Every time I drive past I make a mental note to drop in sometime soon. Just about the only substantial area of undeveloped land left in Newport's Old Town Dock has looked a tempting prospect and yesterday evening the chance to rummage through its belongings came my way. To the local authority's credit the boundary features of this site are a mass of flowering arable field weeds with poppy and corncockle clearly visible to any observant passing motorist come urban botanist. Newport has embraced this new metropolitan tread of the formal cultivation of wildflower verges. But this peripheral attraction was not my objective it was the guts of the site I needed to probe. A scramble over a bank and there it was an uncluttered pre-development plateau set against a backdrop of fresh looking housing but with the vegetational stubble of a Glastonbury (Steelhouse www.steelhousefestival.com ) weekender.
A floristic hue of green and yellow dominated by birds foot trefil, black and hop medick, ribbed melilot, silverweed interspersed with white campion was unspoilt by the absence of willow scrub succession hinting at the sites contemporary origins. Common blue and large white butterflies were frequent along with dozens of hyperactive latticed heath. Where the earth movers had missed their quality assurance target small pools had formed some with reedmace and common blue damselflies others drying into baked bare ground where fast running ground beetles could be exposed from beneath an embedded crisp packet. One such waterbody, linear in form, supported the odd black water beetle and a healthy population of stonewort. Another visit is pencilled into the valley naturalist's itinerary for the end of the month.