2016 was the 10th anniversary of the Reserve, and generally it was a very successful year. Numbers of Silver-studded Blue butterflies were their highest for three years, several events were held engaging many members of the public and we saw educational events with a local school, a college and a university. The summer was pretty good and, during the Silver-studded Blue season, we met visitors from as far afield as Kilkenny in the Irish Republic, Inverness in Scotland and Kent.
December witnessed more mowing on the Hangars field of the heather that had been damaged by the Heather Beetle. This time Lucy Morton, Butterfly Conservation Reserves Officer, did the mowing, and more is planned for February. We hope that the beetle will not be so prevalent this year, and we expect that the damage it inflicts will tend to be cyclical, meaning that we can expect an outbreak once every few years. During the mowing I was able to photograph a rather attractive small heathland moth that flies in the winter, Acleris hyemana.
|Mowing||Small Heathland Moth|
Before Christmas the Butterfly Conservation volunteers litter-picked the site, an annual event, resulting in a large quantity of litter being taken to Whitchurch Recycling Centre. Afterwards they enjoyed a lunch at the Midway Café courtesy of Butterfly Conservation as a mark of gratitude for all the work they have done over the year. This year they have already done some bramble clearance work on the north end of the reserve.
Litter on the reserve is becoming more of a problem as visitor numbers increase. It needs to be picked up more often. I am asking anyone who visits the reserve on a regular basis to help by collecting litter, especially around the entrance gates and the track. I have a number of litter pickers and bags I can give to people who are willing to assist – just give me a call or send me an email, details are at the bottom of the report.
A few weeks ago I was contacted by Harper Adams University suggesting a student project on the reserve. Since then a group of undergraduate students have been busy designing a vegetation survey of the restoration areas, and they are now carrying this out – maybe this time of year is not the best time to be doing botanical work, but it has to fit in with their course timetable. It is planned that the survey will be repeated every two or three years so that we can have some useful data as to how these areas are changing over time, as well as the students benefitting from increasing their survey skills and botanical knowledge. Many thanks to Andy Cherrill and Simon Irvin of Harper Adams for their work on this, and of course to the students themselves.
Prees Heath Volunteer Warden