Srensall Common + World's End

MOD + Church Commisioners and Forestry  England 


Site Details

  SAC area managed by NE with a contract sheep grazier.  Worlds end  SINC is part manged by FE   NB Parts  north of railway are manged by YWT

Recorders: Terry Crawford,  Richard Baker, Yves Bouvet, Penny Relf         Distance:  3160m     Altitude:  23m   Walk Time Approx: 1 hour 15mins

World’s End, to the West of Strensall Common in York, is a SINC with a mosaic of fen meadow, acidic grassland, heathland and pond habitats. Over the last few years, the area has become increasingly overgrown with birch scrub, and the rich habitat is of concern. So  Freshwater Habitats Trust and the Yorkshire Branch of Butterfly Conservation started  a program of work days to tackle the problem. For Lepidoptera, the main aim is maintain a mosaic of grassland and short- to medium-height scrubby patches.  Thus Marbled White (Melanargia galathea) like coarse grassland, and Gatekeeper caterpillars live on grasses but the adult butterflies like nearby sunny scrub and hedgerows. 

Strensall Common is the only known English site for the Dark Bordered Beauty (Epione vespertaria), an RDB species that is currently threatened, and World’s End might provide habitat for new colonies.

S1-2 and 6-9 are SSSI and part of a SAC and owned by MOD and managed by NE  S4- 5 is owned by Church commisioners and its status is SINC but is currently being reassessed as SSI which wil help to protect this somewhat forgotten area 


S1-S2 are grazed  by sheep  by contract with NE and consists of heathland with wet areas of sedge and fen  

S3  you are entering an area of dry scrub and recently felled area where scrub has been cleared. 

S4 crosses into Worlds End and  more dry unimproved grassland with large numbers recorded  including some of the specialists ie Small Copper, BrownArgus Common Blue and Dingy Skipper.

S5 is a bit more heath passing a large section of mixed conifers and deciduous woodland and 

S6 is wet and marshy grassland  

S7 is more heathland with scattered trees and a favorite of the Large Skipper

 S8  has large counts  and is heath with some mature woodland. This is a favourite for Marbled Whites and Green-viened White  and Ringlets   but also the Skippers

S9  is heath  and is dominated by Small Heath and has a colony of Green Hairstreaks 

2023 Results

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%.

Strensall had an average year although many more species were down than up illustrating  it has suffered in teh extreme heat and rought of 2022.  It follows county trends only in parts with the boom in  Gatekeeper, Green hairstreak and Red Admiral.  The Gatekeeper boom compensated for the loses amongst all the other browns; even the Meadow Brown was down  here when countywide it had its best year ever almost doubling.  Possibly the best indicators of the affects of the extreme heat and  drought is the almost complete loss of both Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell with only 3 insects seen while just 2 years ago  there were near 200!  Some of the species that  often thrive  in the short term 'space' created following fires or extreme drought took advantage with Common Blue and Small Copper having good years

Transect reports 2020

2022 Results

 This site suffered with the drought and as with elsewhere the Small Skipper did  poorly while Large skipper at least recovered on last year back to normal. The whites had a poor year  although Small White in many places was welll up on last year.  Brown Argus as with everywhere else had a boom year particularly the later generations  dispersing from agricultural areas.  Holly Blue also boomed as it did universally. All the vanessids really suffered but Peacock the most with a very poor summmer generation that disapeared almost as soon as it emerged. The Small tortoiseshell boom with our warm wet summers has finished with a bust. Marbled White held on and Meadow Browns and Ringlets were up on a good year last year . Small Heath was down as it was in many localities but still good. 

2021 Results

Overall the site had its best year so far up 16% on average and there are signs  of management improvements  particularly in the YWT area. This could be the result of less grazing by sheep. 

Species trends are fairly similar to elsewhere  and with equal numbers of  loosers and winners. While Small Skipper gained, Large Skipper had a very poor year, similar to elsewhere, which could be as a result of the after affects of last years drought; Large Skipper being a damp lover. All three white species were well down while in common with elsewhere Orange Tip was universally up.  It is good to see better management benefitting Common Blue and Small Coper which pretty much everywhere else was down. The Vanessids had a poor year.  The Marbled White remains fairly static while  up elsewhere.  Speckled Wood  was down, as elsewhere, and another species still feeling the affects of last years drought. All the browns had good years which accounts for most  of the overall gain in total count on the site. On other sites, Gatekeeper and Small Heath had a boom year  which we suspect is a result of recovery from last spring's drought. 

2020 Results

2020 seems to be a better than average year with the highest scores so far over the 4 years the transect has been in operation which is encouraging. There are a few loosers In particular Marbled White and Speckled wood common Blue and gatekeeper but this has been seen on other transects which may be down to teh drought in spring 2020. In contrast the winners were Small Skipper , large Whites Peacock and Teh Small tortoiseshell had a boom year.