Chalk Pits  YWT

Market Weighton  on the Hudson Way

Site Description

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

Results:  2023

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%.

A very good year at Kiplingcotes most species on this site are showing a steady rise which is promising.  Biggest winner, as everywhere, was Red Admiral and in most respects the site follows the county species trends.  Drought sensitive species here didnt show the large decreases seen elsewhere just much lower ie Ringlet and Small Heath and GV White but still  managed postive.  Likewise species that did very well elesewhere did even better here like Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown  and Marbled White who numericaly made up most of the increase in overall numbers . Small Skipper had a very good year while across the county it was very mixed. The great news is Wall was seen for the first time  in 6 years, fingers crossed it stays.

Transect reports 2020

Results:  2022

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.

Results:  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