Wharram Quarry YWT

Site Details 

Recorders:   Martin Philips                             Distance:  832m                Altitude 135m           Walk Time:  45 mins

The site was actively quarried for chalk between 1919 and the 1940s and was offered to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust in the 1960s by owner Lord Middleton after he noticed bee orchids growing on the quarry floor. A species rich chalk grassland, Wharram Quarry is home to many of the characteristic flowering plants that thrive on the thin Wolds soil. Plants include  Colt's foot; Cowslip Thistle broomrape; Wooly thistle; Pyramidal orchid Autumn gentian;  Quaking Grass and  Carline thistle and Birds foot trefoil is abundant.

Key Butterfly species are Dingy Skipper, Marbled White; Small Heath. The site is carefully managed and a new scrape area  created on a 5 year cycle.  Teh density of butterflies here are without match in Yorkshire. 


The sections are fairly similar  but of different lengths  apart from S10 and S11 which are in more shady rough pasture and was not originally part of the quarry but is under restoration. Dingy Skipper are favouring near the scrape area of S3-S4

Results 2022

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%.

Wharram Quarry had a average year  and better than many other dry  sites which suffered in 2022 extreme heat and were well down on overall numbers. Species trends tend to follow the county  with the big losers being  drought sensitive Small Heath and Ringlet being matched by large increases in Marbled White, Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown all of whom had there best year ever across the county. Great to see the Wall Brown storm back as in so many places they lost out. All the skippers lost out . The other big loser was Common Blue likely as a result of the drought. The vanessids stayed in the duldrums but at least they show the first signs of recovery this year by being up on last. 


Results 2022: 

This dry quarry site was very much down on 2021, nearly a third  and almost universally across the species likely because of drought. Of significance is Brown Argus which boomed in most localities did show an increase. Speckled wood also held up well here while it boomed elsewhere.  However Dingy skipper numbers halved while the Vanessids were down by even more. Ringlet and Small Heath also halved. Only Marbled white and meadow brown for which this is a very good site held their numbers as they did on most sites.