Introduction

Founded in 1982, the Upper Thames Branch of Butterfly Conservation aims to protect butterflies, moths and their habitats in the three counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire, which includes the beautiful rolling hills of the Chilterns, the broad vales of Oxford and Aylesbury, the ancient Bernwood Forest complex, the edge of the picturesque Cotswolds and the threatened heathlands of south-east Berkshire. The branch has some 1600 members, and it is managed by the membership on an entirely voluntary basis.

The three counties are home to three-quarters of the 58 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 one of the strongholds of the Striped Lychnis, a population of the Heart Moth exists 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 Buckinghamshire. We have transformed the northern side of Holtspur Valley from derelict agricultural land back to species-rich chalk grassland. Over the last few years Green Hairstreak, Small Blue, Dark Green Fritillary, Chalkhill Blue and Striped Lychnis have all been recorded here.

The Branch regularly monitors the butterflies and moths within the three counties. Butterfly atlases were published in 1994, 2005 and 2016. Rare species all receive special attention through our Species Champion programme. Your records are important: please submit them to the appropriate recorders (preferably monthly). You can also submit recent sightings and photos which will appear on the Sightings page.

During the winter months conservation work is carried at several sites, including Holtspur Bottom and Aston Upthorpe Downs. Indoor events include a Members' Day in late October. Other events are organised from time to time. During the spring and summer there is a programme of field meetings across the three counties. Details of these can be found on the Events page.

If you join 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