The bees of Troopers Hill
In June 2003, I moved to Redfield from Ashton Gate and was delighted to discover so much green space on my doorstep.
Not just the managed areas like St Georges Park and Netham Common, but a wealth of less formal idylls.
Large splashes of green among the brick and concrete expanses, many of which were once industrial sites, now long closed and forming perfect refuges for nature.
One such site of intrigue that I discovered soon after moving in was Troopers Hill, pictured below.
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Some say that Troopers Hill gets its name from the days of the Civil War, when it was supposed to have been the encampment for the Parliamentary army, under the command of Sir Thomas Fairfax, prior to the siege of Bristol in 1645.
Whatever the case, the main reason people know of it today is because of the curiously crooked chimney that stands at its summit and the pock-marked undulations that make up its slopes – both signs of its former life as part of the copper smelting industry at Crews Hole.
The first time I climbed the slopes of Troopers Hill it didn't take me long to notice that I wasn't alone.
I started to notice a proliferation of small aerial acrobats flitting about only a foot or so above the ground.
Being a nature lover I was keen to discover what minuscule marvel was catching my eye so I pursued one of the buzzing creatures.
I didn't have to follow long before it settled on the ground just in front of a small hole. I just had time to see that the diminutive bee had a reddish band around its abdomen and was deliciously furry before it popped into its hole and out of sight.
It didn't take me long to notice its sisters flitting about, too, and soon I had whiled away almost an hour snatching glimpses here and there.
Armed with a picture in my head I returned home to start researching what I had seen.
Within a few minutes I found the Friends of Troopers Hill website on the internet (www.troopers-hill.org.uk) and on it I found a comprehensive list of species found on the reserve.
My six-legged friend turned out to be Andrena labiata, or the girdled mining bee, pictured above. It's diminutive in stature but also in numbers in Britain.
Over the intervening years I have made Troopers Hill one of my regular excursions and I have discovered that it is a sanctuary for several kinds of rare bees.
From the mid-sized Andrena humilis to several types of black and red cuckoo-bees.
A few minutes spent crouching down and examining the earth is to be recommended should you be passing.
With a bit of patience you may spot some of our friends for yourself and if not, you'll be rewarded with the tonic of a good view and a blast of fresh air that always seems to rush up the slopes of Troopers Hill.
Nick Denning, education assistant at Avon Wildlife Trust