Founded by a group of Victorian amateur naturalists in 1858, the Birmingham Natural History Society has played a leading role over the years in the study of natural history in the Midland Region, and beyond. The society has long standing links with local universities and is in touch with regional wildlife trusts and with kindred bodies through the country.
Membership is open to all who are interested in natural history, whether amateur or professional, and beginners are as welcome as experienced naturalists. We keep the annual membership subscription low, (£6).
We have experts on particular areas who are happy to help any member who needs advice. There is scope for new special interest groups to be developed within the society and for these to produce their own programmes. The mycological section is particularly strong at present.
Members receive a printed programme card every year, and a newsletter is produced three times a year to keep members up to date with items of interest. Members also receive the 'Proceedings of the Birmingham Natural History Society', a journal of high repute containing scientific articles by members, and other naturalists reporting on their studies.
Illustrated talks are given at monthly intervals during the winter season (September to April) on a variety of subjects. Members can bring specimens for identification and discussion before and after the main part of the meeting. The society lending library, with a good collection of works and journals on a wide variety of natural history topics, is also available at these times. The Mycological Section, who have their own Web Site, arrange fungus forays throughout the fungus season.
The meetings are held in Selly Oak at the Friends Meeting House Directions
The Society have recently awarded a grant to the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country for an initial survey of the flora and fauna of their recently acquired Rowley Hills Nature Reserve.
We have also contributed towards the publication and printing costs of two local floras which are in preparation: 'A Flora of Birmingham and the Black Country', which is the first of its kind.
An updated edition of the 'Flora of Worcestershire'.
The Society is sometimes able to fund projects in our subject area, but as our resources are limited we must be very selective. Contact email addresses are available on this webpage. BHNS Contacts
For many years Edgbaston Pool Nature Reserve was managed by a joint committee with members from both the Society and from the Edgbaston Golf Club (the leaseholders). The Society was largely responsible for the designation of the Reserve as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Since late 2010, the Reserve has been formally managed by the Golf Club alone, in association with Natural England.
The site is of great historical interest as Edgbaston Hall (now the clubhouse of the golf club) was occupied by William Withering in the eighteenth century. Withering, famous for the discovery of the use of 'Digitalis', was also the author of the 'British Flora' which has many records of flowering plants and fungi from Edgbaston Park.
The Society continues to maintain an interest in the Reserve, and records of plant and animal species and notes by members are welcomed. There is no access to the Reserve other than through Winterbourne Gardens, which are the property of the University of Birmingham. Normal admission fees must be paid to Winterbourne.
The Society has always had distinguished Members, who have made studies and collections, which have sometimes resulted in publications.
Amongst the publications associated with the Society are.
'A Computer Mapped Flora' by D. A. Cadbury, J. G. Hawkes and R. C. Readett, 1971 - a study of the flora of Vice-County 38, Warwickshire, published in conjunction with the University of Birmingham.
'A Fungus Flora of Warwickshire' edited by M.C.Clark, 1980, published in conjunction with the University of Birmingham and the British Mycological Society. Described
'Lepidoptera of the Midland (Birmingham) Plateau', published in 'Proceedings of the Birmingham Natural History Society ' Vol.26, Nos.3 and 4, 1992/93.
The relevant collections are housed in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.