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. An Essex Skipper was seen in July 2011. The grassland is home to thousands of crickets and grasshoppers that can be heard as well as seen.
In addition to butterflies there are many smaller less noticeable invertebrates on Troopers Hill and for many of these it is the most important site of its type in the Bristol region. There are a large number local rarities and an endangered species, the mining bee, Nomada Guttulata was found in 2000. This and other more common solitary 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.
You can learn more about solitary bees and their lifecycle in this excellent Youtube video by Team Candiru:
The Solitary Bees - Team Candiru >>
The importance of the site for invertebrates has been confirmed by a series of surveys carried out by local expert David Gibbs, and other local naturalists.
Just four visits in 2007 yielded 262 species of which 30 are considered to be of conservation significance and 6 have Red Data Book (RDB) or equivalent status. RDB status means that the invertebrates are considered to be rare in this country.
Over four visits to Troopers Hill in 2019, David recorded 321 species of invertebrates. This included 44 species of bee, 6 of which had not been included on our records for Troopers Hill before.
The total number of different bee species recorded on Troopers Hill is now 83 - see link to list below. This was reported as 84 early in 2020, but we have since noted that one of the bees was recorded under two different species names as the name used has changed.
Photos of invertebrates taken on Troopers Hill >>
Crickets of Troopers Hill
The wonderful sound of the crickets & grasshoppers on the Hill were highlighted in the BBC Radio 4 'Outsiders' series first broadcast on the 26th March 2021.
Michael Malay, a lecturer in English literature and the environmental humanities at the University of Bristol, reflected on his personal experience of the past year and talks about his visits to Troopers Hill.
"Last spring, after the world changed – after the streets fell silent and the horizons seemed to shrink – I began going to a place called Troopers Hill. It’s a nature reserve in east Bristol, half a mile from where I live. It’s a beautiful place..."
You can listen to the programme here >>
Read the full script >>
The 1992 Management Plan focused on the grayling butterfly as one of the Hill's notable species and it was featured on a leaflet and interpretation board. Sadly the grayling has not been recorded on the Hill since the summer of 1996, it might be that the large fire on the Hill in 1995 reduced its population so that it was no longer present in sufficent numbers to maintain the colony.
Full results of recent invertebrate monitoring >>
83 species of bee found on Troopers Hill (pdf listing) >>
24 species of butterfly seen on Troopers Hill and when you are likely to see them >>
Photos of Mining Bees on Troopers Hill >> | Photos of Butterflies on the Hill >>
British Bees on flickr site (photos of 275 species of British and Irish bees) >>
Video - A Story For The Ivy Bee >>
- Very kindly written especially for The Friends of Troopers Hill by DD Storyteller
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.
You can see photos of some of the wildflowers that can be found on the Hill in May here:
Virtual Wild Flower Walk May 2020
Keri, took this picture a few metres from the flag on the Greendown entrance in Spring 2020.
It shows a common lizard which is one of two species of reptile that can be seen on Troopers Hill if you are very lucky.
The other reptile known to be resident is the slow worm, which although it looks more like a snake is in fact a leggless lizard.
Local people also report that there used to be adders on the Hill, but there haven't been any recent confirmed sightings.
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. There are also many of the more common songbirds such as Wrens, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Robins and Blackbirds.
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. Kestrels were often seen hovering over the Hill in the late 1990. After a period where they were scarce, a pair seems to have taken up residence near by in 2021 so that sightings are more frequent, this photograph was taken by a resident of Firtree Lane.
A bird nesting survey was carried out as part of our Breathing Places Project in 2007 and in May 2008 we recorded the dawn chorus. Use the links to the right to listen to the dawn chorus and download the report.
Listen to the dawn chorus on Troopers Hill
2007 Bird Nesting Report by Rupert Higgins
Photos of a Green Woodpecker and a Wheatear taken in August 2007
Mosses, Liverworts, Fungi & Lichens
As well as the mosses mentioned at the top of this page the grassland and heathland on Troopers Hill houses an amazing range of 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.
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.
Mosses are bryophytes, a group that also includes liverworts; some of the species species of bryophytes recorded on Troopers Hill appear to be very rare locally.
A new species record for Troopers Hill - Common Haircap - Nick Hudson Jan 2007
Photos and report of 2015 Lichen Walk
Close-up lichen photos taken on the 2015 walk by 'thinmanonabicycle' on Flickr
Close-up photos of Lichen on Troopers Hill on facebook
2009 Report on Mosses & Lichens by Justin Smith
2021 Survey of Bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) by Rupert Higgins
Troopers Hill and the adjacent woodland are home to badgers, foxes and deer, which move along the wildlife corridor of the Avon Valley. All are very secretive but you can come across them at anytime in the woodland and on the hill itself. This photo was taken in a garden near the hill and a deer can also be seen in this video on facebook.
As well as these larger animals there are numerous smaller mammals such as mice, shrews and voles. Some of these were identified in a Small Mammals Survey undertaken by Ivan Packer, a student at the University of Bristol in Janury 2008.
The links below take you to pages with more photos taken on Troopers Hill at different times of the year (many posted on our now closed forum). You will also find some wildlife photographs on our Hill Photos page. The Photo Survey page shows how the flora has changed over the years.
Harlequins - don't squish unless you are sure! August 2010
Harlequin Ladybird Larva August 2010
Ermine moths on the Greendown Hedge August 2010
Spring is Sprung on Troopers Hill March/April 2011
Sheep Sorrel on Troopers Hill May 2011
Scarlet Tiger on Troopers Hill July 2011
Heath Bedstraw on Troopers Hill July 2011
Summer flowers on Troopers Hill July 2011
Where do hazel nuts come from? Feb 2012
Gorse or Broom? Feb 2012
Which is golden rod? Aug 2014