Butterfly Conservation - saving butterflies, moths and the environment
Butterfly Conservation
40 years of saving butterflies, moths and our environment
   Cambridgeshire and Essex Branch



Kathryn Dawson has done an excelent job as our Treasurer for the last two years. She has new responsibilities and needs to stand down as our treasurer. The Branch would very much appreciate anyone who thinks that they might be able to get involved in looking after the Branch finances to get in touch with Kathryn or any other committee member. August 2013

(Posted Aug 2013)

Over Cutting - Safety advice on access

Over Cutting, whilst technically not a public site at the moment, has the now-functioning guided busway and a public bridleway along the length of it. Whilst we are not encouraging visitors to the site, anyone can walk the bridlepath, and should anyone choose to cross the busway lines to see the cutting slopes, they should use caution and should be aware that in this section, the buses are guided (not driven), they travel fast and quietly and will not stop. People have been hurt on the busway by failing to get out of their way. Please take care if visiting this site

(Posted Apr 2012)

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.

Thanks you in advance of any help you can give to help this dire situation.

With kind regards


Download MP Template Letter here

Find Your MP here

(Posted Sept 2011)

Branch Issues Press Release on Mill Road Cemetery in Cambridge

Nick Ballard, Publicity Officer for the Cambs & Essex Branch of Butterfly Conservation, has issued a Press Release regarding Mill Road Cemetery in Cambridge.

(Posted Sept 2011)

Orwell Clunch Pit Transect Help Required

We are seeking a volunteer to walk an existing butterfly transect at Orwell Clunch Pit. The route takes about 30 minutes to walk and all of the pre-existing transect set up can be provided.

Plesae contact Vince Lea if you think you may be able to help:

Tel: 01223 2639624

(Posted March 2011)

Ingrebourne Valley Transect Help Required

Help is required with the new Lottery-funded Ingrebourne Valley Project to monitor butterflies and other wildlife. In conjunction with Essex Wildlife Trust, Havering Borough Council is seeking volunteers to walk a regular butterfly transect. There are several possible walks earmarked from Hacton Parkway, throughout Hornchurch Country Park to Albyns Farm and Berwick Ponds, with another at Parklands, Corbets Tey.

The routes range from only half a mile to one and a half miles in length.

If anyone is interested in helping out, with butterflies or other wildlife then please contact the Ingrebourne Valley Project Manager:

Katy Haines
Tel: 01708 432874

or alternatively, Rob Smith, the Essex county recorder at for more details.

(Posted December 2010)

Essex Wildlife Trust has Saved Tile Wood Forever

Essex Wildlife Trust has raised £50,000 from over 1,400 generous supporters and this has enabled Essex Wildlife Trust to buy Tile Wood. A massive thank you goes to all of those people who have donated. Tile Wood is over 1,000 years old - one of the earliest woodlands to be recorded in Essex. It is nestled between Pound Wood and Little Haven, both Essex Wildlife Trust nature reserves in Castle Point.

It is vital that we save really important wildlife areas such as this ancient woodland to ensure that our children and our children's children experience these fantastic wild spaces and we conserve our Essex wildlife for the future. Ancient woodland is an irreplaceable habitat and once lost it is lost forever.
[Read More]
Our appeal finished on 31 January 2010. However, Essex Wildlife Trust still needs donations to do so much of its conservation work across the county. Please support our work and help us to Protect Wildlife for the Future and for the People of Essex.

(Posted February 2010)

Monks Wood Transect Help Requested

This request is provided by Nick Greatorex-Davies, ex-Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, to find one or more people willing to help keep the longest-running transects in the country going.

“Hi all,
With the recent closure of CEH Monks Wood (‘last day of science’ 31st December 2008), there is no-one available at CEH to walk the three long-running Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (now UKBMS) transects in Monks Wood NNR, Bevill’s Wood (over the road from Monks Wood) and nearby Woodwalton Farm. CEH are keen to keep the three transects going (which have been running since 1974- before the scheme was officially launched in 1976) and I have been asked to try and find someone or several people who would be willing to help walk the transects from April 2009. The Monks Wood and Woodwalton Farm transects are considered priority over Bevill’s Wood.
[Read More]
If anyone is interested, or you know someone who might be, please contact as soon as possible so he can arrange to ‘show you/them the ropes’ and the route(s) and organise transect walking for 2009. He will provide more details of exactly what expenses may be paid when/if anyone offers to walk one or more of these transects."

Best wishes, Nick
(Posted February 2009)

Branch Newsletter Archive - Your Help Needed

The Branch obviously has a huge resource of information and data in its published newsletters and we realise that a single box file is a very vulnerable way of keeping this for posterity.
Following a suggestion at the AGM (Nov 2008), the Branch committee has decided to make a back-up archive and are planning to have our ENTIRE NEWSLETTER ARCHIVE professionally digitally archived with a searchable index facility.
To make this as valuable as possible, we need a full set of newsletters. The archive box appears to be missing 2 newsletters, so if anyone is willing to loan the following issues for the purposes of archiving, please e-mail or or phone on 01223 263962.
  • Newsletter No. 2
  • Newsletter No.9
(Posted February 2009)

Formation of informal Moth Group for South East Essex

I hope to do some further moth recording here in South East Essex this year, mostly not too far from my home in Rayleigh. The idea is to get more people involved in coming along to the recording, but preferably not too many as this is often counter-productive (ideally 4 - 8 people is plently).
They have a moth group in north Essex centre around Colchester, organised by Joe Firmin, but there is nothing that I know of in my part of the world. Don Down and myself usually manage a few trips each year, and I am keen to involve others.
I'm thinking of using 2 - 3 traps each session using a generator (kindly loaned to me by Sharon Hearle, East of England Project Officer for BC) with trips to EWT Langdon Reserve, Canvey Island, Hockley Woods, Thorndon Park, Foulness Island and hopefully a number of other sites in the area that presently have minimal moth survey data. Ideally these trips would start in March for the early spring species, and progress to October at least.
People keen to be involved should contact Graham Bailey either by or phone on 01268 780736. I'm not able to give any definite dates at present as that is dependent upon my work, but they would most likely to be on a Friday or Saturday once or twice a month if all goes well.

Graham Bailey February 2009

Essex Moth Group - New website and Newsletter

here to visit the new The Essex Moth Group website which is now hosted by the Essex Field Club.

The Essex Moth recorder, David Allen (contact details here), has also recently published a newsletter with:
  • Highlights (including Essex Red Data species) of 2008
  • General News
  • Significant records
  • Contacts
  • . . and lots more
(Posted Januray 2009)

Branch Birthday Celebrations!

At the Branch Members' Day held on Saturday 15th November 2008 at Cambourne, near Cambridge, we were delighted that many members were able to enjoy some birthday cake, in honour of the Branch's 25th anniversary:

Branch Birthday Cake
Branch Members' Day, Cambourne
15th November 2008 © Richard Bigg
Chairman, Carl Blamire, does the honours!
Branch Members' Day, Cambourne
15th November 2008 © Richard Bigg
The hall begins to fill
Branch Members' Day, Cambourne
15th November 2008 © Richard Bigg
Branch Birthday Cake
Branch Members' Day, Cambourne
15th November 2008 © Richard Bigg
Chairman, Carl Blamire, does the honours!
Branch Members' Day, Cambourne
15th November 2008 © Richard Bigg
The hall begins to fill
Branch Members' Day, Cambourne
15th November 2008 © Richard Bigg
(Posted December 2008)

Can You Help with a Mystery?

Painted Lady 2006 - David Sampson

This picture of a Painted Lady was taken by Bishop's Stortford naturalist, David Sampson on Saturday 4th November 2006 around the Bishop's Stortford area.

Click on the photo to see an enlarged version.

It clearly shows a remnant of its pupal casing around its thorax.

  • Is this suggestive of the insect having emerged in the UK - maybe even locally?
  • Have you ever seen anything like this before?
Painted Lady
© David Sampson

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