Staveley Western YWT


Site Description

Recorders: Angela Ponsford, M Stringer and Jo Polito                   Distance:  2015m                                        Walk Time Aprrox:  1 hour

Aflooded former gravel pits , fringed with rushes, along with several small pools and drainage channels. Some extensive grassland and small areas of woodland. There is also a large variety of wildflowers, especially orchids, including a large colony of Marsh Helleborines. 


A fairly even distribution of common grassland species with some small differences 

S5-S7 sees the 'damp' loving Orange Tip, Ringlet, Small and Large White  tending to dominate 

S7+S8 are favoured by Small Skipper indicating long gresses but the presence of more wooded area greatly favours Red Admiral, Peacock,  Comma and Speckled woods

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%.

Staveley West  like its neighbour had a very good year nearly double the county trend in overall numbers and up 14% overall . Species trends prety closely follow the county with massive increases in Gatekeeper (4 fold) and Meadow Borwn (2 fold) while Ringlet dropped dramatically to just a fifth of last year illustrating teh drought here was much worse.   Unfortunatly the affects of drought ment  Small Heath was not seen this year. However the same species showed a marked improvent just next door. Speckled wood  doubled as did Comma. Brimstone tripled and Holly Blue  reached an all time high along with Red Admiral. Peacock really suffered  here as it had these last two years but Small Tortoiseshell managed to come back where in most localities it had a even worse year after an atrocoius 2022.  Common Blue boomed after last year sun. Drought sensitive Orange Tip and Green-viened White fell back as they did in most parts.

Transect reports

Results 2022

This year is a somewhat  down on 2020- 21 and well down on the recent high in 2018-19 But even so there are soem interesting new patterns emerging. In particular  increasing number of Small heath since 2019 and now Marbled White is a great addition following just a couple of years behind as the species has had several dispersal events in recent years leading to lots of new colonies including along Nidderdale.  Loss of the Large Skipper woudl indicate the grasslands are evolving and maybe dryer and over the years butterfly numbers are increasing by about 10% over the last decade. Most species this year are following the county trends with the Skippers, Whites and Vanessids being very much reduced partcularly Peacock the exception being ,as everywhere else, Comma had a good year more than double last year . Most of the browns with the exception of the more moisture loving Ringlet were well up but didint compensate completey for all the other losses