MILL HILL WILDLIFE REPORTS 2007



Autumn Downland Butterflies (August):
 
Adonis Blue (click links to pictures of four species of blue butterflies)
Chalkhill Blue on the Triangle, Mill Hill, 2005
 Meadow Brown (female)
Wall Brown
Adonis Blue
Chalkhill Blue

Noticeable summer plants of the upper meadows include Greater Knapweed, Hardheads (=Lesser Knapweed), Field Scabious, Meadow Cranesbill, Alexanders, Pyramidal Orchids, Plantains, Melilots, Meadow Vetchling, Yarrow, Eyebrights, Musk Thistles, Hounds-tongue*, Perforate St. John's Wort*, Great Mullein* and many others. Herb Robert is found amongst the scrub.
(*notably on disturbed ground.)
Some Indicator Plants of Ancient Downland (Link)
Wild Flora and Fauna on Chalk   flickr



LINKS:
 
OVERVIEW:

A large part (724 acres) of the downs including Mill Hill were presented to the people of Shoreham in 1937. 

Just over 30 acres still remain as public open land and a Local Nature Reserve.  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

MILL HILL  2006
MILL HILL HOMEPAGE
LOWER SLOPES 2007
MILL NATURE RESERVE & MAP
OVERVIEW CITATION
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, Hippocrepis comosa, 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
"Our family lived at The Mill House, Mill Hill, from around 1933 until about 1967, and every July we saw the "Butterfly Men" walking past onto the Downs. My father used to tell us that they were interested in the blue butterflies."
Heather Clark (née Eager), Ryde, Isle of Wight
Nearest Postcode:  BN43 5FH
Grid Ref:  TQ 210 074  (upper car park)
Geographic Link      OS Map
Google Earth Map
Magic Map of Mill Hill NR
Local Nature Reserve Designation
Natural England: Local Nature Reserves

EVENTS

WILDLIFE REPORTS
 

Mill Hill Wildlife Reports 2008 (Link)Mill Hill Wildlife Reports 2008 (Link)
 

20 December 2007
The South Downs Conservation Board reintroduce cattle gazing with a few beef cattle on the upper slopes of Mill Hill. This is detrimental to the chalkhill flora, possibly serious damaging and confers no advantages. The cattle were seen from the Adur valley.
Previous Incidence
List of Butterfly Articles
 
14 December 2007
A Blewits, Lepista sp., mushroom was recorded from the ridge of Mill Hill, the first time this mushroom as been recorded from Mill Hill Nature Reserve

I'd go for the rather variable Lepista sordida for this mushroom.
Lepista saeva doesn't have any blue/purple in the cap.
ID advice by Malcolm Storey (BioImages)

3 December 2007
Two species of mushrooms were discovered on the exposed upper slopes of Mill Hill where the grasses were short like bowling green turf. 

The first right was the Pale Wax Cap, Hygrocybe pratensis var pallida, and the second one was probably a Concybe species. This was my guess. The stem of this mushroom was fragile and it was a surprise it survived the gales of the previous day on the exposed top part of Mill Hill. 

Adur Fungi 2007
 

Scores of Rooks* rose on the thermals north of Erringham Hill and were seen in the distance. (* Assumed to be Rooks and not Crows from sightings in previous years.)

22 November 2007
On the bowling green grass of the upper slopes of Mill Hill I spotted a small single fresh pure white mushroom called the Pale Wax Cap, Hygrocybe pratensis var pallida.

4 November 2007
Mole hills were noticeable on Mill Hill. One near the Elderberry bush, where I park my bicycle south of the Reservoir, showed rich brown earth.

20 October 2007
There were just three butterflies seen on Mill Hill: a Comma and a Red Admiral in the north-west scrub and a Speckled Wood in the copse at the top.
 
Comma Red Admiral

19 October 2007
In the early afternoon we visited Mill Hill for about an hour and saw the following butterflies: two Red Admirals, one Peacock, one Meadow Brown and a Holly Blue.

Report by Ray Hamblett on the Adur Valley Mailing List


18 October 2007
On Mill Hill I saw just the two butterflies on a pleasant afternoon; a Peacock Butterfly on on Autumnal Hawkbit by the steps leading down to the lower slopes and a male Common Blue visiting Autumnal Hawkbit at the northern end of the lower slopes. Common Darters (dragonfly) were frequently seen. Three small mushrooms in the Triangle area were Dung Roundheads, Stropharia. Sheep were grazing in the New Erringham pastures immediately to the east of Mill Hill on fields that have been grazed by cattle in the last few years.

11 October 2007
The lower slopes of Mill Hill hosted a handful of Meadow Browns of both sexes, with another one on the top plateau. There was a surprise bright yellow Brimstone Butterfly on the edge* of the lower slopes by the path and a Speckled Wood over the steps in the scrub in the north-west and a Comma over some Brambles on the upper part of the hill, and another Red Admiral, and then a courting couple of Red Admirals seen later over the Pixie Path as I cycled down Mill Hill Road. (*By the scrub in the north-west but fluttering over the lower slopes where it was seen from.)
Full Butterfly List

7 October 2007
As I returned by the ridge route, two female Pheasants took off just north of the Reservoir and whirred west over the lower slopes. I almost trod on them without knowing they were there, before they took flight.

5 October 2007
A thorough search of Mill Hill gave us a minimum count of 9 Wall Brown Butterflies, differentiated on the basis of sex and varying degrees of wear and tear (only one male had undamaged wings). This is the highest count I have ever had at Mill Hill and represents a strong, third brood emergence - I don't remember ever seeing more than four in the summer here. Second brood numbers are typically about three times greater than the spring emergence, and a third brood is often restricted to warmer sites such as this and/or following a hot summer. This may explain the absence of the species on the north facing slopes of Steyning Round Hill, which we had searched earlier in the day. Also present at Mill Hill were 3 Clouded Yellow , 1 Adonis Blue (female), 1 Small Copper, 2 Red Admiral, 2 Peacock, 1 Comma, 1 Brimstone, 3 Large White, 1 Small White, 1 Speckled Wood and 8 Meadow Brown.
12 Species

Report by Neil and Eric Hulme on Sussex Butterflies


3 October 2007
A covey of five Partridges whirred from the lower slopes of Mill Hill. Five corpse of dead Rabbits were seen, mostly eaten away by flies and other organisms, two of them on the Old Erringham pasture. Most of them had been seen before.

30 September 2007
There were fifty or so House Martins flying over Mill Hill in under an hour.

25 September 2007
Four female Pheasants whirred over the meadow south of the Reservoir.
On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, there were just one male Adonis Blue Butterfly, 17 Meadow Brown Butterflies, one Large White, two tatty female Common Blues and a Treble-bar Moth. The first Common Wasp made an ominous advance so I retreated. I returned via the ridge with a Speckled Wood and another Meadow Brown recorded in the scrub in the north-west and another Meadow Brown seen on the exposed ridge.
Butterfly Report

21 September 2007
Mill Hill was breezy with frequent (15+) Meadow Browns, two Large Whites, three Wall Browns, two Small Heaths and one female Common Blue. One dying and a few dead Rabbits were seen on Mill Hill, and this trend has occurred on the last few visits. The expected cause of death was the rabbit virus Myxomatosis.
Butterfly Report

16 September 2007
At the northern end of the lower slopes of Mill Hill, near the Devil's Bit Scabious, I was attacked by a swarm of twenty or so Common Wasps and despite making a run for it, I was stung at least six times mainly on my scalp and the stings could be felt four hours afterwards. It felt like a very strong nettle sting with a mild location specific headache after six hours had elapsed. Pin-prick sting marks were discovered later.
Adur Wasps & Bees

12 September 2007
A Hornet Robber Fly was seen on  Mill Hill south of the Reservoir.
Adur Flies 2007

9 September 2007
Autumn Gentian was abundant (over a thousand plants) growing out of the shallow chalk soil and turf.Mill Hill produced one Holly Blue around the hedge north of the bridge at the top, plus the first Adonis Blues were seen on the steps down to the lower slopes with a total of 35 (32 males 3 females) with two of the males seen on the upper plateau, 7 Common Blues (2 females on the lower slopes and 5 males on the middle and top part of Mill Hill), 9 Small Heath Butterflies, 5 Chalkhill Blues (all on the lower slopes), frequent Meadow Browns, frequent Large Whites and occasional Small Whites.
A Common Lizard Zootoca vivipara, skittered across the chalk path near the Reservoir. On the plateau north of the Reservoir, Autumn Gentian was abundant (over a thousand plants) growing out of the shallow chalk soil and turf. Most of the plants were not in flower and had turned brown.
Full Butterfly Report

7 September 2007
Immediately I descended down the steps to the lower slopes, a Common Lizard, Zootoca vivipara, skittered from the white chalk path to under the Brambles. This was rare sight on the bank, although they were known to occur there. Although I only visited the lower slopes and returned by the quickest route via the ridge, I saw the carcasses of four dead adult Rabbits. I assume the cause of death was the rabbut virus Myxomatosis.
The count of Adonis Blue Butterflies was 19 (14 males and 5 females), 12 Common Blue Butterflies (one female), frequent Meadow Browns, just three Small Heath Butterflies, and one or two Chalkhill Blues and one Clouded Yellow Butterfly. The small pyralid moth Pyrausta nigrata was occasionally seen, as well as Treble-bar Moths.
Adur Lizards
Full Butterfly Report
 
4 September 2007
On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, male Adonis Blues were immediately seen amongst the dewy grass by the steps and later all over the Horseshoe Vetch. The count was 36 (33 males and 3 females) in the acre transect area.
Full Butterfly Report

Devil's Bit Scabious was in flower on the the lower slopes of Mill Hill. All over Mill Hill Autumn Gentian was poking up in the short turf and amongst the herbs and was beginning to flower. There were well over a hundred plants seen in passage. 

Meadow Brown on Devil's Bit Scabious

26 August 2007
A quick look at Mill Hill about 9.30 am yielded a Clouded Yellow Butterfly. I saw two more together east of Southwick Tunnel later. When I returned to Mill Hill late afternoon for a short walk I had 1 Brimstone, 6+ Adonis Blue about one third of the way down the slope from the car park (just above the steep steps), together with several Small Heath and faded Chalkhill Blues. Two Buzzards circled overhead, one an adult calling, the other possibly a juvenile, which drifted south.

Report by Dr David Blakesley
Adonis Blues mating (second brood)25 August 2007
48 second brood Adonis Blue Butterflies (including five females, four in mating pairs) were seen fluttering in the weak sunshine on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. Chalkhill Blues were scarce with just three males and one female recorded. There were seven Small Heath Butterflies seen and a few distinctive Large Whites. The scrub in the north-west added a few Speckled Woods and few Red Admirals. The Triangle area added two male Common Blues but the top meadows and plateau were only sparsely populated by Meadow Browns. There was a Holly Blue seen amongst the scrub on the upper part of Mill Hill.
Butterfly Report

24 August 2007
The highlight on an inclement day was an dark olive-green Grass Snake slithering down the lower slopes of Mill Hill. Second brood Adonis Blue Butterflies were seen mating in the same area. On the lower slopes, very faded versions of the small pyralid moth Pyrausta nigrata were frequently seen with over twenty recorded before I stopped counting.
Butterfly Report

9 August 2007
There was one male Chalkhill Blue Butterfly on the Mill Hill Cutting south, a mere 17 males on a rushed visit to the lower slopes of Mill Hill, and a further seven males as I returned by the most direct route by the ridge. Four Adonis Blues and a female Common Blue were seen on the lower slopes where the one pair of the frequent 12+ Meadow Browns were seen mating. The larger female Meadow Browns were most noticeable, resting and seeming to be ready for the males which did not seem to be present in their usual numbers.
Full Butterfly Report

3 August 2007
The lower slopes of Mill Hill were again disappointing. The tally of Chalkhill Blues in the transect acre was 49 (43 males and 6 females), but it looked like fresh males had appeared. There were three definite male Adonis Blues and occasional Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers. The scrub in the north-west added a Peacock Butterfly near the gate and another fewSpeckled Woods, Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers. The Triangle area of Mill Hill hosted 7 Chalkhill Blues (6 males and 1 female). The top meadows added three each of male Common Blues and Chalkhill Blues as well as surprise Small Blue, plus a Large White, a few more Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers.
Full Butterfly Report

1 August 2007
Chalkhill Blues at the beginning of the month were recorded on the lower slopes of Mill Hill at the lowest number this century with just 61 (59 males and 2 females) in the transect acre counted. The bright blue butterfly was finally positively identified as an Adonis  Blue. In the scrub to the north-west of Mill Hill there was a bright Peacock Butterfly, followed by a Cinnabar Moth caterpillar on a Ragwort plant by the gate and three Speckled Wood Butterflies were noted with a further one under the copse at the top of Mill Hill. In the Triangle area of Mill Hill a positive Brimstone Butterfly appeared and there was another possible, with one Chalkhill Blue, at least four Gatekeepers and two Meadow Browns. A few House Martins swooped over this area. In the meadows north of the car park, my passage was brief, but two Brown Argus Butterflies and another male Common Blue were seen immediately with six Meadow Brownsand probably more. No Small/Essex Skippers were seen. Occasional 6-spot Burnet Moths were seen scattered over Mill Hill. The plateau at the top also hosted a Common Blue and a Chalkhill Blue Butterfly. Altogether the numbers of butterflies were much less than expected in the sunshine.  A Southern Hawker (dragonfly) flew strongly over Mill Hill. The green leaves of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa were the dominant flora on the lower slopes. Stemless Thistle was widespread and flowering.
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Thistles

30 July 2007
It was still some way from peak emergence for the Chalkhill Blues with 73 (72 males, 1 female) seen on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. There were a further five males on the upper area and an two males and one female seen on the south side of Mill Hill Cutting.  There was the large Adonis Blue seen again on the lower slopes and again it flew off rapidly. This was only positively identified later (on 1 August 2007) as the first Adonis Blue seen in July. Gatekeepers were present everywhere and I would estimate about forty seen in an hour. Meadow Browns were frequent as well, about half the number seen of the Gatekeepers. Large Whites and Small Whites were occasionally seen. One large creamy white butterfly on the lower slopes of Mill Hill turned out to be a Brimstone Butterfly.
Adur Butterfly Flight Times
 
Female Chalkhill Blue Speckled Wood

There were a few Brown Argus Butterflies and one confirmed Green-veined White flitting about the meadows on the top of Mill Hill perching on the top of herbs and long grasses, but no Small/Essex Skippers were recorded. A few Peacock Butterflies chased each other around. At least one Red Admiral was seen. Occasional Speckled Woods were seen in amongst the scrub in the north-west of Mill Hill. 6-spot Burnet Moths were frequently seen on Mill Hill. A Rhogogaster sawfly was seen on Field Scabious in the central Triangle area. A Common Darter and Southern Hawker (dragonflies) were both seen on and flying over Mill Hill. A few Dung Roundheads,Wall ButterflyStropharia, (fungi) were seen on the upper grassy area.
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Sawflies

29 July 2007
The Chalkhill Blues had still not emerged in numbers on Mill Hill as only 37 were seen including the first mating pair of the year and this was the only female. It was overcast and the butterflies were not in flight and had to be disturbed which would reduce the numbers seen. Other butterflies seen on the day included frequent Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns, Large Whites and a few Small/Essex Skippers seen only in the central area. In the scrub to the north-west of Mill Hill, a Small White and a Peacock Butterfly were seen immediately. The wildlife meadow north of the car park on Mill Hill added four immaculate Brown Argus and two definite bright Common Blue Butterflies, plus a Silver Y Moth. Frequent 6-spot Burnet Moths were seen on the breeze-swept plateau most often visiting Greater Knapweed, which also briefly attracted a visit of a Wall Brown Butterfly, but this flighty butterfly flitted off in under a second.
Full Butterfly Report
 
Kestrel on Mill Hill
 
 

15-29 July 2007
Two Kestrels were seen hovering over the Reservoir area on each visit this month. One of them landed on the lower slopes. Its prey was thought to be small, more likely an insect than a mouse.
 

 

Common Lizard

4 & 24 & 29 July 2007
A Common Lizard was seen under a piece of roofing felt on Mill Hill. This time it was not so plump. At the second sighting it was seen to have lost a large part of its tail by autonomy.

26 July 2007
The second sighting of the first Adonis Blue Butterfly seen in July on the lower slopes of Mill Hill was later confirmed by a photograph.

25 July 2007
On a breezy and completely overcast day, the Chalkhill Blues remained completely hidden on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, and only when I nearly stepped on them did they take to flight, so only six males were seen taking off from the abundant Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa. There were a few Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns and two Treble-bar Moths. In the scrub in the north-west of Mill Hill there were a few more Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns and a Red Admiral. A Wall Brown Butterfly settled on the chalk path near the gate to Old Erringham. I returned by the quickest route along the ridge.
Full Butterfly Report

24 July 2007
On the lower slopes of Mill Hill the count of Chalkhill Blues in the one acre transect was 32, (31 males and one female). In addition there was a very bright blue butterfly. The first Adonis Blue Butterfly seen in July on the lower slopes of Mill Hill was later confirmed by a photograph.
Adur Butterfly Flight Times

Gatekeepers were frequent, Meadow Browns occasional, two Peacock Butterflies and a Large White. (This number of Chalkhill Blues would be equivalent to a total of some 100 Chalkhill Blues of the whole of the Shoreham Bank recorded by Bryan H on 21 July 2007.)
 
Male Chalkhill Blue

                   Male Chalkhill Blues

The scrub in the north-west of Mill Hill added a further two Peacocks, a handful of Gatekeepers, two Large Whites, a Holly Blue, a Small White, a Speckled Wood and a deep orange Comma Butterfly. The grass and herb Triangle area of the middle slopes produced two Small Skippers, another two Peacocks, and a few Gatekeepers. The Wall Browns were looked for in their normal place but they could not be seen. A Common Lizard was seen underneath the roofing felt. On the the top long sward of the wildlife meadow north of the upper car park, another Peacock, occasional Gatekeepers, just the one male Chalkhill Blue, a few 6-spot Burnet Moths and a fresh definite Brown Argus put in an appearance under the overcast sky. A Common Blue Damselfly flitted between the tall herbs. A Common Darter was silhouetted against the sky from the top of Mill Hill looking south. My passage across the plateau area on the top of Mill Hill was rather hurried and the only butterflies noticed were another Peacock and one male Chalkhill Blue. A Skylark rose from the long grass south of the Reservoir.
Full Butterfly Report

21 July 2007
Once the sun came out on a breezy Mill Hill, it was jumping with Chalkhill Blues!  I also noted three Wall Browns.
In between the showers, I saw one Chalkhill Blue and 30 Gatekeepers near vegetation on mid-slopes. Then when the sun came out there were 100 Chalkhill Blues (including two females); 80 Gatekeeper; 10 Meadow Browns; 3 Wall (well-spaced sightings); 2 Peacock; one Comma; one Red Admiral and one Small White, all on lower slopes.

Report by Bryan H (Middx) on UK Butterflies (Sightings)


19 July 2007
As the sun came out so did the butterflies with 35 Chalkhill Blues on Mill Hill, all but one on the lower slopes, and the first brown  female of 2007. Other notables included Wall Browns on Mill Hill in the same place as three days earlier, and half a dozen Marbled White Butterflies.
Full Butterfly List

16 July 2007
At Mill Hill in virtually no sunshine a brand new second generation Dingy Skipper was spotted, plus four Chalkhill Blues and another ten species. These were two Marbled White (at top), one Small White, quite a lot of Gatekeepers, a few Meadow Browns, one  Red Admiral, 3+ (possibly 7+) Peacock Butterflies, 3 Small Heath, 4 Chalkhill Blues, one Wall Brown and 4+ Small/Essex Skippers (all but one at top in long grass). There were several 6-spot Burnet Moths, and a lot of other moth species I could not identify.  There were several 6-spot Burnet Moths, and a lot of other moth species I could not identify. Most of these reports came from the upper part of Mill Hill.

Report by Jim Steedman on Sussex Butterflies
Adur Butterfly List 2007

Round-headed Rampion15 July 2007
Round-headed Rampion was seen in flower for the first time this year on the upper part of Mill Hill. The Chalkhill Blue Butterflies were just beginning with sixteen on the lower slopes and two of the second brood Wall Brown Butterflies landed on the path running through mixed scrub and meadows (the glades). Gatekeepers were frequent. Twelve different species of butterfly were seen.
Full Butterfly Report

8 July 2007
The first Chalkhill Blue Butterfly of the year was seen on the lower slopes of Mill Hill on a cloudy day.  Other butterflies on Mill Hll were six Marbled Whites, occasional Gatekeepers, occasional Comma Butterflies, a few Red Admirals and a few Large Whites. The meadows at the top were sparse for butterflies, but there was on or two Small Skippers. Musk Thistle was beginning to go to seed.
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Adur Thistles

4 July 2007
A Swift was spotted swooping on another breezy (Force 6) overcast day when butterflies were generally not flying. Mill Hill was disappointing with only two more Gatekeeper Butterflies over the lower slopes a few Meadow Browns and a Small Tortoiseshell and a Comma in the scrub of the north-west. Field Scabious was noted in flower. A Common Lizard was seen under a piece of roofing felt deliberately laid down in the central mixed scrub and grass area near the northern perimeter. Its middle was plump, presumably with its viviparous young.
 
A solitary wasp in the genus Ectemnius was seen in the north-west part of Mill Hill.

Adur Bees & Wasps

The first spots of rain were felt as I hurried home.
Full Butterfly Report

20 June 2007
Mill Hill produced 19 Marbled White Butterflies all over the hill and as I only made a circular passage route, I anticipate I would have missed most of them. They were attracted to Greater Knapweed and Musk Thistle, but both these plants were only just beginning to flower. The lower slopes recorded a few Small Heath Butterflies and two male Common Blues in addition to about half of the Marbled Whites. The middle section of Mill Hill including the paths added either a Green-veined White or a Small White (but I was unable to be sure to species), and a surprise tatty bright yellow Brimstone Butterfly which was clearly seen and a definite. The upper plateau was poor but there was a faded Small Tortoiseshell and only a possible Large Skipper which was quickly lost in the long grasses.
Full Butterfly Report

Small brown birds were very noisy amongst the scrub including Goldfinches and Whitethroats seen when they called in the open from branches.

NB: Some of lower paths are nearly impassible and require shears to clear the passage.

Plantains on the plateau south of the upper car park10 June 2007
On the lower slopes of Mill Hill the first brood of Adonis Blue Butterflies were almost finished and some of the males had tatty upper wing rims and with an influx of Common Blue Butterflies the identification could be tricky. In the one acre transect there were about seven of each species (4 males and 3 females each). My first Marbled White Butterfly of the year fluttered across the lower slopes. There were about a dozen Small Heath Butterflies to be seen on Mill Hill, most of them on the lower slopes. A Speckled Wood was seen amongst the scrub in the north-west. The first male Meadow Brown was seen in the Old Erringham pasture by the gate, the rest of them, about seven, on the upper meadows of Mill Hill. A Painted Lady Butterfly was disturbed at the top of the Pixie Path.
Full Butterfly Report
Frequent Hoary Plantains, Plantago media, were seen on the plateau south of the upper car park. Occasional early Greater Knapweeds were in flower.
Adur Plantains
The dried out cow pats were still present from the cattle that were removed from over a month ago. There were also areas of grasses stained a darker green on the upper plateau.

Overgrown main path by the Reservoir5 June 2007
Adonis Blues, Small Heath Butterflies, my first Meadow Brown and Painted Lady of the year plus one Red Admiral and Drinker Moth, Euthrix potatoria, larvae were all seen on Mill Hill.

Report by Caroline Clarke on Sussex Butterflies


Soon shears will be required to make a passage through the scrub near the paths and on the lower slopes the flowering Privet incursions were serious. My first Mother Shipton Moth of the year was seen on the lower slopes with the usual Adonis Blue Butterflies (28). The Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, had nearly finished flowering and the Shoreham Bank looked greener than normal.
Full Butterfly & Moth Report
Adur Moths

2 June 2007
Mill Hill Nature Reserve produced 25+ male Adonis Blues, 14 Small Heath, 3 male Common Blue, 1 Red Admiral, 1 Peacock. Peacock Butterfly larvae were seen on Stinging Nettles. The female blues about equal to males (I am not sure what this means in the context of the report?). One Speckled Yellow Moth was noted.

Report by Caroline, Miles & Ed Clarke and Stan Hayward-Williams on Sussex Butterflies


25 May 2007
65 Adonis Blue Butterflies fluttered around in the late afternoon sunshine on Mill Hill. That was 37 males and 16 females in an acre on the lower slopes plus 10 males and 2 females above the ridge. I did not visit the upper plateau or the middle area.
I covered the one acre transect on the lower slopes and returned via the ridge. About a dozen Small Heath Butterflies were seen with five them above the ridge, and a Wall Brown Butterfly was seen in the scrub to the north of the lower slopes.
 
Grasses just below the ridge

The long grasses were thinly spaced (illustrated above) and abundant just west of the ridge on the very steep slopes. I am not sure of the species. They could be Fescues, Festuca ?  (This area is popular for the Small Heath Butterflies and used as a roosting area for the Chalkhill Blues in summer.)

Ecological habitat note: there is a difference between "improved pastures" where the natural herb flora is destroyed by herbicides and nutritious grasses are seeded/sown to improve the land for hay meadow or pasture. Mill Hill is "unimproved" and has not been sown or artificially managed in this way.

I spotted my first Cinnabar Moth of the year in the long thick grass south of the Reservoir on Mill Hill. The Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, was fading rapidly. The first Musk Thistle was beginning to flower on the ridge edge near the Reservoir. The poisonous White Bryony, Bryonia cretica was in flower on the lower slopes. The first Bee Orchid of the year was seen on the verge in Mill Hill Road.

24 May 2007
It made a pleasant change to watch well in excess of 50 Adonis Blues, collecting to roost on the upper slopes of Mill Hill. Most of these are still pristine, and as the last rays of evening sun played on their wings, they shone like sapphires amongst the tall grasses. Low numbers of Wall, Grizzled Skipper, Common Blue and Small Heath were rather overshadowed by comparison.

Report by Neil and Eric Hulme on Sussex Butterflies


22 May 2007
The Adonis Blues (counted at 41) were flying around in the sunshine on and over the lower slopes as expected with 37 males and 4 females seen. A few clumps of bright blue-violet Hairy Violets, Viola hirta, were recognised in flower near the rabbit burrows and an odd violet, but probably a late Dog Violet was discovered.
Butterfly Report
Adur Violet Report

20 May 2007
Adonis Blue Butterflies (counted at 44) were mating on the lower slopes of Mill Hill where I recorded by first Common Blue Butterfly if the year which was a faded and slightly battered female visiting Horseshoe Vetch, and my first definite Wall Brown Butterfly left the path by the side of the wild flower meadow north of the northern car park.
The Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, seemed to be past its peak already on the lower slopes and the number of flowers on the middle area and upper plateau seemed below normal expectations.
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Butterfly Report
 
 

16 May 2007
Female Adonis BlueAfter nine days of gales and showers, the sun made a feeble show. The flowers of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, were the poorest showing this century, but this is not necessarily bad because the amount of green leaves was more. The lower slopes of Mill Hill had a 60% coverage of Horseshoe Vetch in the best acre of herbland. Both male and female Adonis Blues were amongst the Horseshoe Vetch and they made short flights when disturbed. The acre count was 39 with about 36% (14) females which is a high proportion, especially as they were not seen mating. The upper plateau had a moderate covering of Horseshoe Vetch.
Full Report

6 May 2007
I could not see any cattle on Mill Hill but the cow pats (some wet, but most of them were dry) were still a considerable nuisance, in much the same way as dog's turds, but they were larger and there were many more of them. A diminutive Broad Bean plant was growing on the upper plateau. This land would not be fertile enough for this arable crop to reach its full size. It was too cold and breezy for butterflies although two Small Heath Butterflies were seen. Whitethroats were particularly noticeable, singing and flying from perches on the woody scrub.

The first Horseshoe Vetch flowers appear on the upper plateau2 May 2007
The ten cattle were no longer on the plateau at midday. I am not sure where they were.
A couple of female Pheasants were seen trotting along the road north of the southern cattle grid and then they disappeared. The male Kestrel swooped low over the lower slopes. Seven Adonis Blue Butterflies were seen on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, where the Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, was increasing and was now appearing on the southern end of the plateau where the cattle were two days previously. The Horseshoe Vetch is still about two weeks from its peak on the lower slopes and longer on the upper plateau.
Butterfly Report
 
 

It is unclear what is happening with the Privet removal on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. Although cut back it is returning much more vigorously than before. This is a very serious incursion which unless dealt with properly will destroy the land it covers of Horseshoe Vetch and eliminate the butterflies. If left completely unchecked the butterflies will be destroyed in more like 5 years than the 15 years I originally anticipated.
My suggestion is that it is not being spot treated with glysophate after being cut down in an attempt to kill the shrub, and all the pruning and cutting down is doing is encouraging its growth? Treating the stumps attempts to kill the bush without uprooting and causing damage to the ground flora. Spraying the leaves with herbicide is contra-indicated because the spray kills the Horseshoe Vetch the removal of the Privet is trying to protect. (Warning: the SDCB have plans to spray the land with herbicide and this may already have been done in parts.)
Livestock cannot be used to remove Privet because all parts of the plant are poisonous. On the upper slopes there is a considerable amount of mixed shrub which used to be cleared in glades which were attractive to the meadow butterflies.

Management Plan Links:

CABE Space guide on writing Management Plans
National Nature Reserve Management Plan Guide
Local Nature Reserves Guidance by English Nature (now Natural England) (*.PDF file)
 

A Nature Reserve is defined in Section 15 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, as land managed for the purpose:
(a) of providing, under suitable conditions and control, special opportunities for the study of, and research into, matters relating to the flora and fauna of Great Britain and the physical conditions in which they live, and for the study of geological and physiographical features of special interest in the area; or
(b) of preserving flora, fauna, or geological or physiographical features of special interest in the area; or for both these purposes.

30 April 2007
The ten cattle are now urinating and making a mess over the grass between the upper car park and the Reservoir. This plateau area of about an acre contains medium length grass and this is the area that mostly resembles pasture on the whole of Mill Hill. However, during late May in a good year this area will contain a moderate covering (see the photograph below) of Horseshoe Vetch, the exact visibility of this depending on the weather. If wet in spring (like 2006) the grass obscures the Horseshoe Vetch. This is assumed it is because the grass then grows quicker. The Chalkhill Blue population is low (perhaps only 40 in the whole acre at their peak) in this area. This area was cattle grazed in 1947 and has not recovered properly in sixty years. The soil is shallow and the chalk is exposed in several places at the southern end.
 
Cattle on Mill Hill plateau on 30 April 2007 (left).

The photograph on the right shows this flat area on 27 May 2005. No Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, has appeared yet this year. It is a bit early for the top area. The first flowers are appearing amongst the shorter more exposed turf to the west. 

The grassy plateau also contains significant amounts of Bird's Foot Trefoil, Dropwort and smaller amounts of all the chalkhill herbs including the best area for Round-headed Rampion (Pride of Sussex). In autumn this is also the area for the easily overlooked Autumn Lady's Tresses (an uncommon chalkhill orchid). I did not visit the lower slopes and made a passing fleeting visit.

Habitat note:  the wildlife meadow north of the car park is dominated by Knapweeds and has not been forage harvested for three years and this has resulted in Hawthorn becoming established. This has an important long grass flora for hundreds or thousands of Common Blue Butterflies and Burnet Moths and frequent Marbled White Butterflies. All this is threatened by cattle grazing. These butterflies and moths all need the long grass meadows. They also occur in the plateau land currently inhabited by the cattle.

29 April 2007
At Mill Hill 20+ Dingy Skippers, 6 Grizzled Skippers, 5 Adonis Blues, 2 Clouded Yellows, Peacock, Holly Blue and Small Heath. Seven species.

Report by Ian Barnard on Sussex Butterflies


Adonis Blue on the lower slopesMy tally for the lower slopes of Mill Hill only was 32+ Dingy Skippers (over two acres instead of the usual one), 8+ Grizzled Skippers (difficult to find at first), 14 Burnet Companion Moths (easy to mistake for the skippers), about a dozen of the small moths Pyrausta nigrata, one Peacock, three Brimstone Butterflies, one or two Clouded Yellows, at least one male Adonis Blue, a Large White, and a Speckled Wood in the scrub to the north. Aided my the eyes of Jim Steedman we both spotted the first local report of a Brown Argus for this year. Aided again by the eyes this time of Lawrie Keen who was first to spot an Orange Tip over the western scrub, and he has also the first to see the Small Heath Butterfly in the Old Erringham pasture near the gate.
Eleven species of butterflies and skippers.
Fifteen species if the Pixie Path is included with the addition of Red Admirals, Green-veined Whites, a Comma and Holly Blues.
Butterfly Report
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Adur Butterfly Flight Times (New File)

PS: The cattle were still there, but are keeping out of the way by the road during the daytime.

28 April 2007
Mill Hill in slightly breezy but warm sunny weather. A minimum of 20 Dingy Skippers and 10 Grizzled Skippers. Also 2 Clouded Yellows, 2 Holly Blues, 3 Peacocks, 2 Commas, 8 Brimstones, 4 Green Veined Whites, Small White, 2 male Adonis Blues, 1 Green Hairstreak, 4 Small Heath and a Speckled Wood.
Thirteen species.

Report by Tom Ottley on Sussex Butterflies


This list includes the first definite Green Hairstreak report since a probable on 15 May 2003 and brings the Shoreham species list up to 32.

27 April 2007
A horrid enveloping smell of cows excrement greeted me on any other visitor as the liquid cow pats were splattered all over the top area, especially the paths, and the top plain were the first flowers of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa had appeared. Photography was impossible because of the contamination. I was unable to find any live cattle, but they could have been hiding amongst the scrub. Some of the paths amongst the scrub were covered in pats and were only passable by the agile person who could jump over them. Fortunately, the cattle do not seemed to have made it down to lower slopes of Mill Hill. Unfortunately, cow pats take a long time to disappear.
Tip: wear old shoes or boots when walking on the top of Mill Hill. I can't get the cow smell out of my shoes.
Alas, the failure of the South Downs Conservation Board to forage harvest the meadow north of the car park since November 2003 has resulted in the growth of Hawthorn which will now have to be removed by manpower to prevent the meadow being overgrown completely.
Butterflies were limited to the lower slopes, the north-west scrub and the copse at the top.
Butterfly Report

25 April 2007

Even I underestimated the amount of excrement that the cattle could distribute in one day all over the southern part of Mill Hill. These semi-liquid cow pats are splattered over the paths and are already a problem to negotiate. Luckily, most of the cattle seemed to want to settle on the bank right next to the road or actually rest in the road until moved on to the side by motorists.

Cattle are completely unnecessary on Mill Hill. For the last seventy years the land has been managed successfully by forage harvesting in late autumn which yields about three large bales and scrub bashing. The removal of Privet has to be done by licensed contractors or professionals as it involves putting spot weed killer on the wooden stumps. English Nature (now Natural England) used to provide an annual grant for this Privet removal.

24 April 2007
Sensationally, I disturbed the largest Grass Snake, Natrix natrix, I had ever seen basking on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. I got a good look at the coiled up reptile before it slithered off rapidly into the scrub on the western side. I would estimate its length at nearly 1.5 metres long and it circumference of its body in its thickest place at 6+ cm. This estimate has been downsized. The coil diameter of the reptile was 50 cm.
Burnet Companion (Photograph by Paul Lister)My earliest ever Adonis Blue Butterfly flew on the Shoreham Bank, with about 15 Grizzled Skippers and 40 Dingy Skippers in the acre transect area. Brimstone Butterflies were courting.
Butterfly Report
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Adur Butterfly Flight Times (New File)

Images from Mill Hill (by Paul Lister)

The South Downs Conservation Board have gone ahead of their plan to install commercial breeds of cattle on the public land at Mill Hill, introducing ten large beef cattle to the top part of the hill. They started grazing the rough grassland and wild plants south of Reservoir which cannot do any environmental harm in the long term, but the mess of their cow pats is a nuisance on a publicly owned amenity land and Nature Reserve. There is nothing to stop the cattle moving on to the wildlife meadows north of the Reservoir or descending down to the lower slopes where the destruction would be like letting cattle into your garden, except the damage will be permanent because Horseshoe Vetch (the food plant of the Chalkhill Blue Butterfly) cannot survive cattle grazing and never recovers from such deliberate vandalism.

22 April 2007
What is a cattle lick doing on a Nature Reserve?The South Downs Conservation Board still seem to want to proceed with their asinine and bizarre plans for putting cattle on Mill Hill to destroy the butterfly plants in favour of agriculture, but there is insufficient food for cattle, a very real danger of road accidents and no advantages whatsoever. They are also failed to present a Management Plan, failed to make a Scientific Assessment, and ignored the DEFRA Report of the large bank of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa. There is no method of public communication with the SDCB and no management group as is normal with Nature Reserves.


A Rook flew across the road as I approached Mill Hill from the south. A bright flash of yellow and the Clouded Yellow Butterfly that fluttered over the lower slopes of Mill Hill was the first I had seen this year and very first recorded on these Nature Notes for the month of April. This was one of nine species of butterfly I recorded on the downs in the hour beforemidday.
Butterfly Report
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Adur Butterfly Flight Times (New File)

15 April 2007
Nine species of butterfly were seen on Mill Hill including the first Small Heath Butterfly and my first Dingy Skippers of the year. This was just on the lower slopes.
Full Report

Grizzled Skippers14 April 2007
At Mill Hill in the early afternoon on the lower slopes I saw at least ten Grizzled Skippers also two Dingy Skippers (first of the year). Plenty of Peacocks and Brimstones also four Small Whites, one Comma and one Small Tortoiseshell.

Report by Ian Barnard on Sussex Butterflies
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

13 April 2007
The first Horseshoe Vetch and Milkwort appeared on the lower slopes of Mill Hill with a handful seen. The yellow Dandelionspecies appeared as well.

12 April 2007
My first Swallow of 2007 flew low over Mill Hill in the early afternoon. A pair of Grizzled Skippers courted over the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the first of this butterfly I had seen this year. I also disturbed a faded Speckled Wood Butterfly on path down to the lower slopes, one Brimstone Butterfly and about ten Peacock Butterflies on Mill Hill.
 
Brown-tailed Moth nest Brown-tailed Moth nest & caterpillars

The caterpillars of the Brown-tailed Moth were crawling out of their nests. About six nests were seen on the Hawthorn just south of the Reservoir. Dogwood was growing profusely on some previously cleared land, especially in the middle slopes area.
Butterfly Report
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

9 April 2007
Dog Violets were now in ascendancy with thousands on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, but white Sweet Violets were still very frequent. Bluebells and Daffodils were in flower south of the Reservoir. From the ridge I watched a male Kestrel fly and glide over the lower slopes looking down on the bird of prey. Butterflies over the area south of the Reservoir and lower slopes were two Commas, five Brimstones and six Peacocks.

2 April 2007
Dog Violets on the lower slopes of Mill Hill were seen in flower for the first time this year. The thousands of violetsover Mill Hill were a mixture of Sweet Violets and Dog Violets. Butterflies were one Comma, four bright yellow Brimstones and a Small Tortoiseshell.

28 March 2007
On an hour plus trip that took me from Old Shoreham via the Pixie Path to Mill Hill and the complete circuit of Mill Hill including the footpath west at the northern side of the bridge, across the lower slopes, through the scrub in the north-west to and through the copse at the top and then across the exposed grasslands, I saw 13 butterfliesof which nine were definite Peacock Butterflies and one was a Comma on the southern part of Mill Hill, and the other three could have been either species. Although these two species are different, both have a rather darkish underside and this is all I saw on many occasions as I disturbed the unseen resting butterfly which soared or flew away at great speed.
Piles of earth created by Moles could be seen all over the place.
Forget-me-Not, Field Speedwell and Red Deadnettle were in flower on the new or disturbed soil used between the gates at the entrance to Mill Hill (although there is a Right of Way and public access land to the south of this gate as well). On the horse pasture between Mill Hill Nature Reserve and the A27 by-pass road, the leaves of Great Mullein can be seen in the disturbed ground. The correlation between disturbance and possible fertilisation by dung and this plant was very clear. It is not unattractive but could be invasive. In pasture it is a bonus.

21 March 2007
Basking on Footpath 3138 (as it winds its way through Mill Hill amongst the first bit of Hawthorn scrub to the north of the lower slopes) I clearly saw my first Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly of the year. It was an orange variety which I think are local broods. It was closed at first and then opened one wing and flew off quickly. There were thousands of battered Sweet Violets on the lower slopes with white specimens which were in a better condition. Field Speedwells were seen on disturbed land on Mill Hill. (I only visited the lower slopes and returned via the ridge path.)
Adur Butterfly List 2007
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Adur Violets

2 March 2007
On the verges and open front gardens of the old chalkhill near the top of Chanctonbury Drive (SE of the bridge to Mill Hill), swathes of Lesser Celandine and Sweet Violets were flowering. I also saw my first Red Admiral Butterfly of the year and then another one, as well as ladybirds, hoverflies, bumblebees and bugs. More Sweet Violets were in flower (over a hundred) on the steep slope beneath the seat on the southern section of Mill Hill. There were a handful seen on the lower slopes of Mill Hill as well. Daffodils planted (shaded by a Hawthorn) on the southern section of Mill Hill were flowering. The first Elder leaves appeared.
Adur Butterfly List 2007
Adur Butterfly Flight Times (New File)
 
Click on the image for the Powerpoint Presentation (CD-ROM only) 12 February 2007    7:30 pm
Natural History of Mill Hill
Slide Show and Talk by Andy Horton

Venue:   Garden Room, Southwick Community Centre (TQ 244 053)
Organised by the Southwick (Sussex) Society

Mill Hill, upper meadows in August 2004
It is an interesting informed audience at the Southwick Society. I explained how and why the current management practices would destroy all the butterflies in about fifteen years beyond redemption. 

There does not seem that anything can be done about it. Mill Hill's management history has been as a rabbit warren for centuries. The land is infertile and unsuitable for pasture unless improved and even then it would be unlikely to be worthwhile, which is why it is a Nature Reserve.
This explanation was simplified for the newspaper readership.

In the Shoreham Herald of 1 March 2007

Letter to the Shoreham Herald (Link)

24 January 2007
South-east England woke after an overnight flurry of snow and the upper slopes of Mill Hill were covered in a layer averaging about 50 mm.
 
Hawthorn
These Teasels were still covered in snow at midday.

As the air temperature was always above freezing and the dew point only just below zero Celsius, so by the early afternoon almost all the snow had melted in town with only a light covering visible on the downs.
Shoreham Weather Highlights 2007

15 January 2007
There are appear to be a handful of Mole hills of grey chalky earth on Mill Hill south of the Reservoir. They are 50 cm in diameter which I originally thought was too large.
Two Kestrels were seen simultaneously hovering over the end of the ridge of Mill Hill over the lower slopes. At least three Sweet Violets were still in flower on the steep slope beneath the seat on the southern section of Mill Hill. Several Jew's Ear fungi,Auricularia auricula-judae, were growing on Hawthorn on Mill Hill, amongst the scrub in the northwest corner.
Adur Fungi 2007
 

Mill Hill Wildlife Reports 2006 (Link)



Identification of Grasses (Link)
Mill Hill Grasses
 

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  (>4000+)
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 (probably does) occur but it has not been positively identified (because it is elusive and hard to spot): Green Hairstreak.
(=31?)

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
The Silver-studded Blue has never been recorded from Mill Hill

The Short-tailed Blue was recorded as a single immigrant in 1956.
 

Adur Butterfly Page



History of Mill Hill

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

Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa
First Draft of the Article for the Shoreham Society Newsletter
 
 

Link to the Adur Nature Notes 2007 web pages
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