This year has been another successful year for the Colliery Spoil Biodiversity Initiative. Three years into our research to investigate the invertebrate fauna on coal tips and former colliery sites, we continue to discover species of local and national conservation importance. This year we have continued to work closely with Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council – who have been the principal supporters of our research – while also developing a new relationship with Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council (who kindly funded the survey of several coal tips within their constituency).
In addition to surveying coal tips this year, we have taken the word ‘tip’ literally and have have had the pleasure of surveying a former landfill site. Trecastell Landfill Site, near Llanharry, is unrecognisable from its days as a working landfill. In the relatively short period since its closure, the site has developed an interesting mix of habitats including some rather impressive wetlands. Surveys of the site have revealed several species of ‘conservation interest’, the most recent of which is the rare ground bug Drymus pumilio (pictured above).
Amazingly, Drymus pumilio is one of the rarest bugs in Western Europe. It is considered a rarity across Europe and is known only from the UK, Low Countries, France, Italy, Germany, and Poland. It’s scarcity, both in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, make it subject for particular concern. While there have been several UK records in recent years, there is concern that this species is heading towards extinction. For such a scarce insect, it is found in a remarkably wide variety of habitats. When it is found, records are mostly of a single individual or small numbers – as was the case here, with a single individual being found. In Wales, it has been recorded twice, with both records coming from the Usk area of Monmouthshire. The first of these finds were made by Stuart Foster on 4th Oct 1989.
It’s recent discovery at the former Trecastell Landfill Site is a new vice-county record for Glamorgan (i.e. the first time it has been recorded in Glamorgan). If finding Drymus pumilio for the first time wasn’t good enough, surveying of the former Maerdy Colliery (in the Rhondda) revealed another – the second record for Glamorgan. These discoveries highlight the importance of brownfield sites for rare and scarce species. These brownfield sites can take many forms including coal tips and colliery sites, landfill sites, road verges, quarries, industrial estates and more. The Colliery Spoil Biodiversity Initiative will continue to highlight the importance of brownfield sites for wildlife in South Wales in order to aid their conservation. We look forward to reporting on our other exciting finds in 2017 over the coming months.
Thanks for reading.