Last year Natural England commissioned an invertebrate survey of the reserve, and this was carried out by Nigel Jones, Ian Cheeseborough, Carline Uff, Nigel Cane-Honeysett, Keith Fowler and Mike Shurmer. Around 780 species were recorded, and this total may increase as some samples are still awaiting further study for identification. Combined with previous records the total number of invertebrate species that have been recorded on the reserve since purchase in 2006 is 1,268.
The survey found 34 species with conservation status, and 19 species that had not been previously recorded in Shropshire. One of these, an ant-like flower beetle Microhoriaterminata, is the first British record for this species, with its identification confirmed by a specialist at the Natural History Museum in London. In December an article about this record, with some thoughts in answer to the obvious question as to why the first British record for this species has occurred at Prees Heath, appeared in The Coleopterist, and this is available for download from the home page of this website. The full report of the 2018 invertebrate survey will also be available once the final version is received.
Also available for download from the website home page are species lists for various different groups. These lists include historic records so they may not accurately reflect what has been recorded in recent years. They are just species lists, with no details of who recorded what and when, but if anyone needs more information about any of the species listed then please do not hesitate to send me an email.My thanks to Lucy Lewis for putting together these spreadsheets.One species group that lacks a list at present is fungi, and last year the Shropshire Fungus Group did intend to visit the reserve, only to cancel due to the very unsuitable dry conditions. Hopefully they will visit this year, and I am also arranging a Fungus Foray in October.
The volunteers were busy before Christmas clearing litter. I am aware that some members of the public do litter pick on and around the access track when they visit, and to me they are public-spirited heroes, whilst those who leave litter are the exact opposite. In December we arranged for a contractor to mow parts of the restored Hangars field, where some of the heather was already becoming tall and dense. The resulting brash, which contained seed, was spread around the East of Runway field in January by the volunteers, who also cleared scrub from the margins of the pond to prevent shading and the water quality deteriorating due to leaf litter. More of this clearance work will take place on Wednesday 13th February – do please get in touch if you would like to help.
In December a Barn Owl with a broken wing was found on the reserve by a member of the public, and commendably she took it to CuanWildlife Rescue in Much Wenlock, which looks after sick, injured and orphaned wildlife. Sadly, when the staff there examined the bird they found that the injury was severe and the bird was put down. It brought to my mind what the Shropshire Barn Owl Group had told me when I asked if we should install a Barn Owl box on the former RAF control tower. The answer was a definite no, because Barn Owls fly very low and they would inevitably get hit by vehicles on the two main roads bordering the reserve. It seems likely that this is what happened to this particular bird.