TVERC Spring Recorders' Conference 2023 - Summary

On Saturday 18th March, we held our Spring Recorders’ Conference. For the first time, we held the conference at Hill End Outdoor Education Centre, near Oxford. We had a full house, well, barn, with 70 people attending in person, and another 15 online, all coming together to hear about biodiversity monitoring activities in the area.


TVERC’s Henrietta Pringle kicked off proceedings with an exploration of our data holdings, and what the recording coverage for Oxfordshire and Berkshire looks like. We’ll be making these maps of recorder effort available online, and will be asking you to help fill in the gaps, so watch this space!


Our speed update session was a chance to hear from local wildlife groups about their news and opportunities to get involved. John Melling gave a run down of some of the surveys you can do for BTO, such as the Breeding Bird Survey and Wetland Bird Survey, as well as the less structured Garden BirdWatch and BirdTrack. Lesley Dunlop walked us through the varied geology of Oxfordshire and the Oxfordshire Geology Trust’s plan for site monitoring. Bob Cowley brought us news of his Tracks & Signs courses to help you learn how to identify these tricky field-signs. Finally, TVERC’s Julie Kerans rounded off the speed updates with a summary of her findings and highlights of the 2022 Local Wildlife Site survey season.


The first of our main speakers was Tom Walker, President of the Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. He gave us fascinating insight into the world of molluscs, telling us about what shells and snails are, where they may be found, and even their importance in archaeology and our understanding of ancient environments.


Aljos Farjon, FLS of Royal Botanic Gardens Kew returned to our conference to bring us results of the 5-year biodiversity survey of High Park, Blenheim. This SSSI is the top site for ancient oaks in all of Europe, and Aljos and his team of 60 specialists found 4000 species of fungi, plants and animals. The records have been passed to us at TVERC, and a book detailing the team’s findings will be published soon.


After lunch, we heard from the Oxfordshire Badger Group about their work. This includes rescues, vaccination and outreach and education. They are also looking for help with biodiversity surveys of Hutchcomb’s Copse. Sticking with the badger theme, our recent micro-intern from the University of Oxford, Alice Jardine, gave a quick summary of how she used badger data to identify potential locations of unrecorded badger setts. An example of how our data can be used for targeted recording.


To finish our main talks, Mike Pollard from Wild Oxfordshire updated us on the work of the Upper Thames Curlew Recovery Project. The Upper Thames is a vital area for England’s lowland Curlew, and last year fieldworkers managed to fence 20 nests to protect them from predators, to boost their hatching and fledging success.


In the afternoon, in-person delegates had a choice of workshops to attend. Claire Carvell and Robin Hutchinson from UKCEH/UKPoMS introduced the UK Pollinator Monitoring Programme, with identification tips and a guide to carrying out Flower Insect Timed (FIT) counts. Following on from his talk earlier, Tom Walker brought some snail specimens for us to examine under the microscope and taught us what key features to look for to identify shells. For those wishing to stretch their legs, David Millin offered a guided walk around Hill End, showing the group the varied habitats and species they support. He even managed to rustle up a bonus bat sighting!


Thank you so much to all of you who attended our conference, and special thanks to our speakers and workshop hosts for giving up their time. Finally, we are very grateful to Hill End for hosting the event and look forward to returning! We are already thinking about our next conference in Autumn, so do contact us at with any suggestions for speakers or workshop topics.