We were joined by expert Rupert Higgins on a warm summer evening walk on Troopers Hill looking at the heathland and the creatures it supports. Rupert explained the importance of the hill's unique mix of habitats in both a local and national context.
Crickets and grasshoppers were abundant. Rupert was quickly able to show us the difference in antennae length of the grasshopper (a meadow grasshopper was the example) and crickets. As you can see here the grasshopper antennae are shorter than their body whereas the crickets' antennae are as long or longer than their body. We saw conehead, dark bush crickets and Roesel’s bush cricket which Rupert had never seen before on Troopers Hill nor had it been recorded in any surveys on Troopers Hill that the Friends are aware of.
24 spot ladybirds and a harlequin larva were seen. The chrysalis of a burnet moth was found clinging to a grass stalk. Rupert was pleased to see cinnabar moth caterpillars and a cinnabar moth. These are apparently in decline. We were able to report they are regularly seen on Troopers Hill. along the River Avon Trail and many of the paths with steps that run through the neighbourhood.
The perfume of the honeysuckle was very pleasant. We found a many-plumed moth there which was very satisfying as its caterpillar eats honeysuckle. There was also a large micro moth, Sitochroa palealis, which was the first of these Rupert had seen for many years and was also probably a new record for the hill.
Gulls were flying overhead feasting on flying ants, bees were quietly humming as they visited bell heather and rosebay willowherb. We found out that while we were familiar with the name fireweed being used for rosebay willowherb, the same name is also used by farmers for ribwort plantain. Apparently it retains moisture and when gathered in too high quantities within a hay crop the hayricks would combust.
We were pleased to see that the soapwort our Community Park Keeper would carefully strim round every year is still doing well.
Time sped by very quickly and we found ourselves saying goodbye to Rupert just after 9pm, thanking him for a really interesting walk.
Supported by the St George Neighbourhood Partnership Bristol Green Capital Fund