WFV, Wharram Quarry (YWT) and Robert Fuller Gallery Thixendale 9th July '19

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Thu, 11th Jul 2019, 6:28pm

Marbled WhitesWharram Quarry is a species rich chalk grassland, home to the many characteristic plants that thrive on the thin soil levels found there. Quarried for chalk from 1919 it fell into disuse in the 1940’s and was offered to the YWT in the 1960’s when the owner found Bee Orchids growing on the quarry floor. Nine of us set off in very unpromising drizzly rain, to discover this promising flower and butterfly rich site in the Yorkshire Wolds.

Fortunately by the time we got there it was dry and warm if not sunny. And what an impressive breath-taking sight met our eyes, seven hectares of colour and beauty waiting to be explored with hidden gems to be found. As soon as we walked through the gate Marbled White butterflies were fluttering around us in large numbers as they emerged to breed, and flower species so numerous that progress was slow. In all 79 species of plants in flower were recorded including the star of the show the rare, and only found in Yorkshire, Thistle Broomrape and associated Woolly Thistle, a star in its own right, on which it is parasitic. Also worthy of mention were the stunningly aesthetic purple cushion like mounds of Thyme delicately decorated with Black Medick and Bird's-foot Trefoil. Orchids included Common Spotted, Pyramidal, Bee and Twayblade. Both Knapweed and Greater Knapweed were coming into flower, Field Scabious, Agrimony, Clustered Bellflower, Field Bindweed, Common Restharrow, Fairy Flax, several grasses and many other species all added to the diversity and richness of the chalkstone quarry floor flora that we had come to see.

The site is also home to many butterflies. Species seen on the day were Marbled White, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Common Blue, Small Heath, Small Skipper, Painted Lady, Small White and Burnet Companion. Two plume moths were identified Crescent Plume - food plant Rest Harrow, Brown Plume - food plant Germander Speedwell and also the tiny Mint Moth Pyrausta despicata (Straw-barred Pearl) food plant Plantains.

Although not renowned for being a birding site the following species were spotted, Goldfinch, Willow warbler, Yellowhammer, Red Kite, Red legged Partridge, Pheasant, Buzzard, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Blue tit, Swift, Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin. Last but not least a young Kestrel who greeted us noisily and to a spectacular ‘fly past’ then sat on the roof chuntering when we visited the Robert Fuller Art Gallery in Thixendale. A live-time camera had been set up on a Barn Owl’s nest. When we arrived the female was sitting one egg of a second clutch, and then as we watched, to great excitement, she produced a second egg. It was a pleasure to see Robert’s beautiful wild life paintings and to talk to him about his art, filming and conservation work when he came to chat to us.
Today, in order to maintain the quarry floor as the open flower-rich sward we found and to prevent the succession to dense coarse grasses and Hawthorn scrub the site is managed by YWT. In late summer parts are mown, in winter grazed by Hebridean sheep and periodically areas are scraped back to chalk.

Thanks to our drivers Stuart and Julia and to Alice for leading the visit to such an interesting site, in the beautiful Yorkshire Wolds.  A look at the gallery will remind us of a day that was enjoyed by all.

See the photos here. 

Sue N

Submitted by julia on Mon, 15th Jul 2019, 7:41pm


This article may explain the pink grasshopper we saw.

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