Walton Nature Park


Site Details:

Recorders:                Not Recorded since 2010   established 1995 one of  Yorkshires longest recorded transect 

A local nature reserve located 3 miles south east of Wakefield, Walton Colliery Nature Park consists of lakes and ponds, woodland and grassland and also a section of the Barnsley  canal.

It is managed to protect and improve its habitats for the benefit of wildlife, there is always something different to see as the wildlife changes with the seasons- spring sees the arrival of the Cuckoo and watch out for Grass Snake basking in the summer sunshine The park boasts a variety of wildflowers including Common Spotted and Southern Marsh Orchids. 


Report 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%.

Walton was compared to the last 5 recorded years 2011-2015, so a good while ago, plus the route has been substantially changed and the park  has gone through considerable changes over that time particulalry with tree growth and the maturing of many of the grassalnds let alone scrub growth.  So its good to report numbers are rather similar to the historical data overall. Particularly important is we see a very  large improvement in the one threatened species on the site namely Small Heath which is widespread across the site.  In contrast across the county it had a bad year as it is rather drought sensitive so there is much to look forward too with this species as was the continuing presence of Dingy Skipper which although slipping off the red list is still a scarce species nationwide.  Comparing against the county wide figures we  see similar trends with  improvements in Meadow Brown and particularly Gatekeeper.   Peacock and Small tortoiseshell have had two really bad years so we should no be surprised at  the poor performance here. A cooler summer this year shoudl begin to see a revival next year. Brimstone, Holly Blue and Brimstone all had record breaking years across the county to their best year ever which i think we can also see here.  Next year we should be able to see even better how the park is faring and Im very hopeful with the habitat improvements which are ongoing.  The site is right for the return of Wall which is spreading down from the north.