Butterfly Conservation - saving butterflies, moths and their habitats
Butterfly Conservation
saving butterflies, moths and our environment
   Upper Thames Branch

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 of both.

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 more effective.

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 help.

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]