Prees Heath Report December 2017 to January 2018
2018 – and a Happy New Year to everyone, if it’s not too late – is Butterfly Conservation’s 50th anniversary. Founded in 1968, one of its first Presidents was Sir Peter Scott, son of Scott of Antartica and a wildlife conservation pioneer, and its current President is Sir David Attenborough. Prees Heath Common Reserve was purchased by Butterfly Conservation in 2006 as it provides the last remaining sanctuary for the Silver-studded Blue in the Midlands, and, as a lowland heath, it hosts a number of rare or uncommon species, mainly becauseso much lowland heath has been destroyed.
Before Christmas in December the reserve saw copious snowfalls. The reserve looked magical, and many people were out and about with their cameras. Here are a few photographs taken by one of our stalwart volunteers, Janet Verno
There was a large quantity of litter on the reserve this winter. We aimed to clear this before Christmas but on the designated day there was too much snow around, so it was not done until 10th January. We had ten dedicated volunteers who managed to clear enough litter to fill the back of my Ford Ranger pick-up. So a big thankyou to them. Anyone visiting the reserve can pick up litter and dispose of it responsibly, and I would also like to thank those who do – it makes such a difference.
On 10th January the volunteers also did some wildlife recording, and made the following records: Green Woodpecker, FieldfareRedwing, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Blackbird, Robin, Carrion Crow, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Kestrel, Meadow Pipit, Matchstick fungus,Purple Hairstreak butterfly egg, a small unidentified rodent andRabbits.Making wildlife records helps us to monitor the diversity that is to be found on the reserve, and it is also educational and fun. With this in mind we are holding a Butterfly Conservation 50th Anniversary BioBlitz on Thursday 19th July, recording as many species as possible in one day. A date for your diary, it will be open to the public, and more details will follow later.
The volunteers also planted a Scots Pine tree near the reserve gates, donated by The Woodland Trust as part of their Tree Charter project. The photo was taken by BC Reserves Officer Lucy Morton.
Over the years the reserve has been the site for three Masters in Science student projects, with students from Birmingham University, Harper Adams University and Manchester Metropolitan University. The last two MScs received Distinctions, and have proved very useful in helping us consider management options for the reserve. This spring and summer there will be another MSc student from Harper Adams University doing some survey work on the reserve, this time on planthoppersand leafhoppers, small jumping insects – we have virtually no records for this group to date, so the records will be very welcome. Could there be any rarities out there?
Butterfly Conservation Prees Heath Warden