Nosterfield Quarry NR

West Tanfield

Owned and manage d by The Lower Ure Conservation trust 

Site Details 

Recorders: Emma Higgs        Distance 3052m       Altitude   41m          Walk Time 40mins

Nosterfield Nature Reserve is 150 acres of wet grassland and open water situated between the rivers' Ure and Swale.   It is the underlying magnesian limestone and its associated aquifer which makes the location special and one of the best wetland grasslands in North Yorkshire. There is a dramatic rise and fall in the water levels, associated with the natural water table and rainfall, resulting in typically 2.5 m per year.  Sand and gravel were produced from a former quarry here until the late 1980s. It was designated a reserve in 2001 and is the only Local Nature Reserve (LNR) in the Hambleton District.  


S1 is an old fields system with the usual grassland species and Orange Tip

S2 has by far the highest counts and  is partly woodland edge and abounds with Ringlet, Speckled Wood and a few Vanessids particularly Red Admiral and occasional Holy Blue and Orange Tip

S3 we pass between the two lakes with exposed  Limestone  and good number of Brown Argus Brimstone Comma and even Small Heath and Wall are seen.

S4 also has Brown Argus and Brimstone S% is similar with small counts

S4  is good for grassland species and damp areas favour Green viened white an dringlet

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%.

Nosterfield Quary pretty much follows county trends although  overall numbers were up significantly more than  county average.  The Biggest winners and losers were amonst the browns. Drought sensiitive  Ringlet  saw a very big decline while Meadow Brown and Speckled Wood so equally big rises along with Comma and Brimstone  accounting for much of the numerical rise. Brown Argus had a dramatic improvement  as did  Common Blue,  building on last year.  


Results:  2022

Total counts are somewhat down this year by 24% and we can guess the drought and heat has had quite an affect. Our dryer sites certainly seem more affected thatn woodland or mineral soils. However the trends show a good degree of similarity with the rest of Yorkshire.  In many sites all the whites were down  but the Orange tip was pretty universally up as here.  Its good to see the White letter Hairstreak  and Small Coppers this year while they were absent last year.   Brown Argus on Rockrose did not have such a good year  and the drought seems to be the major factor.  In contrast on many sites the migratory Cranebill form had an exceptional year appearing on many new sites in addition. Great to see Common Blue for the first time.  Holly Blue as with  all sites had a boom year although the summer generation was somewhat lower.  

The vanessids had a universally poor year  apart from Comma that bounced back to have one of its best ever years. We think that poor nettle quality in the heat and drought caused  them not to produce a second summer gneration and opt to go straight into hibernation. Comma in contrast prefering shady nettles had a huge summer generation  and then a smaller second generation.  

Amongst the browns Meadow Brown was up as on many sites but  the more damp loving Ringlet on this site was quite a bit down. 

Results:  2021

Its great to have such a good start with Brown Argus recorded in large numbers on a lowland site which is almost unheard of  so the Rockrose has established well and this species is using it in preference to Cranesbills  which the migratory form of Brown Argus much prefers.  Its also great to see both Wall and Small Heath;  both species are making a bit of a come back with Small Heath in particlar booming in teh last few years and Wall appearing in low numbers in many more locations in lowland north of York.