Rodley Nature


Site Details :  Owned by  Yorkshire Water and managed by Rodley nature reserve trust 

 Volunteers : Howard Smith, Penny Smith and  Pragna Unia 

Situated just four miles from the centre of Leeds, Rodley Nature Reserve is different to most wetland reserves in that the wetlands were all dug out from scratch from rough grassland close to the River Aire. When Yorkshire Water plc decomissioned the Rodley Water Treatment Works in 1993 it was with a wish that their land should be developed as a nature reserve. The land is situated in the Aire valley and is leased to  Rodley Nature Reserve Trust  from YW who manage it with help from donations and volunteers from  Friends of Rodley Nature Reserve plus the income generated from the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme.


 The Dragonfly Pond Area and surrounding pathways (S6-9) had very low counts, possibly due to the significant amount of work undertaken to develop the pond area which may have reduced the nectaring opportunities for Comma, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral etc.  Tim’s Field was awash with Small White (S5/10) from mid July once the annually drilled seed mix had flowered. The buddleia finally flowered in late August (S2) and attracted good numbers of Red Admiral, particularly in September. Despite a poor spring, good numbers of Speckled Wood were seen in S11 in the late summer, a section that runs through mature deciduous trees and adjacent to the willow coppice. Meadow Brown, Ringlet and Gatekeeper were recorded in mid-summer in both the John Ackroyd Wild Flower Meadow (S3/4) and the Mike Fisk Wild Flower Meadow (S13).

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%.

Another good year with a big increase in numbers well above teh county average. This is mostly due to an explosion of Gatekeeper and a better year for all the white species.  The site also  largely follows the county trends with good increases of Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood , Comma, Red Admiral and Brimstone. As universally Ringlet was well down and had the largest numerical loss.


Results:  2022

The site had a significant increase in numbers compared to last year up near a fifth.

The trends are very similar to the county trends  with Brimstone well up after the fabulous autumn last year. Large White  was down . Hollly Blue returned after being absent last year as did Small Copper. Smal tortoiseshell had a disasterous summer generation while in contrast comma doubled similar to other sites. All teh browns did well and in particular Gatekeeper was universally on a boom. 

Results:  2021

Despite the continued impact of Covid, and the appalling weather in April/May, 23 walks were undertaken. A total of 17 species were noted with Ringlet, Meadow Brown and Small Whites together accounting for nearly 60% of the 673 recorded sightings.  On the whole the pattern of sightings mirrored that throughout Yorkshire reflecting the cold, wet, miserable spring which resulted in no count over 20 until 7th July followed by large numbers of meadow butterflies benefitting from the lush habitats and finally good sightings of nectaring butterflies well into September.

 Howard Smith   October 2021