November saw the centenary of the signing of the armistice which brought the First World War to an end. Many people are aware that Prees Heath Common was during the war a trench warfare training camp, a 600 bed military hospital and, at the end of the war, a demobilisation centre. In 2015 MediaActive based in Wem produced an imaginative six minute film about the camp and how it has now become a nature reserve, using some of the words of the Shropshire-born poet Wilfred Owen, who was killed in action on 4th November 1918. You can view the film on Youtube by following this link:
This autumn we arranged for a drone to be flown over the reserve, having first received clearance from the nearby parachute club. The results were very impressive, and our thanks go to the ‘pilot’ Bob Kemp. Here are a few screenshots from his filming. You can see the darker patches on the restoration areas where the heather has flourished. The photographs also give a sense of the scale of the site. If you look very closely in one photograph you can see our volunteers working on the Hangars field. You can also see patches on the Hangars field which have been mown, and more mowing here of the taller heather, some of which has been attacked by Heather Beetle, where it is dominant is to be carried out shortly. Hopefully the mowing will helpthe area become more diverse botanically.
|East of runway field||Hangars field showing mown areas|
|Prees Heath showing restored areas left and right||Reserve from the entrance|
The volunteers in the photo were busy clearing birch seedlings and saplings. They have also been active in clearing tree damage on the old runway, and they installed a post by the entrance gates which will be used for notices about events on the reserve. The next volunteer work party will be on Wednesday 12thDecember, from 10.30am to 12.30pm, when anyone is welcome to come and help to clear the reserve of litter. Bags, gloves and litter pickers will be provided.
Butterfly Conservation Prees Heath Volunteer Warden