Spring has arrived, and Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Peacock and Brimstone butterflies have all been seen on the reserve in March, as well as an Orange Underwing moth. Work to improve the heathland habitat has continued. Students from Reaseheath College have helped to clear some brambles from near the entrance to the reserve after enjoying a guided walk around the site. Our own group of volunteers have also been busy clearing brambles and birch seedlings from the restoration areas.
|Orange Underwing Moth||Reaseheath Ciollege Students|
Mowing has continued on the Hangars field, concentrating on the heather that has been blighted by the Heather Beetle and some very tall heather. This has been done in patches, and should create suitable habitat not just for the Silver-studded Blue butterfly but also for Skylarks. The volunteers raked off and burned some of the heather cuttings, which unfortunately were found to contain many Heather Beetles, which indicate that further damage to the heather can be expected this year.
The volunteers have also been forking out ragwort rosettes on the Hangars field. Whilst doing this a Jack Snipe was flushed – at first I thought this was a Common Snipe, but I was later corrected by Allan Dawes, a very knowledgable local bird expert. I believe that this is a first time this species has been seen on the reserve since purchase, and also a first for me. It is a migratory species, only to be seen in this country in the winter, and is somewhat smaller than the Common Snipe. Several Chiffchaffs arrived in March, and a Stonechat has been seen perched on the heather.
Volunteers raking mown heather
An article appeared in the Whitchurch Herald asking people who visit the reserve regularly to help clear litter, especially from the track and
around the gates. Of course it is the responsibility of everyone to deal with their own litter responsibly, but I hope that the article results in less litter being left lying around. Pink washable paint spray continues to be used to highlight the fact that not all dog users all clearing up after their dogs. Dog mess is a health hazard and damages the soils, so any dog mess must be cleared up by the owners of the dogs.
Some plywood sheeting has been installed inside the former RAF control tower to make two rooms more secure for the bats that have been seen there, on the advice of the Shropshire Bat Group. This will mean that any bats should not be subject to disturbance during the control tower open day on Sunday 2nd July, 10.00am to 4.00pm.
Students from Harper Adams University have completed their botanical survey of the restoration areas by carrying out a series of quadrats – 2 metre by 2 metre squares, recording all the vegetation. It is hoped that these squares will be re-surveyed in future years so that we gain an understanding of the changes that are taking place, as well as giving the students some important training in survey techniques. Many thanks to Andy Cherrill and Simon Irvin of Harper Adams University for arranging this.
A local resident who knows the reserve well thinks she saw a Water Vole by the pond last year. We have not been able to confirm this, but it is well worth keeping an eye out for these likable creatures and their footprints and nibbled pieces of vegetation – go to www.whitchurchwatervoles.co.uk for more information about how you can spot the signs. The Kingfisher has been seen again, and there has been masses of frogspawn in the pond, which has already hatched, and a Little Egret has been seen locally – has he visited the pond?
Frogspawn in the pond
Prees Heath Warden, Butterfly Conservation