Upper Thames Branch Conservation
The Upper Thames Branch is involved in many conservation
activities, most of which are organised by our
Conservation and Recording Team (CART).
We manage Butterfly Conservation's reserve at
Holtspur Bottom in Bucks which
is an area of chalk grassland, carefully restored over a number of years by a small team of volunteers.
If you can spare some time to get involved in our conservation efforts, then your
help at one of our scheduled work parties (see the
Events section), recording butterflies and moths
(see Your Records section), or
transect walking will be greatly appreciated. You don't need to be a member to join in with the
Branch activities but we hope that, once you've found out more about what we do, you will want to
join Butterfly Conservation!
The Conservation and Recording Team (CART)
Members will be pleased to learn that the
Upper Thames Branch's largest Committee, the Conservation and Recording Team
(CART) exists to ensure that the efforts of our branch lead to a greater
number of better managed spaces for butterflies and moths and therefore to more
As its name suggests this Committee concerns itself primarily with two functions:
seeing that the sites we believe are most important are being properly managed
(conserved) and that local changes are being recorded.
In the execution of the first we act both directly,
for instance on our own excellent (dare we say showpiece?) reserve at Holtspur Bottom, and
through the advice we give to various partner conservation bodies and private
owners of key habitats.
Right: Members 'plug' planting nectar plants into UTB's Holtspur Bottom reserve in
the peaceful Holtspur Valley.
Our recording effort is equally important and
immensely successful. No other local recording scheme achieves comparable results.
Not only do we collect data about all the species flying in each 10km square within
the UTB area but we also monitor species' abundance through transects.
Left: Transect Recorder (Stuart Hodges) recording in a private woodland.
CART members make site visits to assess
habitat quality and suggest methods to improve conditions for a range of butterfly
and moth species.
Conservation tasks often involve removing plants, but this Striped Lychnis larva
is feeding on a flowerhead of one the of many planted Dark Mulleins. These plantings
have been helpful in maintaining Striped Lychnis numbers.
Recording also feeds back information
about the condition of the site to allow managers to fine tune their work to be
Chalk flora at a closely monitored and recorded BBOWT site where advice is sought
and management tweaked accordingly.
CART considers all manner of opportunities
and threats to our butterflies and moths. We respond to planning applications
and advise on regional conservation initiatives such as the ONCF's Landscape
Scale Conservation Strategies.
Here a group of CART members meet with National BC staff in Bernwood
Forest to discuss future management.
The Marsh Fritillary, our most threatened species, has been the subject of
immense amounts of effort in consultations to improve its situation locally.
Here is as good a place as any to give a strongly felt 'thank you'
to those of you who lend a hand with our essential conservation work and a reminder
that you might have records we could use and that we are always glad of any offer of
If you ever feel that you would like to attend a meeting of CART or learn more about
its work, please contact the Branch
[Photos © Nick Bowles & Dave Wilton]