At Carymoor, there are demonstrations of both natural and artificial revegetation. It is surprising how much of the floral diversity of the site (over 250 species) is from natural colonisation. The early successional/wasteland components i.e. after capping of the site are initially dominated by bristly oxtongue Picris echioides, among which a number of interesting casuals are scattered, including large stands of annual beard grass Polypogon monspeliensis. In the case of Dimmer, relict turf of the pre-disturbance, unimproved grassland type were largely successfully translocated to peripheral sites, maintaining populations of some nationally scarce species such as corky-fruited waterdropwort Oenanthe pimpinelloides, spiny restharrow Ononis campestris, and grass vetchling Lathyrus nissolia.Otherwise, wildflower seed mixtures have been used extensively across the Carymoor managed area. When selecting the appropriateness of seed mixtures, it is of primary consideration to use native provenance, and to match the seed mixtures/species transplants with the prevailing soil characteristics such as pH, water field-capacity, and fertility.
Unlike plant life, colonisation of landfill by animals is rarely via conscious introduction by humans. Whilst it may be logical to release species with restricted dispersal capabilities, restoration aims are mostly met by facilitating natural colonisation through the provision of suitable habitat. Ecologically restored landfill sites may provide valuable foraging and breeding opportunities for species otherwise limited by intensive agriculture or urban development e.g. bumble bees, crickets and dragonflies. The areas of Dimmer landfill site managed by Carymoor have excellent populations of both common and more restricted invertebrate species, particularly butterflies. Most mammals are very mobile and rapidly evaluate newly created habitats for forage and breeding. Deer, rabbits, foxes, stoats and badgers roam across the site on a daily basis: there is even an active “winter-quarters” badger set next to the Visitor Centre. The rough grassland matrix across the site also holds good populations of small rodents such as bank vole and common shrews, and occasional harvest mice.
Landfill sites can be important forage areas for declining farmland birds. In intensive dairying-land such as Somerset, the early successional phases on landfill often provide mixed stands of seed-rich ruderal plants, as well as large insect populations, which can provide important food resources for maintenance and breeding, approximating to the old fashioned “mixed farming” which was the main-stay of so many species. During the winter, the site attracts good flocks of goldfinch, meadow pipit, pied wagtails and linnet, and notable populations of yellowhammer and skylark. In addition, the patchy, tussocky, grassland, which is usually winter-waterlogged, attracts common snipe, jack snipe, and green sandpiper. Kestrel, buzzard, sparrowhawk and barn owl are often seen, attracted by high populations of prey mammals, birds, and invertebrates.
All three newt species are present. Frog and toad populations are growing due to pond creation, and grass snake and slow worm regularly congregate under metal shuttering located about the site for recording purposes.
Carymoor is rapidly becoming one of Somerset’s more important nature reserves for butterflies, with good, and expanding populations of Essex Skipper and Brown Argus, UKBAP species such as Grizzled Skipper, Dingy Skipper and Brown Hairstreak, as well as large populations of more common species such as Meadow Brown, Common Blue, and Marbled White. In the last five years Small Blue has colonized the site, and we are endeavoring to retain it through appropriate habitat creation projects.
Other taxa that have been monitored in some detail are moths and Aculeates. Three nationally scarce and twenty local moth species have been recorded, along with three nationally scarce Aculeates. It is clear that the heterogeneity of the site, coupled with south facing aspects and bare ground mosaics, is very attractive to many invertebrate groups, notably Long-winged and Short-winged Coneheads (Orthoptera), Wasp Spider Argiope bruennichi (Arachnidae) and bugs such as Corizus hyoscyami (Heteroptera).