MILL HILL WILDLIFE REPORTS           2008



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
Wild Flowers 2008



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, Hippocrepis comosa

South Downs Advisory Forum

Link to the Mill Hill web page for 2008
MILL HILL HOMEPAGE
LOWER SLOPES 2008
MILL NATURE RESERVE & MAP
OVERVIEW CITATION

Horseshoe Vetch on Mill Hill

Horseshoe Vetch

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 Reports 2009

15 December 2008
Two Musk Thistles were still flowering by the Reservoir on Mill Hill, but after the deluge or for some other reason the prickly stems were bent and the purple flowers were drooping down. Just a few Sow Thistles were noted on the road edge.
 
16 November 2008

This mushroom was discovered on the edge of the meadow to the north of the upper car park on Mill Hill, believed to be the White Dapperling, Leucoagaricus leucothites. I do not think that the common name is actually used for this frequently encountered species?

Adur Fungi 2008
 

 

12 November 2008

Copse at the top of Mill Hill Nature Reserve (view from the south)
It came as a great surprise to me to see a large yellow Brimstone Butterfly fly over the top meadow (north of the upper car park) on Mill Hill. It flew strongly in the direction of New Erringham. This was the first Brimstone Butterfly recorded in the month of November on these Nature Notes pages. Five minutes later a Speckled Wood Butterfly fluttered amongst the long grass south of the Reservoir on Mill Hill. On the plateau to the south of the upper car park, there were cow pats from the spring, despite the wetAugust.
Adur Butterfly Flight Times
Adur Butterfly List 2008

2 November 2008
 
Young growths of Dogwood on the middle slopes (the Triangle)
Musk Thistle was still in flower by the Reservoir

27 October 2008
There were no butterflies seen in twenty minutes before the forecasted cold weather. There were very few nectar plants on Mill Hill, one flower of Devil's Bit Scabious, one Autumn Gentian, one Stemless Thistle, a few bedraggled Hawkbits and some Wild Basil on the lower slopes. A dimunitive Ragwort was seen on the upper plateau and Musk Thistle and Sow Thistle on the upper part near the Reservoir.

17 October 2008
Two Kestrels were performing sparring acrobatics over the Copse and scrub on Mill Hill. They were both about the same size, so I assume that these were male birds fighting over territory. There is usually just one male on Mill Hill seen hovering throughout the year. A single Musk Thistle was still in flower by the Reservoir. Singles of Spear Thistle and Creeping Thistle in flower were noted.

8 October 2008
After five days of rain and poor weather the herb layer of the lower slopes of Mill Hill was still springy and firm under foot. A Peacock Butterfly flew up and visited me. Otherwise all the butterflies were at the northern end and there were not very many of them, a handful of Meadow Browns, a tatty male Adonis Blue, at least one good condition male Common Blue and a Small Copper.
 
Small Copper on Devil's Bit Scabious Bumblebee on Musk Thistle Meadow Brown (male)

On the top near the Reservoir, a Buff-tailed Bumbleebee visited a Musk Thistle still in flower. Spear Thistles were also still in flower and I a noted a solitary Creeping Thistle with a full flowering head.
Adur Butterfly List 2008
Adur Thistles
Adur Bumblebees
 
8 October 2008
I observed a late grasshopper on the lower slopes of Mill Hill
 

2 October 2008
There was the faint bite of an autumn chill in the air on a morning of weak sunshine, and the butterflies did not emerge until near midday. At the northern end of the lower slopes of Mill Hill, three species could be seen resting on Devil's Bit Scabious and only later when the sun came out did many of the butterflies emerge in numbers and fluttered about so much that I could not be sure of their numbers.
 

Brown Argus on Mill Hill
Adonis Blue (female)
Brown Argus
Common Blue female
Adonis Blue female

Ten species of butterfly were recorded on Mill Hill including Adonis Blues, pristine Common Blues and new Brown Argus Butterflies emerged. The female Adonis Blue has bars in the white outer rim of the wing which is absent in the Common Blue female (see the photographs above). The numerous Autumn Gentian on the upper plateau had ceased flowering. There were still plenty (20+) of dried out cow pats from the cattle grazing in the spring.
Full Butterfly Report

18 September 2008

People living near Shoreham's Mill Hill bridge have launched a campaign to improve safety at the notorious suicide spot.
Tony Day, of Chanctonbury Drive, Shoreham, is organising a petition calling for existing safety rails to be replaced with a safety cage. Several people have died after falling or jumping from the bridge in recent years.
Shoreham Herald Report


12 September 2008
On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the first butterfly seen was Common Blue, followed later by a female of the species, a few male Adonis Blues scattered over the slopes with a congregation of both sexes on the Devil's Bit Scabious at the northern end, totalling seven males and seven females, plus six Meadow Browns (gender undetermined, mostly males), two Small Heath Butterflies, at least one Treble-bar Moth and a faded Pyrausta nigrata moth. Three Meadow Browns and a Common Blue were spotted in the Old Erringham pasture in the vicinity of the stile. Amongst the scrub, a Speckled Wood fluttered by and two Small Heaths were seen courting. In the top meadow there were three Common Blue males and four more Meadow Browns plus a surprise Wall Brown.

9 September 2008
 
Small Heath Butterfly on Hardhead Dog Rose with Robin's Pin Cushion Most of the Autumn Gentian was not in flower.

It was still much too overcast, with spots of rain, for butterflies to be out and about if they had survived the atrocious weather. A quick check on the Privet-inundated lower slopes of Mill Hill produced seven male Adonis Blues, ten Meadow Browns and a Small Heath Butterfly. There were no Chalkhill Blues seen. The scrub added a Speckled Wood, and the upper area of Mill Hill another Meadow Brown and another Small Heath. Devil's Bit Scabious was seen in flower for the first time this year. Despite four days of rain and the whole of the summer, there were still dried-out cow pats on the Autumn Gentian covered plateau south of the upper car park. Most of the Autumn Gentian was not in flower.
Adur Butterfly List 2008

15 August 2008
After four days of poor weather, the butterflies were out again. They were common on the lower slopes of Mill Hill with 25+ Chalkhill Blues including a few females, 62 male Adonis Blues, an estimated 75+ Meadow Browns of both sexes, frequent Common Blues (estimated 12+) including very small ones, one confirmed Gatekeeper, a few Large Whites, at least one Green-veined White, two Speckled Woods on the southern steps, and a Wall Brown. I returned by the ridge route where I saw two more Speckled Woods, a pristine female Adonis Blue on Marjoram, and a further two Chalkhill Blues fluttering around the very short grass on the rim of the ridge. The only other butterfly species seen on the hill were Holly Blues with at least two fluttering around the large hedge on the side of the road south of Mill Hill Nature Reserve.

6 August 2008
With the weather conditions ameliorated enough to make a trip to Mill Hill worthwhile, it seemed as though I have missed the main emergence of Chalkhill Blue Butterflies for 2008 as the very poor showing of 43 (with one female) on the 1.2 acre transect on the lower slopes indicated. There were a further three male Chalkhill Blues seen on the upper part of Mill Hill and another six on the Mill Hill Cutting.  There were nearly as many fresh male Adonis Blues with 37 noted on the lower slopes, not to be confused with Common Blues with 29+ recorded on Mill Hill, including six on the lower slopes, as well as three on the Pixie Path and at least one on the Coastal Link Cyclepath south of Old Shoreham. A small butterfly flitting about a long grass meadow on the top of Mill Hill turned out to be a pristine Brown Argus Butterfly when it settled. A total of nine of this species were recognised on Mill Hill with six of these occurring over the lower slopes. Mill Hill hosted frequent Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns.
Wall Browns appeared in the front of me on four occasions, three on Mill Hill and one on the Pixie Path. A Marbled White was a welcome surprise over the lower slopes of Mill Hill.
 

Pyrausta purpuralis Moth
Male Adonis Blue 2nd brood on Mill Hill
Pyrausta purpuralis Moth
on Mill Hill
Male Adonis Blue 2nd brood
on Mill Hill
Carline Thistle

There were two Speckled Woods seen on Mill Hill, but there were probably many more as my passage through the scrub was hurried. White butterflies were everywhere in small numbers, notably four Green-veined Whites. Two pristine condition Peacock Butterflies  and three of the smallSmall Heath Butterflies settled on Mill Hill.
Full Shoreham Town Wildlife Report
Adur Butterfly List 2008

1 - 5 August 2008
It was too breezy and overcast to assess the Chalkhill Blues on Mill Hill.

30 July 2008
The Chalkhill Blues were slow to appear this year, as the count of a mere 81 (including two females) plus two male Adonis Blues on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, indicated. There were a handful of Common Blues of both sexes noted on both the lower slopes and upper meadows. I was not in mood for counting butterflies, but the other butterflies seen on Mill Hill in the middle of a sunny day were Large Whites and Speckled Woods, plus the occasional Marbled Whites (5), Small Skippers (3+), Wall Browns (a courting pair), Peacock Butterflies (2) and Holly Blues (2). The usual Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns were present everywhere. Six-Spot Burnet Moths were frequently seen mostly on the upper meadows of Mill Hill. The small pyralid moth Synaphe punctalis was identified from the lower slopes.
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Burnet Moths
Hundreds of the small herb Autumn Gentian were poking through the chalky area on the upper plateau of Mill Hill, immediately north of the Reservoir. A handful were in flower for the first time this year. A few Round-headed Rampion were in flower amongst them and only a handful of these blue flowers were seen on a passage trip scattered over the upper hill. Autumn Gentian and Eyebrights on the upper plateau of Mill Hill

28 July 2008
Even more spectacularly, the number of butterfly species seen on 27 July 2008 has to be increased by one to 22 species, as a second brood male Adonis Blue was identified on the lower slopes of Mill Hill and one was seen there yesterday as well. My visit was to look for the main emergence of Chalkhill Blues and make a count on the 1.2 acre transect of the lower slopes, which came to 68 males. There were also 15+ Chalkhill Blues on the Mill Hill Cutting (south-west corner), two seen by the stile to the Old Erringham pasture, and another six as I returned by the quickest ridge route through the tunnel of Hawthorn. There were frequent Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns everywhere, with an occasional prevalency of Speckled Woods in the shade, plus a Peacock and at least one Small Heath on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. A Marbled White flew amongst the long grass south of the Reservoir on Mill Hill. On the ridge path a single Marjoram plant attracted five Gatekeepers and a Peacock Butterfly. Six-Spot Burnet Moths were frequently seen mostly on the upper meadows of Mill Hill.
Full Butterfly Report

27 July 2008
On warm (21.5 °C) sunny day, an unprecedented 21 species of butterfly were seen (three more than the previous largest day tally in the last eight years of 18). Nineteen were seen in two hours in the morning on Mill Hill and its approaches. However, only fourteen were seen on Mill Hill proper. These were Large Whites, Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns and Chalkhill Blues (70), frequent Common Blues (18), Small Skippers (5), occasional Speckled Woods (8), Brown Argus (2), Wall Brown (3), Red Admiral (3), Small Heath (3), Brimstone (3),  Peacock (2), and just the one confirmed Green-veined White. Six-Spot Burnet Moths were frequently seen mostly on the upper meadows of Mill Hill.
The first spectacular Volucella zonaria hoverfly of 2008 was seen amongst the scrub on Mill Hill.
The first Round-headed Rampion of the year was noted in flower on the upper part of Mill Hill.
Full Butterfly Report

26 July 2008
Several newly emerged female Wall had boosted the total to c.15 on Mill Hill and we watched them ovipositing, locating several of the greenish white, globular eggs. The second brood Dingy Skipper was again located, along with the first couple of pristine, second brood Adonis Blue.

Report by Neil Hulme on Sussex Butterflies


23 July 2008
Over 200 butterflies of 15 species were seen in about two hours on Mill Hill and the approaches with 37 Chalkhill Blues (including two females) seen mostly on the lower slopes. Another notable was the first two of the second brood Brown Argus Butterflies in amongst the long grass and herb meadow north of the upper car park. The Small White on Mill Hill was confirmed with a close-up look. Six Peacock Butterflies were seen.
 
Peacock Butterfly Brown Argus Brimstone Butterfly

On Mill Hill only, Chalkhill Blues led the count with 37, Gatekeepers 33, and Meadow Browns with 17. Large Whites tallied at eight, Marbled Whites at seven, Small Skippers at six, and Wall Browns at five. I expect the common butterflies were under-recorded.
The small herb Autumn Gentian was noted sprouting up on the middle slope area, but the flowers had not yet appeared.
Tabular List
Adur Butterfly List 2008
Full Report
 
 
Flora Report
Left:
Musk Thistle on the ridge (north-west the Reservoir) overlooking the lower slopes.

Right:
Creeping Thistle where the cattle have disturbed the land south of the Reservoir.

20 July 2008
Butterflies are recorded as common (135+) for the first time this year of 14 species (equal most in a day this year) of which the most notable was the first second brood Common Blue Butterfly on the upper meadow of Mill Hill, three Wall Browns on Mill Hill and a Chalkhill Blue count of 17 (including one fresh female) on an acre of the lower slopes.
Tabular List

15 July 2008
Chalkhill Blues were just beginning on Mill Hill with 24 strong flying males noted. All but one were seen on the lower slopes and the other one in the Triangle middle slopes area. Six-spot Burnet Moths were frequent on the hill, with most in the area to the west of the upper car park. A Silver Y Moth was seen on the short grass open plateau. Six Marbled White Butterflies were recorded and both Large Skippers (2) and Small Skippers (8) in the meadows at the top of the hill.
Full Butterfly Report
 
Chalkhill Blue (male) Female Chalkhill Blue

The horses were still present in the field of Ragwort to the east of Mill Hill. Contrary to popular belief Ragwort is not very dangerous to livestock.
Ragwort Facts
Chalkhill Flowers 2008

13 July 2008
The first female Chalkhill Blue Butterfly of the year was seen on the lower slopes of Mill Hill on a drab morning.
The thin strip of intermittent horse pasture to the east of Mill Hill, (adjacent and parallel to the A27 dual carriageway on the northern side), that was covered in swathes of Bird's Foot Trefoil a month ago was now dominated by Ragwort and the Bird's Foot Trefoil could not be seen from the road.
Full Butterfly Report

Musk Thistle and Ox-eye Daisies on the upper part of the lower slopes, just below the ridge, north-west of the Reservoir11 July 2008
Blustery conditions (Force 5 gusting to Force 6), but at least the rain held off: a few butterflies were in flight, another two Chalkhill Blue Butterflies flew over the lower slopes of Mill Hill, with occasional Gatekeepers, a Large White, and two small pyralid moths, Pyrausta nigrata and Pyrausta despicata. One of the Chalkhill Blues settled very briefly on a Self-heal flower.
Five species of thistle were recorded on Mill Hill including the first Stemless Thistle of the year on the lower slopes, as well as Spear Thistle, Welted Thistle, the impressive Musk Thistle and the ubiquitous Creeping Thistle. Wild Basil was noted, but amongst the scrub rather than on the open slopes.
Adur Butterfly List 2008
Adur Thistles
 
Left:
Stinging Nettles and Spear and Creeping Thistles have now replaced the mixed selection of grasses including Cocksfoot, in the area south of the Reservoir. *

Right:
Long grasses blown about in the breeze south of the Reservoir provide a valuable roosting site for hundreds of Chalkhill Blue Butterflies

* Disturbed and nutrified land where the cattle have grazed.

5 July 2008
A solitary Swift flew to and fro over the southern part of Mill Hill.
The first two Chalkhill Blue Butterflies flew over the lower slopes of Mill Hill, late in the afternoon, whilst in a nearby (to the east of Mill Hill Nature Reserve) field two Horsesgrazed in a field of long grass and over a hundred Ragwort plants. It appeared that the two horses were grazing on the grass between these slightly poisonous plants, but the yellow heads of Ragwort could be seen moving as the Horses grazed.
The first Small Purple-barred Moth, Phytometra viridaria, of 2008 was seen on the lower slopes, with a probable Ringlet from the scrub in the north-west of Mill Hill Nature Reserve which one be (if confirmed) the first from the Hill and the only one of the 32 species of butterflies seen in Shoreham that has not been recorded on the hill. Other butterflies from Mill Hill around 4:30 pm were just the two Small Heath Butterflies,  14 Marbled Whites, at least two Large Whites, ten Meadow Browns, one Peacock Butterfly, seven Gatekeepers, one Speckled Wood and a Green-veined White on a passage visit.
Marjoram was seen in flower in the Triangle middle slopes area of Mill Hill and this was the first for this year and the first time I noted this plant on Mill Hill.
Full Butterfly Report

22 June 2008
The first grasshoppers were seen and heard on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, with my first definite sightings of two Marbled White Butterflies blown about in the Force 6 gusting to Gale Force 8. One male and one worn female Common Blue Butterfly, three Small Heath Butterflies, and just two Meadow Brown Butterflies were also seen. Welted Thistle, Musk Thistle and the ubiquitous Creeping Thistle were all noted. Squinancywort was seen in flower for the first time this year on the lower slopes.
Full Butterfly Report

19 June 2008
Mill Hill recorded ten Small Heath Butterflies, a Large Skipper on the lower slopes amongst the Brambles and Tor Grass, four Common Blues including one female, and four Speckled Woods amongst the Hawthorn scrub. Agrimony, Musk Thistle, Perforate St. John's Wort, one Field Scabious and Common Centaury were all recorded in flower for the first time this year. White Campion was noted as common beside the paths through the scrub in large clumps. On the middle slopes, in the Triangle area, Bird's Foot Trefoil was flowering in swathes but not in as large swathes as previous years.
Full Butterfly Report

8 June 2008
Common Blue Butterflies (30+) were mating in the thin strip of intermittent horse pasture to the east of Mill Hill. There were at least three Small Heath Butterflies seen on the edge of the swathes of Bird's Foot Trefoil.
 
Bird's Foot Trefoil
Common Blue Butterflies

A Broad-bodied Chaser, Libellula depressa, (dragonfly) flew over but it was in silhouette so its gender was not discerned.
Adur Butterfly List 2008

6 June 2008
Large SkipperMy first Large Skipper of the year looked very fresh and quite lively on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, but one of the two Dingy Skippers was very dingy and worn. The lower slopes produced 16 Adonis Blues on passage over the transect 1.2 acre area, including three females, six Common Blues including two females, and two Small Heath Butterflies  with a further one seen on the upper plateau. Passage through the north-west Hawthorn scrub area added two Speckled Wood Butterflies. A further male Adonis Blue was very easily seen in the Triangle area of the middle slopes, and a Red Admiral in the copse at the top of Mill Hill. One Azure Damselfly, Coenagrion puella, was seen on the southern part of Mill Hill. White Campion was noted as frequently seen in flower.
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Skippers
Adur Damsels & Dragonflies

1 June 2008
When the yellow carpet of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, was seen to be rapidly fading on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the thin strip of intermittent horse pasture to the east of Mill Hill, adjacent and parallel to the A27 dual carriageway on the northern side, was covered in swathes of Bird's Foot Trefoil covering a measured 1.5 acres. Most other flowering herbs were lost amongst the yellow but they included sparse amounts of Cut-leaved Cranesbill, Cleavers, Fairy Flax, Eyebright, Scarlet Pimpernel (mostly on the periphery), White Clover, Ground Ivy and Field Speedwell.
The adjacent cattle pasture was devoid of these herbs.

Swathes of Bird's Foot Trefoil with the copse at Mill Hill in the background

23 Adonis Blue Butterflies (including just one female seen) stood out against the green appearance of the lower slopes, with two Yellow Shell Moths seen early on amongst the Wild Privet, two Small Heath Butterflies, and one Common Blue Butterfly. A further Small Heath Butterfly was spotted as I returned rapidly by the ridge route. A single Welted Thistle flower had opened in the scrub in the north-west of Mill Hill. A large patch of Silverweed with at least fifty flowers was noted immediately to the west of the Reservoir adjacent to the well trodden path winding between the blossoming Elderberry, and the Hawthorn that had ceased flowering. The scrub had been cleared in places and patches of Stinging Nettles had appeared next to the path.
 

Snowy Ink Cap
Snowy Ink Cap, Coprinus niveus

After the rain of the last few days, three species of mushroom have appeared two of them, one a Snowy Ink Cap, Coprinus niveus, on the cow pats still remaining two months after the cattle had been removed from Mill Hill.
The upper plateau where the cattle had been grazing was noticeably denuded of both the the swathes of Horseshoe Vetch and Bird's Foot Trefoil seen in previous years.
The characteristic dipping flight of a Yellowhammer was seen over the lower slopes.

Full Butterfly Report
Adur Butterfly List 2008
Full Wild Flower Report
Adur Fungi Report
Chalkhill Fungi of Mill Hill

24 May 2008
Mill Hill: In windy conditions we managed to see perhaps 30 Adonis Blue, including a few females, and three Common Blues on the lower slopes along with a couple of Brimstone Butterflies and a Lesser Treble-bar Moth. There was also a single Wall Brown at the north west corner of the reserve on the path that leads to Old Erringham Farm.

Report by Dave and Pen Green on Sussex Butterflies


19 May 2008
Male Adonis BluesThe characteristic dipping flight of a Yellowhammer was seen in the distance over the ridge of Mill Hill in slightly cool (12.6 °C) conditions. A 15 minute ramble over the 1.2 acre transect area of the lower slopes produced 36 Adonis Blue Butterflies of which three were females, six Small Heath Butterflies, one Dingy Skipper, three Grizzled Skippers, one unidentified white butterfly, one Pyrausta nigrata pyralid moth, and two Treble Bar Moths. There were four Holly Blues and a few Azure Damselflies, Coenagrion puella, spotted amongst the scrub in the north-west of Mill Hill.
Elderberry was beginning to flower on Mill Hill. An Ink Cap Mushroom grew out of a cow pat in the dense herbs and grasses north of the upper car park. On the plateau south of the upper car park, the Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, was much less than previous years, but a patch still occurred at the southern end, just north of the Reservoir. White Campion was noticed in flower on the edge of the scrub on the upper parts of the hill.
Adur Butterfly List 2008

14 May 2008
A late afternoon visit to Mill Hill was undertaken for the purpose of ascertaining the extent of the covering of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, which could be seen from Old Shoreham by the Toll Bridge. It was at least as spectacular as the best year, but a close inspection revealed that a proportion (c 5%) of the flowers were already fading on the lower slopes. The Horseshoe Vetch was rather sparse on the middle and upper slopes. It is usually later in these areas, but it still appeared much less than expected.  At least one Bird's Foot Trefoil was seen. Other flowers noted were the poisonous White Bryony, Bryonia dioica, mostly were the conservation workers had been on Mill Hill, and the first sign of flowering Hound's Tongue, Cynoglossum officinale, notably near the Rabbit burrows. The invasive Ground Elder, Aegopodium podagraria, was noted on the upper part of the hill.
 

Horseshoe VetchAlthough, it was too windy, too cool and too late in the day for butterflies, a couple of enthusiasts said they had given up counting the Adonis Blues at over a hundred over a three acre area of the lower slopes, and they also had two confirmed Green Hairstreaks on the middle slopes above the ridge. This hairstreak is only rarely recorded on Mill Hill. Their species count for Mill Hill was 14 plus the first Cinnabar Moth of the year. I recorded my first definite Common Blue Butterfly* of the year and my first definite Red Admiral of 2008.  (*Latterly rejected as not positive.)
Adur Butterfly List 2008
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

9 May 2008
I was two days late on parade to see my first Adonis Blue Butterflies of the year on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. One of the three looked very much like a brown female with its wings closed and without the distinctive blue as it flew off. I also saw five of my first Small Heath Butterflies of the year four on the lower slopes and one on the ridge return route. There was one Wall Brown, one male Brimstone Butterfly, one Green-veined White, eleven Dingy Skippers and four Grizzled Skippers. There was a damaged Speckled Wood Butterfly in the scrub.
 
The Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, was visible from a distance but still a week off its best showing.
Cow Parsley and Alexanders on the southern part of Mill Hill (upper)
Umbellifers
Hawthorn with Cow Parsley and Alexanders on the southern part of Mill Hill (upper)

7 May 2008
While showing Jack Harrison (on holiday down here) some of our Sussex sites, I managed to see five 'firsts' for me this year. These were two Adonis Blue* (including an atypically early female!), one Common Blue*, two Small Heath and three Wall at Mill Hill. Dingy and Grizzled Skippers were plentiful at Mill Hill.  (* first of the year)

Report by Neil Hulme on Sussex Butterflies
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Adur Butterfly List 2008

6 May 2008
My first Wall Brown Butterfly of 2008 and my first Red Damselfly were both seen near and in the copse of Mill Hill. The first Brimstone Butterfly was a bright yellow male seen over a clearing in the scrub, and then a bright yellow male and white female appeared to be courting under the canopy of the copse at the top of Mill Hill, until another yellow male came and competitively interrupted the proceedings. Whereupon the female disappeared and the males carried on jousting. Three Holly Blue Butterflies fluttered around the low lying scrub on the middle slopes of Mill Hill. The sun was not warm enough for smallish blue butterflies to open their wings. Two Speckled Woods danced under the copse at Mill Hill. 11 Grizzled Skippers, about 12 Dingy Skippers (one on the middle slopes) and at least five Pyrausta nigrata pyralid moths were seen on the lower slopes.
 
Horseshoe Vetch on Mill Hill
The beginnings of he flowering Horseshoe Vetch  on the lower slopes of Mill Hill
Horseshoe Vetch on the Mill Hill Cutting
Horseshoe Vetch on Mill Hill

I also spotted my first Swallow of the year on a low level flight so its pale orange belly underside could be clearly seen.
Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, was much more prominent on the lower slopes of Mill Hill and could be seen covering the lower slopes before I descended the steps at the southern end. Dog Violets were very common and Milkwort was all over the slopes.
A male Pheasant was surprised on a path before it trotted off into the Hawthorn scrub of the north-west.
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Adur Butterfly List 2008

25 April 2008
The first Dingy Skipper of 2008 was seen on the lower slopes of Mill Hill around midday. One Grizzled Skipper was also spotted on a passage journey with a return route via the ridge. Three Small Tortoiseshells and a worn Peacock Butterfly were recorded on a muggy day. A Rook flew over.
This small mushroom was discovered on Mill Hill just above the ridge above the steep lower slopes. I think this was Stropharia coronilla.
Adur Fungi 2008

20 April 2008
The first Green-veined White Butterfly of the year was seen over the path by the flowering Blackthorn leading into scrub at the northern end of the lower slopes of Mill Hill. Two pristine Speckled Wood Butterflies were seen above my head on the Hawthorn in the copse at the top of Mill Hill. Frequent Peacock Butterflies numbered at least a dozen over the lower slopes of Mill Hill.
A passage journey over the lower slopes of Mill Hill revealed four Grizzled Skippers visiting Dog Violets and at least one of the first Pyrausta nigrata pyralid moths of 2008.

On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the first Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, was seen in flower with the accompanying pollen beetles. Red-tailed Bumblebees, Bombus lapidarius, were occasionally seen on Mill Hill, on the open downs and amongst the scrub.

Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Adur Butterfly List 2008
Adur Bumblebees 2008

13 April 2008
A Skylark flew in station above Mill Hill, singing in the warn afternoon after the midday hail shower.
 
Peacock Butterfly

There were three other butterfly enthusiasts on the lower slopes of Mill Hill in the afternoon, chasing around about ten Grizzled Skippers. Other butterflies recorded on the day on Mill Hill included three Peacocks and one Small Tortoiseshell.

10 April 2008
On a mild (>10.5 °C) sunny day there were frequent butterflies on Mill Hill and its approaches including my first Small Tortoiseshell of the year, the first two Grizzled Skippers on the lower slopes, ten Peacocks and two Comma Butterflies.
Blackthorn (=Sloethorn) was in flower, notably south of the Reservoir.
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Adur Skippers
Adur Butterfly List 2008

6 April 2008
 
Snow on Mill Hill looking over the Adur Valley towards Lancing Clump in the distance Afternoon snow on Mill Hill

A surprise April snowfall throughout the morning (9:00 pm to 12:30 pm) left snow to a depth of 100+ mm on Mill Hill, drifting to much deeper in places. Ground Ivy was seen in flower under the Hawthorn in the north-west scrub.
Full Report
Shoreham Weather Page 2008

5 April 2008
Mill Hill SMG Meeting
Despite the awful forecast and plummeting temperature the first SMG evening field meeting of the year at Mill Hill near Shoreham was well attended. However, we only saw three moths - but nobody was complaining; two were of our target species:  Barred Tooth-striped Moth, Trichopteryx polycommata, and the other was the micro Pale Flat-body, Agonopterix pallorella.

Report and Photographs by Michael Blencowe on Sussex Butterflies
Adur Moths

26 March 2008
Four Peacock Butterflies were seen in under an hour on the downs north of Shoreham, the first faded specimen at the top of the Pixie Path to Mill Hill, the second and third left the lower slopes of Mill Hill, and the fourth one was in the extreme north-west corner of Mill Hill Nature Reserve next to the Old Erringham pasture.
Adur Butterfly List 2008

9 March 2008

Early growths of Dogwood on the Triangle meadow area on the middle slopes section of Mill Hill, west of the upper car park. Old Erringham Farm is in the background.


27 February 2008
Frequent Sweet Violets were now to be seen flowering on the lower slopes and under the thorn in the scrub in the north-west corner of Mill Hill. The cattle now appear to have been removed, but the hoof prints and dung were still widespread, and some were fresh.
Adur Violets

18 February 2008
The cattle were on the flat plateau south of the upper car park. Some of the paths south of the Reservoir were beginning to be worn from grass to mud by the hoof prints of the cattle. There was one cow pat on the lower slopes and another on the steep slope below the ridge (part of the lower slopes). There was another cow pat on the steps leading down to the lower slopes which were so muddy that walking boots were advisable.
There were a few mole hills seen south of the Reservoir. The mounds of earth were grey.

11 February 2008
A male Brimstone Butterfly settled on ivy on wall outside house in Mill Hill Drive, Shoreham at midday. This was the first local record of this species for 2008.

Report by Stanley Allen on Sussex Butterflies
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Adur Butterfly List 2008

11 February 2008

Copse at the top of Mill HillUpper PlateauNorth-west ScrubLower SlopesOld Erringham Farm PastureHedge bordering the Downs Link CyclepathRiver AdurReservoirMiddle Slopes

Mill Hill
viewed from the Adur Levels, River Adur estuary, western towpath

10 February 2008
A handful of Sweet Violets were in flower at the top of the wooded slopes on the southern section of Mill Hill.
Around midday a Peacock Butterfly rose from the lower slopes of Mill Hill and fluttered further up the slope so I had to chase it to identify the good condition Peacock Butterfly when it basked briefly in the weak sunshine with its wings open.
This was the second of two of the first February records on these Nature Notes pages for the Peacock Butterfly, making four species seen in the second month of the year.
Adur Butterfly Flight Times
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Adur Violets
Hoof prints caused by the cattle damaging the flora of Mill Hill. 

The cattle break up the integral turf floraallowing coarse grass seeds, ruderal common wayside plants and scrub seeds to settle and be buried and seed, gradually and quickly displacing the natural chalkhill grasses and herbs. 

In perspective, the turf is also broken up by human trampling (as evidenced by the paths) and the burrowing of Rabbits and Moles. The cattle damage is so much more serious because it is unnecessary and the ground is fertilised as well. This fertilisation has a destructive effect on chalkhill flora, allowing common plants to flourish in the richer disturbed conditions. Sheep also cause damage in wet weather but the because of their lighter build if they are stocked at a density of up to one sheep per acre, damage to the chalkhill is acceptable.

The cattle were still trashing the upper plateau area around the car park.

28 January 2008
The cattle were now seen from the Adur Levels on the richer floristic middle zone of Mill Hill, where they will do more damage.
In business farming terms, butterfly food plants are weeds to be eradicated.

22 January 2008
The cattle were still on Mill Hill dumping their excrement all over the long grass south of the Reservoir, but also on the recovering herb-rich plateau north of the Reservoir. Cattle cause great damage by disturbance of the soil and nutrification with their urine and faeces. Both these factors change the flora for a long time and encourage grasses and ruderal plants. A dog was seen in panic in the presence of the cattle.
Tip: wear old shoes: the cattle urinate on the grass and it can be difficult to get the smell out even if you avoid the cow pats.
Butterfly Habitat Notes
 
A commercial breed of beef cattle grazing the southern part of Mill Hill. 

This area of rough grassland has already been extensively disturbed and the damage the cattle will do will be minimal. However, they confer no advantages and are nuisance to visitors and road traffic. 

4 January 2008
Alas the cattle are still trashing the top of Mill Hill in an asinine plan by the Sussex Downs Conservation Board on an important Nature Reserve. The flat area being grazed (seen from the Adur Levels) is an area that contains a recovering low fertility wildlife meadow flora including Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, and many other important caterpillar food plants and nectar plants. The cattle indiscriminately eat the flora, but more importantly the destruction occurs because of the ground disturbance they cause and their patterns of urination and cow pats which are making the paths impassable on shallow chalk soil in wet muddy conditions. Chalkhill herbs require low fertility undisturbed land and are wiped out (most of them permanently) if the conditions change.
List of Butterfly Articles

1 January 2008
The cattle were not seen on a very muddy Mill Hill. However, there were still cow pats in annoying places near the road and on the paths near the Reservoir.

My first wild mammal of 2008 was a Rabbit on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. My first mushroom was a Blewits, Lepista sp., recorded from the ridge of Mill Hill. I originally identified this as a Field Blewits, Lepista saeva, but this species has no blue on its cap. There was no flowers to be seen on the lower slopes except for the silver leaved Carline Thistle heads. It is never quite clear with this plant as the flower heads last longer and the petals do not fall off.

I'd go for the rather variable Lepista sordida for this mushroom, but you really need to measure the spores to be sure. Lepista sordida is the only Lepista which can be completely blue/purple all over, but it can also have hardly any blue at all. It favours disturbed and garden situations (probably slightly raised fertility but overlaps in this with Wood Blewits)
Lepista saeva doesn't have any blue/purple in the cap.

ID advice by Malcolm Storey (BioImages)
Adur Fungi Reports 2008
 


 

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
 

Mill Hill Wildlife Reports 2007 (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 2008 web pagesLink 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