The Coronavirus outbreak is affecting us all, and it is vitally important that we all act responsibly to save lives and protect the NHS. As far as the Reserve is concerned, on the advice of the Police the access track is now closed for car parking. People are expected to take exercise from their homes without using a car to drive somewhere, so the Reserve remains open but only to those who can get there on foot. Those who can visit the Reserve are required to maintain social distancing by keeping two metres apart except from members of the same household. All planned events, volunteer work parties and butterfly and moth recording have been cancelled until further notice.
The owners of the two properties at the end of the track both run businesses which require accessing their properties with large vehicles, JCBs and lorries. For a while now some visitors have been parking beyond the gates where the track narrows and have thereby blocked vehicle access to these properties. So in future, and once the Coronavirus restrictions are lifted, no parking will be permitted beyond the gates.
Back in February, in other words back in times of normal life, the volunteers were busy thinning out the trees around the pond to prevent shading and leaf litter entering the water. It was good to see plenty of frogspawn in the pond again this year, mainly at the far end. We are keeping a close eye on the Bulrush, Common Reed and Greater Spearwort as, over time, these plants may significantly reduce the extent of open water, although they do provide nesting habitat for wetland birds.
In recent years we have been monitoring the numbers of hibernating Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies and Herald moths on the walls and ceilings inside the former RAF control tower. This year numbers were well down, and the reason seemed clear when we started looking at the floor, which was littered with many butterfly wings. This suggests that bats are continuing to use the building.
Mature students from Reaseheath College near Nantwich enjoyed a guided walk with me on a Saturday morning in early March, prior to the recent restrictions. They were very knowledgeable and it was a pleasure to show them round and explain the heathland re-creation work we have been doing. Many of them are contemplating a career change into environmental work.
We have been liaising closely with the Police on the issue of killing rabbits, which is not permitted on the Reserve. The Police have spoken to those who have been seen taking rabbits, and hopefully the problem has been resolved, and I am grateful to the Police for this. The important point is for anyone to contact the Police by phoning 101 if and when they see people rabbiting, and they can do this with confidence that the Police will take the matter seriously and intervene as they are able to, bearing in mind that other matters may need their attention at any given time.
Stephen Lewis, Volunteer Warden