Butterfly Conservation - saving butterflies, moths and their habitats
Butterfly Conservation
saving butterflies, moths and our environment
   Upper Thames Branch
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UTB Events Winter 2014-2015

Non-members are welcome to attend our events. If you do so, please make yourself known to the event organiser/leader at the start of the event. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult (see Safety Code point 6 below).

For all outdoor meetings please check with the Leader before turning out as some may be cancelled in adverse weather conditions.


Branch Committee Meetings  

Diary Dates for 2014, including National Moth Night  

Upper Thames Branch Members' Day & AGM 2014 - Saturday 25th October ** PROGRAMME NOW AVAILABLE **

Conservation Work Parties ** Updated 28/09/14 **

Brown Hairstreak Winter Egg Hunts 2014-15 ** Updated 28/09/14 **

Berks Moth Group

Safety Code




Branch members are very welcome to attend our committee meetings but are requested to give prior notice to the Hon. Secretary.

The final Upper Thames Branch Committee Meeting for 2014 is scheduled for the evening of:

  • Monday 6th October (Main Committee Meeting, Benson, Oxon)

Please contact the Hon. Secretary for details of time and venue.





Saturday 25th October 2014 - Upper Thames Branch Members' Day & AGM : Amersham Community Centre, Bucks.
We will be having a round-up of the 2014 butterfly and moth season, with a chance to make your views known. There will be news from our reserve at Holtspur, a photo competition, quiz, stands and displays, and the renowned lunch and tea. Guest speakers will include Michael Pocock and Matthew Oates. Full Programme below!
Any nominations for the Committee should be sent to our Secretary, Dave Wilton, no later than 1st October 2014.

Saturday 15th November 2014 - BC National AGM and Members' Day 2014:
This year's BC National AGM and Members' Day will take place on Saturday 14th November at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.

Upper Thames Branch Conservation Review Day 2015
Our annual Conservation Review Day will take place early in the New Year. Please keep an eye on this website for further details.

Upper Thames Branch Members' Day and AGM 2015
Our 2015 annual Members' Day and AGM will take place in autumn 2015. Please keep an eye on this website for further details.


Saturday 25th October

Venue : Amersham Community Centre, Chiltern Avenue, Amersham-on-the-Hill, Bucks, HP6 5AH
(Grid ref: SU967984 - see below for map and directions).


09.45      Doors Open - Registration and Coffee

10:30      Welcome  - Jim Asher

10:35      How butterflies have fared in 2014 in UTB  - Nick Bowles

11:00      UTB Moths highlights of 2014  - Jan Haseler

11:25      Holtspur Bottom Reserve - latest news  - Tony Gillie

11:45      From processionary moths…to citizen science.  - Michael Pocock

12.25      Lunch during which you can vote in our annual photographic competition, participate in the quiz, buy raffle tickets, view the displays, buy books from Pemberley's stall & artwork from Richard Lewington's display of his own paintings, prints and cards.



              1    Apologies for absence
              2    Minutes of last AGM and matters arising
              3    Chairman's Report
              4    Treasurer's Report and approval of accounts
              5    Election of Officers
              6    Any Other Business

14:30      Further Adventures of the Purple Emperor  - Matthew Oates

15:10      White-letter Hairstreak in Milton Keynes  - Martin Kincaid

15:30      Tea During the tea break the results of the raffle will be announced.

16:20      Photographic Competition Results & Quiz Results and winner  - David Dennis

16:45      Round up of the Day and closing remarks  - Jim Asher


Matthew Oates is a Life Member of Butterfly Conservation and founder of the Hampshire Branch. For the last 25 years he has worked as an ecologist for the National Trust, with a strong leaning towards butterflies. He is also an author, broadcaster and poet. Unravelling the mysteries of the Purple Emperor is his life's work.

Michael Pocock is an ecologist at the Biological Records Centre at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, especially interested in species interdependencies in complex networks and on the role of citizen science. One of his projects was Conker Tree Science in which about 8,000 people contributed data on damage caused by Cameraria ohridella (horse-chestnut leaf miner) and also reared its parasitoids. He has also been considering how the public and keen moth recorders can help in the early detection of the spread of the oak processionary moth.

Speakers from Upper Thames:

Jim Asher is the Upper Thames butterfly recording co-ordinator, a BC Trustee and the Chair of the BC national Conservation Committee.

Nick Bowles is our Chalkhill Blue species champion. A recently retired teacher, he is also our voluntary Conservation Officer for Bucks and a regular contributor to the columns of British Wildlife magazine.

Jan Haseler co-ordinates the 10km recording scheme for the Upper Thames branch and is a member of the teams which walk the Lardon Chase and Aston Upthorpe butterfly transects. She is the Excursions Secretary for Reading & District Natural History Society and a regular volunteer at BBOWT's Moor Copse reserve. Her other job is in medium-range weather forecasting.

Tony Gillie is a member of the UTB committee, and has been instrumental in a number of initiatives relating to Holtspur Bottom Reserve, including its new dedicated website.

Martin Kincaid has lived in Milton Keynes most of his life and has been fascinated with butterflies since the age of 10 when he identified a Gatekeeper with the help of the Observers' Book of Butterflies. He is Biodiversity Officer of the Parks Trust, the charity which manages most of MK's open spaces and is also closely involved with Milton Keynes Natural History Society. He has a particular interest in the hairstreak butterflies.


Amersham Community Centre, Chiltern Avenue, Amersham-on-the-Hill, HP6 5AH
(O.S. maps 165, 172, 176. Grid reference: SU967984)

(click map for larger image)

Parking is not allowed in Chiltern Avenue or nearby roads. There are two alternatives:

1) The Chiltern District Council Offices car-park which is free and open to the public all day on Saturday. The entrance is in the northern arm of King George V Road, on the right behind some shrubs opposite playing fields. It is a two minute level walk to the Centre; cross the road and follow the footpath past the library.

2) The Pay-and-Display car-park in which the Centre is situated (£3.40 for five hours, free for blue badge holders). The entrance is between the zebra crossing and the bus-stop in Chiltern Avenue.

By road:

From the A413 or A355, Drive into Old Amersham. At the mini-roundabout just east of Tesco car-park, turn north on to the A416, go up the hill and, immediately after going under the railway bridge, turn right. Drive past the station and into Chiltern Avenue. Ignore the first turning to King George V Road, but take the second one for the free car-park which is on the right.

From the M25 (J.18) and A404, As you approach Amersham, turn right at the lights and mini-roundabout on to the A4154 (formerly A404), go under the railway bridge and bear left into Woodside Road. Continue to the next mini-roundabout, by a garage, and turn left into Chiltern Avenue. The car-parks are on the left after the bus-stop.

From Chesham and the A416, As you approach Amersham, turn left into the A4154 (formerly A404). Go straight ahead at the mini-roundabout and into Woodside Road. At the next mini-roundabout, near a garage, turn right into Chiltern Avenue. The car-parks are on the left after the bus-stop.

By train:

As you leave Amersham railway station, turn right into Chiltern Avenue. The Community Centre is about 500 metres along on the right, in the public car-park between the zebra crossing and the bus-stop.


I'm writing this in mid-July, surrounded by a bumper crop of freshly emerged Peacocks which are just taking over from reassuringly large numbers of Small Tortoiseshells! With, so far, the second rather good summer on the bounce, we might just get a bit complacent about it all.
Either way, there is clearly no shortage of opportunities to get the camera out, and try your luck in this year's photo competition at Members' Day.
As usual, there will be prizes for the best photos in each of a range of categories, and an additional prize for 'best in show'. All photos entered should be prints, taken in the wild since last year's Members' Day. Please write the photographer's name and telephone number on the back, plus the category being entered (see below). Mounting on card, and adding a title, can enhance any photo, but this is optional.

After 10 years of a very similar style of competition, your committee has decided on some changes - on the premise that if it ain't broke, you can still try fixing it anyway!!

As before, there will be two separate competitions, and the winners in each will be selected by popular vote:

1. Members' competition - open to all members (apart from recent winners of the overall 'best in show' prize, who have been individually notified.)

There will be four main categories, as follows:
UK butterflies
Overseas butterflies
Immature stages

(The 'Behaviour' category has been eliminated for this year.)

All photos entered for these categories may be up to 7" x 5" with a maximum size, including mount, of 8" x 6" and should be without digital alteration. For this purpose, 'digital alteration' means making changes to the subject matter content of the image by digital means - such as removing or replacing parts of the image, removing grass stems or blemishes. It does not preclude the use of cropping, brightness and contrast adjustments, or some degree of sharpening that happens anyway in most cameras and printers.

In addition, this year, we are trialling a new category for images that are deliberately digitally altered for artistic effect. Alterations of lighting, colour and background; use of collage, superimposed images or anything else, will all be encouraged in this category.

In another break with tradition, each entrant may submit a maximum of ten images in total across all categories.

2. Recent Winners' Competition
Recent overall winners of the members' competition have put on a stunning display in recent years, and we are again asking each of them to contribute any 6 prints, preferably mounted on grey card, and with an overall maximum size, including mount, of 12"x10". So get your creative and technological juices flowing and help us to create an even better display than last year!


Your food offerings are welcome!

In the hope that we can continue to feed everyone at lunchtime and teatime on Members' Day, I am again asking ALL members who are attending the day to bring along a contribution. It can be either savoury or sweet. If possible, it would be helpful if you could let me know what you might bring during the week before the meeting. Also if you could help behind the scenes, please do come and see us in the kitchen. I look forward to hearing from you and to seeing you on the day.
Gillian Oldfield - 01993 891565 (all messages left on the answer-phone will be listened to!)




Much of our winter effort is at our own Holtspur Bottom reserve near Beaconsfield, and we work also at Aston Upthorpe in Oxfordshire.

You might combine a walk around the site with a brief session of work. Nobody has to work for the entire session but obviously you may. There are a variety of tasks and no great strength is required. Tools and full instructions are provided.
Please bring stout footwear, a drink and a snack.

All work parties start at 10.00 a.m. unless otherwise stated. At both sites we usually finish about 13.00, although in good weather conditions we may continue until about 14.00.

PLEASE, ALWAYS CONTACT THE TASK LEADER IN ADVANCE and check also for any updates on the branch website, as details frequently change according to weather, number of volunteers, etc.



Holtspur Bottom: Meeting Point SU918906 : Post Code HP9 1BT
Date Work Leader
9 Nov 2014
Guided walk, 'scrape' weeding & hedging Tony Gillie
01865 751201
7 Dec 2014
Scrub removal, Triangle Bank; hedging and levelling around new notice board Tony Gillie
01865 751201
11 Jan 2015
General tidying, hedging & bonfire (if dry) Nick Bowles
01442 382276
1 Feb 2015
Planting, scrub control & hedge laying Nick Bowles
01442 382276
1 Mar 2015
To be decided (Possibly will not run) Nick Bowles
01442 382276

Aston Upthorpe: Meeting Point SU550844
Date Work Leader
02 Nov 2014
Scrub clearance Jim Asher
01865 391727
13 Dec 2014
Scrub clearance Jim Asher
01865 391727
25 Jan 2015
Scrub clearance Jim Asher
01865 391727
21 Feb 2015
Scrub clearance Jim Asher
01865 391727





Because the adult Brown Hairstreak is quite an elusive beast, looking for eggs on blackthorn during the winter months is the best way to map the distribution of the species. A limited number of sites, spread across our local population, are also visited annually by a group of us and searched thoroughly, the results enabling the Branch to monitor the health of the butterfly from year to year.

Anyone is very welcome to join us - no previous experience is required! It would be useful if you could bring a hand lens (x10) or small magnifying glass but otherwise no equipment is needed. Please wear warm clothing and waterproof footwear. It is also a good idea to bring a warm drink to revive you after a couple of hours in the field.

In the past the weather or other circumstances beyond our control have sometimes caused a search to be cancelled, occasionally at the last minute, so if you do intend to join us it is important that you please let Dave Wilton know by the evening before, preferably by e-mail to wilton@burnhamlodge.plus.com (otherwise via text or telephone to 07751 472004). Where changes are known about in sufficient time, information will be posted on this website.

This winter's programme of searches will include the following:


Sunday 16th November 2014 - Slade Camp, Shotover, Oxford (10.30am - 1pm)

Meet in the retail car-park at grid reference SP555050 on the west side of the A4142 Oxford Eastern By-pass (turn off the A4142 at the Horspath Driftway traffic lights then take the first left into the retail park). The area to be searched is immediately opposite on the east side of the by-pass.


Sunday 14th December 2014 - Rushbeds Wood BBOWT Reserve (10.30am - 1pm)

Meet in the small BBOWT car-park at grid reference SP672154. This is accessed from Kingswood Road via a track across the railway, the entrance to which is about 100 metres north of the junction with the Wotton to Brill road. If the car-park is full then further space is available by the road junction.


Thursday 1st January 2015 - Otmoor RSPB Reserve (10.30am - 1pm)

Meet in the RSPB Reserve car-park (grid reference SP570127) for our traditional New Year's Day egg search. The car-park is accessed via Otmoor Lane, leading north out of Beckley.


There are likely to be further searches in the New Year but details have yet to be finalised. They will be posted on this website when available.



The Berkshire Moth Group meets every second Thursday in the month at 19:30 at Maiden Erleigh Local Nature Reserve Interpretation Centre, Instow Road, Earley, near Reading, SU 749 709 (OS175).

Contact : Grahame Hawker 01189 700144.



As with any other activity, there are hazards in the countryside and everyone taking part in a Field Meeting, Work Party or other event has a responsibility (duty of care), for their own safety and that of others. We try hard to ensure that our events present no hazards but please note and act on the following:


1.      Wear appropriate clothing and footwear. If there are unusual requirements, these are noted in the individual event details. Stout shoes are a minimum requirement.

2.      During the main summer season you may be exposed to strong sunshine for much or all of the walk. Take a hat, use sun cream or protection for exposed skin. Make sure that you have adequate food and liquid to drink with you. Equally, sunshine can easily turn to cold and rain during the day. Be prepared.

3.      Winter events may result in exposure to very cold conditions although events are cancelled in extreme conditions. Warm and waterproof clothing and footwear should always be worn. It is sensible to bring a warm drink.

4.      The leader will provide a briefing on the event before starting, with details of any known particular hazards, and will also give advice on what to do in an emergency.  Please listen carefully.

5.      At the briefing, please let the leader know if you have a mobile telephone and are willing to take it with you and/or you have First Aid qualifications.

6.      Joining the event is an indication of your interest in butterflies. By their nature butterflies do not remain conveniently by the main path and will offer many opportunities (temptations) for you to wander away.   Take particular care to look out for hazards – rabbit holes, fallen or hanging branches, barbed wire, boggy areas, etc. Beware of wet grass, particularly on sloping ground. Children are welcome at our events, but if under 16 must be accompanied by at least one adult for two children. It is the responsibility of the accompanying adult(s) to ensure that the event is within the children's ability.

7.      Dogs are normally welcome on walks but not at work parties. They must be kept under control. Any exceptions are shown in the individual event details.

8.      If you are uncertain about any details of the event, ring the leader/contact in advance. There is always a telephone number given with the event details.

9.      If you decide to leave the event early, tell the Leader.

10.   Take care at all times, but ENJOY YOURSELF.

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