For our field visit on Saturday 13 August 2022, twelve of us followed a route from the Royd Moor Hill view point above Thurlstone, down High Bank Lane to a former quarry. Four years ago in August 2018, Alwyn Timms led a Barnsley Nats group on a walk to count Wall Brown butterflies in this area. We decided to repeat the walk, a good way to remember Alwyn.
We counted 24 Wall Brown along High Bank Lane, equalling the 2018 number, far more than the recce the previous week.
We also had 8 Small Copper, 4 Red Admiral and 3 Small Tortoiseshell. And single examples of six other butterfly species. There were Gatekeeper in abundance a week ago but only one this time!
The Silver-washed Fritillary butterfly, predominately found in southern England, is expanding its range. They have been recorded at Brockadale, we have been told, for the last four years. Are they likely to be found in Barnsley?
Alwyn Timms recorded one in Hugset Wood in 2014. Here are some of his images:
It’s been recorded occasionally since then. Worth looking out for!
Five Barnsley naturalists joined the Yorkshire Naturalist Union (YNU) field visit to Brockadale nature reserve. It’s a varied site on magnesium limestone. Although the meadows were somewhat parched, highlights for us included sightings of Silver-washed Fritillary and copious Banded Demoiselles over the river Went.
These images are from some of the highlights over the last two or three weeks.
My recent visits to local grassland sites have been rewarded with very pleasing numbers of grassland butterflies. In particular, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Ringlet, Small Skipper, Small Heath and the whites have been quite abundant. I almost felt like I’d been transported to the Victorian age!
Former Wentworth Railway Station Site [This is now a Barnsley council brownfield site, to the west of Skiers Spring Wood.] A total of 86 Meadow Brown. Good numbers of Ringlet, Gatekeeper, Large, Small and Green-veined Whites, and Small Skipper, along with several Six-spot Burnet Moth, Small Tortoiseshell, and numerous Meadow Grasshoppers. A total of 189 butterflies.
Koyo Bearings Meadow and track on Dodworth Muckstack A total of 63 Meadow Brown. Pleasing numbers of Ringlet, Gatekeeper, Small Heath, Small Skipper, Small and Green-veined White, Six-spot Burnet Moth, along with Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Shaded Broad Bar Moth and a few Meadow Grasshoppers. A total of 216 butterflies.
Hugset Wood /Silkstone Golf Course boundary path 11 Comma, four White-letter Hairstreak and several Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Peacock, Small Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell, Small & Green-veined White, Ringlet and possible Essex Skipper. A total of 49 butterflies
I have never seen a Six-belted Clearwing, Bembecia ichneumoniformis, before, let alone in the Barnsley area. Apparently they are considered nationally scarce and usually found in Southern England on chalk hills and downs, at the occasional quarries and southern rough grassland/ground. Very rarely seen, they are under-recorded generally. They inhabit similar locations to Common Blues, Small Blues and Dingy Skippers.
Their larvae are ‘miners’ and burrow into and eat the roots of Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Kidney Vetch and sometimes Horseshoe Vetch.
This one came out into the open, and kept flying fast and low but briefly settled for just a second or two.Fortunately, I managed to capture this record shot before it flew out of sight.
I had gone to check for a second brood of Small Blues in the Darton – Woolley area and found only three on this site and sadly, none on other sites. Even so, this is evidence of a partial second brood.
I also recorded 18 Small Skippers and 3 Essex Skippers, along with 7 Marbled Whites, several Large, Small and Green-veined Whites, Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers and Ringlets, a Small Tortoiseshell, an old Common Blue and a Shaded Broad Bar moth, Scotopteryx chenopodiata. The weather was warmish, dry, with gathering clouds and sunny intervals, no wind. Alwyn.
Yesterday I spotted two White-letter Hairsteak butterflies between Silkstone and Barnsley when on our dog walk from home yesterday. There were nine different species of butterfly on one tiny clump of thistles. The photo with the Ringlet shows their different sizes. Julia
From Annefie. Last Sunday we walked from Darton to Haigh along the Dearne, then on to Woolley Edge and back through the fields, an area we had not explored before. The river meanders and runs quite clear with the banks covered in a variety of vegetation.
Although it was a rather windy day, we saw a good number of butterflies, especially lots of Tortoiseshells and Ringlets, but also Small Whites, Red Admiral, Comma, Small Skippers and a Gatekeeper.
On our way back we searched for the Small Blues and found some patches of seeding kidney vetch with a few grasshoppers, but alas, no Small Blues. We may have to wait for the next brood! We also encountered a number of Burnet moths (Narrow-bordered Five-spots).
I counted a total of 66 Small Blues on my Bank Holiday Monday excursion -a very pleasing and encouraging count- including a female ovipositing
The Small Blues were difficult to count because they (mostly males) were solar-powered, scurrying about looking for females. Fortunately, the Small Blues don’t travel far before settling, flying low in short bursts only.
Here are some more images taken on the day …
I found almost all of the Small Blues in a particular area where kidney vetch is regenerating very well.
Here’s another image of a Small Blue collecting salts from a muddy patch. Alwyn.