Whitcliffe Scar

Site Details

Recorder: Catherine Jones Distance : 3000m Walk Time = 1hour

The craggy heights of Whitcliife Scar are know as a Northern Brown Argus site but there is a Dark Green Fritillary site nearby so occasional Dark Green Fritillaries fly past plus Wall Browns are in good numbers.

Warning: this transect is on extremely rough and high terrain with very large drops in places next to the narrow path. It is hard to walk unless you're wearing suitable footwear and are able to scramble in muddy or eroded areas.


The route starts on farmland high above the River Swale and proceeds south to the scar in S2 then, after patches of hillside scrub, you enter broad leaved woodland followed by a rather precarious scar top path along S3.

After doubling back the path, which is very eroded, goes through more scrub in S4 and areas of unimproved limestone grassland in places with scrub in sections S5 to S7, followed by road for S8 and S9.

S1 and S2 is dominated by Small Heath in large number but is also favoured by a strong colony of Wall and often holds lareg numbers of Peacock an an occasonla Dark-green Fritillary

S2-S4is favoured by Speckled wood being shady who peak in S4

S5-6 is favoured by Small Copper and the Wall and Smal Tortoiseshels show in good numbers rigth through to S8

S8 road verges is often the best area with large numbers, Meadow Browns, Ringlets and Whites and has a very strong Small Skipper colony

S8-S9 is favoured by Ringlet

Results: 2022

Slightly down on the average hides some big changes with our species . However numbers are still holding up well compared to the recent all time peak in 2018/19 that almost all sites experienced.

The decrease in small skipper and increase in Large mirrors many sites as do the quite laregg decrease in the Cabbage Whites. In common with other sites Orange tip had a better year but here numbers were up 6 fold . Small Copper seems to be in a downwards trend in many localities but is very variable . Holy Blue reappeared after an absence in common with many sites . The vanessids is where most of the losses occured particularly Peacock but also Tortoiseshell was only one fifth of last year with only a very small 1st and 2nd generation. Peacock numbers were porr in teh spring unlike most locations and actually came back in August but only for a week before fading away very quickly. This likely reflects temperatures are considerabbly cooler by 3-4'C than the lowland where both species made almost no showing after early July. In complete contrast and in harmony universally with other lowland locatiosn Comma had a good year after zero for last 3 years. Speckled wood like most of teh browns had a godd year here slightly up but on many locations it showed a doubling in the September generation. Wall although half of last year held its ground and the longer term it is rising significantly which is also true of other locations Wall is on teh up as it is in Derbyshire peaks. Meadow brown was very much up but the big winner which bucked the county trend was Small Heath which at this site is showing a longer term increase, plus a slight second generation, even if numbers this year were a bit down on the boom and ten times higher than 7 years. Is this climate change or is it habitat? is a question begging an answer

Transect reports 2020

Results: 2021

An outstanding year 49% up on the average when most sites were down.

Most species were up and the trends of 2020 are somewhat repeated with the strongest performers being Small Heath doubling its previous high and booming throughout the county and Small Tortoiseshell continuing tits boom as elsewhere .

Wall was good which matches eleswhere.

Loosers were Small White Large Skiper and Ringlet along with Holy Blue which matchs the rest of Yorkshire

Results: 2020

Even without the migrant Painted Lady numbers were a bit down with significant losses of Small Copper and Green-veined White, which may well be due to the drought conditions of early spring. Migrant Red Admirals held up well, as did Small Tortoiseshell having a good year. Small Heath numbers continue to rise strongly. Ringlet numbers are well down after a hot summer of 2019 and the drought of 2020.