Prees Heath Report – October & November 2020
The Covid-19 global pandemic has meant that some planned works on the reserve have had to be postponed. The latest lockdown which ended on 2nd December did not mean that we had to close the access track to visitors, as was the case in March/April of this unusual year. We do recognise the importance to people’s well-being to be able to access open countryside.
In October, pre-lockdown, a small group of volunteers adhering to the rule of six and with other safeguards in place did some work clearing some of the Bulrush and Greater Spearwort from the pond. The pond is predominately shallow, and if this work was not carried out then these plants would in all likelihood cover most, if not all, the open water. It was hard work, and the preferred method was pulling up the plants by the roots rather than cutting them. This will need to be an ongoing task. After lunch the group planted 1,000 Common Heather plug plants in an area alongside the A41 that did not receive any heather brash. We have another 9,000 plugs to plant this winter, and this will have to be done by the volunteers in full compliance with the Covid restrictions. In normal circumstances I would be arranging for a large group of volunteers to do this task in one or two days, but obviously this is not the case now. The plants were grown from seed harvested on site by a local company called Forestart, based in Hadnall, who have helped us with several contracts over the years.
An area near the pond consisting of 1.5 hectares of mainly weedy species was lightly turned over with a tractor-driven discer in June. Unsurprisingly, the weeds returned and we repeated the procedure in October. This area will have heather brash containing seed harvested from some of the areas on the reserve where the heather has grown quite tall applied, hopefully before Christmas. This work is experimental as, unlike the other areas where heather brash was applied several years ago, elemental sulphur has not been applied to lower the pH level to increase the acidity of the substrate. We will have to wait a couple of years to see if heather seed germinates.
Finally, may I wish everyone a peaceful, happy and healthy Christmas and New Year.
Butterfly Conservation Volunteer Warden