Old Glebe YWT
Recorders: Jennie White and John Smith Altitude 142m Distance: 1200m Walk time: 1 hour
A traditional hay meadow, Leyburn Old Glebe is the richest remaining fragment of Ellershaw, a district well-known to naturalists since the 19th Century. The meadow is rich in flowers in spring and summer supporting a range of orchids including the burnt tip orchid and the green winged orchid, makes it a very special place indeed and a rich variety of butterfly species. The banks and washlands of the river Ure favour plants like cuckoo flower and Devils bit scabious abound. It has one of the largest orange Tip counts anywhere! Dark green Fritillary appears most years and occasional Northern Brown Argus. Chimney sweeper moth is also common on Pignut.
Small Heath favours S5+S8 along with Meadow Browns. Orange Tip very much favours the side of the river Ure S7 and S8 along with Small Copper . Speckled Wood favour S2 and S8 while Common Blue favour S4-6. Comma favour S7 and Dark Green Fritillary S8 Some years the Browns prefer the main meadow of S5 rather than riverside S8 which may be a management difference.
The longer term annual trend is for increasing counts and 2022 comes in as second highest year after the big peak in 2019. Interestingly our scarcer species are responding very positively with Small Heath and Common Blue seeing a big come back. Both the skippers were well up which seems to be the case on many Dales sites but the reverse of the lowland. In common to most other places apart from upland sites the Vanessids were universally down due to the heat and poor nettle quality driving them into very early hibernation and only comma managed a second generation successfully. Its great to see the return of the Wall after some years and this species apears to have had a good year with lots of dispersal going on. Small heath was down on last year but still a tad up on the average. The other Browns all werw all up about a third including Speckled Wood and follows the county trend.
Despite the weather the year ended with broadly similarto the 5 year average if a tad down on 2020 and with 2019 being exceptional.
The patterns are somewhat similar to elsewhere in yorkshire with Small Tortoiseshell and Small Heath both having very good years but also decreases in many other species particularly Large Skipper Small White, Red Admiral, Peacock, and Speckled Wood. Comma in particular had a very bad year almost everywhere.
Where it bucks the Yorkshire trends is with Small Skipper, Common Blue and Small Copper increasing and Orange Tip decreasing . we do know the summer in NW quarter of the County was warmer and sunnier than average and significantly different to most of Yorkshire.
Numbers are well down compared to the good year of 2019. 2019 was characterised by the Painted Lady invasion and numbers of Meadow Brown recorded doubled compared to normal however this years results are very close to average and not the disaster forecast by some. Both species have returned back to more normal levels but there is little signs of drought effects of the dry spring seen on other transects. However Green-viened White and Peacock numbers are also well down. In contrast Common Blue numbers which have colapsed on some transects showed a steady rise to good numbers . This could be because it is a damp site and the spring drought had a lesser effect. Small Heath is showing a steady rise in numbers these last few years and Small Tortoiseshells numbers have more than doubled and are again a common butterfly after a few years in the duldrums as on all transects. The skippers showed a good increase in contrast to some other dryer sites