Sunday, 16 June 2013

YWT Wharram Quarry - 16 June 2013

Number 30 on our list of YWT nature reserves visited this year is the delightful Wharram Quarry, just south of Wharram-le-Street, between Malton and Wetwang on the Yorkshire Wolds. I first visited this site late last summer, when the quarry floor was purple with Autumn Gentians. Today, the site was lush and green, with yellows of Bird's-foot Trefoil, various yellow composites including my favourite (possibly because it is one of the few I can confidently identify!) the delightfully pale lemon yellow Mouse-ear Hawkweed. When the warm sunshine came out, the short sward came alive with peach-orange Small Heath butterflies, plus the azure of Common Blues and the dappled brown and white Dingy Skippers. This latter species was very approachable, particularly when the sun went in and allowed me to get some reasonable photos with my smartphone - see below. Up close this species is really exquisite and surely has been unfairly named! I had a good scan of the cliffs to look for Red Hemp-nettle but couldn't see any. We noticed a few spikes of Yorkshire or Thistle Broomrape just coming up, next to the basal leaves of some large Woolly Thistles. On the northern side, we checked out some collosal Meadow Ant nests, each one of which displayed its own mini-habitat on top. One clump had a fine display of Wild Thyme on its northern face (I would have expected it on the southern face to be honest) and another a crest of Germander (?) Speedwell. Purple Milk Vetch was growing on the more open chalky areas and Whitethroats were singing from the scrub at the top of the quarry faces. A great site and well worth a visit on the way to the coast from York.

Common Blue

Dingy Skipper

Small Heath

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