Lower Slopes of Mill Hill 2005:  The Shoreham Bank


The lower slopes of Mill Hill contains about 6.4 acres of open herbland, with over six acres of a continuous carpet of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, mixed with other herbs, sedges and grasses. Its greatest claim to fame is the large number (3000+ in a good year) of Chalkhill Blue Butterflies.
 
Shoreham Bank with Horseshoe Vetch Adonis Blue Butterfly (Photograph by Katherine Hamblett, aged 10 years)

My transect route for recording butterflies is 400 metres (default half-transect) and a total of 750 metres if I return along the path (full transect). The half transect route covers 1.2 acres of the best butterfly ground.



Link to the 2006 Reports

14 December 2005
Even less of interest than my last visit at the end of October. Some of the cut down Privet was still on the ground and there was plenty still growing.

28 October 2005
There was nothing of interest recorded except that removal of Privet had commenced by the conservation workers and there was large pile of Privet that had been cut off. There were two rather undistinguished mushrooms above the ridge.

23 October 2005
No butterflies were recorded over the lower slopes and no dragonflies or bees were noted either. There were just a couple of mushrooms of different species. The largest one was probably the White Dapperling, Leucoagaricus leucothites.
 
This small mushroom had brown gills and a cap diameter measured at 17 mm. Its height was 38 mm with a white stem. It was growing amongst the short sward on the lower slopes of Mill Hill

Chalk Hill Fungi

The best suggestion was the species Stropharia coronilla.


Shoreham Fungi 2005

17 October 2005
Common Blue femaleUnmistakable 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. There were a handful of Meadow Brown Butterflies and just one slightly damaged female Common Blue Butterfly visited Hawkweeds. Patrolling ominously (from a butterfly's point of view) at least four Southern Hawker Dragonflies were quickly seen and about ten of the smaller Common Darters.
Butterfly List for the Day
A Yellow-footed Solitary Bee*, Lasioglossum xanthopus, 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
The Devil's Bit Scabious had been pruned diligently by a gardener. This is a pity as it is one of the few nectar plants at this time of the year for the bees and butterflies. A Stonechat called from the top of a small Hawthorn.

7 October 2005
Unidentified fly, probably one of the Muscidae or House FliesAfter the disappointing visit four days ago, the lower slopes did not hold much promise (but neither did anywhere else). A Red Admiral Butterfly landed on the brambles immediately above where this plant was seen less than a week before. This butterfly was followed almost immediately by a Brown Argus (confirmed by a photograph), and at the northern end of the slopes, one good condition intact male Common Blue and a Meadow Brown was disturbed. Flowering plants included Wild Basil, Hawkbits, diminutive Hardheads (Lesser Knapweed), Lesser centaury and others I did not make a note of.
The fly on the right rested on a Bramble leaf. It was one of Muscidae or House Flies, Phaonia valida (=Phaonia viarum). It is hedgerow species and it was discovered right next to the fringing scrub on the western boundary.
Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List 2005

3 October 2005
Although overcast in the afternoon, the temperature was 15.2 ºC, but no butterflies were recorded. A languid Meadow Brown was recorded near the Reservoir on the upper part of Mill Hill, so these butterflies may have been in hiding. The Devil's Bit Scabious where they have been known to rest had already been cut back and their heads lopped off by a gardener (probably). This left hardly any flowers, just two diminutive Hardheads (Lesser Knapweed) were noted in passing, although there were a handful of the usual plants still in flower.
 
There was so little to observe that a Devil's Coach Beetle, Staphylinus olens, caught out in the open attracted my attention.
Adur Beetles
In at least two places, a Rabbit had contributed to the erosion by attempting to dig a burrow. 
I also noted at least half a dozen clumps of Dogwood growing on the lower slopes, below (west of) the path at the northern end.

27 September 2005
The Fresh Breeze Force 4 (at 24 mph bordering on Force 5) from the south-west (224° azimuth) felt stronger and more from due south. This wind may or may not have brought immigrant Red Admirals to Shoreham. To my surprise at least nine more on a single clump of Ivy near (just south of) the stile in the far north-west corner of Mill Hill Nature Reserve. There were few other butterflies about with 24 Meadow Browns on the lower slopes of Mill Hill (including two on the clump of Ivy near the stile). There was very few nectar plants for the butterflies and Wild Basil was the one most used on the lower slopes.
Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List 2005
Common Darter Dragonflies numbered at least a dozen and they were all red ones.

20 September 2005
The sun came out (sort of) and in the warmth (> 21.1 ºC) of the weak sunshine I checked out the lower slopes of Mill Hill where the following butterflies were noted in 15 minutes: frequent good condition Meadow Browns (with females noticed) numbering about 20 (counted but I mislaid the slip), five Common Blues (including a female), four Small Heath Butterflies and what was probably a Green-veined White (not confirmed).

13 September 2005
Meadow Brown Butterflies in good condition made an appearance on the southern part of Mill Hill and numbered about fifty with most on the lower slopes (the only area apart from the bit by the Reservoir visited), with a faded Specked Wood Butterfly on the steps down to the lower slopes. Small Heath Butterflies numbered just two definites on the lower slopes but there were about eight in the longer grass near the Reservoir.
 
Carline Thistle with an Adonis Blue Blue female, unidentified, probably a Chalkhill Blue. There were at least 15 seen of these brown females. Speckled Wood

Blue butterflies of all species numbered about 25 definites and there were probably more. The males could be definitely identified as almost all them were Adonis Blues, but at least one Common Blue was a definite. I am not sure what the 15+ brown females were but I expect they included Chalkhill Blues. The main nectaring plant was Carline Thistle, but also Wild Basil and Stemless Thistle. Devil's Bit Scabious was in flower at the northern end.
Butterfly List for the Day

11 September 2005
An overcast day in the late afternoon (4:00 pm) is not expected to yield any more than a small number of disturbed or hidden butterflies in the best locations at the best of times, and the lower slopes of Mill Hill were no exception with just 29 Meadow Browns in good condition including a mating pair recorded with just one blue male butterfly disturbed probably a Common Blue, a female blue probably another Common Blue or a Chalkhill Blue discovered hiding in the amongst the herbs.
 
Right:

Blue female butterfly, very worn, thought to be a Common Blue  (from the arrangement of spots) or a Chalkhill Blue.

Left:

Meadow Browns mating.

There was one definite Small Heath Butterfly seen as well, a possible Red Admiral and notably at least a dozen Treble-bar Moths.  (Both the blues could conceivably have been Adonis Blues.)
 
Red Star Thistle Red Star Thistle, Centaurea calcitrapa

The Red Star Thistle, Centaurea calcitrapa, (photographed above) is recorded on the verges of the steps leading down to the lower slopes of Mill Hill. This seems to be a plant of rough pasture or disturbed land on the downs near the sea, mostly in Sussex.

4 September 2005
On a sticky warm (> 26.4 ºC, humidity at that time 59%, wind speed 10 mph at 4:26 pm) hazy day, the upper part of Mill Hill was full of people watching the Shoreham Air Show.
 
Treble-bar Moth
Mouse clicking links to a shaky movie shot of Adonis Blues courting
Small Heath on Stemless Thistle
There are two species of Treble Bar on the British list. I think this is most likely to be the Common Treble-bar Moth, Aplocera plagiata
Adonis Blues courting in the north-west corner. *Unless the male is in attendance it is tricky to differentiate the females from the similarly coloured brown Chalkhill Blue females.
There was a scarcity of nectar plants. the Small Heath Butterfly visits a diminutive Hardhead. 

Relatively few (compared to the summer months) butterflies fluttered around the lower slopes in the warmest part of the late afternoon and of those that did the very frequently seen Meadow Browns were often fresh and in perfect condition and numbered about fifty, equal or slightly more than all the other butterflies on the lower slopes (I did not visit the upper part except for passage over the southern uninteresting area); the other butterflies on the lower slopes of Mill Hill were at least 15 Small Heath Butterflies, a conservative 7 Common Blues (including females), at least 8 Chalkhill Blues (half were females*), at least 4 Adonis Blues (including a courting pair) and one Large White Butterfly. Moths were not identified except for at least two Treble-bar Moths.
There were the first signs of Devil's Bit Scabious with one flower in the small clump in the north-west corner.

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.
Blue butterflies were very frequent and it was easy to get the Common Blues confused with an estimated 30 plus to the fewer Adonis Blues which were counted at 15. Some of the  Common Blues, especially the females, were very small (but these were not Brown Argus Butterflies). Chalkhill Blues were almost finished with 15 and about half of these were females trying to attract males and amongst the prostrate Horseshoe Vetch to lay their eggs. The flicker of orange were a dozen plus Small Heath Butterflies, but Meadow Browns were the commonest with over fifty estimated.
A dozen Pyrausta aurata moths were lively amongst the herbs and short grass.

The female Chalkhill Blues were still crawling amongst the young prostrate Horseshoe Vetch to lay their eggs26 August 2005
After the rain in the last few days, in breezy overcast conditions the following butterflies were noted in order of first seen:
Chalkhill Blues (worn of both sexes) 16, Meadow Browns E 50, Small Heaths E 8, Large Whites E 5, Green-veined Whites 3+, Adonis Blues (all males) 9, and Common Blues 15. The relative paucity of butterflies meant I was able to count the blues without getting them muddled up, although some of the Adonis Blues were damaged and had lost their white wing borders with the chequerboard black markings. (E = estimated, others counted.) The female Chalkhill Blues were still crawling amongst the young growths of prostrate Horseshoe Vetch to lay their eggs.
Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List 2005

Overhead, a Crow was mobbing the Kestrel and this has been seen before.

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 (they may have been present on 16 August 2005). There were at least ten and possibly twenty Meadow Browns were still around with over fifty on the lower slopes, but only four Small Heath Butterflies. A small pyralid moth Pyrausta aurata visited a Wild Basil flower. A larger Treble-bar Moth was also noticed amongst over a dozen smaller species that were not identified.
 

Meadow Grasshoppers, Chorthippus parallelus, are the most numerous of the abundant grasshoppers on the Shoreham Bank,
shown here illustrated and well camouflaged in their habitat, with one of the second brood male Adonis Blue Butterflies.

There was at least one Common Darter Dragonfly.
Adur Grasshoppers

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.Pale white Wild Basil
Other butterflies in order of prevalence on the lower slopes were  Meadow Browns 50+,  Common Blues 20+, Small Heaths 12+, Gatekeeper 1, Large White 1, Brimstone 1. A possible Small Copper Butterfly was not confirmed. The half a dozen large blue butterflies could have been Adonis but they would not settle for confirmation. A bright orange butterfly (or moth) just seemed to disappear when I looked for it.
Butterfly List for the Day

The large blue dragonfly was more likely to be a Southern Hawker than an Emperor.
Autumn Gentian (=Felwort) was noticed in flower and there appeared to be more plants than last year. Yellow Wort was mostly dried out and fading.
There was one small plant amongst the short herbs with a whitish flower which is illustrated by the photograph on the right. I am inclined to think it is Wild Basil, Clinopodium vulgare. The identity of this plant is under discussion on UK Botany (Yahoo Group)
Discussion Summary (link)
UK Botany (Yahoo Group) Discussion Thread (Index Link)

7 August 2005
Not all the Chalkhill Blues were as worn as theseThe count of Chalkhill Blues on the 400 metre route across the lower slopes came to 131, with 10% females. I expect many of the females were overlooked as most of them were found by the battered males before I spotted them. There were a handful of fresh looking specimens with at least one male and three females in a bright condition (their chequerboard black-on-white fringes make them look like Adonis females). Most of the others were faded and many (30% to 60%) had damaged wings. Other butterflies on the lower slopes included frequent Meadow Browns, with Gatekeepers were less frequent, a handful of what appeared to be large White Butterflies, and just one Small Heath Butterfly was recognised. My spell on the lower slopes was under a cloudy sky in the afternoon, but the sun came out for a brief period before and after.
Butterfly List for the Day

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

3 August 2005
I made a quick 30 minutes visit to Mill Hill for the specific purpose of counting the Chalkhill Blues on the lower slopes: the half-transect (400 metres) count came to 143 (compared to 229 yesterday) including three females. I did not go to the upper slopes but returned via the path above the ridge where 33 further Chalkhill Blues giving a total of 176 for the trek. Both Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers were seen, but there was unlikely to be more than twenty of each. A surprise was almost immediate sighting of a second brood Dingy Skipper, only the second I have ever recorded, and the first in the month of August.
Adur Skippers
Adur Butterfly Flight Times.
Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List 2005

2 August 2005
Male Chalkhill Blue (wings half open)As the sun finally came out, it was disappointing to note that I probably (again) missed the peak emergence for Chalkhill Blue Butterflies on Mill Hill. The Chalkhill Blues were all over the lower slopes, (impressive if you have never seen a bulk emergence), but not in the profusion of 2003. I am not sure if this is because of a poor year, or because the weather prevented me seeing the best day? The total one hour count on Mill Hill came to 268 (229 on the 400 metre half transect, covering about an acre in 20 minutes). Very few, just five females were recorded, perhaps, because they are harder to observe? perhaps, because they have not all emerged yet?  The major Horseshoe Vetch area only covers 6.4 acres, although there are smaller patches elsewhere.  The numbers counted indicate a counted of population of only 229 x 3.5 = 800 or so, which would be number counted if I had energy to count for an hour. Chalkhill Blues were noted nectaring on Hardheads and Greater Knapweed amongst a relative shortage of available plants compared to the number of butterflies, but also on one occasion each on Bird's Foot Trefoil and Round-headed Rampion. All these plants are exiguous on the lower slopes.
Three Brimstone Butterflies were of note, and the other frequent species on the lower slopes were Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers, with two male Common Blues, occasional Large Whites, at least one Small (or Essex) Skipper and at least one Red Admiral, completing a total of eight species.
Butterfly List for the Day

1 August 2005
As well as being an overcast day with showers, the country paths were so muddy and slippery that a trek to the downs would require special footwear. I thought better of the trip because the risk of personal injury with the wrong shoes on.

31 July 2005
By the time, I arrived at Mill Hill, the low misty cloud had turned into light rain (hard enough to splatter my spectacles and obscure my view), enough to discourage any butterflies on what could have been the prime emergence day for Chalkhill Blues this year. Only 29 Chalkhill Blue Butterflies were disturbed on the lower slopes or seen laying prostrate on the Horseshoe Vetch food plants.
There was a Magpie on the slopes. I suspect it may have been feeding on Chalkhill Blue Butterflies?
 
Chalkhill Blue Wild Basil was a large purple patch at the north end of the lower slopes Perforate St. John's Wort flower Eyebright (miniature flower)

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.
Butterfly List for the Day

22 July 2005
Under a grey sky the count of 101 Chalkhill Blues (all males) on the lower slopes were still very flighty when disturbed by my passage on the 400 metre half transect. There were an estimated  25+ Gatekeepers, 15+ Meadow Browns, 8+ Small/Essex Skippers, a handful of miscellaneous white butterflies and one Marbled White. There were frequent smaller moths and I did  manage to notice one small species of what appeared to be Pyrausta despicata.
Butterfly List for the Day
 
 
Graph showing how the Chalkhill Blue Butterflies show a sudden peak of their main emergence (2003 & 2004).

The figures show an actual count of Chalkhill Blue Butterflies over 1.2 acres; the actual numbers will be over three times as high. 

In 2003 and 2004, the Chalkhill Blues peaked on the first day of August. 

This male Chalkhill Blue was behaving like a female17 July 2005
Under another warm afternoon with temperatures in excess of 26° C, the count of Chalkhill Blues on the 400 metres transect was 33. they were very bright and flighty and four of the males demonstrated interesting behaviour (first commented up on by Chris Pickford on the UK Leps Yahoo Group) mimicking females and shown in the photograph on the right. Female butterflies show receptive or enticing behaviour and this is readily noticeable in Adonis and Chalkhill Blue females.
Original Observation Message by Chris Pickford on UK Leps (Link)

There were relatively few nectar plants for all male Chalkhill Blues. One was observed to settle on Self-heal.

12 July 2005
Under the clear blue sky, on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the fresh male Chalkhill Blues were out and I counted twenty of them over a route of 400 metres, but this is just the beginning of them. Other butterflies were Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns numbered about 30 each on the lower slopes and a handful of Small/Essex Skippers.

 
Chalkhill Blue (underwing) Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper
Other butterflies were 9 Marbled Whites on the lower slopes and a handful of Green-veined Whites, and one Comma (north-west lower slopes in the first bit of Hawthorn scrub), and one Red Admiral (roughly the same area as the Comma), one Speckled Wood (in the tunnel of scrub on the original footpath, return route from the stile on the edge of the ridge). There were a handful of 6-spot Burnet Moths in flight (but I did not go to the upper part of Mill Hill where there was likely to be many more.)
The first Dwarf (Stemless) Thistle was noted in flower.

11 July 2005
A visit to the lower slopes of Mill Hill produced the first definite four Chalkhill Blues of the year. Gatekeepers were the most prevalent butterflies followed by Meadow Browns and Marbled Whites, the last more on the top of Mill Hill. There were just two Small Heaths, one Large Skipper, a few Small Skippers and one Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly. Scores of 6-spot Burnet Moths were emerging with one of the cocoons on a Greater Knapweed instead of the usual long grasses. There were a handful of the large white butterflies that would not stay still for identification, plus two smaller white butterflies as well. (Note: at least some of these are likely to be Green-veined Whites.)

Report by Lawrie Keen (Portslade)


8 July 2005
Seasonal change in the flora was occurring with the first appearance of the Wild Basil, Squinancywort, and the tall spikes of Great Mullein, Verbascum thapsus. These tall spikes had not appeared in earlier years this century.
 

Great Mullein
Pyrausta nigrata
Squinancywort
Wild Basil

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 almost certainly Chalkhill Blue Butterflies. Gatekeeper Butterflies and Meadow Browns were frequent on the lower slopes with five Marbled Whites and one Large Skipper. On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, at least one second brood micro-moth Pyrausta nigrata nectared on Wild Thyme. There was a similarly sized moth next to it, but it flew away before I could confirm its identity.
Butterfly List for the Day
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

3 July 2005
This is the time of the year for long grass butterflies which does not suit the short sward lower slopes after the Adonis Blues are gone and before the Chalkhill Blues emerge. On the Shoreham bank, Meadow Browns led the way with 22, followed by Small Heaths at a mere five, Gatekeepers (first day recorded) at five by the hedgerows at the northern end, Large Whites 3, Small Skipper 1 (first day), and Comma in the scrub immediately to the north.
Butterfly List for the Day

Plants:
Dropwort seems to have missed this year with just scores in flower on the lower slopes, although the upper plateau had plenty. This is now coming to an end and in any case they were lost amongst the profusion of Yellow Wort, with patches of Perforate St. Johns Wort (usually a long grass plant), the first Round-headed Rampion (usually found in longer grass as well). Robin's Pin Cushion (a gall) was noted in passing.

24 June 2005
A butterfly ramble in the heat of plus 27° C and it seemed that it was too dry for many butterflies to be flying on the lower slopes. Adonis Blues had either finished or were not showing, and the honours were shared by 17 Small Heath Butterflies and 6 male Meadow Browns with one Comma Butterfly at the top of the path. Perforate St. Johns Wort, Vervain and Eyebright were in flower mainly near the main path. Privet was in flower and there was too much of it.
Butterfly List for the Day

22 June 2005
Yellow Wort was very common this year with an estimated number of plants in excess of 500. There were patches of Wild Thyme, Thymus polytrichus, near the Rabbit latrines and I wondered why I had not noticed this prostrate herb before? There were a couple of Pyramidal Orchids, one enjoying the shelter of Privet and the other one amongst the Tor Grass (usually the vegetation is to short for this orchid). Perforate St. Johns Wort had established a stand where the conservation workers had been.
 
Thymus polytrichus Thyme Perforate St. Johns Wort had established a stand where the conservation workers had been Common Heath Moth on Privet

In the heat of the mid-afternoon, Small Heath Butterflies led the way with 17. Grasshoppers were stridulating noisily.
Butterfly Report

18 June 2005
Yellow Wort was beginning to flower, but the flowers were closed in the heat of the afternoon. The small flowers of Fairy Flax were noted in small clumps. The flowering Horseshoe Vetch had completely disappeared although a solitary flower was noted. Thousands of grasshoppers were clicking away in the grass.
Butterflies:
Adonis Blue male 16
Small Heath 11  (Lower slopes of Mill Hill)
Common Blue malefemale 2
Meadow Brown male  3

13 June 2005
Just the one Meadow Brown Butterfly made an brief show on the lower slopes of Mill Hill where the Horseshoe Vetch has faded so much that it can be no longer seen at a distance, although hundreds of flowers can still be seen on the ground close-up. This male was the first of the year of this common butterfly.
Adonis Blues:  18 males and 2 females on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. Mating was observed with two males to each female and once a Small Heath Butterfly seemed to want to join in.
Small Heath Butterflies: 13 on the half transect (400 metres)
There was a female Common Blue.
Moths:
Burnet Companion and at least one Treble-bar on the lower slopes of Mill Hill.
Wild Thyme, Thymus polytrichus, and Dropwort were beginning to flower.
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Butterfly Report
Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List 2005

9 June 2005
From a distance the Horseshoe Vetch has almost disappeared. I did not venture down the slopes, but on the ground there would have been thousands still in flower.

7 June 2005
On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the Horseshoe Vetch was rapidly fading and was less than a quarter of its glory a week ago. Adonis Blue Butterflies fluttered strongly over the hill, almost all of them were the brilliant blue males. The count was 40 males (but ten of these could be the same butterfly so the number is revised to 30) and three females. Mating was observed at the southern end. Small Heaths were about ten (counted but some overlooked) seen in the early afternoon. A handful of Common Blues, both males and females which fluttered from above the ridge down and over the lower slopes were the only other species of butterfly seen in the early afternoon on a half transect walk and a return by the path on the edge of the ridge.  3+ Treble-bar Moths were disturbed and there were likely to be more of them. The first grasshopper of the year was heard amongst the Tor Grass.
Dropwort was beginning to flower.

27 May 2005
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. This is the largest day total recorded on Mill Hill. The females were all discovered near the northern end. They crawled down the medium-sized Horseshoe Vetch leaves and landed on quite a few other herbs as well. 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.
 
Adonis Blue female
Horseshoe Vetch with herbs on the lower slopes of Mill Hill
Shoreham Bank 
from the south
Adonis Blue female

 
Information on Hippocrepis comosa (Horseshoe Vetch) plus
Message on Hippocrepis comosa

"The prostrate downland tetraploid race of Hippocrepis comosa is not harmed by moderately heavy sheep grazing and is resistant to moderate trampling, but doesn't persist after ploughing or disturbance of the ground, or in areas grazed by cattle." 
Journal of Ecology Vol. 61, pp. 915-926 (1973).

Identification Notes (Link)

There was a single Stropharia coronilla mushroom on the half transect route.
Mushroom Images
Shoreham Fungi

22 May 2005
The lower slopes of Mill Hill under a cloudy sky recorded 11 male Adonis Blues and one female in a 15 minute sojourn. Dingy Skippers 5+, Small Heaths 5+,  Wall Browns 3 (one on the edge of the ridge), and a Brimstone (upper scrubby area just above the slopes). I met Steve Jackson (UK Leps Forum member) and he recorded all these species and a Grizzled Skipper on the upper slopes as well. So brief was my stay that the numbers of the butterflies were rather low.
Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List 2005
The Horseshoe Vetch was at its peak or slightly past it. Some surviving Dog Violets were noted.

18 May 2005
Late in the afternoon (after 4:00 pm) is usually disappointing. There were no skippers actually seen, 8+ male Adonis Blue Butterflies, only a handful of Small Heath Butterflies, at least four Wall Browns, a handful of the Pyrausta nigrata moths, which were quite noticeable, more than one Treble-bar Moth, one Cinnabar Moth in the half transect single way route.
Hairy Violet was confirmed in flower by the sepals and hairy leaves. The spur was purple. Hound's Tongue was also noticed. Not all the Horseshoe Vetch was flowering yet, at least 20% were yet to bloom. There was a green Tor Grass patch that was noticeable because of its greenness when the rest of the slopes were yellow. The small Milkwort was in full bloom.

15 May 2005
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 (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).
 
Incurvaria Adonis Blue (Photograph by Andy Horton) Wall Brown Butterfly (Photograph by Ray Hamblett) Cryptocephalus beetle

Other butterflies included Small Heaths (15+), Dingy Skippers (20+), Grizzled Skippers (12+), Wall Browns (5+), Brimstones (1+), Orange-tips (1+), Large Whites, Green-veined Whites and a possible Holly Blue.
Moths included pale Treble-bars (2+), Burnet Companion, Euclidea glyphica (2+), Pyrausta nigrata (not counted), plus an unidentified medium-sized species near the stile, and a micro-moth Incurvaria (first image above).

A group of nine butterfly enthusiasts were on the lower slopes of Mill Hill before I arrived in the morning. They included Lawrie Keen who I had met before on Mill Hill and they came from as far as East Grinstead and Chichester.
Adur Butterfly and Larger Moth List 2005

Hound's TongueThe 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; a patch of Germander Speedwell near the path, a few remaining Dog Violets, the first inklings of Dropwort and Yellow Wort, Common Milkworts and the Hawthorn which was beginning to flower.
Images of Hound's Tongue (Link)

Other than the butterflies, the insects tended to be overlooked. A shiny green Cryptocephalus beetle was noted on a Bulbous Buttercup and there were a few of the smaller hoverflies, common bumblebees, Honey Bees and at least one black ground beetle.
Adur Beetles

9 May 2005
A twenty minute stroll (transect of 400 metres) over the lower slopes of Mill Hill produced the following count of butterflies:

Horseshoe VetchSmall Heath  3
Grizzled Skipper  4
Dingy Skipper  17
Brimstone  1
Large Whites  3

At least one of the small Pyrausta nigrata moths was observed in the wet vegetation. There was a spread of Horseshoe Vetch dominating the slopes but it was not in its full bloom. At least one Large Red Damselfly was seen at the northern end.
Adur Butterfly and Larger Moth List 2005

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). I could not recognise it amongst all the other bird calls.

Butterflies included Dingy Skippers 12+, Grizzled Skippers 10+, Small Heaths 6+, Brimstone, Small Whites and Peacock Butterflies. I returned along the same route as the first transect.
 
Burnet Companion, Euclidea glyphica
Small Purple-barred Moth, Phytometra viridaria
Small Heath Butterfly

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.  The larvae of this species feeds on Milkwort.

Identification by Ian Thirlwell on UK Moths Yahoo Group and Nick Greatorex-Davies on the UK Leps (Yahoo Group)
Butterfly & Moth Report
Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List 2005
Unidentified small mushrooms
There were some more of the small mushrooms (illustrated on the right)  that I still have not been able to positively identify. These two were next to the path.
Shoreham Fungi
More Images of this Mushroom

1 May 2005
Two female Pheasants 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. (* Originally misidentified as Partridges).

Small moths were common on the Shoreham Bank with over 50 Pyrausta nigrata, lots of micro-moths that escaped identification and quite a few Pyrausta despicata. The first Cinnabar Moth of the year was seen on the lower slopes. Grizzled Skippers were counted at six and Dingy Skippers at three. The first two Grizzled Skippers were seen on the first step down from the southern part of the upper slopes.
(Half transect and than a climb up the Hang-gliding Bank)

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, the first of the year. I had a wait between five and ten minutes for a single Grizzled Skipper to appear at the northern end of the lower slopes.
 
Dingy Skipper 1365 Pyrausta despicata 1952 Common Heath Moth flying over the lower slopes of Mill Hill Pancalia micro-moth

During the fifteen minutes from the sight of the first Peacock, I spotted what appeared to be at least two different Pyrausta Moths  including Pyrausta nigrata. I have now provisionally identified the new species as 1365 Pyrausta despicata.

There was a Common Heath Moth, Ematurga atomaria,* as well, which settled with its wings expanded. Almost at the same time, I thought I saw a Small Copper Butterfly with its wings closed but it was too fleeting for me to be sure.

* Identification by Paul Boswell on the British Insects Yahoo Group
In Hampshire, it is the yellower form of this moth that is found on the chalk downland.

The Pancalia micro-moths were very frequently (50+) seen on Daisies and as they were very small, most were overlooked and they were expected to be common (100+) over the Shoreham Bank.
What's Flying Tonight (Moths)
Adur Moths
 
Horseshoe Vetch was about two weeks from its peak flowering time Common Milkwort

Crane-flyThe Horseshoe Vetch had still not really started, but the Common Milkworts were in both blues and violets, and the Yellow Wort was beginning to push its way up through the herbs without budding yet. Dog Violets were in poor condition after the rain and these appeared to be the only violets in flower. A very small clump of Germander Speedwell next to the path was noted. I noticed young Hawthorn growths where the land had been disturbed by Rabbits and there was quite an extensive growth by the rabbit warren just up from (east of) of the meandering path.
Crane-flies were noted in the undergrowth; at least a dozen and probably considerably more. These 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 Butterflies
Adur Flies

27 April 2005
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. Grizzled Skippers 11+ were the most distinctive butterfly on the bank, courting in pairs and nectaring on Dog Violets and the early Horseshoe Vetch only, and not on the relatively few emerging Milkworts. At least one small moth Pyrausta nigrata was seen but I expect there were more as they are easily overlooked. A small Click Beetle, probably
Athous haemorrhoidalis was spotted on Horseshoe Vetch as well as the Pollen Beetles.
Adur Butterfly Flight Times
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
National Butterflies: First Dates
Food Plants of British Butterflies
Butterfly Vision
Adur Beetles
 
Grizzled Skipper on Horseshoe Vetch Grizzled Skipper Common Milkwort Sedge ?

A Peacock and a Comma Butterfly were also seen; the latter was a bit of a surprise, although I did notice the Stinging Nettles under the Hawthorn and Ash scrub in the north-west. The micro-moth 899 Pancalia leuwenhoekella was recorded on a Daisy flower. The larvae of this species feed on the Hairy Violet. These moths were too small to determine the numbers, but there appeared to be a dozen or more at the very least. They were located at the northern end of the lower slopes.
Pancalia Report and Photograph
Adur Butterfly and Larger Moth List 2005

24 April 2005
In the late overcast afternoon it began to rain lightly. Not surprisingly, there were no butterflies.
However, the first handful of Horseshoe Vetch were flowering and visited by small black pollen beetles.
 
Clump of prostrate Horseshoe Vetch leaves Horseshoe Vetch with small black beetles Cowslips on the steep bank

There a few Cowslips and the Dog Violets were already battered and fading after a poor show this year battered by rain. A small mushroom had sprung up after the rain. It is the same small species that I have not yet identified. A pair of the common fly Tilius elongatus was identified from the steps at the southern end.
Adur Flies
 

The small black beetles are species of pollen beetles, Meligethes. Meligethes aeneus is the commonest species breeding on Oil Seed Rape and other yellow Brassicas, though it is also found feeding widely on other flowers. Meligethes viridescens is considerably less common on Rape etc but widespread. Horseshoe Vetch is the host of Meligethes erichsoni There are 36 species of Meligethes in Britain. Though they can be identified with the excellent Royal Entomological Society Handbook on Pollen Beetles, they are superficially very similar and generally require close examination and dissection for correct identification. Host plants are useful guides, but many species can also be found feeding as adults on plants which are not their true hosts.


Checklist of UK Recorded Nitidulidae

Adur Beetles

21 April 2005
An Orange Tip was the first butterfly, flying 4 mph and over the Hawthorn scrub at the bottom and out of photographic range. Two Peacock Butterflies followed and they flew at about 8 mph; both nectared on Dog Violet. There was only one Grizzled Skipper, but in a different location from before, this time near the Tor Grass and it may be a different actual butterfly.
 
The Moth nest was on Hawthorn Peacock Butterfly taken on the Slonk Hill South path at the western end north of Ravensbourne Avenue
A small moth regularly seen on the Shoreham Bank
 Brown-tail, Euproctis chrysorrhea,
Moth Caterpillars
(not Lackey Moth)
Peacock Butterfly
 An 'early' Common Carpet Moth*, 
Epirrhoe alternata, regularly seen on the Shoreham Bank. 

There was a Carpet Moth as well and a Brown-tail, Euproctis chrysorrhea, Moth (pest species) nest with caterpillars crawling out. This is an early record for the Common Carpet Moth*.

19 April 2005
A clearly seen Yellowhammer flew from the slopes to the woodland at the southern end where perched on the top of a small tree and sang, a Red-tailed Bumblebee, Bombus lapidarius, nectared on Dog Violet; this violet in the hundreds and the majority species of violet on the slopes. A small fluttering of brown was my first record of the small day-flying moth Pyrausta nigrata of the year. Unless the moth settles it is easy to confuse this species with the Grizzled Skipper with at least one confirmed. Altogether a total of at least six of either moths or skippers were disturbed. Cowslips were struggling to make a show amongst the incursing Privet from the western hedgerow. There was also an unfamiliar yellow and black striped small flying insect, probably the bee Nomada fucata, a kleptoparasite of the mining bee Andrena flavipes.
Adur Butterfly and Larger Moth List 2005
Adur Bees

18 April 2005
On the southern part of the lower slopes where there is a continual war to stop the approach of the Privet and succession into woodland. Other flowers noted were both Dog Violets and Sweet Violets, very small clumps of Cowslips in the very late afternoon, where I only made a short tour of a few minutes just off the edge of the steps.

15 April 2005
I walked the winding path over the lower slopes rather than the usual transect. There was one Grizzled Skipper at the northern end as previously, and a Peacock Butterfly was just under the ridge near the rabbit warren. The Sweet Violets were fading, But there were still thousands, and the first Dog Violets were appearing.
Adur Violets

10 April 2005
Grizzled SkipperThe 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 over the lower slopes included one a handful of both Peacock Butterflies and a few Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies, at least one of the latter pristine, but most were faded but not worn and ragged.
Adur Butterflies
Adur Butterfly List 2005
Adur Butterfly Flight Times
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
National Butterflies: First Dates
Butterfly Conservation Society

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.
Adur Violets

3 April 2005
 

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.

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 produced a faint  perfume. 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.
Adur Violets

16 March 2005
Mill Hill is bathed in sunshine as the air temperature attains 14.6 ºC.
On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, I was again surprised by a bright yellow Brimstone Butterfly being mobbed by a small dark brown butterfly (a pattern was not discerned) which was not identified*. Another Brimstone Butterfly appeared and two of these large butterflies were in my field of view at the same time. (*It really should have been a Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly, but the butterfly looked too small and I had enough of a view that I should have recognised it.) The insect disappeared and was not seen again, although the Brimstones flew around for over five minutes. (Two days later an observation has led me to confirm that is almost certainly a Small Tortoiseshell.)

Adur Butterflies
Adur Butterfly List 2005
Adur Butterfly Flight Times
Adur Butterfly: First Dates

There were a handful of Sweet Violets in flower on the lower slopes.
There was evidence of conservation work with the removal of scrub including Privet on the lower and middle slopes.



Lower Slopes (Shoreham Bank) 2004

Mill Hill 2005

Link to Adur Nature Notes 2005  Index page
 

Mill Hill (lower slopes) Flora Images (technical)