Black redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
Deep in the heart of Soho, a rare bird has been living it up. It is not a lone bird for he successfully breed nearby. So the family are thriving on a green roof on Brewer Street. The bird in question is the black redstart is definitely a classic green roof bird.
The green roof was installed using a sedum blanket with a good depth of substrate. This is in line with the green roof code. The designers, the GIC ensured thatthe blanket was also planted with wildflowers. Furthermore other features were added to the surface. Logs and boulders increase the invertebrates available for this species to feed on.
The black redstarts nested nearby and brought their young to feed on the roof. This is only the third time a black redstart family has been recorded on green roofs in London. The other records have been in the Canary Wharf, the city of London and the London Bridge area. .
Considering that much of the early drive on green roofs in London was driven by the creation of habitat for this species, this is excellent news.
Green roofs for birds
The green roof was installed by Landmark Living roofs. A further 600mm is currently being installed on another roof of the building as part of the Drain London. We have estimated this will increase the amount of greenspace in the Soho area by 10%, All things considered this is good for the general health and wellbeing of such a densely urbanised area of London.
The creation of habitat on roofs should be a key consideration when delivering green roofs. Whilst this had been an initial driver for green roofs in the capital, climate change and high end landscape design has been, all too often, subsuming the value to wildlife.
An ecosystems approach should demand delivering benefits across the board. Delivering solely for stormwater or amenity can actually end delivering relatively uninteresting green roofs.