Prees Heath Common Reserve
Attraction in Nr Whitchurch, Shropshire
The last sanctuary for the Silver-studded Blue in the Midlands. The reserve is on a large Common that had been a World War II airfield. A major restoration project is re-instating heathland and grassland vegetation across much of the site.
For centuries Prees Heath was an open heathland common. It was used for warfare training during WWI and as a bomber airfield during WWII. The old aircraft control tower is still present and provides a reminder of part of the areas past history. The heathland was gradually destroyed during the decades following WWII. Fortunately a small part was given protection as a Site of Special Interest in 1991. Thanks to the great efforts by Butterfly Conservation, Cheshire and Shropshire Wildlife Trusts and members of the public during the Prees Heath Appeal sufficient money was raised for Butterfly Conservation to purchase 148 acres of the heathland. Work towards restoring the heathland to its former glory has already commenced with funding received from Grantscape and English Nature.
Prees Heath is the last place in the West Midlands where the threatened Silver-studded Blue butterfly is found. The species has declined in Britain by 50 per cent since 1980.
To survive the Silver-studded Blue butterfly requires the presence of ants together with open ground containing short heathland vegetation. The females are known to utilise bell and ling heather and bird's foot trefoil, near to ants' nests, when laying their eggs. The chrysalis is formed underground within chambers of the ants nest. The caterpillar is tended by the ants as it feeds on the leaves and shoots of its food plants. The benefit to the ant is a tasty honey-like dew excreted by the caterpillar which the ants find irresistible.
The reserve lies between the A49 and the A41 two miles south of Whitchurch. Access to the reserve can be gained via a track off the A49 opposite the turning to Steel Heath. Parking is available at the truckstop car park (pay & display) at the roundabout juntion of the A41 and A49, just north of the reserve. The short walk onto the reserve involves crossing the busy A49.
Tel: 07900 886809
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