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Newsletter No. 80 October 2020

News from the Reserve from Les

This newsletter should be reporting our celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the designation of Holtspur Bank as a local nature reserve (It was officially opened on 22nd September 1995). However, these are on hold because of the Covid-19 situation.

Many of the Friends will have been saddened by the recent death of Shirley Scrivener. She died on Wednesday 6th May 2020 after a short illness. Shirley was heavily involved in getting Holtspur Bank designated as a nature reserve. She subsequently founded the Friends of Holtspur Bank LNR and was its Chairman until 2012, wrote 77 of these newsletters and remained a committee member until early in 2020. Much of what has been achieved at the Reserve is testimony to her keen interest in “all things natural”, her determination to get things done and always being there. We will miss her experience and wise counsel.

One of her final requests was to have an inscribed bench on the Chalk Bank in her memory. Over the last few months, her husband Brian has been constructing a memorial bench (with a little help).

This was installed by four of the Friends on 15th October 2020, three of whom are shown seated on the bench, suitably socially distanced.

We have regularly assessed the Covid-19 situation and the need to take sensible steps to protect the health and safety of our members, volunteers and members of the public. All our guided walks around the reserve and other events were cancelled, so we have no summaries of their highlights for you.

However, the following overview is based on individual members observations. The first casualty of the cancellations was the cowslip count. Assessments ranged from “fantastic show “to “not as good as last year” with the latter view being more prevalent. Hairy violets and milkwort added to the show on the grassy bank while good numbers of brimstone and peacock butterflies were seen.  


In the woodland area the early purple orchids are still clinging on with no sign of any increase in numbers so far. White helleborines were again present together with a couple of colonies of twayblades. At the end of the wood the rare coralroot continues to thrive. 

Early summer saw the pyramidal orchids in flower putting on a good show. They appear to be spreading especially around the edges of the grassland. During high summer the chalk grassland flowers - knapweeds, marjoram, scabious, bedstraws and wild parsnip gave a beautiful display enticing many butterflies including meadow, ringlets, gatekeepers and marbled whites. Yellow wort seemed to be more common this year as was the wild thyme on the ant hills while, in the wood, a scattering of narrow lipped helleborines were present.

A late evening walk at the end of July resulted in four glow worms being spotted. The timing was much later than our usual walk and suggests there are good numbers on the bank.

The autumn colours are just starting to show and there has been a good crop of fruit and berries with crab apples, hawthorn, sloe and spindle all doing well. In the wood it has been a record year for acorns, plenty of hazel nuts and lots of holly berries to come. Unfortunately, the cancellation of the fungal walk means that we do not have the expertise of Penny Cullington, Buckinghamshire Fungus Group to help with identification but there are already plenty to be seen and with the recent wet weather a bumper crop seems probable. Why not go and see for yourself?

Despite Covid-19, Chiltern Rangers managed to fit in a summer Dogwood cutting session in August, but they were not able to engage with families and schools to help.

Volunteer work parties, suspended from March, only resumed at the end of September. These were by invitation and were managed so that there were no more than 6 in a group. Naturally we started with a bonfire burning the material that we had cut down in February.

Joe Hope’s sheep arrived to graze the chalk bank on 27th September 2020 but still do not seem to be eating the Dogwood.

Subscriptions to our group have been due for year 2020 – 2021 from 1st April 2020.  

If you have not yet renewed please do so as your subscription is very important to us and helps to maintain your Local Nature Reserve. 


This year’s Annual General Meeting will take place virtually (probably via Zoom) on 10th November 2020 at 8.00 pm.  Please email to register your attendance or offer your apologies by 6th November to allow us to organise the technology. There will not be a guest speaker this year.


There are no more walks this year. Dates of walks for 2021, when they are allowed to resume, will be published in the newsletter and on the website.

If you are reading this Newsletter and are not already a member and would like to join, 

please contact Pauline Knapp our membership secretary

A message from the Chairman of the Friends of Holtspur Bank Local Nature Reserve (LNR)

Dear Friends of Holtspur Bank LNR

I’m writing to ask for your help and support for our future activities. 

The Friends have achieved a lot since Shirley Scrivener formed it almost 25 years ago.  Working with Beaconsfield Town Council, the owner of the Reserve, the Friends have maintained and enhanced Holtspur Bank Local Nature Reserve so that it has become one of Beaconsfield’s natural jewels.  The Friends have gone from strength to strength thanks to its hard working, effective and talented Committee members and working party volunteers.  All the activities of the Friends are driven by the Committee as our regular Newsletters show with a love of this rare and delightful part of Beaconsfield’s natural environment being implicit in all that we do.  In addition, we promote the Reserve to a wider audience through our regular guided walks to ensure we maintain viable levels of membership and that we are financially stable.  

Committee members move on, move away or retire and we need your help.  There are plenty more things we could do but we need more Committee members.  Without them it will be difficult to maintain our impressive list of activities or to initiate new ones.  We are in particular need of a Newsletter editor and someone to handle Promotion/publicity.  You would not necessarily need to join the winter practical conservation work parties although we could use some help here too.  

If you were to join us, you could expect to be well supported by other members of the Committee.  Even if you cannot make time to join the committee, please remember that we are always seeking “active” members who are prepared to help at specific events.

Remember, volunteering also has a positive impact on your own life.  You’ll meet new people living near you, you can take a refreshing break from your everyday routine, share a skill and make a difference in your community

Have I sparked your interest?  Like to find out more?  Browse this website to find out more about the Reserve or call me on 07919 336713.

With very best wishes

Les Davies