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Press Heath June-July 2017

 

The flight season of the Silver-studded Blue butterfly has come and gone for another year. This was another good year, with numbers on the single species transect up again, for the third year in a row. The reserve saw plenty of visitors, many armed with cameras. The guided walk took place in good weather on the afternoon of Sunday 2nd July, with a turnout of about 30 people, some of whom can be seen in the photograph taken at the reserve entrance. 

 

 
Silver-studded-Blue-male-(Roger---Littelover)   Open-Day
     
Silver-studded Blue male (Roger Littleover)   Open Day

 

Perhaps even more notable than the Silver-studded Blues this year were the huge numbers of Purple Hairstreak butterflies to be seen. Normally this species is seen on its larval host plant, oak trees, or adjacent trees, feeding on the honeydew left by the aphids. However this year many came down off the trees onto brambles and rosebay willowherbs at ground level. We think this may have been due to heavy rain washing off the honeydew. On one single willowherb stalk six Purple Hairstreaks were seen. They normally rest with their wings folded, but if you are very patient, and maybe a bit lucky, you will see their wings open revealing a purple suffusion if the light catches the wings at a certain angle. 

 

3-Purple-Hairstreaks-on-Rosebay---Willowherb-(Lucy-Lewis)

  3 Purple Hairstreaks on Rosebay Willowherb (Lucy Lewis) 

 

 This year we have been trying to record all the different species of damselflies and dragonflies on the pond. So far we are up to twelve species, but hope to be able to add to the list before the season ends. Sadly the fish that we believe someone has introduced into the pond are still present, and these will eat many of the early stages of the insects and amphibians that the pond was designed to support when we constructed it in 2010. Please do not introduce anything into the pond. 

 

Common-Blue-Damselflies-mating

 Common Blue Damselflies mating

 Penny Williams from the Freshwater Habitats Trust did a survey of the pond on Sunday 30th July with a group of volunteers in attendance. Her full survey report is awaited, but we did find Bristly Stonewort, Chara hispida, in several parts of the pond, which is one of only two places this species can be found in the county. An initial test of the water quality fond that it was very good, comparing favourably to a nearby stream. Many thanks to Penny, whose enthusiasm and expertise was memorable.

 

Pond-Survey   Chara-hispida

 

Pond Survey

 

 

Chara hispida

 

The vegetation on the reserve has been surveyed this year by undergraduate students from Harper Adams University and by an MSc student from Manchester Metropolitan University. We expect that the outcomes of these surveys will be very useful in planning the future management of the reserve. 

 

Shropshire Wildlife Trust acquired a 7 acre area on the eastern half of Prees Heath Common recently, currently known as Lot 15, and when our volunteers visited it in July we found four Silver-studded Blue butterflies, all in one small patch close to ants’ nests. A notable record. 

 

Stephen Lewis

Prees Heath Volunteer Warden

Butterfly Conservation