The pennant sandstone underlying Troopers Hill has resulted in acid soils, which are rare in Bristol. This has encouraged a wealth of plants to flourish, that are found nowhere else in the City. You can also see and hear many different birds and if you are very lucky, especially early in the morning, you might even see deer.
The most important residents of the site are the many small invertebrates who live in the grassland and heathland; some of these are not only unique to Bristol but rare in a national context. Troopers Hill is alive with butterflies in the spring and summer. Common blues, holly blues, small coppers, marbled white and the beautiful brimstone are all regularly seen. The grassland is home to thousands of crickets and grasshoppers.
The rare mining bee, Nomada Guttulata was found in 2000. This and other more common mining bees nest in the areas of erosion on the hill making these areas of bare ground one of the most important habitats on the site.
Heathland & Grassland
Ling and bell heather, more commonly found in places like Exmoor and Dartmoor, thrive on the acid soils on Troopers Hill. Look out for their purple flowers in late summer. The grassland on Troopers Hill is unique to Bristol. Only plants that tolerate the acid soils survive. Look out for heath bedstraw and sheeps sorrel. There are also many different kinds of grasses and flowering plants such as mouse-ear hawkweed.
Woodland and Scrub
The lower slopes and richer soils on Troopers Hill are covered in scrubby areas and woodland. Trees and shrubs present include hawthorn, silver birch, oak, apple, broom and gorse. The broom (for which Troopers Hill is the best site in the city) and gorse are easily recognised by their attractive yellow flowers. The scrub is home to many small birds and mamals and notably the dark-bush cricket. There is also a lot of bramble which, while providing valuable wildlife habitat (and blackberries for local residents), needs control to stop it overwelming other species such as the broom.
Many birds make their home on Troopers Hill and the surrounding woodland including Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Willow Warblers, Blackcaps, Whitethroats, Goldcrests, Long Tailed Tits and Jays as well as many of the more common songbirds. If you are lucky you will see Green Woodpeckers with their distinctive yellow rump visible as they fly away. Magpies are always present and can sometimes be seen fighting with Crows. There are frequent sightings of buzzards circling the site.
Mosses, Fungi & Lichens
The grassland and heathland on Troopers Hill houses an amazing range of mosses, fungi and lichen. Seen close-up these have an amazing range of colours and textures.
Lichens are symbiotic relationships between fungi and cyanobacterium/green algae, while mosses are similar to higher plants, but in miniature, with well developed stem and leaf structure, typically with a fully or part developed midrib on the leaf.