GVCV Task Report – Prestbury Butterfly Reserve
31 July 2022
Seven GVCV volunteers turned out on a changeable and occasionally damp Sunday to clear Willowherb from this butterfly reserve near Cheltenham.
Roger, Anthony, Vanessa, Chris, Jon, Candy and Dave attended with Landscape Officer Jen Gilbert and Prestbury volunteer and champion cake-maker Serena.
Willowherb is native but can come to dominate grassland, preventing other plants and wildflowers from growing and reducing the diversity of habitats and food sources required to support a broader range of butterflies. It is perennial and produces lots of seeds, so can be suppressed by cutting when in flower or progressively eradicated by pulling it out by the roots.
Tools used – ‘dumpy bags’, strimmers, gloves. Rakes unnecessary.
We took a mixed strategy – avoiding a dense patch where wrens and possibly whitethroats were still nesting – pulling it out in one area and suppressing a further patch we didn’t have time to pull by strimming. An area around the size of a tennis court was cleared, by keeping doing this year-on-year the amount of willowherb on the reserve can be progressively reduced.
Dense patch with nesting birds left for next time
Hand-pulling the willowherb
Candy’s support truck and machinery
Jen, Chris, Roger and Jon working hard
Jen, Serena, Chris, Vanessa and Jon under a threatening sky
The ‘last ones standing’ when we pulled stumps for the day – Vanessa, Jon, Chris, Candy and Jen