About Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire
Regional branches of Butterfly Conservation are managed by a voluntary committee who organise and take part in local conservation and other work, under advice and guidance from the society's conservation, development and administration staff and other national bodies.
Warwickshire branch has over 200 members affiliated to it and our numbers are steadily increasing year on year as more people in our region become aware of the plight of our butterflies and moths, and the environment.
Through the branch network, countless volunteers carry out thousands of hours practical conservation tasks every year, managing our butterfly reserve at Ryton Wood Meadows and other important butterfly sites in the region, recording and monitoring of butterflies and moths, running and attending field trips, and raising awareness of butterflies and moths through events and fund raising.
Working in Partnership
This work has been made possible thanks to major funding from a variety of organisations, charities and individuals including but not limited to:
Please note that Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire is not responsible for the content of external web sites.
Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire - Our History
The text below is based up on an article written by Margaret Vickery in the 2007 magazine celebrating our first 10 years, updated here with additional material by Steven Cheshire.
Warwickshire was once part of the West Midlands branch, an area which also covered Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and West Midlands County.
In the days when the society was small, such a large area was not too difficult to administrate. As we grew it became apparent in the 1990s that a more local approach was called for. County groups were set up with their own committees to concentrate on their own concerns although the overall policy and financial management remained in the hands of the West Midlands.
It was not long before two of these county group committees felt they had the experience to run their own branches. First Gloucestershire and then Warwickshire left the West Midlands branch to become branches in their own right although we remained part of the West Midlands region which was later to become significant in 2002, a move welcomed by the national society, whose policy was to have a branch in every county.
Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire is born
Our first branch (acting) committee meeting took place in the living room or Margarets home in the autumn of 1996 where the decision was made to inaugurate the new Warwickshire branch on 1st January 1997 (although the inaugural meeting was not held until 1st March that year).
Mike Slater was appointed acting chairman/branch organiser and conservation officer. Margaret took on the duties of treasurer, newsletter editor and membership secretary. It was decided to stick to the boundaries of the old county of Warwickshire (Vice County 38) and thus the new branch covered Coventry, Solihull and Sutton Coldfield as well as parts of eastern Birmingham.
At our inaugural meeting in March 1997 we had 50 members, enough to make the branch viable. Other members joined the committee and the role of newsletter editor and branch recorder passed to Keith Warmington allowing Margaret and Mike to concentrate on their other roles. Richard Lamb also joined the committee as vice branch organiser and joint education officer alongside Rosemary Plumbley (meetings secretary and joint education officer), David Brown (moth conservation officer), and committee members: Neil Thompson, Dave Cole, Phil Parr and Jon Holmes. As of December 2011, Mike, Keith, Richard, David and Phil are still active committee members while Margaret is the branch president and honorary member.
Jon Holmes, who worked for Warwick District Council was instrumental in setting up a number of local nature reserves in the District. He also instigated the butterfly garden in Jephson Gardens in Leamington.
A new Identity
In 1997, the committee decided that the White-letter Hairstreak should be part of our logo because, to quote from our first newsletter, "It is a butterfly synonymous with 'leafy Warwickshire' and the ancient Forest of Arden. It is found throughout the county… The determination of this shy little creature to overcome its decimation caused by Dutch elm disease is an inspiration to us all, and last, but by no means least, there is a white W on its wings. What could be more appropriate to Warwickshire?" Dutch elm disease is still with us, but so, thankfully, are our White-letter Hairstreaks. In 2008, after 10 years, our logo was updated but preserved the original design principles.
Increasing support towards the millennium
In 1999 the branch membership had risen to 111 members. At the AGM in 2000 Rosemary resigned from the committee and Heather Warmington took over as meetings secretary, a job she still carries out today. Due to his work commitments Mike Slater had to stand down as chairman/branch organiser and Margaret took over although the tile of branch organiser was dropped as it was felt that everyone on committee helped in the organisation of the branch. Chris Johnson, a new committee member, took over as treasurer and, later, coordinator for transect recording, as well as organising our spring/summer programme of butterfly walks.
A new millennium
It didn't start well... in 2001 the country suffered the dreadful foot and mouth outbreak and as a result, the branch had to cancel its spring meeting at Brandon Marsh.
Val Weston and Alan Prior, both enthusiastic Warwickshire based mothers started to write articles on Warwickshire's moths for the newsletter and many of our members regularly attended moth trapping nights. Eventually the branch bought moth trapping equipment for the use of members with money raised by Val.
Things looked up in 2002 when a project to monitor and improve habitat for the Forester moth in Rugby began. This was quickly followed by the appointment of two West Midlands Regional Officers (Jane Ellis and Jenny Joy) who produced strategies and plans of action with the branch providing help and advice when needed to back them up in their efforts.
Above: Forester Moth at Ashlawn Cutting by Phil Parr (28/06/2005)
Butterflies and moths in print
The tremendous recording effort for the national Millennium Atlas resulted in a huge amount of information about Warwickshire butterflies and their habitats. This information was made more widely available when the branch published its first book 'Warwickshire Butterflies' in 2003.
The publication of David Brown's book, The Larger Moths of Warwickshire, was the highlight of 2006 and the culmination of many hours dedicated work.
2006 was also the year that Jane Ellis started her wide ranging project to list, classify and ultimately conserve all the brownfield sites in the West Midlands. The landowners of several sites were contacted and management plans drawn up. These measures benefit all species found in such habitats but especially the Dingy Skipper and the Small Blue.
In the same year, the branch entered the world of the internet when the first incarnation of this web site was launched after several months development. Since then, the web site has become an important tool for the branch, communicating our work to a wider audience, collecting records and leading the way for other branches to follow. The branch also produced its first full colour magazine in 2006.
Conservation success and our first butterfly reserve
We were soon to see the results in many conservation initiatives taking place in Warwickshire between Butterfly Conservation and farmers and landowners. Meanwhile, Mike Slater was working hard to acquire an ex-landfill site at Ryton as a branch reserve.
After several years of diplomatic effort with the owners LaFarge and Butterfly Conservation HQ the branch was able to announce that it had acquired its first butterfly reserve. It was later officially opened by Dr Martin Warren, Chief Executive of Butterfly Conservation and Mike Slater, Reserve Manager in May 2007.
In 2007 the branch membership had grown to 170 members.
Above: The Ryton Wood Meadows Butterfly Reserve was officially opened on the 28th May 2007 by Dr Martin Warren, Chief Executive of Butterfly Conservation and Mike Slater, Reserve Manager.
Mike was also working hard behind the scenes with Warwickshire Wildlife Trust to bring to fruition the Princethorpe woodland project with the aim to link all of the woodland in central Warwickshire so that species can easily travel throughout the habitat while being managed for the benefit of wildlife. We have seen some wonderful results: Wood White and Silver-washed Fritillary butterflies have significantly increased in numbers, whereas before management took place these species were on the point of being declared extinct in the county. The Princethorpe woodland complex is also home to several rare moths such as Light Orange Underwing, Great Oak Beauty, Cloaked Carpet and Mere Wainscot.
At the National AGM in 2007, Mike Slater received an Outstanding Volunteer Award in recognition of his substantial contribution to the conservation of butterflies in Warwickshire, especially the Ryton Wood Meadows Reserve.
A year later in 2008, Phil Parr received recognition for his 50 years of being involved in conserving butterflies moths and their habitats. He has surveyed every part of the Rugby District in detail and on many occasions has been the only person that has driven the conservation work in this area. Throughout the 50 years Phil has given up most of his weekends during the winter months to undertake the vital habitat management himself and has been responsible for saving colonies of Grizzled Skipper, Dingy Skipper and Green Hairstreak and the last remaining Warwickshire site for the Forester Moth.
At the branch AGM in 2008, Margaret Vickery, our longstanding chair stood down from committee but continues to run the National Garden Butterfly Survey and became our first branch President.
In 2008 the branch membership had grown to 185 members. This year also marked the 40th Anniversary of Butterfly Conservation which began in 1968.
At the National AGM in 2009, Margaret Vickery received an Outstanding Volunteer Award. Nationally she has served on the Conservation Committee, single-handedly run the Garden Butterfly Survey since 1990, written books and articles on 'Gardening for Butterflies', 'Butterfly Plants for the Garden' and 'Butterflies as Indicators of Climate Change' to name a few. Regionally she became a founder member of the West Midlands Branch in 1979 and served on the committee in roles such as Newsletter Editor and Branch Liaison Officer. Locally Margaret has worked as volunteer warden at Harbury Spoilbank. She starting the first Warwickshire Butterfly Transect on the site in 1988 and her experience in establishing the West Midlands Branch made her the driving force behind the formation of Warwickshire Branch in 1997.
2009 saw the beginning of two major conservation projects for Warwickshire.
Firstly the Small Blue project designed to ensure major habitat restoration takes place in a large number of sites in and around the Southam area with the aim to restore the fortunes of the Small Blue, Chalk Carpet moth, Grizzled Skipper, Green Hairstreak and Dingy Skipper.
Secondly major woodland coppicing and thinning will take place on sites around the greater Princethorpe area to make these areas once again fit for Fritillaries and other coppice-loving species such as the Wood White and Grizzled Skipper as part of the Midlands Fritillary Project.
In 2009 the branch membership had grown to 193 members.
2010 and beyond...
In 2010 the branch membership had grown to
over 200 members.
2011 saw the publication of our first annual report on our butterflies and moths in our region. The report covered the 2010 recording season but also included data from the previous ten years covering the period since the publication of the Millenium Atlas in 2001.
In 2011 the branch began to use Twitter to promote the work to an even wider audience.
In 2012, a redesigned web site was launched including new features.
In late 2013, the branch had its largest number of members. over 300 in total!