Dalby Forest and Ellerburn Bank (North Yorkshire) – 02/08/12

Thursday saw a visit to Dalby Forest, the main wildlife interest being a stop at the Haygate car park, and a walk through the forest to Ellerburn Bank, a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust managed site. I’ve never visited this location before and the sight of the meadow in full flower was impressive. A little genning up before visiting paid dividends, without it I would have probably missed the highlights, two reptile species. The first was a small Adder Vipera berus found along the edge of the site close to the dry-stone wall, it quickly disappearing from view once it was aware of our presence. After walking the rest of the reserve, a second walk along the wall found a second species, in the same place as the Adder V. berus was previously, this time Slow Worm Anguis fragilis. I’ve only seen this species once previously, this being in Scotland. As with the Adder V. berus, it quickly disappeared once it was aware of our presence. On the walk back to the car I was amazed to find a second Slow Worm A. fragilis, this time nearly standing on it along the forest track. It remained motionless on the track for around five minutes, the only sign it was alive was its tongue flicking out occasionally. Eventually it moved off into the vegetation at the side of the path. A great experience for the family.

Slow Worm - Anguis fragilis

Slow Worm – Anguis fragilis

Slow Worm - Anguis fragilis

Slow Worm – Anguis fragilis

Butterflies are the main point of focus at this reserve, with no fewer than nine species recorded. There were several Marbled Whites Melanargia galathea mainly found along the lower part of the bank. The following were all present with the later found along the track through the forest:- Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris, Green-veined White Pieris napi, Common Blue Polyommatus icarus, Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina, Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus, Ringlet Aphantopus hyperantus, Small Heath Coenonympha pamphilus and Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria. There was little in the way of suitable habitat for odonata at this site, though several Common Blue Damselflies Enallagma cyathigerum were observed.

Marbled White – Melanargia galathea

Marbled White – Melanargia galathea

Ringlet - Aphantopus hyperantus

Ringlet – Aphantopus hyperantus

Speckled Wood - Pararge aegeria

Speckled Wood – Pararge aegeria

As is usual now I paid a little attention to some of the hoverfly species present, those identified and photographed featured below.

Hoverfly – Helophilus pendulus

Hoverfly – Helophilus pendulus

Hoverfly - Eristalis horticola

Hoverfly – Eristalis horticola

Hoverfly – Cheilosia illustrata

Hoverfly – Cheilosia illustrata