Lower Adur Valley, West Sussex

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April 2009


Reports by Andy Horton from personal observation unless otherwise indicated
Clicking on the new thumbnail-style images will reveal a larger photograph

Adur Coastal & Marine
Adur Estuary & Levels
Mill Hill & the Downs
Urban Reports
Comma Butterfly
Dog Violets and Sweet Violet



29 April 2009
I spotted my first Common Lizard, Zootoca vivipara, of the year skitting over the Pixie Path. It was an intact juvenile. 
Mike Parsons and his two colleagues from Butterfly Conservation in Dorset were bashing the Privet on the lower slopes of Mill Hill in an unsuccessful attempt to find the caterpillars of the Barred Tooth-striped Moth, Trichopteryx polycommata. Mike identified for me a Green Carpet Moth, Colostygia pectinataria. I had always realised that some of the Carpet Moths seen on Mill Hill were different in colour from the ones seen in Shoreham town and I have probably misidentified them before as the Common Carpet Moth, Epirrhoe alternata
Adur Lizards
Butterfly and Moth Report

26 April 2009
The first of the year Azure Damselflies, Coenagrion puella, were seen amongst the Stinging Nettles on Spring Dyke, north of Old Shoreham. My first Eupeodes hoverfly of the year was also noted. 
Adur Dragonflies and Damsels 2009

23 April 2009
Green Hairstreak on Horseshoe Vetch

My first ever confirmed Green Hairstreak Butterfly was discovered on Mill Hill in the central area of the lower slopes by the path. I had suspected sightings in the same area before and this butterfly had been reported by other visitors. My first Wall Brown Butterfly of 2009 was seen over the path approach to the copse from the north-west in an area this butterfly had been seen regularly in previous years. Eleven species of butterfly were seen on the day and this excluded two species that could have been expected. 
A flock of seven Swallows flew over the River Adur south of Cuckoo's Corner
Full Butterfly Report

22 April 2009
The sun was out on the warmest day (13.7 °C) so far this year, and the Alexanders in Buckingham Park, Shoreham, were hosting scores of hoverflies and bees.
Green-veined White on Green Alkanet Large Red Damselfly

The first Large Red Damselfly, Pyrrhosoma nymphula, of the year was seen, one of two, the second in the Butterfly Copse near the Waterworks Road
The lower slopes of Mill Hill hosted at least seven Grizzled Skippers, and a conservative count of 22 Dingy Skippers. There were an estimated 150 Pyrausta nigrata, frequent Pyrausta despicata and at least one Pyrausta purpuralis of the pyralid micro-moths. Nine species of butterfly were noted. 
Full Butterfly Report

21 April 2009

Pyrausta purpuralis
A small and colourful pyralid micro-moth Pyrausta purpuralis amongst the Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, leaves on the lower slopes of Mill Hill was a first of the year. There were 63 butterflies of ten species seen, the most species in a single day this year. 
Full Butterfly & Moth Report

20 April 2009
At first it looked like a discarded leather belt, but a closer look established it was a dark blue and black snake coiled up on an earth bank on the side of the bridlepath (from the Sussex pad to Lancing Ring) by a field of Cowslips west of Hoe Cottage, north Lancing next to the downs. I later confirmed the snake with back diamond-shaped markings to be an Adder (or European Viper), Vipera berus, the very first one I had seen in my life. By the time I had recognised the reptile it managed to slither into the grass and it disappeared from view. It appeared to be a juvenile, much smaller than any Grass Snakes I had seen locally. Its head was small and would only seem capable of catching and swallowing insects or young mice. 

Dingy Skipper19 April 2009
A morning visit to Mill Hill on a dull day produced just a smattering of butterflies: a handful (about five) of Grizzled Skippers, my first Dingy Skipper of the year, two whites probably Small Whites, two good condition Peacock Butterflies and a Treble-bar Moth (that landed on me) on the lower slopes. The scrub produced two more whites including a Large White and three Speckled Woods. The most representative feature of the lower slopes were the frequency (15+) of the small pyralid moth Pyrausta nigrata plus at least one Pyrausta despicata
A large Dryad's Saddle was spotted on a log by the path that runs along the south of Frampton's Field, Old Shoreham.
Dryad's Saddle Image
Adur Fungi 2009

The Early Purple Orchid was showing the first flowers under the trees on Lancing Clump.

Adur Orchids

15 April 2009
We visited Mill Hill where we met Neil Hulme and saw between 20 and 30 Grizzled Skippers and newly emerged Dingy Skippers

Report by Bob and Matt Eade on Sussex Butterflies
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Adur Skippers
Adur Butterfly List 2009

Horseshoe Vetch14 April 2009
Two small day-flying in moths put in their first appearance of the year on the lower slopes of Mill Hill (Old Shoreham): these were the pyralids, three Pyrausta despicata and two Pyrausta nigrata. Two Grizzled Skippers were recorded. 
The first yellow Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, flowers appeared on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, hosting small black pollen beetles, Meligethes erichsoni.
Flowering Dates of Horseshoe Vetch

13 April 2009
In the late afternoon, my first Holly Blue Butterfly of the year was seen fluttering over a garden overlooking the Waterworks Road
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

9 April 2009
There were plenty of Grizzled Skipper action on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. At least twelve were actively 'turf-hopping' as they constantly sought out nectar from the violet flowers. After about an hour I saw my first female of the year, probably on her maiden flight. As soon as she appeared she was accosted by an amorous male, and after a brief courtship (he crash-landing beside her and 'trying it on' several times) they copulated. I was soon joined by David Dancy, who was first to spot a Small Copper (first of 2009) at the northern end of the site. Other butterflies included six Peacock, two Comma, one Small Tortoiseshell, one Brimstone and a Small White
Seven species

Report by Neil and Eric Hulme on Sussex Butterflies
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

7 April 2009
My first Swallow of 2009 flew over the Cuckoo's Corner inlet at 10:40 am. 

6 April 2009
Two further butterflies put in their first appearances of the year: a single Speckled Wood in the copse on top of Mill Hill, and a male Orange-tip Butterfly over the verges of Waterworks Road

Nine species of butterfly were seen, the most species in a single day so far this year. 
Thousands of Dog Violets now dominated the lower slopes of Mill Hill, although hundreds of fading Sweet Violets could still be easily found.
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

5 April 2009
The first four confirmed Green-veined White Butterflies of the year were seen on the verges of Waterworks Road with a Brimstone Butterfly, and a Peacock Butterfly sparring with a Comma Butterfly. Five species were seen on a day of frequent butterflies

Dotted Bee-fly

There were frequent (12+) Dotted Bee-flies, Bombylius discolor, hovering in mid-air and visiting Ground Ivy on the Coastal Link Cyclepath near Shoreham Cement Works, Upper Beeding. On the estuary at low tide two Shelducks were feeding on the mud south of the Toll Bridge with two Oystercatchersprobing on the tideline. 
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Adur Dotted Bee-flies 2009
Dotted Bee-flies Information
Wild Flowers Report

3 April 2009

Further observations of the Allium covering about three square metres on the Pixie Path indicate that the majority were curly on the path but nearer the shelter of the chestnut fencing and shrub, the plants were much more upright to at least 20 cm and some of them did not curl at all. The stems were hollow. The correct ID is the original one of the Crow Garlic or Wild Onion, Allium vineale.

Report & Photograph


 April 2008 Reports

History of Mill Hill
Mill Hill News Reports 2009

Flora of Shoreham-by-Sea
Shoreham and District Ornithological Society
Lancing Village

Adur Valley Network (forum)

MultiMap Aerial Photograph of the Adur Levels and Downs

Urban Wildlife Webring

Link to the Adur Nature Notes 2008 web pages
    The Shoreham-by-Sea web site started on 1 January 1997.
Webmaster: Andy Horton.

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