Adur Valley Wildlife
Mill Hill, Old Shoreham, West Sussex
Link to the Adur Nature Notes 2004 Index page

Link to Adur Valley Nature Notes 2003

Link to the Adur Butterflies web page

Shoreham Beach Weather provided by Softwair Publishing

Downs north of Shoreham and the Adur Valley (map)

Link to the plan/map of Mill Hill and the surrounding Downs

Link to the Adur Levels habitats page

Link to the Adur tidal reaches habitats web page

Link to the chalkhill Downs habitats pages

Link to Town & Gardens habitats page

Link to the Sea and Seashore habitats page



Unimproved Chalk Downland          Mill Hill Homepage (Link)


6 July 2004
About eight Marbled White Butterflies were spotted on the upper slopes with a further three on the lower slopes. This was thought to be only a sample of a more numerous population of these prominent butterflies that were mating in the area around of and just north of the reservoir. 

Photograph by Andy Horton
The brown front edge of the wing shown in the photograph is not usually seen in this species.
Lower Slopes Report
A handful of the first Gatekeeper Butterflies of 2004 were to be seen in the scrub. 

28 June 2004
The Field Scabious is the one in flower and I was able to confirm the species from the leaves. But the large yellow patches of Bird's Foot Trefoil were no longer to be seen from a distance. 
At least two Vestal Cuckoo Bumblebees, Psithyrus vestalis, were noted and identified from the lower slopes of Mill Hill. 
Report from the Shoreham Bank (Lower Slopes)

21 June 2004
Amongst the long grasses and flowers in the north-east corner of Mill Hill, my first Large Skipper of 2004 put in an appearance. I thought it was a Small Skipper at first, until it opened up its wings. An earlier probable Small Skipper near an Elderberry Bush south-east of the reservoir is not now a definite. 
Skipper ID Page

Large Skipper on Mill Hill
On the upper slopes of Mill Hill, there were a handful of Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies, plus at least five Meadow Browns, half a dozen Common Blues, and a dozen Small Heath Butterflies. In the scrub there was a single Red Admiral, in the woods to the north and north-west at least eight Speckled Woods. On the lower slopes the Small Heaths were amorous and were estimated at 30+ with the occasional Meadow Brown and at least two Common Blues, one female and one male. One Cinnabar Moth flew in the weak sunshine. 
Three dried out fungi (toadstool-like) were discovered on a dead tree within the scrub.
Other plants noticed were a large clump of blue Meadow Cranesbill, Geranium pratensis, (could be escaped Garden Cranesbills) on the upper slopes near the top car park; Perforate St John's-wort, Hypericum perforatum, in glades within the cleared scrub; and Garlic Mustard, Alliaria petiolata, in a sheltered spot by the steps in the north-west corner. 
Plant IDs with help from by Richard Collingridge on UK Botany (Yahoo Group)
Fungi Photograph (Link)
Mill Hill: Summer 2004 More Images

The Meadow Crane's-bill in the photograph above is the best choice as the food plant of the Brown Argus Butterfly.

15 June 2004
Much to my astonishment, an early (one week early) Marbled White Butterfly settled on a patch of grass immediately in front of me on the lower slopes of Mill Hill (at the northern end as the path leaves the open into the Hawthorn scrub). A handful of battered Adonis Blues were mostly on the lower slopes, and 40+ Small Heath Butterflies and a handful of Meadow Browns were on the lower slopes and above the ridge. A Small Skipper* fluttered around an Elderberry bush at the top of the path, where a spider had caught a Cinnabar Moth and two Crane Flies in its web. One large butterfly was disturbed and flew off with such rapidity that this was notable in itself: it had a large hint of orange to it and the favourite must be a Meadow Brown. Grasshoppers could be seen and heard. 
(* Originally there was a possible doubt over the identity: it is now 90% sure to be a Small Skipper with the profile of the Small Skipper, rather than a Large Skipper, and a complete absence of black markings on the underside of the wings. NB: All the 2005 sightings really indicate that this could only have been a Large Skipper.)
Spider's Web 
Musk Thistle

In addition on the footpath approach to Mill Hill from the Waterworks Road, a handful of  Meadow Brown Butterflies, at least two Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies, and at least one Common Blue Butterfly and one Small Blue Butterfly were seen. 
Adur First Butterfly Dates 2004
Butterfly Conservation: First Sightings
Adur Butterfly List 2004
Thistles of Adur
Chalk Downland Insects (David Element)
Under a almost cloudless blue sky, the air temperature reached 28.8 ºC in the early afternoon. 

13 June 2004
On a sticky humid day, I was not prepared for a butterfly I did not recognise: when my eyes focused in and  the features revealed themselves and it looked more like a giant Dingy Skipper with clearer markings than any other species. Alas, the butterfly was elusive just on the upper part of the slope just down the path from the ridge when arriving from the south. This area is scrub and long grass. At first I thought this could be a Dark Green Fritillary, which would be an addition to the Mill Hill list. The Dog Violet food plant is within a few metres of where it was seen. However, on reflection, I think this identification is unlikely. On further reflection, the possibility is still there. I only had a brief glance and the lower upper wing is not so brightly patterned so it is conceivable that it is this species. There has been another possible sighting of a Dark Green Fritillary and photographs from Cissbury Ring lay credence to this identification.
PS:  A subsequent observation has made this out to be a Painted Lady Butterfly
Adur Butterflies

The yellow patches on the ridge were expanses of Bird's Foot Trefoil. 
Just north of the reservoir on the upper slopes, a worn (faded but not battered) Painted Lady Butterfly was seen as it fluttered around and settled. On the way to Mill Hill from the south-west, a Small Blue Butterfly and a Meadow Brown were seen on the footpath at the top of the road embankment. Adonis Blues were mating down on the lower slopes
Adur Butterfly List 2004

11 June 2004
Spotted OrchidsA small clump of Spotted Orchids, Dactylorhiza fuchsii, are recorded on the road embankment (north-west) side to the south of Mill Hill, where the yellow patches are Bird's Foot Trefoil in flower. Eyebright was in flower on this bank. The lower slopes recorded mostly Common Blue and Small Heath Butterflies
Adur: Spotted Orchids
Full Report from the Shoreham Bank (Lower Slopes)

On the road embankment by Chanctonbury Drive (SE of the bridge) the dozen or so Small Blues were seen immediately with a Painted Lady Butterfly, which was past pristine condition without being faded or battered. In Chanctonbury Drive over the grass a Red Admiral Butterfly fluttered by. 
Adur Butterfly List 2004

10 June 2004
On the town side of the bridge leading to Mill Hill that transverses the main A27 road, on the east there is a small Hawthorn copse (at the top of Chanctonbury drive, north side) leading to the grasses of the trunk road steep bank. In this small garden sized plot of long grasses and scrub, between 30 and 50 was my estimate of the number of Small Blue Butterflies. At least a dozen of these were seen all at one time, including at least two pairs mating, but its was difficult to work out their numbers because it was in the afternoon and they hid down in the long grasses most of the time. 
Small Blue Butterfly
Small Blue Butterfly

This constitutes the first positive record of this butterfly for Mill Hill, which makes the number of butterflies as 26 definites. If these numbers are repeated all along the road embankment, the colony must number several hundred. A female Common Blue Butterfly looked much larger in comparison to the smallest of the British blues and the Speckled Wood Butterfly that arrived was larger still. 
Mill Hill Butterfly List

6 June 2004
The first positive Wall Brown Butterfly of the year in the lower Adur valley was seen on the path between the Waterworks Road (Old Shoreham) and Mill Hill (south of the A27 Shoreham by-pass). It flew strongly and it was tricky to confirm the identification (this butterfly may be under recorded) and even more tricky to photograph. The Wall Brown Butterfly was seen on and over the bridleway path running west to east and next to the road embankment. 
A small white butterfly was flying strongly over the southern part of the upper slopes of Mill Hill. This was definitely identified as a Green-veined White Butterfly which increases the confirmed New Millennium Mill Hill butterfly list at 25 plus two probables. 
Wall Brown Butterfly
Adonis Blues (Photograph by Andy Horton)
Wall Brown Butterfly
Very often this butterfly will land on paths and walls
Adonis Blue Butterflies

Down on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the Horseshoe Vetch had ceased its main flowering and could be seen on the ground, but the spectacular bloom of a fortnight before that could be seen from half a mile away had now receded to a green expanse. Blue butterflies were immediately noticeable. On the normal transect travelling the distance of the path to the copse and back, 28 Adonis Blue Butterflies were counted as positive single butterfly sightings (24 males, 3 females and one indeterminate) with only one Dingy Skipper settling although there could have been more. All three definite Adonis females were the conventional chocolate brown colour. The midday visit also yielded an estimated 50 Small Heath Butterflies.
Adur Butterfly List 2004
Adur Butterflies Flight Times
Adur First Butterfly Dates 2004

25 May 2004
Horseshoe Vetch on the foreground of a hazy view south-west over the Adur Valley from Mill HillOn the top ridge of Mill Hill the turf is full of Creeping Cinquefoil* and buttercups and this may have led me to miss the patches of Horseshoe Vetch above the ridge on the steeper bits because the yellow plants merge into one another and it was only by walking over the incline that can I see the ground flora of the salt-blasted grass turf exposed to the south- westerlies. This is the area where model aircraft are launched into the wind. There was one male Adonis Blue Butterfly that caught my eye. There were just another seven of these bright blue butterflies to be seen on the lower slopes(* The precise species is under enquiry.)

23 May 2004
Female Adonis BlueThe blooming of the Horseshoe Vetch was even more impressive on the lower slopes than last year after the recent rain, but there were the first signs that the flowers are beginning to diminish. Of the 19 Adonis Blue Butterflies, just one was a brown female with a lot of blue on its upper wings and body. Small Heath Butterflies, Dingy and Grizzled Skippers were there as well as would be expected at this time of the year. 
Full Report

17 May 2004
The first Adonis Blue Butterfly for Mill Hill was seen on the upper slopes with a Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly south of the reservoir near where the old stile was and by the Elderberry bush and the red dog bin.

The lower slopes were spectacularly blooming with Horseshoe Vetch in their annual May display where a further Adonis Blue Butterfly was seen at the northern end. (The yellow in the northern lower agricultural field are buttercups and related plants.)

Horseshoe Vetch (Photograph by Andy Horton)

Horseshoe Vetch

There appeared to be at least one Hairy Violet, Viola hirta, with blunt sepals and hairy leaves on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. 
Violets of Mill Hill

13 May 2004
The Horseshoe Vetch is now flowering over almost its complete range on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, including the southern end of the steeper slopes that was not showing at all a week ago and could not be seen from a distance three days ago. Almost all the Dog Violets on the open chalk face had diminished and the blue and pink was that of the Common Milkwort, Polygala vulgaris
Small Heath on Horseshoe Vetch Milkwort with Horseshoe Vetch

The only butterflies on the lower slopes of Mill Hill were Dingy Skippers (12), Small Heath (1), Small White (1) and Peacock (1). There was a Pyrausta nigrata moth and one Wave Moth, Cabera sp.

10 May 2004
East of Mill Hill, the first Rook appeared, followed by a pair east of Erringham Hill, and at Anchor Bottom and Beeding Hill to the north over 300 Rooks probed in the grasslands. 
Mushrooms amongst the grass south of the Reservoir

These are probably a species of Agrocybe.

ID suggestion by 
Malcolm Storey (BioImages)

A handful of Agaric mushrooms showed their caps on long thin stalks above the grass and herbs south of the reservoir on the upper slopes
NB: Agrocybe dura is found on chalk grasslands.
Fungi of the Downs in May 2004
Study of 
Bird's Foot Trefoil 
on the 
upper slopes.

In the scrub in the north-west of Mill Hill Nature Reserve there were a handful of Brimstone Butterflies and at least one Speckled Wood Butterfly. Field Mouse-ear flowered in small clumps in the central area christened the Triangle

5 May 2004
Adur District Council Meeting
Mill Hill, Lancing Ring (West Sussex) Management Plans

Community Services Committee
The unanimous decision of the Committee was to refer the application to the Scrutiny Committee for a more detailed look at the facts (which are in dispute). 

Smart Groups ADUR VALLEY EFORUM for discussion and further information
Message Link

2 May 2004
My first Small Heath Butterfly, the first of just three, were amongst a handful of Dingy Skippers and a Brimstone Butterfly on the lower slopes of Mill Hill

26 April 2004
Pyrausta nigrataAs the first Horseshoe Vetch and Milkwort were beginning to flower on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, I observed the first skipper butterflies of the year. An amorous pair of Grizzled Skippers danced around the bramble borders, with at least one Dingy Skipper and two or more Brimstone Butterflies. The day flying micromoth Pyrausta nigrata could conceivably be mistaken for the Grizzled Skipper. This moth is slightly more prevalent of the two. In the scrub in the north-west of Mill Hill there were two Speckled Wood Butterflies and a single Peacock Butterfly. On the open upper slopes there was another Brimstone and a handful of Small Tortoiseshells, orange in colour but not fresh, the orange dulled by age. 
Adur Butterflies Flight Times
Adur Butterflies
On the upper slopes of Mill Hill the Morels were dried out and at least one of two toadstools appeared to be eaten so that a hole appeared (they are hollow inside). The Common Carder Bee, Bombus pascuorum, with is orange furry thorax was buzzing around the grass at the southern end, near the Blackthorn bushes on the east side midway between the car park and the reservoir.
Fungi of Shoreham
Adur Bumblebees
Mill Hill Nature Reserve

20 April 2004
MorelIt was the long probing beak on the short turf of a Rook on the top of Mill Hill that gave it away.  Its grey face was apparent even before I fastened my binoculars on this solitary corvid. Only about one in a thousand large black corvids locally are Rooks, the rest are Crows with Jackdaws classed as small. 
A solitary toadstool was amongst the still short grass near a Hawthorn bush. I recognised it immediately as a Morel, Morchella esculenta, because of its unusual distinctive appearance. I had not seen one before and although an edible species, I left it in its place just south of the car park.
The male Kestrel hovered over the lower slopes, whereas the female was seen at a much lower trajectory flying over the outskirts of the copse.
Adur Fungi: Fruiting Times
Fungi of Shoreham

A further check on the violets of Mill Hill revealed that the violets on the upper slopes (the Triangle) and the scrub in the north-west were all Sweet Violets, and the violets on the lower slopes were almost all Dog Violets.
Violets of Mill Hill

Red Campion15 April 2004
A Common Lizard, Zootoca vivipara, skittered across the footpath just south-west of the bridge over the A27 on the route to Mill Hill. Dog Violets were showing better on the lower slopes, with Red Campion, Daffodils and Bluebells in flower above the ridge on the upper slopes. A Kestrel hovered over the ridge and it dived, wings pinned close to its body for an impressive display. Lackey Moth caterpillars clambered over a Hawthorn, and it is these caterpillars that weave the white tent or cocoon (pic). 
Violets of Mill Hill

9 April 2004

Photograph by Jan Hamblett

The splendidly coloured Emperor Moth, Pavonia pavonia, rested among the grasses at the top of the lower slopes of Mill Hill. It was discovered by Katherine Hamblett and Tacita French. The feeding plants for the caterpillars varies according to location: it could be Bramble, Hawthorn, Elder or Creeping Cinquefoil. 

Report by Jan Hamblett (Lancing Nature) on UK-Leps (Yahoo Group)
Lancing Nature

7 April 2004
A young Roe Deer is found dead on the side of the road near the upper car park at Mill Hill.

Report by Mick Bowen
Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Andy Horton 2003)26 March 2004
Sweet Violets in purple are scattered with hundreds of plants over the sheltered bits of Mill Hill, most of them violet in colour but in the Triangle area of the middle slopes all white flowered plants were present. This is a very common wild flower. On the lower slopes the hundreds of plants have little or rudimentary leaves and I am not sure if these were the same species. 
Violets of Mill Hill

22 March 2004
The Sweet Violets (pic) at the top of the wooded slopes on the southern section of Mill Hill looked battered by the gales and hail of the last two days. The Buff-tailed Bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, was the species present, a solitary one observed, and this is the commonest and most noticeable local species. 
British Bumblebee Checklist

Italian Alder on Mill Hill2 March 2004
After reports of Buzzards over Thundersbarrow I thought a quick visit to Mill Hill could prove interesting. A couple of Kestrels were performing acrobatics on the thermals and they both looked like the more colourful male of this raptor species. A few Lapwings wheeled overhead but the large flocks were over the grazing fields to the east. 

16 February 2004
Well over five hundred Black-headed Gulls filled the sky over the pasture land dip between Mill and Buckingham Barn to the east. 
Tree felling has opened up a glade to sunlight in the copse on Mill Hill, next to the fence adjoining the arable field, which is Erringham Hill, (see the notes for 9 February 2004).

9 February 2004
Painted Lady Butterfly in the long grass and straw near the copseIt would have come as a bit of a shock to me if I had not already received a handful of local reports of Painted Lady Butterflies. A flutter of orange and the unmistakable patterns (now that I can recognise them instantly: to novices they could resemble a Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly) of a Painted Lady Butterfly that flew steadily over the southern section of Mill Hill. Later, a second Painted Lady flew around the copse and settled on the Beech leaves still on the tree and several times on the grass. I now think these are possibly immigrant butterflies rather than hibernating adults that have awoken. I am still undecided though. 
Adur Butterflies
Adur Butterfly Flight Times
Other Reports of Painted Ladies (Adur Nature Notes: February 2004)
Strong evidence for Immigration of Painted Ladies

A Robin Redbreast seemed to be just starting to build a nest in a Hawthorn bush. Another Hawthorn bush was shelter for a small brown speckled bird that I could not positively identify.

Mill Hill Access TrailThe conservation workers had cleared areas of Dogwood and other scrub in the prime viewing areas on middle slopes, west of and down the gentle slope from the upper car park. The plaque for the Mill Hill Access Trail has now been erected. It looks quite smart and tasteful, even if superfluous. 

Bracket fungi was already growing on some of the stumps. A Stonechat warbled away from a dense leafless thicket south-east of the road bridge over the A27 on the Shoreham town side.
Stonechat Report

Early flowering wild flower
near the car park
Common Field Speedwell
Veronica persica
Bracket fungi

21 January 2004
The grazed pastures to the north-west of Mill Hill Nature Reserve looked a verdant green compared to the still parched lower slopes of Mill Hill. 

7 January 2004
Incongruously on a loose twig, a few bodies of the Jew's Ear Fungus, Hirneola auricola-judae, were discovered amongst the mosses underneath the Hawthorn scrub. Incongruous, because none of the living trees nearby were hosts to this fungus. An old bird's nest with a moss base was visible high up in the Hawthorn.

In the copse at the top of Mill Hill, the workmen had sawn down some of the pine trees and made a small fire. I think these were the Corsican Pines, Pinus nigra var. maritima
History of Mill Hill

There were at least ten Magpies in the field between Mill Hill Nature Reserve and Old Erringham Farm and a flock of over a dozen Goldfinches near the flint outbuildings.

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

Lower Slopes (with Butterfly Reports)

EMail for Wildlife Reports

EMail Address for sending in wildlife reports from the lower Adur valley
Only a selection will be included and only reports with the name of the reporter

Mill Hill Nature Reserve (including map)

MultiMap Aerial Photograph of Mill Hill

Back to Mill Hill
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)