Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, who owns The Devil’s Spittleful nature reservebetween Bewdley and Stourport, have been removing young saplings and encroaching scrub from the open heathland over the last few years. Together with a successful campaign to reduce disturbance from visitors and dogs, the work has helped wildlife to bounce back.
Andy Harris, the Trust’s conservation officer responsible for the reserve, explained “The Devil’s Spittleful is a really important part of a heathland complex that also includes land owned by Wyre Forest District Council. It includes heather, gorse and acid grassland; a rare habitat in Worcestershire.
“It is an open habitat so we need to keep on top of the removal of fast-growing shrubs and trees that can shade out other plants and flowers such as gorse and heather. We’ve been doing this over the past few years and surveys of reptiles and breeding birds last summer showed that this work is paying dividends.
“In addition, we’re also increasing the number of refugia for reptiles – features like dead timber and log piles – that they can hide and hibernate in.”
Reptiles and birds on the increase
A recent survey, undertaken by Worcestershire Wildlife Consultancy staff, recorded the first ever slow-worm on the site. Slow-worms are able to survive in a range of habitats and rely on cover and camouflage to avoid detection.