Chalk Pits YWT
Market Weighton on the Hudson Way
Recorders: Nick Hall and Clare Dent Altitude 52m Distance: 1610m Walk Time approx: 35mins
One of the most famous Wolds sites for butterflies and in the top 5 sites in the county with very large counts of Marbled White and Common Blue.
There is a variety of habitats as plants colonise the bare chalk and different wildlife communities occur as succession takes places over time. The first ‘pioneer’ species of lichens and moss colonise the quarry face and short-tufted grassland develops on the thin soils of the quarry floor supporting wild pansy, wild thyme and mouse-ear hawkweed. More established grassland on the quarry top supports common and greater knapweed, field scabious and burnet saxifrage. The ant hills of the yellow meadow ant covered in wild thyme dominate the slopes.
YWT has managed the site since 1965. Management has concentrated on keeping the grassland in good condition, with autumn and winter grazing by Hebridean sheep and Exmoor ponies helping keep some of the rough competitive grasses in check, allowing finer grasses and flowering plants to thrive. Scrub and weed control is carried out
The Vanesids, Orange Tip, Ringlets and the whites are highest in S1 the hedge lined track up to the main reserve.
The lower bowl consisting of of S2-4 and S8 is favoured Common Blue, Dingy Skipper and Meadow Brown. and Gatekeeper prefering S8
The grassy upper slope of S5-7 is very favoured by Marbled White, Small heath and small skipper
After missing a few years without a walker this year was walked from June onwards and had a good year. Trends were taken from 2018 and prior so maybe not fully representative but counts were 25% up
Unlike most of Yorkshire the skippers did see a significant improvement, The whites other than Large did well. Peacocks had a very poor year while Comma, as eleswhere, was up.
Speckled Wood was average but Marbled White was a bit down .
All the browns did well but particularly Gatekeeper which boomed nearly universally
Total counts were similar to the good year of 2018.
Over a relatively short 3 year period there appears to be substantial improvements in numbers including our scarcer species.
Only Wall Brown was missing in 2018 and there was a small decrease in the Vannesids and Large skipper took a tumble.
Marbled White remained the most common species with terrific numbers and Small Heath also had a very good 2018.
Whites are also showed a steady climb.
Common Blue also had a remarkable year in 2018 along with Dingy Skipper