Hill (arable private land) overlooking the River Adur estuary
is 104 metres at its highest point. However, the Mill
Hill Nature Reserve car park is near a good vantage point, 67 metres
above sea level, the highest copse 92 metres, looking over the Adur
Valley. Slonk Hill, NE of Buckingham Park, is 70 metres (228 feet)
above sea level. Thundersbarrow is 150 metres high and Beeding
Hill the high point on the downs near Shoreham is 169 metres (554 feet)
above sea level. The grid reference
of the upper car park is TQ 210 074.
Hill Nature Reserve is an unimproved chalk grassland since 1937 (and
almost certainly before this) of nearly 35 acres.
Shoreham Urban District Council acquired 724 acres of downland on the east
side of the River Adur, north of Shoreham, for the benefit of the people
Southern Car Park
February 2007 7:30 pm
of Mill Hill
Show and Talk by Andy Horton
Garden Room, Southwick Community Centre, West Sussex
(TQ 244 053)
by the Southwick (Sussex) Society
Hill is nationally important because of its population of Chalkhill
Blue Butterflies. Estimates of the numbers
are notoriously inaccurate. In the 1950s the population was estimated by
R. M. Craske to be 50,000. This may be an
exceptionally good year. I would estimate the numbers at that time to be
nearer 25,000 for Mill Hill only. After the cattle grazing and thorn incursions
the numbers plummeted to the most reliable estimate in 1960 of 6,000. The
new road and Sycamore woodland further denuded the Horseshoe
Vetch and bare chalk downland to a figure
I have estimated at a top figure of 3,000 Chalkhill Blue Butterflies at
the turn of the millennium (counted in 2003). Almost all these butterflies
are now to be found on the six acres of the lower slopes.
Hill contains many wild flowers characteristic of chalk herbland
HILL NATURE RESERVE (New Page 2004)
page includes a new improved map of Mill Hill and the surroundings
Route to Mill Hill
around the Adur Valley
to Wildlife Reports 2017 et seq.
areas of the scrub on the middle slopes in the north-east corner have been
cleared of vegetation including the instrusive Dogwood
in the area I have christened as the Triangle.
I saw one solitary small Violet
flower on the
slopes and one small tree nearby provided home for a common woodland
toadstool, possibly the parasitic Honey
Fungus, Armillaria. This is a pest
species. Both the copse on Mill Hill and the surrounding scrub seem to
have exiguous autumnal
fungal life of the interesting
and noticeable kind.
on Mill Hill (New Web Page)
the low lying mist shrouded the copse at the top of Mill Hill, 500
Gulls filled the air over the large field
to the east, the gulls following the herd of cows that trodden three large
muddy patches covering over an acre since I last visited the hill at the
end of November.
by the breeze, the expected Kestrel
hovered over the lower slopes. After 50 mm of
rain in the last three days, the grass was green and the paths muddy. The
upper part of the lower slopes just below the ridge was thick with rabbit
faeces. So thick, that if I wanted to
sit down on the short wet swards of tufty grass, it would have near impossible
to find a bit that has not been used as a rabbit latrine.
the leaves having been blown off of most of the broad-leaved trees, the
photograph of the Mill Hill copse above can be contrasted with the
photograph below and compared to the March image.
tall evergreens are Corsican Pines.
grass has been cut and bundled up into bales on the southern area of Mill
Hill. These bales of mixed grasses are probably unsuitable for animal feed
because of the possible Ragwort
component. The long grass area immediately south of the reservoir has been
long grasses around the upper car park have also been forage harvested.
Some of the woody scrub in the far north-east corner have also been cut
down allowing a view over Old Erringham Farm.
Privet has not been tackled yet. (Should
these shrubs be dealt with before they distribute their berries and seeds?)
Seed Rape plants are growing on the middle
slopes in an eroded area where the scrub has been uprooted.
at Old Erringham (Photographs)
recent cold day on 22 October 2003 has
sent all the warmth-loving butterflies into
hibernation. The afternoon on Mill Hill was sparse for wildlife with just
the resident Magpies and
a few Black-headed Gulls
flying over, the only sign of movement, although a couple of Grey
Herons were noteworthy in the horse's
field south of the A27 bypass.
up the hill to capture the autumn colours of the planted copse
the top of Mill Hill, just north of the upper car park.
selection of three commoner leaves are illustrated above.
Botany (Yahoo Group)
a sunny midday, there was nothing of note around except that a late Wall
Brown Butterfly fluttered by, landing
briefly on the scrubby area of the middle slopes.
the clear morning light I had another
distant view of the "bird of prey" I saw a couple of
days ago. The light was better and I really now think it is most likely
a female Kestrel
I thought it was in the first place). However, it still was a dark chocolate
brown in colour, still seemed about to hover, but never did so, and spent
part of the time chasing small birds amongst the bushes (which Kestrels
do in autumn). The disposition of the tail in flight was Kestrel-like
and the light underwing as well.
was a prolonged view of two Roe Deer
(without antlers), one deer larger the other, skirting the fence and scrubby
hedgerows/stream in the field on the levels immediately
to the west of the lower slopes of Mill Hill.
were a pair of Stonechats
amongst the Hawthorn
as I looked down from the ridge on to the steep slopes
below. A Clouded Yellow Butterfly fluttered
by. In the copse at the top, there were a few Common
Dragonflies, some with grey abdomens.
caw (call) was a cross between that of a Magpie
and a Crow, but
it looked more like an overlarge Thrush
a couple of Ring Ouzels,
torquatus, looked a very dirty black with a white breast as they
bushes ahead of other shelter on the lower slopes
of Mill HiIl. According to the Shoreham
& District Ornithological Society 1988 "Birds
of Shoreham" the peak month for migrating Ring
Ouzels is October.
hawk was perched for at least a few minutes
on another Hawthorn
bush that stood out amongst the clump of scrub that forms and extensive
border of Mill Hill with the field on the western side further down in
the Adur valley. This dark brown raptor was partially
silhouetted in front of the low sun. Suddenly, it took off and descended
Wagtail-like and disturbed a couple of small birds in the stubble field
below. Later, presumably the same bird, was seen in a low level (two metres
above the sloping ground) glide and wing tilting, showing off the white
underside with a large amount of dark edging to the wing-tips, before it
landed in another small Hawthorn
at the top of the ridge. This raptor could be a female
According to the Shoreham
& District Ornithological Society 1998 Report at least eight Merlins
were recorded in the local Adur district area.
now think it is probably a Kestrel afterall
(17 October 2003).
(juv.) Image (from Cheshire)
the scrub, there were plenty of rustlings (as usual), and twice the source
was discovered to be foraging Blackbirds.
were in the air.
on the grazing fields north of Erringham Hill, to the east of the road,
an exceptional flock of over 200 Carrion
Crows descended, their black forms spread
over several acres. A Kestrel
flew over, hovering briefly.
50 Common Darter Dragonflies,
striolatum, and at least a
couple of Migrant Hawkers, Aeshna
mixta, were seen on the approaches
to (25+ on the footpath from the Waterworks Road) and on the lower
slopes of Mill Hill in the early afternoon.
There were a handful of butterflies about.
the summer lingers on, but the temperature of 17.1 ºC on a sunny day
falls below 20 ºC, as expected in the final quarter of the year.
Brown Butterflies some put in an appearance
on the path down to the lower slopes of Mill Hill.
The small moth-like brown flying insects were discovered to be small
female Common Blue Butterflies and
there were larger male Common Blues
Heath settled with its wings closed and
then a handful of Meadow Brown Butterflies
the stile that leads on to the overgrazed land, three Clouded
Yellow Butterflies danced around each
other, and I was pleased to see a large party of ramblers on this footpath
which is so often blocked by cows. The return journey produced a Red
Admiral Butterfly and a Large
White followed by a Small
the Privet and Bramble patch in the lower centre, a blue
male Emperor Dragonfly rose suddenly,
and there were a handful of dull brown Common
report is interesting as I thought I saw a small fast flying hawk a few
days earlier in almost exactly the same circumstances, but I was not experienced
enough to be sure. I also saw a similar bird flying westwards over the
airport a few days after this.)
was seen on Mill Hill. It flew at speed over the crest of the hill where
at the southern end car park just past the flyover bridge at the southern
end of the hill and it continued flying eastwards. A Merlin flies in a
very special way skimming through the air like an arrow - it is a mini
Peregrine in all respects - they prefer to grab Meadow Pipits and Skylarks
rather than hirundines.
smallest bird of prey is classified as "scarce" and a Winter Visitor and
Passage Migrant in Sussex.
Birds of Prey
mating pair, the dark blue male Emperor
Dragonfly in tandem with the emerald
green female, was a magnificent sight
as they flew rapidly up the lower slopes of Mill
Hill and quickly disappeared. This may have been a Southern
Hawker (hindsight). The scores of House
Martins all seemed to be flying from west
and east up from the Adur valley on to the downs
to the north of Shoreham.
pair of Wall Brown Butterflies
chased each other on the ridge, south of reservoir.
one female blue butterfly was spotted briefly
on the lower slopes. It had a plain chocolate
brown upper wing, but I still cannot be sure if it was an Adonis
Blue or a Chalkhill
Blue, despite managing a photograph.
and Full Report
the Saturday of Shoreham Air Show, Mill Hill was closed to cars so there
was only about a hundred people on the hill at one time, and apart from
a couple of blackberriers, and one dog walker, the parched lower
slopes were empty. The first blue was the bright blue of the Common
Blue Butterfly, but the Adonis
Blues soon appeared and the final count
was 25. It was easy to get the species mixed up as the female
blues that had orange
spots on the upper hindwing (see the photograph on the right) were Chalkhill
Blues. There was at least one Chalkhill
Blue in pristine condition, but all three
species of blues were about in the same numbers, but Common
Blues and Chalkhill
Blues were mostly worn and battered, with
one third females.
puzzle was a brown butterfly that looked exactly like a Brown
Argus. There was no hint of white roundels
on the upper wing and was just like the specimen seen and photographed
on 23 July 2003 with orange spots neatly arranged
on both the upper wings. There just a hint of blue colour, if anything
less than shown in the photograph below (click on this
text). (Alas this butterfly flew off when disturbed by what looked
like a female Chalkhill
Blue.) A Clouded
Yellow Butterfly flew from north to south
late in the afternoon.
Butterflies of Shoreham
stages of the Common Blue Butterfly
the upper slopes, the dried and parched grasses
did not support the usual number of butterflies, just a handful of both
Blues, Meadow Browns, and
a few Small White Butterflies
and Small Heaths.
South-west of the bridge over the A27, a Wall
Brown had a mid-flight contention with
another one of its own species or a mistaken courtship with a Meadow
was a complete absence of Small Tortoiseshell
and Gatekeeper Butterflies.)
the copse north of the car park, an Emperor
Dragonfly showed a brief predatory interest
in a fluttering Speckled Wood Butterfly.
Just a dozen male Adonis
Blue Butterflies were counted on the lower
slopes. Scrub encroachment by Dogwood on the upper
slopes is occurring quicker than it is being managed.
Adonis Blue Butterflies are now out and
flying around in their brilliant blue on the lower
slopes of Mill Hill. One even ventured up amongst the the brambles
and long grasses immediately south
of the reservoir on the upper slopes. The
count was 25+ (all males) and I was careful to avoid counting the same
twice and to exclude the couple of dozen Common
Blue Butterflies in the total. The Small
exceeded a hundred mostly
on the lower slopes, but also extending on to the ridge in the only area
explored south of the reservoir.
The 30+ Chalkhill Blues
on the lower slopes looked old, worn and battered. The Carline
were popular feeding plants.
Butterflies Flight Times (incomplete)
of Mill Hill
arranged to meet Andy
Gattiker of the South
Downs Conservation Board (SDCB) on Mill Hill. The SDCB were attempting
a public consultation to justify their management decision to introduce
a winter grazing of Limousin/Angus cross
beef cattle on Mill Hill. The grassland
was very parched with few butterflies in
the meadows all dried out the extent of the Dogwood intrusions could
be seen and were pointed out to me. I still cannot envisage that short
duration cattle could make many inroads into this serious problem on the
and upper slopes. Many of the grassy glades on the middle slopes had
been overgrown in the last two years.
noticed a few Harebells
on the exposed plantain wind-blasted middle slopes.
in the cow's field to the east of Mill Hill, has now been removed.
Report including Butterflies
first Clouded Yellow Butterflies seen
on Mill Hill this year, flew strongly over the lower
slopes. There were at least three, possibly five of these bright yellow
an overcast, cool, with brief sunny spells, light rain at times, it would
be thought of as unpromising day for butterflies.
the whole of the lower slopes of Mill Hill were
alive with the amorous flutterings of an estimated
+ Chalkhill Blue Butterflies reaching
densities of three every square metre (two males and one female) on plenty
of occasions. The lower slopes cover nearly five acres of ground so the
estimate is a conservative one. This year, the numbers must approach the
historic records of thousands of Chalkhill
Blues reported in the past. The last time
they were described as abundant was in the hot dry summers of 1996 and
(Historic: the record of 5,000 on Mill
Hill in 1960 is comparative, but numbers have been recorded as lower since
on Mill Hill and its approaches there were seventeen
different species of butterflies, a new record in one day for me. An
unusual second brood Dingy Skipper
was recorded on the lower slopes. I was unable to confirm another record
of a Brown Argus
on the A27 bank south-east of the bridge to Mill Hill (at the top of Chanctonbury
drive, north side). Common Blue Butterflies
(100+) were found mostly to the south of the
List (Species Recorded)
Butterflies of Shoreham
the town side of the bridge leading to Mill Hill
that transverses the main A27 road, on the east there is a small Hawthorn
copse (at the top of Chanctonbury drive, north side) leading to the
grasses of the trunk road steep bank. In this small garden sized plot of
long grasses and scrub, two species of blue butterfly congregated sometimes
fighting over the same grass head. On this cool, overcast and windy day,
the commonest Common Blue Butterfly
(20+) seemed very small compared to at least one, probably three or four
of the larger Chalkhill Blue,
together with Meadow Browns
(6+) and Gatekeepers
(3+). I originally thought that Brown
Argus Butterflies were present but the distinctive
is now probably the female Common Blue Butterfly
(6+) as closer examination of the photographs
seemed to indicate the latter butterfly.
different species of butterfly were seen on Mill Hill.
Notes about the Brown Argus
area contains Bramble,
Maple (probably) and continuous Ivy
Hill Reports with Brown Argus Butterfly (by Lawrence Holloway)
Hill proper added extra species in Red
Admirals (2+), Painted
Ladies (5+), Wall
Browns (6+), Small
Heaths (4+), a Marbled
White, a Holly
Blue (by the garden hedge just north of
the bridge), a least two of the reddish Small
Tortoiseshells and more Chalkhill
to Mill Hill Report
List (Full Report)
Common Blue Butterflies roosted
on a small clump of Cocksfoot in the north-west corner of the horse's field
at the top of the Street, Old Shoreham, by the footpath to Mill Hill. Nearby
a Chalkhill Blue
basked in the heat of the intermittent sun, with the omnipresent Gatekeepers
and Meadow Browns.
In the butterfly copse (near the Waterworks Road) (TQ
209 063) a Magpie Moth
made a brief appearance.
Whites (10+) were still present on the
upper slopes with visiting Painted Ladies
(12+) and Chalkhill Blues
everywhere. I only counted about fifteen as my visit was fleeting, just
passing through. Only nine of the fifteen butterflies
of the day were to be found on Mill Hill this time.
melody of Skylarks
was in the air.
different species of butterflies in a single
day (all on Mill Hill and its approaches) is a new record for me and included
Blues on the lower
slopes of Mill Hill. This list originally included the first Brown
Argus Butterfly recorded on these Nature Notes,
but this record is now thought to be doubtful and more likely to be a female
Common Blue. An Emperor Dragonfly
on patrol in the copse.
Argus (1) ENTRY REJECTED
returned to Mill Hill in the early evening and I was surprised that on
lower slopes, the abundance of Chalkhill
Blues seen at midday
was simply not on view any more. There were still plenty of Chalkhill
Blues around but I only counted about thirty
and most of them were hidden and only rose into flight because I disturbed
the ones hiding in the grass. On the approaches to the Vetch
Trail from the south a handful of
Browns left the chalk path and half a
dozen 6-spot Burnet Moths
buzzed around the Knapweeds.
There were a handful of Speckled Wood Butterflies
in the scrub, Meadow Browns
(including some nymphalid-sized overlarge specimens) and Gatekeepers
everywhere. On the middle slopes,
in the long grass just to the south of the reservoir, there was one Marbled
White resting, looking past its prime,
and to my surprise in a small garden plot area, I spotted about sixty Chalkhill
Blue Butterflies resting on the stems of the
grasses in a manner reminiscent of Common
Brown Butterflies preferred the area near
where the stile was, and in the long grasses including Cocksfoot south
of the reservoir, and as far north down the chalk trail as the Wayfaring
Tree, and Hawthorn
where the scrub can overgrow the path.)
were observed fluttering around and copulating on the lower
slopes of Mill Hill and they were to be seen on the sunny day at a
conservative average of one butterfly every
two square metres. At this prevalence, I got the impression that I was
constantly about to step on one. My estimate
for the number of Chalkhill Blues
on Mill Hill was 1,200.
Weller reported Marbled
Whites from the long grass on the ridge.
The lower slopes supported Meadow Browns
(30+), and Small Heaths
(only one identified positively).
List (Full Report)
best area for Round-headed Rampion
seems to be the area south of
the upper car park and north of the reservoir on the ridge. Marbled
White Butterflies (15+) and Meadow
Browns (25+) were the most prevalent butterflies
in the medium length grasses. There
was just one Chalkhill Blue
but it was early evening and the
(50+) were more numerous in the hedgerows and scrub.
large grazing field immediately to the east of Mill Hill is now full of
most scenic walking route to Mill Hill is from Old Shoreham, following
the footpath up my horse's field accessible from the top of The Street
or from the Waterworks Road, where a Teasel
towering well over two metres high was spotted. Butterflies
were too numerous to list by numbers and location, but there were scores
of Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers,
Whites, Large Whites,
Ladies and at least two Small
Tortoiseshells. As I followed the path
down to the lower slopes a bright yellow butterfly
caught by eye. It flew on rapidly and it was a resident Brimstone.
Blue Butterflies quickly appeared and
I stopped counting a fifty.
They were flying about and not settling for long. Only a handful were on
the middle and upper slopes. Amorous Speckled
Woods were amongst the scrub, in dozens
and probably more. Female Meadow Browns
were amongst the thistles and nettles and heavy
understorey vegetation. These have more orange on them than the males.
On the upper slopes more Marbled Whites
were evident and the red buzzing insects were 6-spot
known as Hedge Browns)
Thistle was in flower, that prickly rosette
that is a characteristic and slightly uncomfortable feature of the chalk
sward. In the middle of the day the miniature
Eyebrights open up and are ideally viewed
through a magnifying glass. Pyramid Orchids
were frequently seen in the central area known as the Triangle
and these orchids
are found all over the hill.
Trail Details (Chalkhill Blue etc.)
a sunny day the temperature peaked at 26.6° C.
a humid and overcast day, the first butterflies
appeared near the reservoir that separates the southern part of Mill Hill
with the more interesting northern section (see
map). Marbled White Butterflies
(20+), Meadow Browns
(20+) and my clear sighting of the Gatekeeper
in the shade of a Hawthorn, was my first of the year. Later, in the long
flowery meadow just south of the copse, a pristine Gatekeeper
opened its wings to show what a beautiful butterfly the new ones can be.
Alas, it did not spread its wings long enough for a photograph.
quick walk from the footpath (overgrown vegetation has been cut) from the
Waterworks Road to Mill Hill and it was not until I reached the downs that
the first few butterflies appeared. The first one I saw was a Meadow
Brown and as walked along where the ridge
drops off down the short turf slope I counted 25+
Heath Butterflies. It
was in the long
grass, with flowering
Knapweed and scores of Pyramid
Orchids, between the car park and the
copse on both sides of the "All Terrain Trail" that Meadow
Brown Butterflies (30+) were mostly resting
but easily disturbed and into flight.
White Butterflies (11+) were freshly out
and looked very bright. There must be females because two males were competing
for the attentions of the female amongst the long grass. Perhaps, the most
amazing observation on the ridge were a hundred
or more chysalids of the 6-spot Burnet Moth (pic)
on long grasses and Greater Knapweed.
The early chrysalids were silver some turning straw-yellow, which happens
just before the moth emerges. There were a handful of Small
Tortoiseshell Butterflies, at least three
Skippers, just one
male Common Blue Butterfly seen, and
a Red Admiral
seen near the road bridge.
help from Brianne Reeve
afternoon brought the first Meadow Brown
Butterflies (10+) noticed immediately
followed in quick succession by Small Tortoiseshells
Ladies (5+), Common Blues (5+),
and one record of a Brimstone
the Triangle. The orange coloured skippers were
everywhere, but the Small Heaths (30+)
were mostly on the steep slopes, so I would have missed most of them. The
red fluttering was an early 6 Spot Burnet
Moth (not a Cinnabar). The White
butterflies were not omitted: they were absent.
I originally penned these as Small Skippers, but they are most probably
the earlier Large Skippers.)
It looks like a bumblebee,
but its identification does not fit the common species, and it is half
the size of a queen. A queen of another bumblebee was present and this
was the Three-banded White-tailed Bumblebee, Bombus
hortorum. (No photograph was taken
and with hindsight, I would like to confirm this identification.)
the restless insect in the photograph above, discovered in the shade almost
in the copse (TQ 211 075)
and near a Foxglove
plant at the top of Mill Hill, was the species that attracted my interest.
The white tail was most distinctive. It could also halt in mid-flight in
a manner typical of hoverflies and not seen in bumblebees. So it was a
mimic and not quite good enough to fool me: it is the hoverfly,
bombylans var. plumata.
Hoverflies Discussion Group
the late afternoon of a fine day, it was the first
Skippers (probably Large Skippers)
that caught my eye. Grasshoppers in the long grass
chirped (=stridulated) away. They were amongst a variety of moths, large
and small, in the long grasses north of the car park on Mill Hill. There
were about 15 Skippers
actually seen, but others would have been hiding away.
the "Triangle" The Dogwood threatens to
take over. The yellow was Bird's Foot Trefoil
attracted the attentions of a solitary
of Somerset (External Link)
Grasshoppers and Crickets (Yahoo Group)
the stile on the border of Mill Hill public land (area overgrown with scrubbery)
and the Old Erringham grazing land* (TQ 207
076), a sleek slate blue-grey raptor flew
in a silent gliding arc on my arrival, and then disappeared. I was looking
down on the bird of prey from above, a rather unusual viewpoint and I noticed
the streamlining of the tail feathers very clearly. My first thoughts were
Sparrowhawk, but this bird seemed to have a different flight pattern and
seemed slightly larger than the male Sparrowhawk. This bird is very likely
to be the rare
The Sussex Ornithological
Society frequency rating for the Hobby is "scarce".
However, this exciting bird is increasingly being reported and numbers
300 metres SE of Old Erringham Farm buildings, frequented by hirundines
The same arcing glide has been seen subsequently (September 2004) in a
Sparrowhawk. Sparrowhawks have been seen in 2005 and 2006 as well.
the Vetch Trail the absence of the vast yellow
expanses of Horseshoe Vetch was
my instant impression. The grasses were still the short springy turf and
quickly a blue butterfly fluttered
by. It was an oldish Adonis Blue Butterfly
I only counted three in an small area, compared to 20+
Heath Butterflies, a few Small
Tortoiseshells and some Small
walked from the Mill Hill upper car park along the lane and down to the
stables at Old Erringham, a Little Owl
was in its normal place in the small copse overlooking the stables but
this time sat on a fence post right next to the road, otherwise just a
seen. A few Swifts, Swallows &
Martins were around the buildings and
also in the copse, plus four Yellowhammers
on Mill Hill.
Vetch flowers have diminished and the only
butterflies to be seen were Common
Blues amongst the long grasses
on the middle slopes of Mill Hill. The old railway track at Old Shoreham
had already shown a handful of Painted
Lady Butterflies, all faded or dull, and
the numbers steadily increased on the downs until I stopped counting at
50, of which only one was in a pristine colourful condition. A dozen plus
Admirals were also recorded in the scrubbier
areas. A handful of Small Heath Butterflies
were now easily recognised when a few years ago I was not so sure. They
always settled with their wings closed and when open they showed a bright
orange upper wing. It took
to draw my attention to dozens of Common Blue
Butterflies resting wings closed in a small
patch of the long grass north of the car park. If the ones we saw were
extrapolated over the whole area of long grasses there would have been
several hundred. This emergence must have occurred today as Brianne
Reeve said they were not present yesterday
when the weather was showery and overcast.
best spectacle was left to last as a bird with a very bright yellow breast
flew out of the bushes by the reservoir. It looked like an exotic bird
and it must be a male Yellowhammer,
that can look as yellow as a canary during the summer.
Blue Butterflies have disappeared from the
slopes of Mill Hill and the vast expanse of Horseshoe
has now receded.
some rainy and dull days, the sun came out again on the Bank Holiday Monday
afternoon. On the on the lower slopes both male
and female Adonis Blue Butterflies
from one Horseshoe Vetch
flower to another, and occasionally settled on some bare earth patches.
At the top of the ridge a single Common
Blue Butterfly stood out by its clear
bright blue in the dense long grasses
south of the reservoir. It was a fresh specimen and the clear white fringe
on the blue upperside was very clear as was the orange on the underside.
It was a small specimen smaller than an Adonis
male. A unidentified
blue butterfly fluttered by in the scrub from
Triangle down to the Vetch
Trail. Bird's Foot Trefoil
was in flower on the middle slopes.
walk on lower slopes of Mill
Hill this morning through the Horseshoe
Vetch meadow brought sightings of about 30 Adonis
Blue Butterflies with five Cinnabar
Heath Butterflies with five blue
(probably Azure) Damselflies as well.
in the photograph above was sluggish and crawled around and may have just
emerged from its chrysalis.
the early evening a few rays of sunshine cast long shadows in the early
evening, but 40+ male Adonis Blue Butterflies
were fluttering around from one Horseshoe
Vetch flower to another on the lower
slopes. I have managed to spot the deep brown of a female when the
butterfly briefly opened its wings. On the middle section above the
steep slopes a pair of Small Heaths
were mating amongst the long grasses and there was a Wall
Brown Butterfly south of the reservoir,
where the stile used to be, but now it is dismantled and lying in a heap.
Butterflies (Photographs 2002-3)
spotting a break in the showers that have been on and off for the last
four days, I made a quick walk over the lower slopes
of Mill Hill, just to confirm that no butterflies
were to be seen on an overcast day.
middle slopes on Mill Hill, beneath the ridge, north of the reservoir,
are full of long dense grasses which
provide roosting and mating areas for some of the butterflies.
on to the middle slopes by the fence, and area beneath the ridge but before
the hill drops off steeply on to the lower slopes. This is a usually disappointing
area where I rarely visit. Although there were scattered clumps of Horseshoe
Vetch and of White
Campion, long wiry grasseshad
already begun to dominate the flora, and the Spear Thistle leaves
reminded me of a lowland cattle pasture. One dominant grass was Bromus.
A Musk Thistle
was well over a metre and half tall (pic.)
the Mill Hill lower slopes (Vetch Trail) the following
were spotted in order of conspicuity:
first record from Mill Hill)
Wood one (in the scrub)
was just one Cinnabar Moth spotted
amongst other day-flying moths, in the expanse of
Horseshoe Vetch and other plants in flower
including a few Cowslips
(mostly blue, some were purple: I am not sure which species?). All the
plant species are indicative of a classic chalkhill meadow.
congregations, especially the Adonis Blues
were greater at the northern end of the Horseshoe
Vetch slopes. No Common
Blue Butterflies were spotted on the lower
slopes despite a diligent search for them.
pair of Speckled Wood Butterflies
flirted on the Waterworks Road (Old Shoreham) with a handful of Red
Admirals on the footpath skirting the
horse's field on the way up to Mill Hill. On the lower Horseshoe
Vetch covered slopes visited yesterday,
a few Small White Butterflies
were conspicuous but it was the other butterflies that proved to be of
footpath winds its way through the yellow Horseshoe Vetch
were many more blue butterflies
around, at least 30 seen, some flirting and others chasing different species
off the Horseshoe Vetch
flowers. I still have these down as Adonis
Blue is classified as a rare butterfly in Britain, although where discovered
it can be plentiful. It is only found on short sward chalkhill grassland
Vetch its exclusive food plant for the
caterpillar, and now only in about 100 sites in southern England.
Butterflies Identification page
numbers of the other butterflies actually
seen on the lower slopes were as follows:
first record from Mill Hill)
the paths between the scrub near the Triangle)
grass was still short and there were no grasshoppers. There were a few
clumps of Red Campion
on the edge of the upper ridge.
the ridge of Mill Hill, I enjoyed excellent views of a Kestrel,
looking down on the bird as it hovered, with a chance to see its brown
upper wing plumage from above.
followed the Vetch Trail on
the lower slopes of Mill Hill towards Old Erringham
on a sunny May Bank Holiday Monday. Several acres of the steep slopes were
graced by the yellow flowers of the Horseshoe
Vetch (the food plant of the Adonis Blue
and Chalkhill Blue and
other butterflies.) Hippocrepis comosa.
vivid blue colouring of just the one Adonis
Blue Butterfly was startling as it chased
away a Small Heath Butterfly from
the flower of a Horseshoe Vetch. The
underside wing of the Adonis
was heavily pigmented with brown. The handful of Small
Heaths settled with their wings closed,
but it seemed that were about to open them, but they never did. One Painted
Lady was a battered specimen with parts
of its wing missing.
Skippers with at least 25 scattered over
a wide area were the commonest butterflies in flight, but I saw a handful
of Grizzled Skippers and
the red of the single Cinnabar Moth
was most striking when it fluttered around just above the rabbit-cropped
low level plants.
were Speckled Wood Butterflies and
there was one Red Admiral
that followed me in the dense scrub incline, or several of them.
it was sunny the downs were surprisingly devoid
of butterflies. Just a Speckled
Wood Butterfly seen in the copse on Mill
Hill and a few Small Tortoiseshells
near the road. Two Herring Gulls
Images of Mill Hill
Mouse-ear, Cerastium arvense. (not
at Mill Hill (detailed study page)
were in flower in the long grass south of the reservoir.
Skipper Butterflies were seen on Mill
shirt sleeves sunny weather was unseasonable, recorded at 21°
in the shade and this brought a few butterflies
out, notable with five sulphur-yellow coloured Brimstones
with a handful each of Small Tortoiseshell
sanguinea, is growing up rapidly in the
area that has been cleared of scrub.
the birds calling the melody of the Blue
on the lower slopes of Mill Hill,
south of the by-pass was noticeable. It what is on this footpath up from
the Waterworks Road that a group of three
Tortoiseshell Butterflies, were seen and
and another three on Mill Hill near the reservoir.
Hill Images: Wildlife and Landscape
lapidarius, crawled out of the long grass just south of the reservoir.
There was a small orange phoretic
mite on its abdomen.
and Decline of British Bumblebees
or Orange Tailed Bumblebees
butterfly season is over but there were about ten Small
and an immigrant
up Mill Hill, where a Wasp
bruennichi, was discovered near its previous location.
Hamblett's Mill Hill web page (with photographs of spiders and orchids
and other wild plants)
bruennichi, was spotted on Mill
Hill. This a distinctive European continental species that has
been spreading in the south-east.
included 50+ Small Tortoiseshells and
lesser numbers of Meadow Browns
and Common Blue Butterflies, plus
a Red Admiral.
a hot (25° C) and
I made a quick visit to Mill Hill. On a small patch of the open meadows
on the upper slopes (TQ 212 073)
the butterfly count for an area of 20 square
metres (TQ 213 074) was
high and the following species were recorded in 15 minutes:
Skipper (one) (?
could possibly have been an Essex Skipper?)
Blue Butterflies were nectaring on Round-headed
Hardheads. The Small
Tortoiseshells were overlooked in passing,
but when I stopped they appeared everywhere where feeding on the occasional
flower was possible. They were quick to settle and open their wings.
a late flight of the Large Skipper (?),
but it did not appear to be unduly battered.
was a possibility of an Adonis Blue Butterfly,
but this was not confirmed. It was just as likely to be a Common
the scrub and longer grasses (TQ 211 076),
the Gatekeeper Butterfly was
surprisingly few in number and there were a handful, possibly many more
Blues, the females with orange markings on
their upper wings, feeding on grasses. Meadow
the other meadows, there were additional numbers of Chalkhill
Browns and Painted
Blues and Common Blues Identification Tips
were disturbed in the long grasses.
compare the butterflies on Mill Hill with
the ones seen yesterday in the Lancing
Clump meadows, I made a late afternoon visit and notes that the density
in a smaller area was at least twice as high but the variety of butterflies,
with just one pair of eyes, was smaller. Again in order of frequency, the
butterflies are listed:
were hundreds* of 6-Spot
Moths in the long grasses. (* looking
at the record in 2004: could this mean over a hundred?)
blue butterflies in the medium length grasses on the upper slopes would
not settle with their wings open, on the muggy humid day, and I could not
instantly confirm their identification. It is in a known Chalkhill Blue
habitat and the underside has an absence of any orange so it seems that
Chalkhill Blue is probable. The fringes were different from the Common
Blue as well.
Butterflies (Photographs 2000)
chalkhill plants were showing well, typically Eyebright,
and Round-headed Rampion.
The yellow was of the less prevalent Bird's
Foot Trefoil as the Horseshoe
Vetch was no longer in flower.
Blue Butterflies were spotted on Mill
Hill on an overcast day.
the bushes, there seemed to be a variety of small
birds which I did not have a chance to identify.
were easier for me, and included at least one Large
Skipper, one Small Skipper, only
a couple of
Meadow Browns on
a passing quicker than usual visit. Two Red
Admirals settled. One very battered butterfly
had a very orange and brown upper wings, and it flew around and would not
settle. It was smaller than a Meadow Brown
(at this time of the the year they are usually dark) and it could have
been a Small Heath Butterfly.
There was a possibility of a Green-veined
White Butterfly which would not settle.
the small plant of the turf, were displaying
a pleasant sunny day after a generally inclement spring, it was nearly
the solstice before I made my first eventful trip to Mill Hill. Most noticeable
was the field of Common Poppies
grazed by a dozen or so cows between Mill Hill and Buckingham Barn, and
also bright red fields to the north-east and on the ridges, highest points
of the downs.
wild flower selection was particular good with the clumps of Bird's
Foot Trefoil being most noticeable, plus
the other chalkland species including Eyebright,
Orchids, Greater Knapweed, Chalk
Milkwort, and many others.
in the short grass on the upper slopes were probably Meadow
Browns (5+) with additional small
numbers of Painted Lady
wood groves. In the copse at the top were there was at least one Red
plus a couple of Speckled
Brown Butterflies, one with a wing
with a large chunk missing. Small Tortoiseshell
Butterflies (4+) flew around and
occupied the lower, the more densely bushed area. A Burnet
Moth climbed up a long grass.
falls before dawn and a thin layer of snow covers the pavements and from
my window the downs can be seen in the murky distance
covered in a sheet of white.
a spell of inclement weather with strong breezes throughout and many showers,
as Brianne Reeve of Butterfly Conservation said on the
walk at Lancing Ring, these conditions batter the butterflies about
a lot. And it is the same exposure to the elements that helps the food
plants, the abundant Horseshoe Vetch
of the Chalkhill Blue,
which makes Mill Hill better for these butterflies than Lancing Ring. All
this meant that I was not surprised at the complete absence of medium-sized
butterflies on Mill Hill, although a few Red
Admirals fluttered around the copse at
the cultivated upper downs a solitary tractor cut its furrow (on the field
between Mill Hill and Buckingham Barn) followed by Black-headed
Gulls (200+) and Crows
the footpath heading from Mill Hill due west immediately south of the road
bridge over the by-pass (TQ 208 064),
I surprised a large (one metre long) adult olive-green
Grass Snake was curled up and not that
quick to slither into the ivy undergrowth. The nearest streams are 200
metres away down a very steep incline. This is only the second adult snake
I have ever seen in Shoreham.
Snake Photographs (Link)
the meadows amongst the scrub on Mill Hill, the Common
Blue Butterfly was common (100+) clinging,
wings folded, to the stems of long grasses
and wild plants, to rise fluttering in the late summer evening when disturbed.
This butterfly has a distinct white rim on the upperwing, lined with black
on the inside and the blue is only bright when the butterfly is fluttering,
when it settles and opens up the blue appears darker and strongly veined.
The underside is richly patterned with ocellated spots and an orange hue,
and near the abdomen/thorax the wings are distinctly bluish. The females
are smaller, brown, decorated with lots of orange spots on the upperside.
One Common Blue seemed to be bigger, battered with the white fringes, and
the black border line absent or indistinct.
well, some a bit battered and old, others fresher, as well as the omnipresent
also some strongly flying Wall Brown Butterflies.
Butterflies (Photographs 2001)
Butterflies (Photographs 2000)
were unusually infrequent after a week of inclement weather. The female
Chalkhill Blue (TQ
213 074) that settled nicely, seem to prefer
the shorter grasslands that are cropped short by rabbits. There were a
handful each of the following: Meadow Browns,
Lady. A single Peacock
on a yellow Ragwort flower.
are on the wing on the upper slopes of Mill Hill, although they could have
hatched out a couple of days before. The black veining through the white
border and their appearance was the classic Chalkhill
Blue. The females
were very orange on the underwing. On the base of the upperside wings,
the spots were very clearly visible.
Blues (50+) were seen frequently over
a wide area but they were not at their maximum numbers and were outnumbered
both by Meadow Browns (100+)
(75+). Other butterflies in order of frequency
were Small Whites (35+),
Skippers (25+), Red
Admirals (25+), Peacocks
(20+), Holly Blue
(12+), Large Whites
(10+), Marbled White
(one), Wall Brown
(one), Speckled Wood (one),
(one). This was my first record of a Brimstone,
the wing shape is quite distinct, although I have undoubtedly overlooked
them before. The Gatekeepers
clear double-spots on the underside.
Moths flew rapidly and did not settle.
of the Burnet Moths
were seen amongst the grasses on the overgrown Mill Hill paths.
Sussex branch of the Butterfly
Conservation Society arranged a walk on Mill
Hill in the morning. The long grasses were still soaked from
yesterday's downpour. I did not make the 11:00
am start but I went up there a couple of hours
later and they were no longer around. The blue
butterflies were not out yet. The only insect of note was a solitary
Moth south of the car park (TQ
212 072) . It was the
6-spot Burnet Moth, Zygaena
filipendulae, and it quickly flew away, the bright
red most distinguishable. One of the reasons for my identification was
the cocoon photographed by Ray
Hamblett at the beginning of July.
of the Burnet Moths
was a fair selection of butterflies including Small
Mill Hill the Meadow Browns
(40 +) were the commonest butterfly in the open but where the grass became
longer they were replaced by Marbled Whites
(40+) feeding on Greater
Knapweed, and in the scrub, a handful
of Gatekeeper Butterflies
could be easily separated from the Meadow
Browns by their smaller size and double eye-spot.
The Meadow Browns would
chase them given the opportunity. They remained settled for long periods
with the wings folded. At first the double eye-spots could be seen, but
after awhile the fawnish bit covered up the orange and the eye-spot.
Skipper Butterflies were a bit battered
but like the Gatekeeper stayed still,
but with their wings open. Red Admirals
flew energetically in the small copse.
and Pyramid Orchids were in flower.
scores of butterflies on Mill Hill were Small
Heath Butterflies (pic)
and/or Meadow Browns (pic).
two species were flying strongly amongst the long grasses and I found it
difficult to be 100% sure of their identification. They always settled
with their wings closed and at least one did not appear to have a pair
of eye-spots on the upperside of their wings.
a sunny Mill Hill, above the 45° Sycamore
incline from the Waterworks, butterflies
fluttered around, rarely settling for more than a brief few seconds, because
the largest and commonest (12 +) were the restless Wall Browns,
and a single solitary Small Heath Butterfly
or a Meadow Brown, the single eye spot clearly distinct on the underside
from the orange. Small unidentified orange butterflies fluttered
in the grasses. A female Common Blue settled. These species on the
downs seem a much more robust butterfly than than those seen on the lowlands,
margins and flood plain. Lastly, a single
a Dingy Skipper
was definitely identified, although
the the white dotted band on the topside of the front wings were much more
distinct than shown in my book. The best area was where the grassland met
the scrub north of the car park
(TQ 211 076).
Hill was covered by vast expanses of yellow on the green grasses, of Buttercups
Vetch, with Daisies
and patches of blue with the Common Milkwort
Speedwell, as well as other small plants.
few restless brown butterflies danced in
the light breeze. At least some if not all the larger ones were Wall
Browns, distinctive because of the black-ringed white eye-spot on the
opened highly patterned wings (different from a Tortoiseshell). There were
smaller brownish butterflies that I could not positively identify (not
Skippers). They were restless and my best guess would be a Small
Heath (Butterfly Conservation)
Skipper Butterfly was exceptionally attractive
when it landed on a buttercup.
being an overcast day, a large variety of Butterflies
around the slopes (TQ 212 073)
of Mill Hill.
of light blue flicked between the grasses and wild plants: the
was very frequently seen, only occasionally opening up its wings in the
intermittent rays of sunshine. Meadow Brown
were frequent; some, perhaps most, of these were Gatekeepers.
Whites (two species) were more
noticeable than their frequent occurrence. The variety was enhanced by
the occasional Painted Lady,
a distinctive Wall Brown,
away from any shade, and a solitary obliging Marbled
White, that remained stationary and opened
up its wings near the reservoir. There were a small butterflies as well,
perhaps one of the
system of abundance
Hamblett's Mill Hill & Beeding Hill Page
Bionomics Information (Really Wild Flowers)
thin layer of snow fell on Mill Hill and the downs above Shoreham. This
event is unusual before Christmas, occurring about once a decade.