Wheldrake Ings

Lower derwent Valley


Site Description

Recorders: Emily Clarke, Fiona Bruce, Terry Ram, Richard Leathley Distance: 2689m Walk Time Approx: 1hour 30mins

Part of the lower Derwent valley reserve and its treasured MG5 grassland the site is often flooded in winter.

In summer its meadows are awash with Great burnet, Meadowsweet, and Meadow vetchling.


S1, relatively low counts of common species

S2 generally has one of the highest counts and along with S4 tends to be the favourite area for Orange Tip and Small White S2-S3 is also teh area favoured by occasional Dingy Skipper, Common Blue, Gatekeeper and Wall, Small Copper and Small Heath

S3 along with S4 tend to be the favoured area for the Vanessids

S4 in more shady areas with Speckled Wood appearing and is also favoured by Meadow Brown and Ringlet

S5 Meadow Brown can be most numerous

S7 has a low count

Results 2022:

A big increase on the last two years but still quite a way behind the good summers of 2018/19 which stand out at a modern day highpoint and 11% behind teh 5 year average there were lost of ups and down in common with most sites as a consuence of the heat and drought. There is a surprising big difference between years at this site which seems to be not unusual on floodplain habitats .. every species either does extrememly well or extrememly poorly . This is certainly true amongst the whites however this year as with most localities both the Brimstone and Orange Tip are up average . Small Skipper counts are always very low which is a surprise for such a grassalnd site but the majority of the site is cut for hay. Dingy Skipper is likely visiting occasionally from surrounding sites like the North Selby mine close by. Holly Blue returned after a absence of two years but not quite back to average and this species has been seen returning to many sites in the spring generation. Small Tortoiseshell was well down on the recent years boom but no nearly as much as other sites with good numbers in June and then zero in August and the second generation failed completely. Similarly with peacock just low numbers seen in July and then nothing and was responsible for much of the losses for teh year. In contrast Comma boomed almost everwhere and a very strong showing here but then again nothing later. Similar to other sites speckled wood had an excellent year particularly in September. Gatekeeper also thrived as with other sites and was almsot universally up . Meadow brown was a tad down on average buit stil way up on teh previous two years nearly doubling as did Ringlet.

Transect reports

Results 2021:

This riverside route is subject to much annual variations of water levels but also of butterfly species with ocassional explosions of some in good years like 2017-2019 foloowed by crashs.

There were huge peaks of Peacocks and Meadow Browns in 2019; then Whites in 2018 so the regular floods do seem to be the key factor. For example Meadow Brown 448 in 2019 and just 15 in 2020 but there was extensive floods in February 2020 and you can guess the larvae were drowned

Following the riverbank and does mean there is often good quantities food plants for Orange tip and Small White both of which are occasionally in very high numbers. Comparison with the 5 year shows 2021 in a bad light of almost eveything down but there are exceptions which fit very well with Yorkshire trends. Small Tortoiseshell continues to boom and Small Heath is showing a strong upwards trend. Biggest loosers are Comma and Peacock. Also missing in 2021 are the occasional visitors/breeders of Small Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Holy Blue, Brown Argus, Painted Lady, Common Blue, Wall and Gatekeeper.