Maggie coordinates a butterfly transect on her allotment in Bristol. She has recently become more involved with her local Branch (Somerset & Bristol), joining the committee and organising events for the Bristol membership.

Volunteer Maggie Moss - Kate Merry

Tell us about your transect.

I have set up a transect in a very urban setting in Bristol, barely a mile from the M32. It might not have anything glamorous or rare on it but we’re very proud of it! I’m very egalitarian, I believe in the plebs down at the bottom!

I believe in succession planning because I want to ensure that the transect keeps going. We have a team of six regular transect walkers, which I coordinate. Often there will be several of us walking together and so there’s a social side to it too. We all share an interest in wildlife but none of us are specialists - we have all learned so much. The route takes around 1.5 hours to walk although there’s usually quite a bit of chatting and stopping to look at things. Oh and there’s a café at the end. Another benefit of the urban transect…

How did you end up becoming more involved with your local Branch?

There has recently been an education project, Munching Caterpillars, here in Bristol and I got to know Project Officer Matt Brierley through volunteering with him. My husband and I had attended national meetings and AGMs but hadn’t been to a local Branch event. I chatted with Matt about the idea of helping to organise some meetings for Bristol based members and things went from there.    

How are the events going?

The first event attracted thirty people, which filled the venue and is very encouraging. We had a talk about gardening for butterflies and then a talk on the Silky Wave moth, a rarity found in the Avon Gorge. We’re looking forward to our next event – Richard Fox (BC’s Associate Director of Recording & Research) speaking at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.

What motivates you to volunteer?

It is simply an enjoyment and appreciation for these beautiful insects. I come from a family of bird watchers and plant lovers. It was my husband who introduced me to butterflies in my thirties. They are just so beautiful and then of course you discover their caterpillars, their food plants, their lifecycles. And so it goes on, there are endless things to learn about.

I am particularly passionate about the urban side of BC’s work that concerns ‘widespread’ species. There is no such thing as a common butterfly anymore and there’s a huge amount of interesting work going on outside of the world of reserves and looking after the rarer species. It would be wonderful to get everyone together to share ideas and experiences.    

Do you have a favourite species?

I’m rather fond of Commas. I love the fact that a small child, during one of the Munching Caterpillars sessions said, ‘oh, they’re like pencil sharpenings’. And they are! What a great description. I use that all the time now. I like the way that they sail around our allotment and the caterpillars are great too.

Do you manage to find time for other interests?

Extinction Rebellion! I went to the protests in London at Oxford Circus. It was a great atmosphere and so well organised. What was interesting was that I didn’t hear a single negative comment from the hordes of shoppers and commuters. Some even stopped to tell us they appreciated what we were doing.