MILL HILL WILDLIFE REPORTS              2005

View south-west of Mill Hill from the edge of the ridge below the upper car park



LINKS:
 
OVERVIEW:

The original historic reports state that originally 70 acres of Mill Hill were presented to the people of Shoreham in 1938.

Just over 30 acres still remain as public open land. This is divided into about 11 acres of grassland and meadows above the ridge, about 9 acres of scrub, the copse and glades at the northern end, and about half of the prime Chalkhill Blue area of 6.4 acres of herbland remaining. 6 acres has been lost to a Sycamore woodland on the southern slopes. 

This is low fertility chalkland not suitable for grazing. The top area is effectively a wild meadow and the lower slopes a rabbit warren dominated by prostrate (not the upright form) Horseshoe Vetch

WINTER-SPRING  2004

SUMMER - AUTUMN  2004

MILL HILL HOMEPAGE
LOWER SLOPES 2005
MILL NATURE RESERVE & MAP
Chalkhill Blues:

Mill 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. 
Graham Hart in the 1990s estimated the numbers at 6,000. This is not out of the question and this would accord with the R. M. Craske estimate of 50,000. This would be the maximum population density that could be expected on the carpets of Horseshoe Vetch (based on German figures)
Protection of the current population requires man management of the scrub incursions, which means removal of the Privet

Text by Andy Horton
Chalkhill Blue (Photograph by Andy Horton)
Chalkhill Blue Butterfly female

WILDLIFE REPORTS
 

Link to the Mill Hill Wildlife Reports 2006

14 December 2005
Nothing of note was seen on the lower slopes or the upper plateau of Mill Hill on a warm (air 9.8° C wind chill 7.9° C) afternoon for December. There were no flowers of any kind noticed, no fungi and only the common birds with over fifty Rooks shared the field with a herd of cattle, east of and uphill from Old Erringham Farm. Yellow Xanthoria lichens covered the south-facing branches of the bare Hawthorn bushes now devoid of berries, and the Beech leaves on the diminutive trees turned a golden brown.

22 November 2005
A small sparrow-sized dark brown bird perched on the top of a bare Hawthorn bush south of the Reservoir and next to the country road. I am not familiar with a rather richly plumaged bird with a white neck loop. It could have been a Tree Sparrow. The bird could not be approached and readily flew to another bush as I tried to get close for a better look through my binoculars.
In the east (New Erringham pasture), cattle grazed the field of grass and diminutive Ragwort, where about eight Rooks foraged. A Kestrel hovered and flew at low level like a Sparrowhawk. Blackbirds were seen at at least twice and there certainly more of them.
A few remaining flowers included Yarrow, Hardheads and Hawkweeds only, apart from the straggly remains of the Clematis that adorned the scrubbery.
In the Triangle area (middle slopes) there were over a dozen small mushrooms called the Pale Wax Cap, Hygrocybe berkeleyi, (known on the British Mycological List as Hygrocybe pratensis var pallida) near the seat.
Shoreham Fungi 2005
Adur Hygrocybe

16  & 22 November 2005
A flock of Sheep were now seen on the agricultural pasture of Old Erringham on the Adur Levels below the meadow (see below).

9 November 2005
A flock of Sheep were grazing on the agricultural meadow below (to the west of) Mill Hill Nature Reserve seen from the A27.

6 November 2005
The tall mushroom Volvariella gloiocephala grew on the edge of the meadow north of the car park on Mill Hill. Its gills were light brown. There was little of interest, a probable Skylark hanging in the breeze and a small flock of about five Pied Wagtails were noted. I made a brief wander around the plateau and copse at the top and did not bother with the lower slopes.
Shoreham Fungi 2005

23 October 2005
With the flowers diminishing the flying insects were hardly recorded with just one Red Admiral Butterfly recorded and no dragonflies. Plants noted still with the occasional flower included Hawkweeds, Greater Knapweed, Hardheads (Lesser Knapweed), Red Star Thistle (a knapweed), Yellow Wort (one plant noted still with flowers on the lower slopes), one Red Clover (on the middle slopes), Devil's Bit Scabious (cut back by a gardener on the lower slopes), just one Bramble flower and a few flowering plants of Yarrow.
 
Greater Knapweed visited by a Yellow-footed
Solitary Bee, Lasioglossum xanthopum.
Pulmonate land snails found in the shorter turf and herbland

Adur Solitary Bees

Scabious are hard to separate to species. The taller Field Scabious, Knautia arvensis, was no longer in flower, so I think it is the Small Scabious, Scabiosa columbaria, that is in flower with a few isolated flowers noted on the flat plateau turf north of the Reservoir.
There were a handful of mushrooms.
Shoreham Fungi 2005

Conservation workers had cleared an area of thorn south of the car park. This is not where the urgent work needs to be done to clear the Privet.

17 October 2005
Unmistakable in its bright yellow with a black outline, only my second Clouded Yellow Butterfly seen this year fluttered rapidly over the lower slopes of Mill Hill. It flew mostly in a southerly direction. Two Red Admiral Butterflies were recorded south of the Reservoir on Mill Hill. (The upper part of Mill Hill was not visited.) Common Wasps were frequent around the Ivy (near the stile in the north-west corner) much more than in the previous years this century.
Butterfly List for the Day
A Yellow-footed Solitary Bee*, Lasioglossum xanthopum, visited a Stemless Thistle, one of very few plants remaining in flower. (* ID not confirmed of this Nationally Scarce species, but likely). This was a large Lasioglossum bee.
Adur Solitary Bees
Status Definitions And Criteria For Invertebrates

7 October 2005
Even on the lower slopes (the only area visited) most of the butterflies had disappeared and the only ones recorded on Mill Hill (north of the bridge) were two Red Admirals, two Meadow Browns, one female Brown Argus and one male Common Blue.
Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List 2005
Berries were noticed, the harvestable Blackberries and Elderberries were still numerous and the black berries of the Privet and Dogwood and the red hips of Dog Rose. Returning by the ridge path, I noticed a dozen or more clumps of Bittersweet in a cleared area with berries of dark green, orange-yellow and red. This is a common wasteland shrub and the berries are mildly poisonous.

14 September 2005
The first Clouded Yellow Butterfly of the year fluttered rapidly in the Moderate Breeze over Mill Hill just north of the Reservoir, landing in a patch of taller herbs on the wind-blown plateau. The smaller size and distinct black edging differentiated this butterfly instantly from the Brimstone. Apart from a couple of Large Whites in Shoreham town, they seemed to be the only butterflies around. However, I only visited this allotment patch sized plot on Mill Hill and arrived and returned by road.
Plants in flower noted were Autumn Gentian because of their large (several hundred) numbers in the shorter grass meadows, Common Toadflax on the path edges and road verges, the white flowers of Yarrow, yellow Hawkweeds (easy to confuse with other plants) and the dimunitive parasitic Eyebright.
The small beetle Galeruca tanaceti crawled over the herbs, grass and rabbit droppings just north of the Reservoir, Mill Hill.
Adur Beetles
 
13 September 2005

I am not surprised that I missed the Autumn Lady's Tresses, Spiranthes spiralis, on previous visits as this orchid is very much smaller than expected and already past its best. There were three plants seen in the short grass just north of the Reservoir on Mill Hill. 

Adur Orchids

Butterflies included Adonis Blues and Small Heaths but Meadow Browns were the most prevalent. 

Butterfly List for the Day

12 September 2005
Over a hundred House Martin's flew from west to east over Mill Hill in 15 minutes. There were scores before this as well.

11 September 2005
Autumn Lady's Tresses are flowering near the Reservoir on Mill Hill.

Report by Jim Hoare (South Downs Society)
Red Star Thistle The Red Star Thistle, Centaurea calcitrapa, is recorded on the verges of the steps leading down to the lower slopes of Mill Hill.
The upper meadows of Mill Hill were full of hundreds of Crane-flies but not a single butterfly was noted in a fleeting passage visit.  The Crane-flies were identified by Dr Dave Skingsley (Staffordshire Universities) from the photograph as Tipula sp., possibly Tipula paludosa or Tipula olaracea or as I  the wings cannot be seen clearly it might be Tipula vernalis.

Adur Flies

30 August 2005
A clear blue sky without as much as a single white fluffy cirrus cloud and the day got warmer and by the late afternoon the shade air temperature was 26.3 ºC.
Scores of House Martins flew from west to east over Mill Hill, noticed as I followed the ridge from a visit to the lower slopes.

21 August 2005
Worn and battered Chalkhill Blue Butterflies were down to a count of about 62, but I was not looking very carefully, Common Blues on the lower slopes were past their best as well and I estimated these at between 65 to 75, with the first of the second brood male Adonis Blues confirmed when one these flighty butterflies settled and some were pristine and some just new .There were at least ten and possibly twenty. I returned via the ridge with a Speckled Wood Butterfly seen in the Hawthorn.
Butterfly List for the Day
In the pasture (New Erringham) immediately to the east of Mill Hill at least one female Pheasant ran into the cover of the mixed Ragwort and longer grass.

16 August 2005
I counted up to 200 Chalkhill Blue Butterflies on the lower slopes of Mill Hill before I gave up counting. The total for the day actually seen was about 250 (middle and upper slopes 30, Pixie Path/Mill Hill Cutting SW 20). There were about 20% females and again some of these may have been missed. These numbers are fairly good for the middle of August when the numbers of Chalkhill Blues can fall off a bit. Many of both the males and females were worn and some were showing signs of damage. They are in mating mood and four males could be seen chasing one female above the short herbs on a handful of occasions, but usually each of the brown females received the attention of one to three males.
Chalkhill Blues were the most numerous butterfly on the lower slopes, but on the whole of Mill Hill, it was the Common Blue Butterflies that were the most numerous and as I returned over the upper meadows, their totals must be upwards of 300 actually seen (upper meadows on Mill Hill 250, lower slopes 25, Pixie Path 20, urban fringes 5). Common Blues were courting as well, with their paired vertical ascendant courtship flights and mutual attraction amongst the bramble shrub (like the Chalkhill Blues).
Gatekeeper Butterflies were few, only two definites, one on the path by the Wayfaring Bush leading down to the lower slopes of Mill Hill and one on the scrub on the middle slopes. Meadow Browns were very frequently seen  but not so numerous as a week ago on the lower slopes and upper meadows about equally. Small Heath Butterflies had reappeared on the lower slopes with at least a dozen observed and a handful more seen above the ridge. A yellow butterfly was not identified at first over the lower slopes and then another Brimstone Butterfly flew into a thistle-covered gap in the Hawthorn scrub in the north-west. Two pristine Green-veined White Butterflies greeted me in this scrub and flew away and landed on Hemp Agrimony and Perforate St. John's Wort. In the shade of hedges at the top of the Pixie Path and in the Hawthorn in the north-west of Mill Hill, Speckled Wood Common Blue femaleButterflies were frequent and Red Admirals occasional. A handful of Brown Argus Butterflies were confirmed with a positive identification from their spots and markings on the upper meadows only of Mill Hill. There were female Common Blues as well.
Large Whites and Holly Blues were present, the latter near the hedge bordering the road between the bridge and the southern car park.
Butterfly List for the Day

A Southern Hawker Dragonfly patrolled the copse at the top of Mill Hill.

7 August 2005
Common Blue Butterflies were out in large numbers in the meadows on Mill Hill. In their most prevalent, there was at least two for every square metre, and I have estimated them at a level of about one every five square metres over an area of three acres giving an estimated population of 2400 (this may be hopelessly underestimated?). For every twenty blues on the tall herb meadows on the top of Mill Hill, about one was a Chalkhill Blue. The count for Chalkhill Blues on Mill Hill was 155 (= an estimated 550) where 13 species (out of 16 for the day) were seen. One Wall Brown Butterfly was spotted on the ridge path just north of the Reservoir.
Butterfly List for the Day
 
Field Grasshopper Meadow Grasshopper Meadow Grasshopper

A Common Field Grasshopper, Chorthippus brunneus, (first left, above) was observed making a jump of two metres on the short sward exposed slopes north of the Reservoir. The long grass usually hosts the green (green on Mill Hill)  Meadow Grasshopper, Chorthippus parallelus.
Adur Grasshoppers

A beetle larva of Drilus flavescens was seen on the path in the north-west of Mill Hill.
Invertebrates from the North-west Hawthorn scrub/wood

2 August 2005
Feamle Chalkhill Blue in the long grass meadow immediately south of the upper car park.Chalkhill Blue Butterflies came out with the sun on Mill Hill, mostly on the lower slopes. The count of 268 was disappointing for their peak period. They still represented more than half of the butterflies of fifteen species seen on Mill Hill (excluding the Waterworks Road and Slonk Hill south).
List: Chalkhill Blues, Meadow Browns (F) including overlarge females in the meadow north of the car park, a handful of Small (or Essex) Skippers, Speckled Woods (O), Gatekeepers (F), Red Admirals (O), Brimstones (O), Peacock (1), Marbled White (1), Brown Argus* (2), Common Blue (F, 20+), Holly Blue (1), Large Whites (O), Small Whites (1) and Green-veined Whites (1+). Six-spot Burnet Moths were frequent and widespread. (O = occasional F = Frequent). (* ID not confirmed by photographs.)
Butterfly List for the Day
Brown Argus ID Notes

The spectacular (by fly standards) hoverfly Volucella zonaria was seen in the heavy scrub of the north-west.
There was a flock of a hundred corvids over Old Erringham. They sounded like Rooks and could have included Jackdaws. They could have been Crows as these are usually the most prevalent: I did not get a chance for a close-up look and the flock flew northwards.

31 July 2005
Oil Seed Rape on the road verge near to the lower car park on Mill Hill.By the time, I arrived at Mill Hill, the low misty cloud had turned into light rain (hard enough to splatter my spectacles and obscured my view), enough to discourage any butterflies on what could have been the prime emergence day for Chalkhill Blues this year. Only 31 Chalkhill Blue Butterflies were disturbed (29 on the lower slopes and two above the ridge*) or seen laying prostrate on the Horseshoe Vetch food plants. Meadow Brown Butterflies were frequently seen and there were about ten Gatekeepers. At least one 6-spot Burnet Moth was recorded, and a couple of Yellow Shell Moths were disturbed.
(* Visit truncated and I only made a brief visit of 20 minutes on the lower slopes because of the rain.)
Butterfly List for the Day

22 July 2005
By 11:00 am the sky had become grey and overcast after a bright sunny start to the morning. The most numerous butterflies present on my visit were Gatekeepers (E 100+)  and Chalkhill Blues (125) with frequent numbers of Meadow Browns and Small (or Essex) Skippers, and a low frequency of Large Whites and Green-veined Whites, with a Speckled Wood, a Wall Brown and a Red Admiral: a total of nine species.
Butterfly List for the Day
 
Wall Brown, NW of the upper car park, Mill Hill, 2005
Chalkhill Blue on the Triangle, Mill Hill, 2005
 Meadow Brown (female)
Wall Brown
Marbled White
Chalkhill Blue

6-spot Burnet Moth on a Round-headed RampionAt least thirty (quick estimate) Round-headed Rampion plants were noted in flower on the upper slopes north of the Reservoir. A single navy blue flower blossoms on the top of a frail stalk.

17 July 2005
Under another warm afternoon with temperatures in excess of 26° C, the count of Chalkhill Blues on Mill Hill was 45, with 33 on the lower slopes and 12 venturing above the ridge. Whitethroats (or Lesser Whitethroats) were the one of the small birds in the bushes.
Butterfly List of the Day

12 July 2005
Cotton ThistleOn the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the fresh male Chalkhill Blue Butterflies were out and I counted twenty of them over an area of 400 metres, but this is just the beginning of them. Other butterflies were prevalent, both Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns numbered over thirty and Small/Essex Skippers (15+), Marbled Whites (15) and Green-veined Whites were frequent on Mill Hill. There was two Commas, two Red Admirals, and at least one Large White on a day when I visited the lower slopes only, returning via the ridge.
Butterfly List of the Day
The Cotton Thistle was beginning to flower in the pasture to the east of Mill Hill.

8 July 2005
Fifteen sleek Swifts flew low level over Mill Hill, moving in a westerly direction.
Six-spot Burnet Moths were emerging on the top of Mill Hill where a small patch of Meadow Cranesbill showed amongst the long grass where it was nearly getting swamped by other vegetation.
 

Meadow Brown on Greater Knapwed 6-spot Burnets Gatekeeper Greater Knapweed (near the Reservoir)

Two blue butterflies emerged on the lower slopes of Mill Hill but they flew away much too quickly to be sure of their identity. They were probably Chalkhill Blue Butterflies. Both Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown Butterflies were very frequently seen. There were 16 Marbled Whites, 13 on Mill Hill (including 5 from the lower slopes).
Shoreham Bank 2005
Butterfly List for the Day

3 July 2005
A magnificent dragonfly settled on a pine tree on the southern edge of the copse on the top of Mill Hill. It was a female Southern Hawker looking very fresh and dangerous to other insects. My impression was that this was possibly a different dragonfly species to the one seen on 1 July because it was not quite so active on its patrols and this one appeared slightly smaller with less of a green thorax. However, these differences could be explained by my failure to get a good look at the first one.

ID confirmed by Andy Harmer on the Freshwater Life of North-western Europe "Smart Group"

 

Migrant Hawker
This dragonfly was well camouflaged two and half metres up in a pine tree

Adur Dragonflies
Adur Dragonfly Flight Times
Butterfly List for the Day

24 June 2005
A single Kidney Vetch flower was recorded for the first time on Mill Hill in the Triangle area. Other plants noted for the first time this year were Restharrow in the area north of the upper car park, where a distinctive snail (a tower-like pulmonate mollusc) was feeding on Yellow Rattle. This tower-like snail is probably Cochlicella acuta. This is reported as a coastal species only.
More Information on the Snail
Field Scabious was beginning to flower in the Triangle, with expanses of Perforate St. John's Wort where the Dogwood had been cleared, and Self-heal in the Hawthorn scrub in the north-west, and Greater Knapweed on the upper part where the grass was longer and thicker.
 
Wild Mignonette Greater Knapweed Field Scabious Self-Heal in the Hawthorn wood (next to the path) NW

Two Large Skippers were confirmed from the plateau area with long grasses and Bird's Foot Trefoil south of the upper car park.
Butterfly List for the Day

Meadow Cranesbill which was so prevalent this time last year was not on show amongst the long grass to the north of the car park. This area was full of long heavy grass.

19 June 2005
With a temperature at 27.1 ºC (warmest day of the year so far going up to 27.1 ºC later), it was not conducive to anything more than a casual stroll on the middle and upper slopes. I noted some of the wild plants I could put a name to including Bird's Foot Trefoil, a small remaining patch of Horseshoe Vetch in the Triangle, over a hundred Dropwort flowers on the upper plateau south of the car park (the same area that the Horseshoe Vetch flowered in three weeks earlier), Agrimony, Wild Mignonette, the diminutive Eyebright, Fairy Flax, Milkwort and Common Mouse-ear. A small yellow flowered plant was also commonly observed possibly Black Medick or Hop Trefoil?
 
Dropwort is the white flower Dropwort (left)
Filipendula vulgaris
Hundreds of this distinctive plant covered the upper plateau flowering after the Horseshoe Vetch and at the same time as the Bird's Foot Trefoil.

Meadow Vetchling (right)
Lathyrus pratensis
Isolated flowers were occasionally seen in the tall herb area north of the upper car park on Mill Hill.

Meadow Vetchling flower

There was Roe Deer amongst the long grass in the meadow below (west of) Mill Hill.
Butterfly List

18 June 2005
The flowering Horseshoe Vetch had completely disappeared although a solitary flower was noted on the lower slopes. Yellow Wort flowers were closed in the heat of the afternoon. The small flowers of Fairy Flax were noted in small clumps. Musk Thistles were just beginning to flower. Male Adonis Blue Butterflies were counted at 16 on the lower slopes only (only the upper slopes along the rim of the ridge were visited).
Butterfly List
Adur Thistles

9 June 2005
In the sunshine I visited the upper slopes only that I avoided two days ago, and I found I needed a reappraisal of the flora. On the upper plateau south of the car park the Horseshoe Vetch was a larger component of the herbs and grasses that I first anticipated and this was apparent as it was still at least half in flower, whereas on the lower slopes it had almost faded to nothingness and could not be seen at a distance. The leaf flora south of the car park seemed to include a large amount of Bird's Foot Trefoil, but hardly any seemed to be in flower. Most of the other yellow were Bulbous Buttercups, with Milkwort in flower, Dropwort beginning, Red Clover, Common Mouse-ear and the small white flowers of Fairy Flax. The variety of long grasses were noted but not identified yet. Brome is almost certainly important in this area.
Butterflies fluttering over this exposed area included about three Adonis Blues, the same number of Common Blues and at least five Small Heaths.
 

Horseshoe Vetch with Bird's Foot Trefoil in the foreground (Triangle, middle slopes on 9 June 2005) Grasses, Horseshoe Vetch and other vegetation south of the upper car park, Mill Hill, (June 2005) Fairy Flax (a tiny flower) Cotton Thistle, Onopordon acanthium, in the cattle pasture to the east of Mill Hill

The image on the far right is a plant over a metre in height, the Cotton Thistle, Onopordon acanthium, in the cattle pasture to the east of Mill Hill. This is a naturalised alien plant.

Thistle ID by Ray Hamblett (Lancing Nature)
Adur Thistles

North of the car park the flora of herbs and grasses is much denser and altogether different with Horseshoe Vetch absent. I did not make a note of the flowering plants, although it did include Yellow Rattle on which a male Common Blue Butterfly landed and a few taller Bird's Foot Trefoil. There were at least three of these blues, but this was less than would be expected after a major emergence. There was one Adonis Blue seen over the taller herbs and grasses, and I was surprised by a sparring pair of Grizzled Skippers.

There was a Speckled Wood Butterfly in the copse at the top of the Mill Hill.
In the Triangle area of the middle slopes, Eyebrightwas beginning to flower amongst the fading Horseshoe Vetch and some Bird's Foot Trefoil.

At the top of the Pixie Path to Mill Hill, a Small White Butterfly fluttered over by the bridge. In the small clear long grassy area of the south-west of the Mill Hill Cutting (road bank by Chanctonbury Drive) a solitary Small Blue Butterfly appeared after a wait of under a minute.
Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List 2005

7 June 2005
On a sunny day after a week of clouds, I did not visit the upper slopes although a handful of Adonis Blue Butterflies were seen above the ridge north of the Reservoir with a male and female Common Blue Butterfly. Musk Thistle was beginning to flower by the Reservoir.
A green Common Lizard was seen on the Pixie Path and a Small Blue Butterfly in the Mill Hill Cutting (next to the top of Chanctonbury Drive).
Report from the Lower Slopes

27 May 2005
On the top slopes it is Horseshoe Vetch* showing yellow in the sunshine under a bright blue sky and an air temperature of 25.2 ºC.
(* This area of an acre south of the car park also contains Bird's Foot Trefoil not flowering yet.) On the lower slopes of six acres, Horseshoe Vetch is still in superabundance, covering almost the whole area.
 

Adonis Blue female
Mill Hill south of the upper car park towards the Reservoir
Grassland with Horseshoe Vetch in flower
Mill Hill south of the upper car park towards the Adur valley
Grassland with Horseshoe Vetch and a mixed selection of herbs
Adonis Blue female

There were no butterflies seen here though. The butterflies were reserved for the lower slopes where they were nearly a hundred and a handful on the middle slopes above the ridge.
Adonis Blues were the most frequent butterflies with a count of 66 including 9 female and all bar one in a 1.2 acre section on the lower slopes. They were accompanied by 20+ Small Heaths on a luxurious carpet of Horseshoe Vetch exceeding the spread of five days previously. Just the one Dingy Skipper was seen.
There were at least four Holly Blue Butterflies mating and chasing each other in the Hawthorn edge next to the road on the east side just north of the bridge over the A27.
Butterfly & Moth Report

Just inside the copse in the north-west corner (edge of the lower slopes) a blue damselfly made a too fleeting appearance to be sure of its identity.

22 May 2005
The Kestrel and Crow were flying together over the slopes of Mill Hill, but I do not what bird was mobbing which one?
On the lower slopes the Horseshoe Vetch was at its peak or slightly past it. I recorded 11 male Adonis Blues and one female in a 15 minute sojourn.
Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List 2005

18 May 2005
One of the Whitethroats (small bird) was in a bush on the plateau part of Mill Hill south of the Reservoir. Horseshoe Vetch was showing in small patches, sometimes amongst long grass, between the top car park and the Reservoir. Hound's Tongue was prevalent near the rabbit warren amongst the scrub at the top of the slopes near (north of) the Reservoir.

15 May 2005
A Kestrel and Crow simultaneously mobbed a Stoat on the Horseshoe Vetch covered slopes of Mill Hill.Later in the afternoon, a Stoat was seen slinking over the short grass and herbs and making a quick bolt down a rabbit burrow just below the ridge. The Stoat was out in the open for about two seconds.
In the field below (west of) Mill Hill a young Roe Deer calf was suckling from her mother out in the meadow.*

* Action Reports by Jan Hamblett (Lancing Nature)
Deer Images (by Ray Hamblett)
 
Burnet Companion Adonis Blue Butterfly (Photograph by Katherine Hamblett) 15 April 2005

Adonis Blue Butterfly
amongst the Horseshoe Vetch
Photograph by Katherine Hamblett (aged 10½ years)

Wall Brown Butterfly (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)After buffeting by the gales and strong breezes during the last week, the sun came out and the butterflies, skippers and moths were now common (just over 100; about 60 on Mill Hill). On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the first four male Adonis Blue Butterflies of the year fluttered around the Horseshoe Vetch (which was at about 85% of its maximum luxuriance). The Wall Brown Butterflies fluttered from the lower slopes on to and above the ridge on to the shallower slopes and higher vegetation including grasses (grow long later in summer).
Thirteen species of butterfly and skipper were seen in an hour and a half.
Butterfly Report
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List 2005
 
The lower slopes were so dominated by the Horseshoe Vetch that other plants could be overlooked. Of particular note were a handful of Hound's Tongue, Cynoglossum officinale, (only the leaves have been recorded before) with most of the plants noted on the steep slopes just below the ridge.

6 May 2005
Lawrie Keen drew my attention to the call of a Nightingale that appeared to come from the fringe of the incursing woodland on the southern slopes of Mill Hill (NE of the Waterworks House).

The small moth 2470 Small Purple-barred Moth Phytometra viridaria was recorded for the first time on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, although it has been seen before.

Identification by Ian Thirlwell on UK Moths Yahoo Group and Nick Greatorex-Davies on the UK Leps (Yahoo Group)
Butterflies on the lower slopes included Dingy Skippers, Grizzled Skippers, Peacock Butterflies, Small Whites, Small Heaths and Brimstones in order of prevalence.
Butterfly & Moth Report
 
Horse-fly, Mesembrina meridiana hoverfly Leucozona lucorum St. Mark's Fly were common Myathropa florea (a hoverfly)

The common Alexanders, Smyrnium olustratum, on the southern part of Mill Hill attracted hundreds of flies, including hoverflies. This enlarged picture is the hoverfly Leucozona lucorum. There has been an explosion of this species in Holland and Belgium this year. This pretty little hoverfly is widespread and common in England. (It is not included in the Collins Guide to British Insects by Michael Chinery.)

Identification by Hans Arentsen on the British Insects Yahoo Group
UK Hoverflies (Yahoo Group)

A Crane-fly was seen as well. (Originally identified as Nephrotoma appendiculata but now thought to be wrong.)

1 May 2005
As the familiar Kestrel performed flying over the lower slopes, the afternoon failed to produce a possible glut of butterflies. Moths were common (well over a hundred) but they were mostly small ones. The first Cinnabar Moth of the year was seen on the Shoreham Bank.
Two Common Partridges were disturbed on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. I actually got quite close (15 metres) them before they flew off towards the Adur Levels and Spring Dyke. This was the first time I had seen them on Mill Hill.
After the rain in the last week, two species of mushroom emerged on the upper slopes.

The first two Grizzled Skippers were seen on the first step down to the Shoreham Bank from the southern part of the upper slopes. In a recently cleared area in the north-west of Mill Hill, two male Orange Tip Butterflies fluttered by, only pausing to nectar on the common Ground Ivy for less than a second. The white butterflies were two Small Whites. An Andrena bee was noted on a Dandelion in the copse at the top of Mill Hill.

Dingy SkipperButterfly and Moth Report from the Shoreham Bank
Adur Butterfly and Larger Moth List 2005
Shoreham Fungi

29 April 2005
The bright red of a Peacock Butterfly was the first one on the lower slopes of Mill Hill and then I was surprised by a flash of orange and I was able to confirm a Small Heath Butterfly and this was the same species as seen two days previously. Almost simultaneously, I also disturbed a Dingy Skipper. I had a wait between five and ten minutes for a single Grizzled Skipper to appear at the northern end of the lower slopes.
Full Report from the Shoreham Bank

St. Mark's FlyThe black flies (with dangly bits) commonly seen at this time of the year are St. Mark's Flies, Bibio marci.

27 April 2005
It was blowing a Force 4 so it was Moderately Breezy on the top of the hill. Immediately, I descended from the steps on to the green herbland, a flutter of orange was two days later confirmed as the first Small Heath Butterfly of the year. Other butterflies were to be found on the lower slopes: Grizzled Skipper 11+, Peacock and a Comma, and in the scrub to the north-west, another Peacock, and in the copse at the summit, a surprise Red Admiral, old but not battered, and a male Green-veined White; six species in total.
Full Report from the Shoreham Bank
 
Grizzled Skipper Red Admiral on Nettles (in late April) Green-veined White Butterfly

I noticed that the Hawthorn was spreading with small shrubs just south of the reservoir, including the steep slopes near the steps.

Adur Butterfly Flight Times
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
National Butterflies: First Dates
Small Insects of Mill Hill

19 April 2005
A clearly seen Yellowhammer flew from the lower slopes to the woodland at the southern end where perched on the top of a small tree and sang.
The small fluttering of brown was my first record of the small day-flying moth Pyrausta nigrata of the year on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. Unless the moth settles it is easy to confuse this species with the Grizzled Skipper with at least one confirmed. These two species have identical browns and cream colours but different patterns and occur at the same time on the downs. The Grizzled Skipper is larger. Altogether a total of at least six of either moths or skippers were disturbed.
Adur Butterfly and Larger Moth List 2005

Green-veined White Butterfly15 April 2005
The Kestrel was hunting, hovering and then descending spectacularly near the Reservoir.
On Mill Hill and its approaches, Sweet Violets were fading and Dog Violets were appearing.
There was one Grizzled Skipper at the northern end of the lower slopes, and a Peacock Butterfly was just under the ridge near the rabbit warren. A Green-veined White was seen on the southern part of Mill Hill and this was the first of the year.
Adur Violets

10 April 2005
Grizzled SkipperI was greeted by a male Kestrel making a ground strike on the upper slopes just south of the reservoir.
The first, and only one, Grizzled Skipper (Butterfly) of the year landed on the lower slopes of Mill Hill for just a few seconds before it flew rapidly over the scrub and out of view. This is the first national record this year.
Other butterflies for the day included one a handful of both Peacock Butterflies (Mill Hill and the A27 road embankment a the top [north] of the Dovecote Estate, Shoreham), Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies (Mill Hill and the A27 road embankment), and one Holly Blue (top of Chanctonbury Drive, near [SE of) Mill Hill).
Adur Butterflies
Adur Butterfly List 2005
Adur Butterfly Flight Times
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
National Butterflies: First Dates
Butterfly Conservation Society

The first dozen Dog Violets were in flower on the Pixie Path to Mill Hill, but on the lower slopes of Mill Hill the Sweet Violet was still the dominant flower with tens of thousands including white specimens forming a carpet of violet in places. No Dog Violets were identified (yet this year) on Mill Hill. Violets were absent from the grazing areas in the adjoining field to the north west of Mill Hill Nature Reserve (south of Erringham Hill, south-east and up from Old Erringham Farm).
Adur Violets

I saw my first hirundine of the year for a fraction of a second swooping over Erringham Hill. I think it was a Swallow.

3 April 2005
 
Brown-tail Moth nest (not the Lackey Moth)

The Sweet Violets over all of the slopes and amongst the scrub of Mill Hill numbered tens of thousands, mostly violet in colour, but also white ones. In the grass the leaves were small but they were larger in sheltered positions under the Hawthorn.
 

1 April 2005
There were even more Sweet Violets over the grass on the top of the hill, in the cleared scrub areas and under the scrub in shelter. In the open the leaves were absent (could not be discerned easily) or small and definitely without hairs. In the shade the leaves were larger. A few white bunches occurred as well. Individually, I could detect no scent from these violets.
Adur Violets
No butterflies were seen in the weak sunshine of the late afternoon. A Skylark was singing. A Rook landed on the empty pasture to the east of Mill Hill south. Cattle were grazing on the stubble of Erringham Hill.

25 March 2005
There were thousands of Sweet Violets growing on the slopes of Mill Hill. A single Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly visited one of them for a second on the lower slopes. It was characteristic of these violets on the lower slopes that the leaves were diminutive, almost invisible and hard to discover. When just one was discovered, they lacked the hairs of the Hairy Violets. Almost all the flowers were the same shade of violet without any markings or patterns found in Dog Violets. Collectively, these violets may have produced a faint perfume.
Adur Violets
Honey Fungus was spotted on a few stumps of cleared scrub and the lichen (shown in the photograph on the right) growing in the fork of a Hawthorn twig. There were a dozen or more Buff-tailed Bumblebee Queens buzzing about and entering holes (nests).
A Green Woodpecker was resting in the short grass under the ridge of Mill Hill, before flying with its characteristic dipping flight over towards the wooded area near the Waterworks House.

Lichen recorded on a concrete post on the extreme south-western boundary fence of Mill Hill18 March 2005
A Skylark was fluttering and singing in the air over the empty grazing field to the east of the southern part of Mill Hill.

16 March 2005
Mill Hill is bathed in sunshine as the air temperature attains 14.6 ºC.
A Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly was disturbed basking in the midday sun on the Pixie Footpath adjacent to the horse's fields on the way to Mill Hill, when I was quick enough to make a positive identification.
There was still standing water in the muddy bits next to the southern car park. Sweet Violets were in flower at the top of the steep bank and one or two appeared to be on the lower slopes as well.
Adur Violets
 
Sweet Violets on the steep bank below the first (most southerly) seat
A thousand gulls follow the plough
Field Speedwell

Over a thousand gulls, mostly Black-headed Gulls and Common Gulls followed the plough on the field below (west) Mill Hill on the Adur LevelsThere was evidence of conservation work with the removal of scrub including Privet on the lower and middle slopes, burning the wood on site, which is not best practice because it creates a high nutrition area. On the top slopes there had been some forage harvesting of grasses with mounds stashed up to rot, again producing areas of high nutrition. The Kestrel flew over as expected.

On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, I was again surprised by a bright yellow Brimstone Butterfly being mobbed by a dark brown butterfly or day-flying moth which was not identified. Another Brimstone Butterfly appeared and two of these large butterflies were in my field of view at the same time. The third butterfly of the day was a Red Admiral basking on the tarmac path in the copse at the brow of Mill Hill.
Adur Butterflies
Adur Butterfly List 2005
Adur Butterfly Flight Times
Adur Butterfly: First Dates
 
 
Hawthorn on the southern part of Mill Hill coloured yellow-orange with the Xanthoria lichens on the southern side Lichens on Hawthorn in the sheltered scrubby areas of Mill Hill Lichens on Hawthorn in the sheltered scrubby areas of Mill Hill

13 March 2005
A very confiding Firecrest was seen at Mill Hill in the hedge to the right between bridge over the A27 and Mill Hill. It had a ring, which appeared very shiny and new, on it's right leg.

Report by Dave & Penny on the Sussex Birds Yahoo Group


3 March 2005
No sign of snow in Shoreham town but looking out of my window, there was a thin layer of snow on the downs above Shoreham. This snow was only on the high ground north of the A27 By-pass, and the pastures from Slonk Hill westwards to Mill Hill were green.

27 February 2005
A small brown bird flew out of, or more likely through a Hawthorn bush just north of the southern car park and settled on the grass and muddy path. It remained stationary long enough for me to extract my binoculars and focus on the bird about ten metres away. I had the back view for a minute, but it was not until it turned slightly that I could confirm the bird as a Skylark. On the ground, it is not nearly as attractive as when it is in the air. However, its face is distinctive, before flurries of sleet blew in from the east and obscured the view.
This could conceivably be a migrant bird rather than a resident?

8 February 2005
There were at least a couple of Rooks in the churned up cattle pasture immediately to the east of Mill Hill. Rooks are not common near the urban area and only seen occasionally in winter.
 
Lichens on Alder Lichens on Alder Lichen on Hawthorn

With very little of natural interest, I took a closer look at the lichens on the trees and bushes of Mill Hill. The pictures above show the lichens of most interest. The one with the miniature black tar-like globules in the first three photographs were not seen before in Shoreham town, but I may have overlooked them. They are probably a reasonably common species. These lichens were photographed on Italian Alder but were to be found on the Hawthorn as well. The other lichens in the photograph on the far right are prevalent species.
Adur LichensCladonia

On the path leading to Mill Hill, I noted and photographed a few lichens, mosses and other growths on wood. The photograph on the right shows the podentia of a Cladonia lichen.

LINK TO  THE WILDLIFE REPORTS FOR  AUTUMN - SUMMER  2004

Lower Slopes of Mill Hill
 

LINK TO THE MILL HILL WILDLIFE REPORTS  FOR WINTER & SPRING 2004



16 SPECIES OF BUTTERFLIES DEPENDENT ON MILL HILL FOR BREEDING:
(Estimated numbers for Mill Hill Nature Reserve only are in brackets)
 
Chalkhill Blue (3000 +)
Adonis Blue (50 -100)
Dingy Skipper  (75)
Small Heath (250)
Wall Brown  (12)
Meadow Brown  (300)
Marbled White  (50)
Gatekeeper     (200)
Speckled Wood  (>50)
Green-veined White (2+)
Common Blue  (>3000+)
Small Blue       (5)
Brimstone        (8)
Small Skipper   (>50)
Large Skipper   (10+)
Grizzled Skipper  (20)
Brown Argus   (>30)

The other species may breed on Mill Hill, but there main breeding area will be adjoining fields or slightly further away. e.g. Small Blue (included above), Small Copper, Small Tortoiseshell, Green-veined White, Peacock, Ringlet, Small White, Large White, Comma, Holly Blue, Orange Tip. (=10)

The following are immigrants &/or hibernators:  Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Clouded Yellow.

The following have not been positively identified (because of ID difficulties):  Essex Skipper. This species is now included for a local field on the Adur Levels within 500 metres of Mill Hill.

(=30)

The following may occur but it has not been positively identified (because it is elusive and hard to spot): Green Hairstreak.
The next one is no longer found on Mill Hill but were there in the recent (reduced drastically to almost extinct by 1948 last record in  1968) past: Dark Green Fritillary (Records of this butterfly in 1857, 1938, and 1945 when it was common.)
The next one is no longer found on Mill Hill but were there in the distant (1947) past: Grayling.
The next one has been recorded near Mill Hill in the middle distance past:  White-letter Hairstreak

(=34)

The Silver-spotted Skipper does not appear to ever have occurred on Mill Hill

Rare Vagrant:
A Short-tailed Blue Butterfly, Cupio argades, was recorded from Shoreham in 1956

Adur Butterfly Page



LINK TO THE MILL HILL WILDLIFE REPORTS  FOR WINTER & SPRING 2004

Link to the Mill Hill WILDLIFE REPORTS up to 2003
with lots of Butterfly observations

Adonis Blues on Creeping Cinquefoil on the lower slopes herblandLower Slopes (with Butterfly Reports)

Mill Hill Nature Reserve (including map)

MultiMap Aerial Photograph of Mill Hill

Back to Mill Hill
Triangle
Upper Slopes
Middle Slopes
Lower Slopes
Grasses of Mill Hill
Mill Hill Copse

History of Mill Hill
 

Aerial Map
Lower Adur Levels (MultiMap) including Lancing Clump and Mill Hill

Hippocrepis comosa (Horseshoe Vetch)
 
 

Link to Adur Valley Nature Notes 2003Link to the Adur Nature Notes 2004 Index pageLink to Adur Nature Notes 2005  Index pageLink to the Adur Nature Notes 2006 web pages