. We have several species of bird that are resident in the park year-round and even more that are migratory visitors.
The animals you're most likely to see are Eastern grey squirrels. There are hundreds of these in the park, scurrying up and down trees. Squirrels are good at finding their own food, but if you want to give them a little treat, go for unsweetened and unsalted nuts. You can also give them some fruit and veg like chopped apple, carrots, spinach, green beans, bean sprouts or celery.
In winter, you will be able to observe birds that are not here the rest of the year, such as, tufted ducks, golden eye ducks, or the red-crested pochard come once a year for about 3 weeks. Beyond the lakes, you will find other birds nesting in the park's trees, or perhaps just flying overhead as they pass through. These include the common wood pigeon, European goldfinch, Eurasian blackbird, mistle thrush, European robin and even woodpeckers.
A regularly-spotted visitor to your park are the various species of bat that can often be seen flitting across the sky at twilight. The park is currently home to five types of bat, including pipistrelles, noctules, and daubenton bats. These animals have voracious appetites, which is a good thing for the park as they gobble up thousands of gnats, midges, and other pests every night.
On our two main lakes, you can see coots, moorhens, Muscovy ducks, Canadian geese, and mute swans, among others. We are very lucky that we can often welcome cygnets, goslings, and duckling to our park family. If you want to feed them, please do not give them bread – it has very little nutritional value, it pollutes the lake, and it pleases the rodents more than the birds. We sell great nutritional value duck food and bird seeds at the Visitor Centre. Alternatively, you can give them oats, sweet corns, rice, or even peas!
There's always plenty to discover about Birkenhead Park's horticulture and wildlife, much of which you can do on your own just by strolling through the parklands. For a more focussed exploration, visit our Walking Trails page elsewhere on this site for suggestions on the best routes to take, to spot most of our park wildlife.Walking trails