Silpho Quarry

Dalby Forest

Site Details  

NB This is  a private site with no public access and permission is required from the  land owner  to survey

Recorders:   Ian  Popely       Distance   = 1000m        Altitude 190m                 Walk Time 1 hour

This is a long-disused limestone quarry near Silpho.  It was once wel known as a Duke of burgundy site  but has noot been recorded here for many yearsThe track down to is interesting, with many  wildflowers in the verges, including meadow cranesbill , knapweed , field scabiou and greater bellflower. The quarry floor was like a garden with a fantastic display of late summer flowers, including the delicate lesser scabious  in huge numbers. 

The site has been scrubbing over for some years to the point it was not only degrading fast but getting difficult to walk the long established transect. With the co-operation of Carstairs who now manage the site  Butterfly Conservation , Ryedale and Scarborough Nats and many other volunteers the scrub has been cleared and stumps treated to prevent regowth and the transect route fully  restored. It wil be very interesting to see how the species fare from now on and the huge amount of work is expected to yield rewards and , maybe,  one day, the return of the Duke.  


S1 hedgerow leads down to te site entrance  and the gully is damp and yoelds very lareg numbers of Green-viened white Lareg and small  Whites, ringlets  Peacock and other vannesids but alos Wall brown. S2 is a smal meadow just above the site  and yoelds a typical grassland species in fair numbers  and Large Skippers.

S3 takes us to teh xcentre of te hsite  with mor edap shade loving grassland species 

S4 is a branch to the westeren edge of teh reserve and the steep descent into teh valley below but is scrubbed over and yields mostly speckled woods

S5 in the centre of the site

S6 takes us into  agrassy sheltered gully with a profusion of  grassalnd species and favoured by Marbled whites 

S7-S8 takes us from teh far south of teh site upwards to teh western half  with more marbled whites large skipper.

S9-10 are favoured by the skippers and  Ringlets 

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%.

Silpho Quarry has a good year although not as good as 2019 only because the vanessids were well down.  The increase in numbers islargely down to meadow Brown and Marbled white  both having cracking years which they did across teh county.  Alos floowing county trends are booms iN Speckled wood, Comma Red Admiral  and Holly Blue. Also doing well on thsi site Common Blue, Orange Tip and a resurgence in Dingy skipper. Big Loser were drought sensitive Green-viened white while Ringlet was just able to maintain its numbers although it lost out almost universally elswhere.  Wonderful to see 3 species of Fritillary with Small pearls having quite a good year teh health of this site is no longer in any question. Well done.

Transect reports

Results 2022

Results are well up on last year which is encouraging but also we see the return of the Small Heath and Marbled White really beginning to strengthen and Dingy Skipper was well up bucking the county trend. The site's history is of slow deteriation with scrub cover over calcareous grassland so we have seen to some extent Speckled Woods replacing  meadow browns and Ringlets.  Despite this longer term we stil see a small increase in numbers 

This year see orange tips and Smal whites having abetter year Large and Green-viened White having a bad year which is rather similar to elsewhere. Small Copper  was a bit down but rather random but it is better than zero last year.  brown argus had a good year or at least the migratory form on cransesbill did  while the rockrose on limestone suffered in the drought . All teh vanessids are down but particularly peacock with only 1 seen after mid May it is difficult to believe that in 2014 there was a total count of near 300 . Tortoiseshell did a bit better here than most localities but only 2 were seen after the beginning of July.  All teh browns except Ringlet saw a increase with marbled white in particular  increasing on last years boom.  Speckled wood tripled on last year in line with many locations but not enough to put it above the 5 year average. 

Silver-washed Fritillary and Dark-green Fritillary  are occasional vistirors to this site

Results 2021

A poorer year than of late and slightly down on elesewhere  there are soem trends to pick out.  The skippers are much less numerous as ere Small White which is prety much liek elsewhere Green Viened White loved our wet summer and was up  as was orange Tip in line with most transects  Holy Blue and Brimstone wer eabsent.  Smal Copper and Common Blue alo s down as with other sites.  Vanessids were wel down apart form tortoiseshell which were up again all inline wioth other sites Comma had a disaster as it du=id elesewhere.  marbled white boomed as they did on virtually all sites but Speckled woods were down Silver washed fritillary and Small Heath were seen for the first time  and Wall reappeared  all had good years elesewhere.