Prompted by ecologist Nick Bertrand’s lively dissertation at the Bell Green public inquiry on the flora recorded on the derelict site by the gas cylinders, the Inspector and a few of us were permitted to visit it. When the gate was unlocked and we set foot on the land one couldn’t help gasping at all the magic of beautiful colours that covered the whole of the undulating area.
What was once a spoil heap had been left untouched for 20 years and had undergone a transformation. Nature has spread a soft blanket of wild flowers and grasses that stand knee high and were at the peak of their flowering time. There were shades of yellow, red, pink and purple, all swaying gently in the sunshine. Nick had recorded at least 175 species in 2 days and he thinks the final number could reach 250-300.
Even the uninitiated botanist couldn’t fail to find some of the names of the plants enchanting: Shepherd’s Purse, Sticky Mouse Ear, Foxtail, Black Harehound, Yorkshire Frog, Fleabane, Jack go to bed by moon, Nipplewort, Bristly Oxtongue and Canary Grass. Where have they all come from? It seems nature has been winning here. An ecology park would be great! One fears their future existence is doomed – who knows what will happen to this piece of forgotten land.
Nick Bertrand also said that bull finches, house sparrows, linnets, sky larks, song thrushes and starlings – all Red List species of high conservation concern – are breeding or probably breeding on and using the surrounding area for feeding, roosting and wintering. There is also, unsurprisingly, a long Amber List (species that are of concern but not so threatened as those on the Red List) of birds using the site.