Butterfly Conservation - saving butterflies, moths and their habitats
Butterfly Conservation
saving butterflies, moths and their habitats
   Yorkshire Branch
 » Homepage
 » News
 » Argus
 » Events
 » Publications
 » Recent Sightings
 » First Sightings
 » On The Wing
 » Yorkshire Species
 » Reserves
 » Galleries
 » Gardening
 » Recorders
 » Missing Squares
 » Committee
 » Contact us
 » Links
Links to the national Butterfly Conservation website
 » National website
 » BC Membership

The Yorkshire Branch of Butterfly Conservation is currently involved with three reserves within its area - the well established Shipley Station Butterfly Meadow, a site within the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington and a privately owned site on Wenthillside.

Shipley Station Butterfly Meadow
Shipley Station Butterfly Meadow is a 0.9 hectare plot of land situated at the heart of Shipley Station, West Yorkshire (Grid Reference SE150375). Situated between two car parks and platforms 2 and 5, it is adjacent to the Leeds to Skipton railway line and a short walk from Shipley town centre. Opened by Dr. David Bellamy in 1993, the meadow is a refuge for butterflies and moths, set in an urban habitat and supporting the flowery grassland usually found in a hay meadow. It is natural neutral grassland which has never been seeded. The reserve is owned by Network Rail and managed jointly by Butterfly Conservation and Bradford Urban Wildlife Group.

Over fifty species of plant and tree have been found on the reserve including Sallow, Hawthorn, Birch, Ash, Buckthorn, Bramble, Rosebay Willowherb, Nettle, Bird's-foot Trefoil, Cowslip, Knapweed and various grasses. Also present are St. John's Wort, Meadow Vetchling, Meadow Foxtail and Black Meddick.


There are more than fourteen species of butterfly and moth and the "star" species of the reserve is the Common Blue butterfly. The blue form of the Common Blue female is predominant on the reserve (females are normally brown with a scattering of blue).


Other butterfly species present include Ringlet (which was seen for the first time in 2005), Wall, Orange-tip, Large Skipper, Meadow Brown, Small Copper and Small Skipper. Moths noted to date include Silver Y and Six-spot Burnet, a moth survey of the reserve is being planned.

The site is normally fenced off, however, an open day is held in June - see the events page for further details. Volunteers are always needed for management days in November when the grass is cut, scrub is cleared and trees are pruned using traditional hand tools.

The best way to get to the reserve is by train!
Services run from Leeds, Skipton, Settle, Carlisle and Bradford.

Grid Reference SE 150 375; Ordinance Survey map 104

For further details contact:
Susan Stead
178 Warren Lane, Eldwick, Bingley,
West Yorkshire BD16 3BY
Telephone: 01274 774912


Yorkshire Air Museum, Elvington

Butterfly Conservation Yorkshire Branch were approached by Ian Reed, Director of the Yorkshire Air Museum, in late 2006, offering part of the museum site to be managed for butterflies, with potential benefits to both Yorkshire Branch and the Museum. In February 2007 a subcommittee was formed within the branch comprising David Baker, Howard and Christine Frost, and Lawrie King. The initial site meeting took place in April 2007. An exploratory walk was taken around the site with particular attention being paid to the grassland at the western boundary of the site and to a small “garden” area within the buildings complex.

At the meeting it was agreed that the area be monitored throughout the summer of 2007, taking counts of butterflies and moths to ascertain a database for Lepidoptera. Any further observations of wildlife to be noted, if relevant. Between the last week in May and 30th September a weekly visit was made to carry out butterfly counts during daylight hours within the future hangar area and proposed reserve area as shown on the above site plan. Concurrently, a moth trap was installed near to the circular concrete apron once per week to check the on-site moth species count.


As often stated in the movies and television, “no moths were harmed during the taking of these results”.
All were released after the count, some being photographed, weather permitting.

In the late autumn the Yorkshire Air Museum began to set up a pathway around the reserve area, work which will be continued during 2008.

Butterfly counts recorded throughout the site are listed separately at the end of the report. The system used for recording only shows the maximum count of specimens seen on any one sighting day. Moth counts are reported by the number of days a moth was present and the total number of specimens overall. Photographs were taken where required, although poor light and the prevailing weather, often wet, meant that some were taken away from site into more controlled conditions and returned later. The summer of 2007 was extremely wet, the site being flooded to a troublesome degree at times and it is thought that the results, as taken, may well be a poor reflection of the normal situation. A formal report was prepared for, and delivered to, the Yorkshire Air Museum in November 2007.

Yorkshire Air Museum, Elvington - 2011- 5 Years on
As usual I have concentrated my report to highlight the newcomers to the Elvington moth traps and being those which can be added to the 311 species already on the list.
2011 has been a shorter season at Elvington than usual because I could not make my first visit until 27th April, well after the early spring moths had made their appearance and, in fact, I made only two visits before June. This, of course, meant missing many of the regular early species. Who knows what newcomers could have been waiting in the wooded areas during an unusually warm April which brought forth many species at my home trap. However, these first 2 visits were not totally unfruitful for newcomers, as alongside the "usual suspects" I found White-spotted Pinion and Mottled Rustic.

Things became a bit more regular during the next three months and I only missed three out of the next fourteen weeks. My home figures show a very poor moth count over what has turned out to be a cooler, damper, season than we had hoped for after such a flying start. Many so-called "Elvington regulars" have failed to turn up but several newcomers did arrive to boost our total species count. So let's have a look at what was found on the site. Note that micros are written only with their scientific name, and the vernacular, or English, name has been used for the macros.

June started with two new micros, neither of which I had seen before, these being Epinotia demarniana and Eupoecilla angustana. The same could not be said about the others, these being Clouded Silver, Large Emerald, (both common grassland geometers) Short Cloaked Moth, Rufous Minor and Grey Arches, only the last of these not being a fairly regular visitor at home.

I managed three nights at Elvington during early July before having my usual 4 day break in Scotland and although numbers were still fairly low did catch seven newcomers, again nicely split between micro and macro. The first weeks trapping brought in Double-lobed, Vine's Rustic and Calamotropha paludella and it wasn't until I was entering the record of a Swallow-tailed Moth after the second visit that I was surprised to find I had not seen this widespread species before at Elvington. This really does show up the gaps in sightings brought about by not trapping nightly, as at home. The remaining three July specimens were found on my final July visit when a Large Twin-spot Carpet was found alongside Endemis profundana and Evergestis pallidata.

The August weather didn't improve much and my four visits found numbers of specimens to be reduced compared to the average numbers. This was reflected at home with only around half the number of moths compared to 2010. From the catches, however, I did find 3 new species for the site. The first two visits brought a nil return for newcomers but the third found two new micros at the trap. The first is a regular at home, thankfully being one of the more recognisable plume moths, Acanthadactyla amblyptilia but the second was a complete newcomer for me, my thinking at the time being Pammene spiniana, but as I have only recently found out, it is probably more likely to have been another one of the genus Pammene. The difference can only be ascertained by inspection of it's genitalia and I have not retained the specimen, much preferring to allow the moth it's freedom. However, on the last day of August our list was added to by a Bulrush Wainscot, thankfully not requiring a critical dissection.

September was a month for new macros, two of them, again, surprisingly seen for the first time here at Elvington. The Black Rustic and Centre-barred Sallow are common moths and can be found throughout Britain and are regular visitors to my home trap. The third was a complete first-timer for me, although it is also very well distributed. The Pine Carpet was, for me, a great sight as a new "lifer" is always welcomed however long one has been trapping moths.

September turned out to be the final month for me at Elvington this year. The bad weather, decreasing daylight (particularly in the mornings), and the ensuing time constraints precluded further visits.

What sort of year has it been??

Not really as bad as I had perceived. I felt that it had been a really poor year but the facts belie that feeling. The average catches per night are very similar to those of the last couple of years, although not having trapped in the earlier and later cooler months of the year will affect the average somewhat. It seems that the shelter of the woodlands has been more beneficial to the moths than the open-ness of the garden areas at home and this may have evened things out somewhat. So, finally, what about the first five years at Elvington?

The additional 23 species has lifted the running total to 334, which is a reasonable number considering the fact that the trapping is rather sporadic with only, at best, regular weekly visits and often with even longer gaps in the trapping dates.

The following graph shows the cumulative number of new species set against the number of new species for each year and as could be expected the lines are tending toward levelling out with new species tending toward zero. Let's hope this zero mark is never reached and that at least a small number of pleasant surprises turn up each year.

Over the five seasons at Elvington I have had the pleasure of seeing around 30 "first time" species of moth and one new butterfly, hopefully with plenty more to add in the coming years.

David Baker
For further details of how to get to there, admission fees and opening times see the Yorkshire Air Museum website.


Wenthillside is a privately owned and managed eleven acre conservation site in West Yorkshire.
Butterfly Conservation members can visit the land most times by prior arrangement (as it is fenced and has locked gates).
It is located about 2 miles South of the M62/A1 crossroads and half a mile NW of Wentbridge on Moor lane grid ref. SE4718. Sat nav. postcode for Moor lane Wentbridge WF8 3JN
Off road parking on grass is available and there are several log seats around the site for either picnicking or just observing

The majority bought in 2013 and the lower field in 2017, mostly down to rough un-farmed grass with several small areas of trees and scrub, the lower 3.3 acre field bare agricultural destined to be a wildflower meadow. A SW facing magnesium limestone hillside with a large and varied wildlife content. To date 23 different species of butterfly, 19 regularly, including a large colony of Marbled White and several Purple Hairstreak. 53 species of moth, 166 species of plants and flowers, 44 species of fungi and 34 species of grasses/sedges long with 22 species of trees and bushes with much more to be discovered and documented.
All the boundaries are being gradually hedged with a variety of trees and bushes to further encourage biodiversity and to give some protection from our Westerly winds. Several access paths have been made but many areas are steep and uneven with occasional rabbit holes and areas of nettle/thistle and blackberry.
From the hilltop there are long distant views both West to the Pennines and East to the many wind turbines in the Humber area.

Early summer 2013, with little or no Westerly winds, saw a Ringlet population in the thousands on one day but the winds since have limited numbers to the low hundreds in any one day. Scrub removal at the lower part of the hill has seen skipper and Meadow Brown numbers increase with definite Essex Skipper on site. Spring sees large areas of Bluebells which bring in Brimstones and recent plantings of buckthorn will hopefully encourage a permanent population. Spring also sees large numbers of Orange-tip on the plentiful hedge mustard and all three whites are common a little later in the year.


Copyright Butterfly Conservation Yorkshire Branch © 2005 - 2019
email: webmaster@yorkshirebutterflies.org.uk
Privacy and Copyright Statement
Butterfly Conservation
Company limited by guarantee, registered in England (2206468), Registered Office: Manor Yard, East Lulworth, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 5QP
Charity registered in England & Wales (254937) and in Scotland (SCO39268)