inc.  Helenfield LNR

Site Details

Recorders: Alistair Taylor,  Angela Taylor,  Stella Craven,  Teresa Warbrick     Distance:  3590m      Walk Time : 1hour 15mins

The transect includes Helenfield Nature Reserve, a wet woodland planted about 20 years ago.


 S1 village lane  then becomes  farm tracks S2 with many of teh commoner garden species plus Common Blue and Holy Blue . S3 headland yielding really good numbers and a particular favourite of teh Small TortoisehellThen into  intensive agriculture of S5-8  to reach S9 the edge of the reserve and then back through a woodland ride of S10. After S3 most of the action is in Helenfield NR woodland of section S9, the west edge, and S10 through the wide ride with Whites and Browns being particularly numerous along with Comma Peacock and Red Admiral . The White-letter Hairstreak was seen in S9 woodland edge grasslandand has the highest counts  of most species and particularly Gatekeeper. S10 is a favourite with Speckled Wood

2023 Results 

County wide 2023 results reflect  the 2022 Heat and drought  with Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock nearly halved for the second year against their 5 year average. Red Admiral arrived in force in July and took advantage of soft nettle growth of the rains and had their best year ever. Drought sensitive species on thin soils were badly hit,  particularly Dark -green Fritillary and Northern Brown Argus but also Ringlet, Green-viened White and Small Heath.  Less drought affected species along with the hottest June on record built even more on gains last year leading to Comma, Brimstone, Holly Blue and most Browns  having a fantastic year reaching all time highs. A increase of 9% overall was mostly due to sheer numbers of Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers ment 2023 nearly pipped 2014 as best year in modern times.  Most noticeable was the large differeces between moisiture retaining mineral soils of the valleys and thin, dry limestone or sandy soils. A large number of damp grassland, hedgerow and woodland  dominated sites benefitted hugely with 3 sites seeing more than 50% increase . A smaller number of thin, chalky, sandy or craggy sites did badly some down up to 25%.

Green Hammerton had a pretty good  up 6% and close to the county average but still a tad down on last year. Species trends follow the county trends fairly closely with the big winners being Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown and big losers Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell. As eleswhere there were record numbers of Brimstone, Holly Blue and Comma. Speclkled wood saw a bit of rise although elsewhere it broke records to its best year ever.. Red Admiral also had its best year since the 1990's and showed strongly on all transects apart from those at the highest altitudes. Great to see Wall clinging on even in this bad year for this species. The site trend is still for steady strong increase in total numbers. 

Transect reports 2020

2022 Results 

A massive increase in numbers on this developing site with almost all species increasing.  The big winners were Gatekeeper and Speckled Wood which universally boomed across Yorkshire . An increase in Gatekeeper of 10 fold  in 3 years is remarkable. Common Blue is also benefitting from the improving habitat and Wall Brown has been returned as has Large Skipper. Holly Blue exploded as it has done universally. Bad news is short but Peacock had a very poor year with only a very small summer generation. Unusually Small Tortoiseshell  has nearly held its ground against last years boom and is at very high numbers  For most of lowland Yorkshire Tortoiseshells crashed and some sites saw none after June which was the same at this site with the second generation basically 'cancelled' as the first generation hibernated immediatly  in the heat.  Meadow Brown was well down on the last 2 years but held onto average

2021 Results 

As with many transect this year sees a big rise in Gatekeeper numbers as the species recovers from  drought in early 2020 but all the browns have benefited  to make for the best year so far.  As elsewhere the Vanessids have had a bad year particularly Comma apart from the Small Tortoiseshell whose boom these last two years continues.  The cabbage whites also had a pretty good year. Unfotunately Wall has not returned.  Holy Blue was absent and had a disasterous oear as it did elesewhere. Small Skipper has maintained it  numbers after a rapid rise in the last two years  but Large Skipper remains absent

2020 Results 

2020 saw small skipper creeping in in numbers into Helenfield and the near disappearence of Large Skipper. Small White  had a good year and Orange Tip were in good numbers again along the lanes and on the woodland edge. Small Copper had a good 2nd brood.  Tortoiseshell and Peacock saw a good rise in the maturing woodland and the Browns maintained rising numbers  The migrant Painted Lady and Red Admiral had a poor year