Newsletter – Spring 2019

Welcome to our quarterly newsletter! We hope you enjoy reading it and if you have any suggestions for our Summer newsletter then contact:

Local Wildlife Site designation for Waterstock

We are pleased to announce that River Thame flood meadows at Waterstock have received formal designation as a new Local Wildlife Site. It acknowledges Waterstock’s exceptional variety of bird species, including the rare breeding curlew, and its importance as a habitat for otters, other mammals and endangered plants.

Local Wildlife Sites are special places, recognised for having high wildlife value or containing rare or threatened habitats and species of county or national importance.  So, it is a serious accolade for the historic, Oxfordshire village of Waterstock’s flood meadows to receive this designation via the Oxfordshire Local Wildlife Sites Project.

The designation is testament to the hard work of RTCT birding volunteers, led by the ever enthusiastic Volunteer and RTCT Trustee, Nick Marriner, as well as keen local landowners and a collaboration with other groups including Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre (TVERC) and Berkshire Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT), Bucks Owl and Raptor Group and Freshwater Habitats Trust.


Waterstock’s wet meadows provide fantastic feeding grounds for curlew and oystercatcher. Photo: Julie Cuthbert

Photo: Julie Cuthbert








…..and it is all over the news too!

On the back of the wildlife site designation there has been a flurry of interest and activity from all sorts of media outlets including TV, radio, online and the newspapers.  You can watch, listen and read all about it at the following links!

ITV – (awaiting link)
BBC Oxford news – (see right)
BBC radio – click here  (from 2h10min – 2h16)
Oxford Mail – click here
Oxford Times – click here – click here
BBC news website – click here

If you would like to read the full press release which gives more information then please click here.

Over £300,000 of funding secured for projects on the River Thame!

We are thrilled to announce that the River Thame Conservation Trust in partnership with the Freshwater Habitats Trust has secured over £300,000 from the Environment Agency’s Water Environment Grant to undertake some exciting projects along the River Thame.

Three projects will be funded over the next two years including:


  • A two-hectare wetland complex of ponds as well as a large backwater on floodplain meadows at Waddesdon. This project is the first of its kind in the Thame catchment and will create a complex of wetland habitats to benefit freshwater and other wildlife in the area and will also improve landscape-scale connectivity, adding a ‘stepping stone’ between the nature reserve at the Aylesbury Sewage Treatment work to the east – one of the best locations for wetland and other birds in the catchment – and the Waterstock meadows to the west – the site of a new Local Wildlife Site designation.
  • A fish passage easement on a weir between Cuddington Mill and Nether Winchendon that will help reconnect the river for fish during a wider range of flows. Improving connectivity for fish is an important way of building resilience into fish populations.
  • A large backwater near Cuddington that will provide valuable fish fry habitat as well as refuge in higher flows. Backwaters are key habitats for fish fry and act as nurseries that can help establish resilient self-sustaining populations of fish as well as refuges in higher flows.  Shallow margins also create good habitat for wading birds and a variety of plant species.

An example of a similar fish pass that will be used to improve passage along the River Thame. This pass uses boulder bars to help fish passage (Credit; South East Rivers Trust) 

Alien’s spotted on the River Thame

Your river needs you! Help remove non-native invasive plants from the Thame and its tributaries

The pesky non-native plant, Himalayan balsam, has established itself along the Bear Brook, Aylesbury, and some of its tributaries. This plant bullies its way into habitat, over shading and outcompeting native flora. It’s an explosive disperser, and within a relatively short time can take over whole riverbanks, forming dense stands of nothing but balsam.

All is not lost as Himalayan balsam can be effectively removed from streams with just a quick sharp pull and this removal has already begun. Last year the River Thame Conservation Trust and volunteers cleared large swaths of balsam along the streams of Aylesbury, freeing up space for native plants. This year the battle of the brook continues with several work parties planned for May.

The brooks of Aylesbury are a fantastic local amenity with wildlife living right on people’s doorsteps. Stopping the spread of invasive plants, like balsam, is one of the many ways the local community can help to protect and maintain their babbling brooks.

For more information on the balsam bashing work parties please visit:

Amy Lewis

Other events

There are a number of other events that we would love to see some of you at over the next few months including:

Riverfly training in Prices Risborough (1st June)

Balsam Bashing in Towersy (13th July)

Please see the events page for details