Butterfly Conservation - saving butterflies, moths and their habitats
Butterfly Conservation
saving butterflies, moths and our environment
   Upper Thames Branch
Join Us
UTB Branch Menu
 » Homepage
 » Introduction & News
 » Conservation
 » Butterfly Sightings
 » Moth Sightings
 » Churchyards
 » Gardening
 » UTB Butterflies
 » UTB Moths
 » Champions
 » Events
 » Sites
 » Holtspur Bottom
 » Your Records
 » Committee/Contacts
 » Sitemap & Updates
Branch logo
Links to the national Butterfly Conservation website
 » BC Membership
 » National Website
 » Other Links

Find us on Facebook


Introduction and News

  • Introduction
  • News

  • Introduction

    Welcome to the website of the Upper Thames Branch of Butterfly Conservation. Founded in 1982, the Branch aims to protect butterflies, moths and their habitats in the three counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire, which includes the beautiful rolling hills of the open Downs and wooded Chilterns, the broad vales of Oxford and Aylesbury with the ancient Bernwood complex, the edge of the picturesque Cotswolds and the threatened heathlands of south-east Berkshire. We have around 1500 members and the Branch is managed by the membership on an entirely voluntary basis.

    The three counties are home to three quarters of the 60 or so British species of butterfly and two thirds of the 900 or so British macro-moths.

    Most notable amongst the butterflies are the Black Hairstreak, with half the UK colonies being found in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, and the Adonis Blue and Silver-spotted Skipper, with their most northerly UK populations in the Chilterns.

    Amongst the macro-moths Buckinghamshire is considered to be one of the strongholds of the Striped Lychnis, a population of the Heart Moth is to be found in Berkshire and colonies of the Barberry Carpet and Pale Shining Brown have recently been discovered in west Oxfordshire.

    Thanks to the generosity of Beaconsfield Town Council the Branch has its own reserve at Holtspur Bottom in Bucks. Here we have transformed the northern side of Holtspur Valley from derelict agricultural land back to species rich chalk grassland and over the last few years the Green Hairstreak, Small Blue, Dark Green Fritillary, Chalkhill Blue and Striped Lychnis have all been recorded here. A report by Nick Bowles and Frank Banyard in the Conservation section will update you on the success of the Small Blue in the Holtspur Valley. If you would like to visit our reserve then the location can be found in the Sites section.

    The Branch regularly monitors the butterflies and moths within the three counties. We have published two butterfly atlases in 1994 and 2005 and both are still available. Our rare species all receive special attention through our Species Champion programme.

    During the winter we carry out conservation work at several sites, including regular work parties at our own reserve, and we arrange a limited number of indoor events. Most notable amongst these are our Members' Day in late October or early November and our Conservation Action Day in February or March. During the spring and summer we have a programme of Field Meetings across the three counties. You can find details of our programme in the Events section.

    Butterfly and/or moth records from non-members are very welcome and information on submitting them is given in our Your Records section. Non-members are also very welcome to attend any of our events which are listed on the Events page. If you would like to become a member of Butterfly Conservation you will receive the national magazine, Butterfly, and automatic membership of the Upper Thames Branch if you live in the area. You will also receive our Branch newsletter which is produced three times a year. Please join us now and help save our butterflies, moths and their habitats.


    Information about this website can be found in the Sitemap & Updates section. Please revisit this page in the future as it will contain latest news items and other general Branch information.

    12th June 2016
    New book: "Hampshire and Isle of Wight Butterfly Walks" by Kevin Freeborn
    On 1 May 2016, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Branch of Butterfly Conservation published a 64pp guide to the best sites across Hampshire and Isle of Wight for seeing the 46 species of butterfly regularly breeding in the counties. Published as Hampshire and Isle of Wight Butterfly Walks, the guide contains 25 wonderful walks visiting 34 very special nature reserves. There is also a butterfly identification section, flight period indicator and a summary checklist of the species recorded at each site.

    More details about the book are given on the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Branch website at:


    together with links to sample content from the book and to Butterfly Conservation’s online shop where the book can be purchased. All money raised from sales of the book is going to Butterfly Conservation.

    24th March 2016
    Garden Survey and Churchyard Survey Recording Forms for 2016
    An oversight on our part led to the Garden Survey and Churchyard Survey recording forms being omitted from the January newsletter mail-out. The forms will be dispatched with the next issue of the newsletter, which will hopefully be with you before the end of April, but should you wish to download them yourself they are both available under the Your Records tab.

    17th May 2015
    Oxford Moth Project
    Inquisitive About Nature is a science and nature outreach project aimed at helping young people get real science and nature experience without the heavy cost of 'gap year' type projects. Emma Lockley explains: "Our first initiative is the Oxford Moth Project where we are encouraging school kids to come out and trap moths with us and then contribute to writing up this project and analysing the data that we collect, but anyone can get involved. If you're interested, would like to help or know somebody that would then please please please get involved!

    All information can be found on our sign up page, which you can find below.


    Training days will include sessions in which participants will learn how to safely trap, mark and identify moths and be introduced to a background in urban ecology and conservation. The next training day will happen on the 31st May, at the natural history museum. Anyone interested can either sign up on our webpage, or contact me directly at emlockley88@gmail.com. Thanks! Emma"

    26th March 2015
    Farewell to Silverdale Cottage by Frank Banyard
    Many UTB Members will be familiar with the name of Challan Hall, in the famous Morecombe Bay area of the southern Lakes. Famed for its range of Fritillaries – Pearl & Small Pearl, High, Dark Green and Silver-washed, the area is also home to Dukes, Scotch Argus and many other species. Quite a few members have visited the Hall over the last 15 years, enjoying the wonderful hospitality of Charlotte and Mike Casson. In addition to the Hall, an associated self-catering cottage has been a great base for our butterfly and mothing activities.

    The cottage has been managed by Charlotte but she has rung to say it has now been put up for sale by its owner, who has cancelled all his bookings. She has asked if we might like to make a final visit, and has offered to keep it available to us until 23rd May, being confident that no sale will be completed before then.

    In May key species are Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Duke and Green Hairstreak among many other species; the latter can fly in hundreds. Depending on the season, Marsh and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries may be appearing. For bird lovers (aren’t we all?), the RSPB reserves at Leighton Moss is only a mile away and the Eric Morecombe on the coast just three miles.

    Shortness of notice has prevented any newsletter details; accommodation is limited, but a few rooms may still be available. If you would like to join this last Branch visit please contact me either by return (Frank@banyard57.freeserve.co.uk), or by phone on 01494 672310 when I will be very happy to provide more details.

    13th March 2015
    We're urgently looking for someone to help with the transect at Shabbington Wood (Bernwood) - can you help?
    The transect begins on the week beginning April 1st and is walked once a week for twenty-six weeks. You walk the same route every week, in specified weather conditions, between 10.45am and 3.45pm recording all butterflies seen within 2.5m on either side, in front of and above you. Anyone interested would have to be reasonably fit and able to identify British butterflies likely to be found in the Bernwood area. Identification of day flying moths is optional. There are currently three people sharing the twenty-six weeks and I am looking for someone else to make up the numbers to the usual four. We need someone mainly for Shabbington Wood, but if a second person was interested it would be helpful to have someone else for the M40 Compensation area transect as well. It would entail making about six visits between 1 April and end of September.

    If you think you might be able to help, please contact Becky Woodell.

    22nd January 2015
    Garden Moth Scheme: 2015 Conference near Beaconsfield, Bucks
    The Garden Moth Scheme collects information from people around the UK who run a moth-trap on a regular weekly basis in their gardens. The scheme is organising a conference in 2015 and it is on our patch, at the Chiltern Woodland Burial Park near Beaconsfield, on Sunday 1 March 2015.

    The programme looks excellent. If you'd like to attend you need to book a place by contacting Janet Cheney.
    For full details see:

    For more about the Garden Moth Scheme see:

    6th December 2014
    Changes to the running of the Branch

    Branch Members would like to thank our outgoing Chairman, Jim Asher, for all his hard work on the Committee and welcome the new Chair, Nick Bowles. We would also like to welcome new Vice Chair, Grahame Hawker and our new Newsletter Editor, Dave Ferguson. Their contact details are on the "Committee/Contacts" page.

    9th November 2014
    Thank you to Maureen Cross for 25 years as UTB Newsletter Editor!  By Jim Asher

    "Maureen Cross recently gave her formal notice as Editor of the branch News. Maureen has done the job unstintingly since 1989 - a continuous period of 25 years - since she took over from the previous editor, one David Redhead! That is a truly amazing contribution - we are all hugely grateful for what she has done and wish her some well-justified relief from the task and more time to watch butterflies."

    Jim Asher presents Maureen Cross with a painting at UTB's AGM on 25th October 2014.
    The painting was produced by Richard Lewington (centre) and is a unique picture depicting
    the life-cycle of Adonis Blue against a background of Lardon Chase -
    the slope where they normally fly.


    19th September 2014
    Apology & Thank You to Chris Dennis

    We wish to apologise that under the photograph “New Entrance Sign at Holtspur” in the recent newsletter (September 2014 edition) we credited Steven Daniell (pictured with the signboard) and John Saggerson. We should have made it clear that while they designed and cut the lettering, all costs were met by Chris Dennis (UTB member and owner of G & MB Manning Ltd, specialist Agricultural and Fencing suppliers). It was Chris who sourced and paid for the materials, then organised and paid for the engraving of the letters and delivery.

    We are glad to redress that oversight and publicly acknowledge the tremendous support that Chris has given the Upper Thames branch on a number of occasions over a very long time.


    April 2014
    Jim Asher elected as the next National Chair of Trustees for BC - announcement by David Dennis:

    Dear Colleagues,

    I am delighted to announce that on March 8th, Council unanimously elected Dr Jim Asher as the next National Chair of Trustees for BC. The handover will officially take place at this year's AGM on November 15th. There will be further announcements later in the year concerning the roles of Vice-Chair and Chair of Conservation Committee, both currently held by Jim.

    Jim Asher will be well known to most of you as a long-standing conservationist, volunteer and Chair of Upper Thames Branch, in addition to his national work. He played a leading role in the Millennium Atlas project and in subsequent publications. He is also the butterfly photographer I least like to be in competition with at our Branch Members' Day!

    I'm sure you will join me in sending Jim many congratulations and best wishes. The next few years of Butterfly Conservation's 2020 Vision development could not be in better hands.

    With very best wishes
    David Dennis

    December 2013
    UTB donation helps save Meadow Farm!

    BC Upper Thames Branch donated £1,000 to an appeal by the Wildlife Trust to save Meadow Farm. The following press release went out on 19th December:

    "Meadow Farm, a precious remnant of ancient wildflower meadows, near Blackthorn on the border of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, will be open to visitors in 2014, thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

    On 6 December the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a grant of £758,000 to the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT). This means that Meadow Farm will be bought by the Wildlife Trust to establish a three-year project of events and activities at the wildlife site involving local communities and schoolchildren.

    Earlier this year over 2,000 people donated £270,000 to an appeal by the Wildlife Trust to buy Meadow Farm. BBOWT chief executive Philippa Lyons paid tribute to the donors. “I am very grateful to everyone who gave so generously. Their contributions provided the matched funding for the Heritage Lottery Fund grant. They have secured the future for Meadow Farm as a very special wildlife haven for local people to enjoy forever.

    "The real work starts in the New Year with recruiting the project manager, and then planning a series of exciting community activities and events to take place in the summer, so that residents and schoolchildren from Bicester, Aylesbury and the villages of the Upper Ray can discover the beauty of this wildlife haven for themselves," said Philippa Lyons.

    Across the whole of the UK there are only 1,500 hectares of floodplain wildflower meadows like Meadow Farm. Philippa Lyons added: “Meadow Farm has irreplaceable wildlife habitats that are vital for insects, butterflies and wetland birds such as the curlew. Otters are known to be using the River Ray along the northern boundary and the overgrown hedgerows are superb habitats for the rare black and brown hairstreak butterflies.”

    Stuart McLeod, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East England, said: “We are delighted to support this project to conserve what is nothing less than an oasis of biodiversity for Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. This area of flower meadow that has lain undisturbed for centuries can now be fully protected while providing a valuable learning resource.”

    15th October 2013
    Are Exotic Continental Butterflies and Moths Colonising the UK? - Butterfly Conservation

    Exotic butterflies and moths from the Continent are attempting to colonise the UK following this year’s warm summer and mild autumn.

    The Long-tailed Blue, a rare migrant butterfly from Europe, has raised broods at several sites across the south coast of England and very rare migrant moths the Clifden Nonpareil and Rosy Underwing have been seen in increasing numbers in recent weeks across several southern counties.

    These sightings suggest that all three species may be attempting to colonise southern England and come as the autumn moth migration gets into full swing bringing rarities such as the Crimson Speckled and the Vestal to our shores from Southern Europe.

    Long-tailed Blues migrated to the south coast in August and in the last fortnight the first home-grown British adults have emerged with the butterflies seen at sites including Dover and Margate in Kent and Newhaven in Sussex and a site in Wiltshire. The butterfly has bred in the UK on a handful of occasions before but this summer is the first time the Long-tailed Blue has raised young over such a considerable area.

    Dramatic-looking Continental moths are also believed to be colonising the UK with recent multiple sightings of the beautiful Clifden Nonpareil in Dorset, Hampshire and Sussex. The Clifden Nonpareil is the largest and most magnificent of the underwing moths, a group that sport vivid underwing flashes they use to ward off predators. The moth, which boasts a striking blue wing flash, was first recorded in Clifden, Buckinghamshire.

    There has also been a recent increase in sightings of the very rare migrant - the Rosy Underwing. Prior to this summer, this large moth has only been seen on 10 occasions in Britain. The latest sightings raise the tantalising prospect that the moth is now locally resident.

    Butterfly Conservation Surveys Manager Richard Fox, said: “These sightings are very exciting news, not only for the people lucky enough to see these thrilling butterflies and moths in the wild but also for the future.

    “The hot summer enabled Long-tailed Blues and other migratory butterflies to spread northwards into Britain, capitalising on opportunities to breed here while the weather remains warm.

    “This species probably won’t survive the forthcoming winter, but it seems likely that the stunning Clifden Nonpareil and possibly even the Rosy Underwing, have already established footholds in southern England.”

    Dorset County Moth Recorder Les Hill has seen three separate Clifden Nonpareil moths in the past two weeks in the same part of south Dorset. He said: “Clifden Nonpareil is one of the most charismatic of British moth fauna and is on every moth recorders’ ‘wish list’. As the name nonpareil states, it is peerless and has no equal. To record one in a lifetime is the fulfilment of an ambition; to record them every year in my garden is just remarkable.”

    The traditional autumn moth migration is now well underway with the largest number of Vestal moths entering the UK for half a century. The delicately patterned Vestal is typically found in North Africa and Southern Europe and this autumn has been found as far north as Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    Higher than average numbers of the exotic Crimson Speckled moth, which is usually found in North Africa and Southern Europe, have also been recorded along the south coast.

    31st March 2013
    Appeal for transect surveyors at Little Linford Wood
    Do you live near Little Linford Wood (near Milton Keynes) or do you have time to visit it a few times a year? Colin Williams, Reserves Ecology Officer for the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) urgently needs surveyors for the transect at Little Linford Wood and any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated! Please contact Colin Williams at BBOWT on 01865 775476 ext. 227.

    31st March 2013
    The national 2012 Wider Countryside Report is now available to read online - click here to read the report. (460Kb PDF file)

    20th March 2013
    Some of you will already be aware of an online fundraising initiative called Give As You Live. With Give as you Live, thousands of brands including Amazon, Play.com, John Lewis and Expedia have signed up to donate a percentage of every purchase made online to charities - all at no cost to you and at no cost to us. The average shopper will raise £2.10 per month through what they already buy online. If you are an online shopper, please support Butterfly Conservation every time you shop online at no cost to you. Simply visit www.giveasyoulive.com/join/butterflyconservation and discover Give as you Live today. Please pass this message on to as many people as you can and help us to raise funds.
    Thank you. Clare Hore, Senior Supporter Officer, chore@butterfly-conservation.org

    2nd February 2013
    Catch up with "The State of Britain's Larger Moths 2013" - published on 1st February - click here to read the report.

    10th November 2012
    Ash Die-back
    You will be aware from recent media that Ash Die-back has been found quite widely across Britain in the last few weeks. It is potentially a big threat not just to ash trees but also to the 30+ moths that feed on ash and a few other butterflies that use ash for mate location and to feed on honeydew (eg Brown Hairstreak). For more information and to report any suspected trees with symptoms, see the Forestry Commission website: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara

    22nd January 2012
    New Green Hairstreak aberration discovered in Buckinghamshire - article by Wendy Campbell
    In April 2011 Chris & Pat Dennis of Princes Risborough photographed a Green Hairstreak with unusual markings at a Wildlife Trust site in Bucks and sent the photograph to the Upper Thames Branch Website for inclusion in our Butterfly Sightings page.

    click for larger image

    Callophrys rubi ab. dennisorum
    Photo © Chris Dennis
    (click photo for larger image)

    Chris & Pat noticed that the white 'hairstreak' markings on the underside of the hind wings were unusually well developed and distinctly enlarged. Unable to find anything similar in the British Natural History Museum's on-line Cockayne database, I forwarded the photo to Piers Vigus, an amateur lepidopterist with a particular interest in aberrations and he subsequently sent a copy of the image to the Natural History Museum for identification. Staff there couldn't find any specimens in the British collection that resembled the discovery, nor could a similar specimen be found in the foreign collections and Geoff Martin, Collections Manager, therefore confirmed that to his knowledge this aberration was as yet totally undescribed.

    In accordance with established convention, Chris & Pat were given the honour of naming their newly discovered aberration and chose: Callophrys rubi ab. dennisorum.

    The next step in naming the new aberration was to write a technical Note for publication in a well known and respected entomological journal. After further rigorous checks, Colin Plant published my Note in The Entomologist's Record in September 2011, officially naming the new aberration.

    A News item will also be appearing in the Spring 2012 edition of Butterfly Conservation's national magazine "Butterfly".

    Congratulations to Chris & Pat!

    6th October 2011
    An urgent request from Martin Warren, Chief Executive of Butterfly Conservation

    Natural England Grant Cuts - CALL FOR HELP

    Martin Warren, Chief Executive of Butterfly Conservation, has issued the following memo to all Branches:

    Dear Branch Chairman (cc Branch contacts in England)
    I am writing to ask for the help of you and your Branch in fighting the severe cuts we have had to our Species Recovery Grant from Natural England. I am sorry that we feel we have to take this action, but having discussed it with senior staff and key Council members, we feel that it is vital to make our voice heard.

    For the last 16 years we have received a grant from NE (and its predecessor) for work to save our most threatened butterflies and moths. Under these grants we wrote our first Species Action Plans and Regional Action Plans which have guided BC’s conservation effort for the last 15 years, in harmony with government priorities of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP). We have also employed some wonderful expert staff who have conducted vital research on species, given advice to landowners of hundreds of key sites, written species accounts and management guidelines, developed landscape projects, raised millions of pounds for conservation, and supported our volunteer network in a myriad of ways.

    For reasons that have not been properly explained, NE have decided this year to greatly reduce their grant to BC from £300K pa to £40K, the latter just to work on a small number of very rare moths. This amounts to a cut of 85% to our core work, which is part of the 30% cuts that NE are facing over the next 3 years, they made around 400 people redundant this April and another 400 will have to go next year. However, they have made disproportionate cuts to our grant and a big cut of at least 50% to their Species Recovery Programme.

    At least one of the factors driving this is the new England Biodiversity Strategy (EBS) which puts much less emphasis on species conservation and more on habitat conservation and landscape/ecosystem. We have pointed out in the strongest possible terms that such initiatives will not work for threatened species without specialist input of our staff and volunteers, but so far this has fallen on deaf ears.

    The cuts have put BC in a very difficult position and we had to make 2 conservation staff redundant earlier this year. We are using our financial reserves to retain as many staff as possible this year, but may have to make more redundancies next year if we cannot replace this c.250K of lost income. Although membership has increased well this year, to around 17,000, much of this has been for half price offers and does not bring us in a great net income in the short term.

    We are working with other species NGOs to raise our concerns at Ministerial level (eg RSPB, Plantlife, Buglife, Amphibean and Reptile Conservation) but feel we need to express the same concern at local, grassroots level. The new EBS says that it wants to work in partnership with NGOs, and increase the engagement of local groups (the Big Society), but the cuts seem to be sending out a completely opposite message.

    Hence we are asking you to write to your local MPs expressing your concern about these cuts and how they will risk further decline of threatened species and disempower local volunteers such as yourselves. I am attaching a template letter that you can use and adapt as you wish.

    We are still having talks with NE and have some strong support from senior conservationists who have written on our behalf. However, your action will be extremely helpful to underline the strength of feeling from our volunteer community.

    Thank you in advance for any help you can give to help this dire situation.

    With kind regards

    Download MP Template Letter here

    Find Your MP here

    25th April 2011

    An urgent request from Martin Warren, Chief Executive of Butterfly Conservation

    A very worrying consultation has recently been announced by Government which is considering the scrapping of various environmental laws. I am emailing Branch committee members to ask you to express your opposition to this proposal which could do immeasurable damage to wildlife, including butterflies and moths. Please circulate this email to anyone else who might feel the same.

    If you have 30 seconds

    Sign the online petition set up by 38 degrees


    If you have 2 minutes

    Register your views on the Government website


    Further information

    The Government has recently launched a consultation on the proposed scrapping of a whole range of regulations, known as the “Red Tape Challenge”. This was launched by Vince Cable on 7 April 2011 in a bid to boost short-term economic growth. Amazingly this includes most of the wildlife legislation that we and our partners have worked so hard to get on the statute books in recent years.

    In short, it seems Government is considering getting rid of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, the Climate Change Act, and 278 environment laws (among thousands of laws and regulations). These Acts are essential for protecting key wildlife sites and species from development and have been developed after long campaigns by wildlife NGOs. Scrapping them would result in immeasurable damage to species and habitats, including butterflies and moths.

    Environmental regulations fall under “general regulations” on which the Government are inviting comments throughout the process. The Cabinet Office is ‘crowdsourcing’ proposals for which laws should be scrapped, with Ministers facing a basic presumption that laws and regulations listed in the Red Tape Challenge should be scrapped. Once the nation has had its say, Ministers will have three months to work out which regulations they want to keep and why.

    The Government’s website invites comments either as an individual or as an organisation, about the need to protect our environment. The website lists the 278 environmental regulations under scrutiny and your comments can be left under 7 broad headings.

    My own contribution reads

    “The Government has only just signed the new UN target set at Nagoya to halt biodiversity loss and restore ecosystems by 2020. It simply cannot honour this commitment if it scraps its own wildlife laws. Biodiversity is essential to life on earth and needs protection.”

    Thank you very much for your support.


    6th April 2011

    Newsletter 81 (February 2011) - Garden Survey Report for 2010 - Margaret Price
    Due to a misunderstanding the wording in one particular section of the report relating to the completion of the survey form is not clear. The sentence which reads: ‘It has been decided not to drop use of the letter system for recording in favour of the actual number of each species seen at any one time ...’ should read: ‘It has been decided not to use the letter system for recording but the actual number of each species seen at any one time ...’ This has been reflected in the latest version of the Garden Survey 2011 form which went out with the last Newsletter (No. 81) and this form is also now available to download from the "Your Records" page of this website.

    28th March 2011

    Oxford Brookes University Science Bazaar went with flying colours!
    As part of the Oxfordshire Science Festival, Butterfly Conservation members Casper Breuker (Oxford Brookes University) and Melanie Gibbs (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Wallingford) hosted 'The ABC of Amazing Butterfly Colours' at the Oxford Brookes University Science Bazaar on Saturday the 12th of March 2011. The bazaar was part of the National Science Week, with the aim of getting young children excited about nature and science. Equipped with a variety of brochures provided by Butterfly Conservation, including 'Caterpillars a brief guide' and 'All about moths', Casper and Melanie told the children, and their parents, all about the amazing colour patterns found on caterpillars and on the wings of moths and butterflies and explained the importance of these patterns for camouflage, thermoregulation, mate choice and predator avoidance. Furthermore, they explained what kinds of butterfly research people do, and why. The children learned that humans are destroying and modifying the landscape with the result that, for example, butterflies and moths may be required to travel over larger distances in search of plants to lay their eggs on. Melanie and Casper presented the visitors at the science bazaar with the recent results of a collaborative research project between Oxford Brookes University and CEH Wallingford, showing that when female Speckled Wood butterflies (Pararge aegeria) need to fly more to find resources and plants for egg laying, they lay smaller eggs. These smaller eggs do not always hatch and the caterpillars that do hatch from these small eggs grow slowly and may be more susceptible to diseases (Gibbs et al 2010a,b). The children were very keen to help butterflies and moths and were most keen to use the Butterfly Conservation brochure 'Gardening for Butterflies' to provide extra resources for butterflies and moths in their gardens. Overall, more than 200 people attended the science bazaar, and great fun was had by all! This event will be run again in 2012.

    Gibbs, M., Breuker, C.J., Hesketh, H., Hails, R.S. & Van Dyck, H. 2010a. Maternal effects, flight versus fecundity trade-offs and offspring immune defence in the Speckled Wood butterfly, Pararge aegeria. BMC Evolutionary Biology 10: 345.

    Gibbs, M., Breuker, C.J. & Van Dyck, H. 2010b. Flight during oviposition reduces maternal egg provisioning and influences offspring development in Pararge aegeria (L.). Physiological Entomology, 35: 29-39.

    Dr Melanie Gibbs shows some children what moth caterpillars look like
    (click photo for a larger image)
    Photo © Dr Casper Breuker

    13th March 2011

    The Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey (WCBS) continues in 2011 - by Dr Zoë Randle, Surveys Officer
    Once again this will be a collaborative project with BTO and CEH. We would like to thank everyone who took part last year and especially the WCBS Champions who helped promote the survey within the Branches. The survey had another successful year with nearly 700 squares sampled. We hope you will continue to survey the same squares in the same way as last year. Our priority is to re-survey these squares for at least the next 2 years so that we can determine trends in the wider countryside and see whether they differ from transect trends. We also welcome new participants either to help re-survey old squares, or to survey new ones for the first time. New surveyors will be allocated randomly selected 1-km squares in their Branch area. The squares need to be surveyed in July and August by two visits at least ten days apart. Anyone interested in taking part in the WCBS in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire or Oxfordshire in the coming season should contact Mike Wilkins (the Upper Thames Branch WCBS Champion) for further information.

    12th March 2011

    New members for Upper Thames Branch - by Martin Harvey, Membership Secretary
    During January and February 2011 29 new members joined Upper Thames Branch - welcome to you all! With increased membership the Branch, and Butterfly Conservation as a whole, can do more to help conserve butterflies, moths and the places where they are found. If you're not yet a member, please consider supporting us by joining the national society and specifying membership of the Upper Thames Branch. For a limited period only, you could also take advantage of a special offer - three months free membership when you join online by direct debit!

    We're a friendly group and there are plenty of activities and events that you can join in with if you wish: field trips to see a range of species in fantastic habitats, butterfly recording in your garden or local area, helping run the branch through our Committees, helping maintain sites in good condition for butterflies. Do get in touch if you'd like to know more about any of this, but equally just by being a member of the society you are playing your part and supporting our work.

    30th January 2011

    Moths Count Project - Publications

    The following information regarding the latest Moths Count project publications came from Dr Zoë Randle, Moth Recording Coordinator, on 14th January 2011:

    Provisional Atlas of the UK's Larger Moths

    The Provisional Atlas of the UK’s Larger Moths has been selling like hotcakes! So much so that the initial print run has sold out and we can no longer fulfil any orders at the special discount rate of £12.50. We are absolutely amazed by the response to this publication and have ordered a reprint. Copies will be available in the next couple of weeks and can be ordered at the normal recommended retail price of £20 (plus £5.00 P&P) (the return to normal price is necessary in order to cover additional printing costs). Please do not make any further orders using the £12.50 special offer form that was sent out with E-moth. Orders for the reprint copies can be made by cheque to Butterfly Conservation Head Office or via:

    British and Irish moths: an illustrated guide to selected difficult species

    This guide (covering the use of genitalia characters and other features) has been produced by the Moths Count project with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, John Spedan Lewis Foundation and others. The Guide is softback and spiral bound for ease of use. It runs to 91 pages and contains over 130 colour illustrations. Written by moth experts Martin Townsend, Jon Clifton and Brian Goodey, the aim of the Guide is to make available information on the identification of difficult macro-moths, beyond what is currently available in the field guides. 72 larger moth species (plus their subspecies and forms) are included. This Guide provides the next step for those wishing to make a definitive determination of difficult moths such as ear moths, dark/grey daggers, copper underwings and the November Moth group. As such, much of the Guide is focussed on genitalia characteristics, although there are discussions of other characteristics such as wing markings. Copies of the Guide are available from Butterfly Conservation:
    or 01929 400209) and from specialist retailers. The recommended retail price is £20, but it is available at a special initial offer price of £15 plus £2 post and packaging to UK addresses. All proceeds received by Butterfly Conservation will be used towards ongoing moth recording.

    25th January 2011

    Purple Emperor
    Photo © Nick Board

    Butterfly Transects: HELP REQUIRED!

    Butterfly Transects are carried out at a large number of sites in the UK each year. The standard method for carrying out the Transect (sometimes called a "Pollard Walk") was devised in 1973 by Ernie Pollard at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and involves a walk along a fixed route at a specific site. It is completed in suitable weather conditions each week between April and September and involves counting the number of individuals of each butterfly species seen. At the end of the year the data is collected together by our Transect Co-ordinator Mike Wilkins and sent off to BC and to the CEH where it is used in the essential work of monitoring trends in butterfly populations. You can read the UTB Reports for 2007-2010 by going to the Conservation page.

    Transects are walked at more than 60 sites each year within the Upper Thames region. A few are completed by one person, which can be quite a commitment, but many others are carried out by small groups of individuals meaning that the workload is shared and may involve each person completing the walk only once or twice a month. No particular expertise is required other than knowing the route (training will be given) and being able to recognise and record the butterflies seen.

    We currently have a vacancy in the team of three who cover the Transect in Waterperry Wood, Oxon (part of the Bernwood Forest complex on the Bucks/Oxon border to the NE of Oxford). Could you spare around 90 minutes every three weeks to record butterflies there? If you can, Black, Brown and Purple Hairstreak, White Admiral and Purple Emperor would be amongst the delights awaiting you at the site! If you can help with this specific request, or would like to offer your services elsewhere in our three counties as there may be other teams who would also appreciate an additional member, please contact Mike Wilkins.

    31st December 2010

    "A Butterfly Year" (DVD) by Paul Wetton

    Paul Wetton spent six months in 2010 travelling from the south coast of England to western Scotland, capturing the fifty eight breeding butterfly species of mainland Britain on film. This personal account shows these fascinating and colourful insects, all filmed on location in Britain, using a broadcast quality digital video format.

    Pete Eeles, UK Butterflies webmaster and Chairman of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight branch of Butterfly Conservation, has reviewed the DVD set and says "I've reviewed a few DVDs of British butterflies over the years and, I have to say, in terms of the quality of the footage, this production is definitely the best and is what sets this DVD apart from the others. In addition, some of the footage is quite unique - such as an episode where a couple of Purple Hairstreak seem to be clashing over a particular oak bud. Very strange! The footage is complemented with Paul's own narrative which gives the whole DVD a nice personal touch."

    Click here to order the DVD set.

    18th July 2010

    Butterfly Conservation is teaming up with Marks and Spencer to launch the biggest ever public butterfly and moth count to date.

    Butterflies are both beautiful and vital to the health of our environment. Their survival is crucial yet they are in serious decline. Be part of the big butterfly count from the 24th July to the 1st of August this year and help us gather information to save them. Just find a place where you might see butterflies and moths, such as a garden or park, and count the different butterflies and moths you see in just 15 minutes. You can make counts in several places during the week. Butterflies are disappearing fast and we can’t help them without your support. For more information, to download an ID chart and submit your sightings please visit the Big Butterfly Count website.

    26th November 2009

    UTB Member Becky Woodell receives the BC 2009 Outstanding Volunteer Award.
    Becky is a founder member of the Upper Thames Branch of Butterfly Conservation and is also its Wood White Champion. However, her main contribution to the well-being of our lepidoptera has been through Whitecross Green Wood, a local Wildlife Trust reserve. Becky was highly instrumental in the Trust securing the site in the early 70’s and since then has acted as its voluntary Warden, playing a leading role in determining and carrying out the site management. In spite of being in her seventies Becky is still to be found every Sunday throughout the winter leading a work-party within the reserve. Largely through her efforts Whitecross Green Wood is now a premier butterfly site which attracts visitors from across the UK. During 2009 she has played a leading role in assessing the implications of the proposed re-opening of the Oxford to Milton Keynes railway line which was known to be home to colonies of Wood White, Grizzled Skipper and Dingy Skipper. The investigations inspired by Becky have also brought to light that a previously unknown Black Hairstreak colony is potentially threatened.

    Becky Woodell is pictured with Maurice Avent, BC Chairman
    Photo © Jim Asher

    26th September 2009

    Sheepdrove Rare Butterfly Project needs volunteers to monitor and boost project progress.
    The Upper Thames Branch of Butterfly Conservation is a founding partner of the Sheepdrove Rare Butterfly Project, which has ambitious plans to bring priority species back to Sheepdrove Organic Farm, located on the border of Oxfordshire and Berkshire. With help from local nature fans and the farm’s cattle, new habitat is being created to suit Marsh Fritillary, Small Blue, Chalkhill Blue and more. Hundreds of caterpillar host plants are being invested at key plots. "We aim to establish the most southern colony of Marsh Fritillary in Oxfordshire and the second colony known in Berkshire, where it is almost extinct.” explains Jason Ball, who devised the project, co-funded by Natural England and the farm.
    The farm needs volunteers to monitor and boost project progress and 2 survey transects are up for grabs! Please contact Jason on 01488 674727 or email jason.ball@sheepdrove.com.

    25th April 2009

    Andrew Masterton of south-west Scotland branch is calling for help with some important surveys of Priority butterflies in south-west Scotland. They are Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Chequered Skipper, Mountain Ringlet, Dingy Skipper, Northern Brown Argus. Andrew has developed a marvellous website with interactive maps to show you where the colonies are that he wants re-surveyed. All records are to be sent to him via the website:
    This is a vast area, in a beautiful part of Scotland, with some very important colonies so any help would be greatly appreciated. If you know somebody who is visiting this area please pass this link on.

    9th April 2009

    Stuart Hodges receives Outstanding Volunteer Award at BC's national AGM in York
    For the last decade Stuart Hodges has been the Upper Thames Branch Black Hairstreak Champion and in this role has been an exemplar for other Species Champions. His work has greatly enhanced our understanding and conservation of the Black Hairstreak. It has directly led to not only the re-confirmation of several historic colonies which were thought to be extinct but also to the discovery of a number of new colonies. He regularly liaises with the relevant landowners to ensure the continuing well-being of the colonies on their land and as a result several now take a positive and active pride in their colonies. On 22nd November 2008 Stuart's achievements were recognised when he was presented with an Outstanding Volunteer Award by Chairman Maurice Avent at BC's national AGM in York.

    Stuart Hodges (far right) receives his Outstanding Volunteer Award at BC's AGM in York
    Photo © Jim Asher

    14th March 2009

    The Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey (WCBS) goes ahead in 2009
    by Dr Katie Cruickshanks, WCBS co-ordinator

    After two years of pilot testing, a new method of monitoring butterflies in widespread habitats, such as farmland and upland moorland, is to be rolled out nationwide this year. The Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey method has been developed by Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology as part of the UKBMS project. The existing Transect network provides invaluable data on the status of butterflies, yet widespread habitats are under-recorded. More information on the fate of butterflies in these areas is needed. The new survey is intended to fill these gaps by complementing, rather than replacing, the existing Transect network.

    The pilot testing has thrown up some interesting information. Last year, despite the unsettled weather, nearly two thirds of the 1-km squares visited in 2007 were revisited by volunteers. In total 40 species were recorded. Importantly all 23 target species were detected in both pilot years which means that trends can be analysed to test whether classic Transects provide a truly representative picture of butterflies in the UK landscape as a whole. Volunteers who have participated in the pilot testing have shown considerable enthusiasm and it is hoped this will continue to grow. There has been close involvement with the British Trust for Ornithology and the method is based on the highly successful Breeding Bird Survey. We hope that many BTO recorders will be returning to their bird sites this summer to collect butterfly data as part of the survey along with many new surveys completed by BC recorders.

    The new method involves making a minimum of two visits to a randomly selected square near to your home between May and August to count butterflies along two 1km survey lines running roughly north-south through the your square. The survey will be co-ordinated centrally by BC but we aim to find a Champion in each Branch to help find willing volunteers. We are aiming for 20 squares per Branch.

    Please email survey@butterfly-conservation.org or call 01929 406036 to register interest in taking part and you will be contacted in early spring with instructions and the location of your random 1km survey square. Keep an eye on www.butterfly-conservation.org/wcbs for more information.

    BC National Recorders’ Meeting: Saturday 4th April 2009
    Booking is now open for the 2009 National Butterfly Recorders’ Meeting. It will take place once again at the Birmingham and Midland Institute, Margaret Street, Birmingham B3 3BS (see www.bmi.org.uk for a map). The National Recorders’ Meeting provides key feedback to volunteers about the butterfly recording and monitoring undertaken through national projects – Butterflies for the New Millennium and the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. Butterfly population trends for 2008 will be unveiled for the first time at the meeting and we will also hear about the launch of the Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey in 2009. Guest speakers will give presentations about several exciting butterfly projects making use of recording and monitoring data, including research into the decline of the Small Tortoiseshell by Owen Lewis (Oxford University). We do require advanced booking for this event and there is a (heavily subsidised) registration fee of £5 per person, which will be collected on the day, to help cover the costs of venue hire, tea/coffee and buffet lunch. If you would like to book a place please contact Ian Middlebrook at Butterfly Conservation providing your name and contact details (Telephone 01929 400209 or Email imiddlebrook@butterfly-conservation.org).

    National Moth Night is on 18th and 19th September 2009
    Recording can take place on either night or on both. There are no target species, but the theme is migration and we are planning some exciting activities. More details will follow later in the year.

    National AGM / Members Day – Saturday 21 November 2009
    This year’s BC AGM and Members Day will take place on Saturday 21 November at Winchester University and will be hosted by Hampshire & IOW Branch. Further details will be available later in the year.

    International Symposium – March 2010
    Butterfly Conservation will be holding its 6th International Symposium on 26-28 March 2010 at Reading University. The meeting will address the key target of halting biodiversity loss by 2010 which was set across Europe almost a decade ago. There will be reviews of progress from the UK, Europe, and countries throughout the world, as well as the latest science on how to reverse declines and conserve habitats. The Symposium will conclude with an analysis of future challenges, including the impact of climate change. Further information and details of how to book will be posted on BC’s national website over the coming months.

    30th January 2009

    MPs alarmed at butterfly declines - BC member and MP Bob Russell has produced an Early Day Motion which calls on Government departments to work co-operatively to help our beleaguered butterflies. He already has over 50 signatures from other MPs but your local MP might not have signed. Please visit this link to see the Early Day Motion (EDM 8):

    Assuming you find this a sensible and positive proposal, please write to your MP. Even as few as 10 letters, on any one subject, will tend to dominate their correspondence and certainly make them think. An EDM which attracts large numbers of signatures is still unlikely to be debated in the House of Commons but just might be. They certainly alert the Government to the strength of feeling of the members (across all parties). For this reason they are assumed to impact on Government direction. There is a sample letter here (Word document) or here (plain text document) that you can download and use as a basis for your own. Of course, if your MP has signed then equally we wish to thank them. More details are available on the BC Head Office website, where you can also find the name of your local MP.

    8th October 2008

    On 8th October 2008, Professor Jeremy Thomas will give a ‘Café Scientifique’ in Wallingford entitled ‘Back from the brink? Saving Britain’s butterflies’. The venue is the Wallingford Corn Exchange Café/Bar. The talk is free and starts at 7.30 pm but due to the limited capacity of the venue it is best to get there at 7.00 pm.
    For more details see the website: http://www.cafescientifique.org/wallingford.htm

    22nd August 2008

    Butterfly Week on BBC1's One Show next week (each night, from Monday 25th - Friday 29th August), will be presented by Miranda Krestovnikoff with contributions from Matthew Oates, National Trust. It will star the Large Blue at Collard Hill, an almost unsuccessful pursuit of the Swallowtail in the Broads (note that the larva shown is not a Swallowtail), a good performance from the High Brown Fritillary at Heddon Valley, Cabbage Whites etc. at Barrington Court garden, Soms, and best of all, Friday 29th: The Emperor's Breakfast, in Fermyn Woods. Do not miss the latter, it is Matthew Oates' personal fantasy acted out and shows that when it comes to eccentricity British natural history still has what it takes...

    20th June 2008

    As a way of celebrating the 40th anniversary of Butterfly Conservation, the Gloucestershire Branch has produced a booklet of 40 good butterfly walks in the county. "40 Butterfly Walks in Gloucestershire" has even made members of the committee want to go out and visit places they have never been to before! About 25 members of the branch have contributed the walks and the whole project was co-ordinated by Roger Wasley. It is hoped that other people will find the booklet useful and that it will heighten their interest in butterflies and the countryside around them. As Matthew Oates says in his Forward 'This book opens up some of the most wonderful English butterfly walks imaginable. Enjoy, and engage!'
    The price is £4.50 to include postage and packing and details of how to order your copy are available on the Homepage of the BC Gloucestershire Branch website:

    12th May 2008

    A UTB Conservation & Publicity Success - In September 2006 the Upper Thames Branch (UTB) was involved in the refurbishment of a small area in Wood Farm Estate, Oxford as part of the ITV Big Clean-up Campaign organised by the Conservation Volunteer Service (CSV). One element of this was the planting of a new hedge and blackthorn was included at the request of UTB as the Brown Hairstreak was known to be within 1km of the site. UTB members Caroline Steel, Jim Asher and David Redhead joined local residents in helping to plant the hedge. We are now very proud to announce that last summer a Brown Hairstreak found this new hedge and laid three eggs on it. The CSV Press Office announced this via a press release this morning (Monday 12th May) and this afternoon UTB Brown Hairstreak Champion, David Redhead, spent some time at the site with the Oxford Mail & Times photographer getting pictures of the 5mm long caterpillar which had emerged from one of these eggs. Hopefully, it will also be figuring on ITV local news in the next few days.
    Update 16/05/07: An article appeared in the Oxford Mail on 13th May and is currently available to read on the internet at the following link:
    The article may be largely repeated in the weekly sister publication on Friday 16th May, the Oxford Times.

    22nd October 2007

    New Publication: "THE MOTHS OF HERTFORDSHIRE by Colin Plant." As Hertfordshire is one of our neighbouring counties we thought that some of you might be very interested in this 500-page A4-sized colour atlas which is due for publication by the Hertfordshire Natural History Society during the spring of 2008. It will cover all 1,523 species of macro- and micro-moth that have been recorded in Hertfordshire between 1834 and 2006. Until 31st January 2008 advanced orders are being taken at a special pre-publication price offer of £26 (including post and packing). After that date the cost will rise to the cover price of £45. To reserve your copy, go to the Herts Moth Group web-site: http://www.hnhs.org/whatsnew1.html and download an order form.

    20th March 2007

    A new White-letter Hairstreak Recording Project has been initiated by the Herts & Middlesex branch of Butterfly Conservation.

    This three-year nationwide project aims to discover the distribution of the White-letter Hairstreak Butterfly. It has two distinct phases: locating flowering elm in springtime and looking for active males in the treetops at the start of the flight period.
    If you would like to help, or would just like to learn more about this fascinating butterfly, visit the following excellent website: http://w-album.hertsmiddx-butterflies.org.uk/

    15th March 2007

    A new group has been established for Butterfly Conservation members wanting to help conserve butterflies and moths in Europe.

    The European Interests Group is a member-based organisation within Butterfly Conservation. It aims to promote conservation work, encourage recording in Europe and work with partner organisations to lobby European governments.

    BC members can join for an additional £10 fee. All correspondence,newsletters, etc., will only be sent electronically. To ask for more information click here.

    Visit the website    Click the logo to visit EIG's website.

      top of page

    Copyright Butterfly Conservation © 2007-2016 Upper Thames Branch
    Privacy and Copyright Statement and Cookies Policy
    Butterfly Conservation: Company limited by guarantee, registered in England (2206468)
    Registered Office: Manor Yard, East Lulworth, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 5QP
    Charity registered in England & Wales (254937) and in Scotland (SCO39268)