Tuesday, May 20, 2014

North York's Lepidoptera etc.....Saturday 17th May 2014.

An organised meet today with Allan,Colin and Jackie,saw me heading bright and early to North York's in the hope of seeing two of this country's rarest butterfly species..Duke of Burgundy and Pearl-bordered Fritillary.I planned to visit Forge Valley first,so it was here i started proceedings.I parked at the 'Old Mans Mouth' car park,got the gear together and began my walk along the extensive board walk here to the sound of the rushing water of the River Derwent and close by a pair of Grey Wagtail feeding an expectant brood.The riverine woodland here was brimming with wild flowers and the smell of Ramsons filled the air and other species included the beautiful Early-purple Orchid,Herb Robert and Bennet,Greater Stichwort,Wood Sorrel and Butterbur.I know from previous visits to this area that it is usually good for the declining Spotted Flycatcher,with it being a stronghold for them and it wasn't long before i was enjoying stunning close views of a prospecting pair.The male came incredibly close and i gained the best views of the species i have ever had the privilege of enjoying,little beauties.Other bird sightings included a foraging Marsh Tit and Warblers which included Garden,Willow,Blackcap and Chiffchaff.As i walked the riverside a few fleeting glimpses of Brown Trout in the river added another spectacle to this fantastic start to the day.Time was getting on and i made the short journey into Ayton to meet up with Allan,Jackie and Col.Before long we were on the road again heading for site number 2 for the day.Thankfully the sun was out in full force now,ideal butterfly weather and as we walked along the moorland path our first Green Hairstreaks of the day were encountered.It wasn't long before we were watching and enjoying our first of 26 Duke of Burgundy as they flitted and chased about the bracken.This diminutive little member of the metalmark family is not an easy species to photograph and it was hard work to get a shot without vegetation in the way,but i eventually did with a little patience.Other species of Lepidoptera included Peacock,Red Admiral,Small Tort and Green-veined White.A few birds were also seen on the journey to and from this site and included a Tawny Owl sat on a hillside rock,before disappearing,2 singing male Tree Pipit and a superb encounter with a female Red Grouse and her brood of chicks.Back in the car again and off to site number 3 through the stunning countryside we went,I'm glad Allan knew were he was going.The target species at this third site was the beautiful Pearl-bordered Fritillary,a sadly declining species which seem to be doing well here and we managed some cracking views of this rare butterfly as they nectared and searched for a mate.These are my first ones since a visit to the Wyre Forest some years ago and refreshed my memory nicely as to what a beautiful insect they are.Other interesting sights here included more Early-purple Orchids,our second sightings of Dingy Skipper for the day and a lovely Common Buzzard mewed over head.The final site of the Day was Allans baby,Forden Bank or Fodden as i kept getting told to pronounce it.This is basically a chalk grassland site that has been managed by the North Yorkshire branch of butterfly conservation and was pretty impressive with its array of insects,wildflowers and bird species for a relatively small pocket of managed habitat.Insect highlights here included several Wall,Common-blue and Brown Argus from the butterfly world and the stunning metallic Leaf Beetle Cryptocephalus hypochaeridis.These little Leaf Beetles belong to the colour full Chrysomelidae family which includes the Potatoe pest,Colorado Beetle.Several lovely chalk grassland flowers here included my 'First' Green-winged Orchids,with a few of the Var.alba form,Nettle-leaved Bellflower,Dog Violet,Black Medick and Basil Thyme.So after a pretty hectic day visiting several sites,i made the journey home,back to Lincolnshire after enjoying another brilliant visit to this cracking part of the world.
Forge Valley SSSI.

Male Spotted Flycatcher,Forge Valley.

Ramsons,Forge Valley.

Dingy Skipper.

Duke Of Burgundy.

Red Grouse chick.

Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

Forden Bank.

Leaf Beetle sp. Chryptocephalus hypochaeridis,Forden Bank.

Green-winged Orchid of the var.alba form,Forden Bank.

Nettle-leaved Bellflower,Forden Bank.

Wall,Forden Bank.


  1. excellent write up as usual steve ,totally enjoyed the read !!

  2. Thanks again mate,it was a good,but hectic day.