The TV wildlife presenter and writer Chris Packham visited Butterfly Conservation’s Prees Heath Common Reserve near Whitchurch last month as part of a UK-wide tour of 50 nature reserves in 10 days.

A BioBlitz was held on the reserve to record as many species of life in one day as possible from all species groups, and over 500 were recorded, some of them not only new to the reserve but also probably new to the county. Six guided walks were held looking at moths, small mammals, birds, grasshoppers, creatures that live in the large pond and butterflies, all well attended.

Chris arrived at 5pm and stayed for two hours. He immediately spotted a Silver-studded Blue butterfly, made an inspiring speech to the people present, spent time learning about the work to restore the former arable land to heathland, listened to everyone who wanted to meet him, talked to several children, did a live interview on BBC Midlands Today and became aware of the wildlife the reserve supports.

All in all it was a fantastic day, with the sun shining throughout. Chris wanted to acknowledge the great work done by our wildlife recorders as without them we would not know what is out there. His other theme, however, was that nature reserves themselves are not enough, as there is much to be concerned about in the wider countryside with the decline of many species and habitats. The BioBlitz tour was an attempt to highlight the need for new initiatives and action to halt and reverse these declines – a long term, challenging but vital ambition.