High Brae YWT
Northern Brown Argus transect
Walkers Terry Whitaker Distance 1632 Walk Time 55mins Altitude 326m
Situated on the east side of Inglebrough in the Ribble Valley just north of Horton in Ribblesdale. In summer, experience a multitude of plants and flowers, with an expanse of yellow rock-rose in June and the rare Alpine bistort, found here in one of its most southerly locations. Brae Pasture includes areas of hay meadow, calcareous grassland, limestone pavement and woodland. The diversity of habitats support a wide range of plants, invertebrates and birds including notable species such as blue moor grass, bird’s-eye primrose, alpine bistort and frog orchid. Sheep and cattle graze from late summer into late autumn after the traditional late summer haycut.
S1 from the layby goes to the tree line that runs north south on teh edge of the limestone pavement . S2 and nearby S9 -S11 are in a grassy area just below the pavement and this is where most of teh action takes place . Meadow Brown, Ringlet and skippers are restricted to the grassy area of S2 and S11 and is also favoured by the Common Blue. The Northern Brown Argus reside pretty much in S2-S3 and then S9-11. S9 is a favourite with the Small heath . Dark-green Fritillary very much favours S2 and S10 woodland edge
The signs of some recovery continues with a boom in the browns this year with Small Heath accounting for a good percentage of the improvement with the best year since 2014.
Both Golden skippers reappeared with the exceptionally warm weather but drought was a big factor for other species with last years boom in Dark Green Fritallary crashing. Northern brown Argus held up well but still in long term decline while Common was at least quite a bit up. . Smal Tortoiseshell crashed as it did throughout Yorkshire due to poor quality nettle and no second generation was possible.
From 2014 possibly the best butterfly year by a good margin in recent times there has been a slow decline. However there is signs this has slowed . When many species were peaking in 2018/19 here many were falling which we might guess is down to drought on very thin soil. 2020-2021 wet summers seemed to suit Northern brown Argus as it did in 2016-17 which were universally poor fo rmost butterflies eleswhere and Common Blue and Dar- green Fritillary and Small heath dropped dramatically.