Thornton le Dale
Recorders Ian Popely, Graham Oliver and Paul Cogan Altitude 125m Distance 900m Walk time= 40mins
At the entrance to the Dalby Forest scenic drive just outside Thornton le Dale this site is a dry unimproved limestone grassland on the tabular hills. The path follows an ancient earthwork and ditch from Ellerburn Bank to the Dalby Forest drive Car Park along the top ridge of the eastern side of Thornton Dale. It was largely native mature mixed woodland replanted with pine planataions and now being restored , it slopes steeply to the east . The route follows various scallops cut into the forest and the ditch in places. Duke of Burgundy has been seen in the ditch and the Marsh thistles and Bugle are favourites with our other Fritillary species.
S1 is a small meadow to the east of the foot path sharing many species with adjoining Ellerburn Bank but contains a good many violets and a strong Colony of Dark green Fritillary and Dingy Skipper plus an occasional Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary. It is also the favourite of the Wall and Brown Argus and Common Blue and plenty of Marbled Whites can be seen.
S2 is the footpath with lesser number of woodland edge species like Speckled Wood and Green -viened White
S3 another loop from teh main path sees Small Heath and is the home to more Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries.
S4 counts are very low
S5 has tall grass loving species like Large Skipper and high counts of Ringlets
S6 favours the damp loving of Orange Tip and Speckled Wood
An above average year but this site in contrast to most is steady or showing a slow decline in numbers with the last peak in the universally good year of 2019.
Small Skipper is on a long term decline here as are Large skipper. Dingy Skipper levels held up well but were down elsewhere. All the Whites did well apart from Large. Small Copper after returning for a few years disappeared. A duke of burgundy was seen which is a first for many years and generally the dukes had a better year with some dispersal. Brown Argus and the other blues were down in the drought as they were at next door Ellerburn Bank. All the Vanessids had a very poor year with many not being seen after the end of June with enforced hibernation in the heat. Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary had a much better year trebling on last year but still this species appears to be on the decline. Dark green had a very poor year down to a tenth of the average although it was down on most sites. Wall is showing signs of a slow recovery after reappearing in number in 2018 it was however rather down thsi year. Speckled wood remained average whiel marbled white was somewhat down. The browns accounted for most of thsi years gains for teh site compensating for all the losses.
2021 was a much better year than 2020 but not exceptional like 2019.
Brimstone and Orange Tip saw increases as in many Yorkshire transects. Dingy Skipper saw an increase to a new high. Large Skipper returned in better numbers and there is obvious signs of recovery after the spring 2020 severe drought in many species . Brown Argus, Common Blue and Small Copper had some of their best counts . Comma and Red Admiral did particularly poorly as they did almost everywhere while Dark-green Fritillary had its best year. Speckled Wood is stil recovering while Marbled White boomed as it did elsewhere and Wall did well
A poor year compared to recently particularly amongst our grassland species with Wall brown not appearing, Skippers apear to be in a steady decline. teh migrant Vannesids were wel down as they were on many sites along with large whites but unusually Peacocks had a poor year as well. Fritillaries werea littel down while Dingy skipper looks fairly steady. Duke of Burgundy was not seen. See comaprisons below:
The following adjustments were applied to compensate for missing beginning of the season: Dingy +5, Large White +1, GVW +7, Brown Argus +1, Red Admiral+2, Small Pearl +2, DGF +5, Peacock +5, Small Tort +1