Old Glebe YWT

Site Details:   

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. 

2022 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%.

Leyburn was slightly down on its 5 year average but still pretty good and only really pipped by 2018/19 peak.  Another site seeing the remarkable return of the Wall these last two years. On its well known sites it has done badly  but  this site  shows significant improvements in other respects with Small Heath continuing to increase at a good pace while for most sites these last two years have been poor , in addition Small Skipper had its best year ever here while although rising long term has had two bad years in the drought.  Lots of positives. 

Transect reports 2020

2022 Results 

 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.

2021 Results 

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.  

Results 2020

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