Mill Hill

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
Adur Wild Flowers 2009


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

Link to the Mill Hill web page for 2009
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 Calcareous Grassland Message

Chalkhill Blue
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
Multi-Map (Bird's Eye View)

Threats to the Butterfly Downland site at 
Mill Hill Nature Reserve

The butterfly lower slopes at Mill Hill are under serious threat by a natural process known as ecological succession where the woody shrubs like Privet, Brambles and Hawthorn invade the herb-rich slopes gradually turning the downs into woodland and eliminating the butterfly larval food plants especially the Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, on which the Chalkhill Blue Butterflies rely. The remedy is by expert professional removal of the Privet on a regular basis. This job is now being undertaken by volunteers.

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.


Mill Hill Wildlife Reports 2012 (Link)

25 November 2011
I was delighted to see an Adder slither off at the western end of the lower slope of Mill Hill around noon. It had been sunning itself in exactly the same place where I saw one in September 2010. The spot gets the late Autumn sun and is next to scrub for cover.

Report by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards

15 November 2011
On the lower slopes (sheltered from the chill east wind) there was scarcely anything to note: a half a dozen healthy Rabbits were feeding in the open near the incursing Privet, two White Dapperling, Leucoagaricus leucothites, Mushrooms were seen in the central area below the path, and a Red Admiral Butterfly fluttered north to south. I spotted a Common Ink Cap Mushroom amongst the tall sward south of the Reservoir, where a solitary Greater Knapweed was still in flower. A Kestrel dived into a Hawthorn and disturbed some small birds, but flew off with empty talons.
4 November 2011
The "Natural History of Mill Hill"
Illustrated Talk by Andy Horton
Shoreham Horticultural & Allotment Society
St. Peter's Church Hall (entrance in West Street)
7:30 pm - 10:00 pm

Local Speakers (Adur)

1 November 2011
Lesser CentauryThe work of the conservation workers on Mill Hill is appreciated as they were burning cut Privet at the foot of the lower slopes. I am still dismayed that there is no consultation with the public, as amongst all the scrubby thorn bushes a pair of attractive Hawthorns have been felled, ones that looked particularly good in their spring May blossom. The only butterfly seen on Mill Hill was a Red Admiral under the Copse at the top. On the lower slopes the only flowers noted were Autumnal Hawkbit, Carline Thistle (including new buds), Centaury and a solitary Milkwort.

23 October 2011
On a dry, breezy overcast (Cumulus > Cirrocumulus) midday, three languid Meadow Brown Butterflies searched out nectar plants on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, one frequently returning to the one remaining Wild Basil seen. A Common Darter (dragonfly) landed. On the lower slopes, Hawkbits were still flowering with a few Yellow Worts, some flowers still open in the early afternoon. On the middle slopes, a Red Admiral landed on the path immediately south of the Copse on the top of the hill. On the middle part of Mill Hill new buds of Carline Thistle were emerging in the same photo frame as older plants with copper and silver leaves.  A Small Scabious seed head was noted by the gate in the north-west.
The Conservation Team had mown stretches of the southern area and middle slopes, notably the Triangle area and cleared the mixed patch of colonising flowers (Great Mullein, Musk Thistle etc.) on the lower slopes north of the path. This area was being surveyed by students at Brighton University. 

Red was thematic colour, the dark red of the Dogwood stems, the red berries of Hawthorn, Dog Rose, and a few Wayfaring Tree berries and the small Bittersweet. Sheep were grazing on the stumble of the hay meadow beneath Mill Hill.

17 October 2011
Spotting a break in the clouds, I made a quick visit to Mill Hill in the afternoon, where a Red Admiral Butterfly left the shorn vegetation south of the Reservoir and another one was seen blown about in the breeze over the Clematis-adorned scrub. Nectar plants were now sparse on the lower slopes of Mill Hill with diminutive ground-hugging Hardheads, Stemless Thistle and Hawkbits the most prevalent. Three Meadow Browns were disturbed in temperatures too cool for active butterflies and then the darker clouds came over and I hurried home after the first few spots of rain. A Common Darter (dragonfly) flew at head level. A flock of Rooks soared on the thermals, but on the ground the corvids were Crows and Magpies.

Buzzard (Photograph by Colin Knight)16 October 2011
I visited Mill Hill again hoping the Clouded Yellow would still be around. No sightings but there were some Brown Argus, Meadow Browns and Common Blues.

Report & Photographs by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards

15 October 2011
The first absolutely positive Clouded Yellow Butterfly of the year in the Adur area was seen on Mill Hill and photographed visiting a Hawkbit. It was a bit tatty, but it was my first of the year and made my day! There were also some Common Blues, Meadow Browns and a Red Admiral. A Buzzard (photographed on the left by Colin Knight) soared overhead.

Report & Photograph by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards
and on Sussex Butterflies
Previous Report

9 October 2011
A Kestrel hovered over the middle slopes and thorn on Mill Hill. Wasps dominated the Ivy hedge that bordered Mill Hill Road north of the bridge over the A27. So much so, that I did not expect any butterflies on Mill Hill, until I immediately stumbled across a Speckled Wood followed a few seconds later by a Red Admiral, both south of the Reservoir. Eight Meadow Browns were seen all on the lower slopes and two of them in flight and copulating. A single male Common Blue was lively over the lower slopes and a Peacock Butterfly was seen on the Triangle part of the middle slopes. There was at least one grasshopper seen amongst the herbs.

Carline Thistle were common on the lower slopes, with new shoots and budding flowers, ageing heads with green turning copper prickly leaves, old plants with yellow heads and silver leaves and dead grey plants. All the types were to be found close together at the northern end of the lower slopes. There were just a handful of Devil's Bit Scabious noted in an area were berrying Privet was beginning to dominate. The dried stalks of Ragwort were noted as well as occasional flowering plants.
Adur Butterfly & Moth List 2011

3 October 2011
Rooks flew over Mill Hill in the hazy sunshine and were frequently seen feeding on the empty pastures to the east of Mill Hill. Butterflies seen were 16 Meadow Browns (11 on the lower slopes on the transect only 70% completed in the energy sapping conditions, 19.6 °C, around midday) on the open downs, and one Large White on the lower slopes. A few Speckled Woods were seen amongst the scrub and at least one Red Admiral. Nectar plants visited by the Meadow Browns were the frequently seen Hardheads, the less frequent Stemless Thistles, the common Hawkbits and one of the two Devil's Bit Scabious noted (list in order of preference, most visited listed first). Carline Thistle were common with most of them with copper-coloured leaves already, but there were some budding all over green new plants. They were not seen visited by any of the butterflies. A Silver Y Moth fluttered amongst the remains of the meadow flowers south of the Reservoir.
Adur Butterfly & Moth List 2011

28 September 2011
On a (>20.6 °C) sunny day, the frequent butterflies were in the shade, at least 25 Speckled Woods fluttered amongst the scrub on Mill Hill. The weather was warm enough but the the count was a mere eleven Meadow Browns (eight on the lower slopes), at least two Small Heath Butterflies (on the lower slopes), one Brimstone Butterfly, a few Large Whites, Red Admirals on the Ivy and Speckled Woods anywhere shady. A passage walk over the open top part of the hill did not reveal any butterflies just after midday. A Buzzard soared in the azure blue cloudless sky over the downs between New Erringham and Truleigh Hill.

16 September 2011
Small CopperA Jay swooped down over the southern end of the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the very first time I had seen this bird on the Mill Hill Nature Reserve. The flowers on Mill Hill were swayed in the Gentle Breeze (Force 3) from the south-east. At first there were hardly any butterflies on the lower slopes but after about four minutes, the first of an estimated 60 Meadow Browns (about 35 on the lower slopes) appeared with a few couples mating (Meadow Browns tend to fly off even if copulating), an estimated 12 Small Heaths (10 on the lower slopes) and two male Common Blues. Stemless Thistle, Hardheads and Devil's Bit Scabious were the most visited flowers for nectar. Round-headed Rampion was noted on a few occasions on the lower slopes. The Hawthorn scrub hosted frequent Meadow Browns, three Comma and a few Red Admirals (both on the Ivy near the NW gate), plus at least one Speckled Wood. The Triangle area of the middle slopes hosted more Meadow Browns and just the one flighty Small Copper. The Small Copper visited Plantain, the red leaves of Dogwood, Perforate St. Johns Wort, Sow Thistle (in seed), Wild Carrot and Hardheads, resting briefly on the top of the plants before fluttering off. A handful of Common Darters (dragonfly) flew rapidly overhead with none of them showing any signs of settling.
Full Butterfly Report
Two new White Dapperling, Leucoagaricus leucothites, mushrooms were spotted on the lower slopes by the scrubby hedgerow on the western edge. The first mushroom had a diameter of 35 mm and a height of 70 mm.

11 September 2011
On Mill Hill (lower slopes returning by the quickest ridge route) I recorded 60 Meadow Browns (48 on the lower slopes), ten male Adonis Blues, ten Small Heath Butterflies, four Large Whites, one male and one female Common Blue, and one Small White. All species except the Meadow Browns were seen entirely in the one acre transect area. Nectar plants were principally Stemless Thistle with some butterflies visiting Hardheads, Devil's Bit Scabious, Hawkbits and Carline Thistle. The Hawkbit flowers hosted small bees (Lasioglossum, most likely Lasioglossum calceatum) and at least one small black pollen beetle (probably Meligethes).
Full Butterfly Report

10 September 2011
After some poor weather, my weekly butterfly transect on a cloudy dull day at Mill Hill recorded five Adonis Blue, two Chalkhill Blue, 52 Meadow Browns, one Small Copper, and ten Small Heaths.

Report by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards

29 August 2011
There was a chill on the breeze (16.0 °C WNW Force 4) at midday under a cloudy sky. As I noted the frequent Ragwort turning to seed on Mill Hill south of the Reservoir, a pristine Comma Butterfly fluttered near some Stinging Nettles. On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the 51 Meadow Browns were active and the females fresh, noted visiting Hardheads and Stemless Thistle. In contrast the twenty tattered male Adonis Blues and eight Chalkhill Blues were disturbed with two females (species of blue butterfly undetermined) which were hard to spot in the short sward.  When the males were disturbed they were noted visiting Squinancywort and Bird's Foot Trefoil. There were no butterflies on the Carline Thistle. On the lower slopes there was also an estimated 25+ Small Heaths (seen visiting Hawkbits) and frequent 25+ pyralid micro-moths Pyrausta purpuralis and a few larger Treble-bar Moths. On the middle slopes and top meadows and plateau of Mill Hill, there were an estimated further fifty Meadow Browns, occasional Common Blues, a few more Small Heaths, but absolutely no Gatekeepers.
 Common Blue
Devils' Bit Scabious
Meadow Brown 
Ploughman's Spikenard 

On the lower slopes Devils' Bit Scabious and Ploughman's Spikenard were noted in flower for the first time this year. Round-headed Rampion on the plateau was blowing about in the breeze making photography difficult even though it it did not impede my movement.

22 August 2011
Under an overcast sky without the penetrating warmth of the sun's rays, nevertheless it was a pleasant (18.6 °C SSE Force 2) autumn midday, and on Mill Hill about 200 butterflies fluttered around, 90% on the lower slopes. The complete count for Mill Hill recorded an estimated 90+ Meadow Browns, a counted 19 Chalkhill Blues, 66 Adonis Blues (including four females*), about 20 Common Blues (including about five females), an estimated 16+ Small Heaths, one (perhaps the last of the year) faded but intact Gatekeeper, one (possibly three) Brimstones, a few Large Whites, and a Speckled Wood (in the scrub).

Round-headed Rampion
 Autumn Gentian
 Round-headed Rampion
 Carline Thistle
 Greater Burnet Saxifrage

The lower slope 1.2 acre transect numbers were: 60+ Meadow Browns, a counted 19 Chalkhill Blues, 65 Adonis Blues (including four females*), about 5 Common Blues, an estimated 16+ Small Heaths, one (perhaps the last of the year) faded but intact Gatekeeper, one (possibly three) Brimstones, and occasional faded pyralid moths Pyrausta purpuralis. *One faded female could have been a Chalkhill Blue as its was visited very briefly by a male. The female Adonis Blues were mostly in very good condition.
The Common Blues were mostly scattered over the middle and upper meadows. There was breeze that made photographing the butterflies on plantain a little tricky as the long stems swayed. Meadow Browns on the upper part of  Mill Hill were the most prevalent butterfly with over thirty seen. On the plateau just north of the Reservoir, a male Adonis Blue was disturbed. All the suspected Brown Argus turned out to be female Common Blues when I looked at the spots on the underside.
Brown Argus and female Common Blues ID Images

On the lower slopes, a few Round-headed Rampion were flowering and there were more of these delicate blue flowers on the upper plateau. The Adonis Blues were noted visiting Squinancywort, Hawkbits, Carline Thistle and Wild Basil.

19 August 2011
The bottom of Mill Hill was covered in Adonis Blues and Meadow Browns. My transect count was 74 Adonis Blues, 9 Chalkhill Blue, 1 Common Blue, 16 Gatekeeper, 68 Meadow Browns, 17 Small Heath, plus a Green Woodpecker.

Report by Colin Knight on Sussex Butterflies

14 August 2011
On a overcast but pleasant (19.1 °C SW Force 4) autumn late morning was bracing for a walk but inimical for butterflies which were 50% hiding but still commonly fluttering about on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. Meadow Browns were very frequently seen, with 65 Adonis Blues (including one female), 37 Chalkhill Blues (including one female), an estimated 10+ Common Blues (40% females), an estimated 35+ Small Heaths, a few of the last Gatekeepers, one Small Copper (not basking), one female Brimstone Butterfly (it appears white in flight), one Wall Brown amongst the Tor Grass (which was popular shelter for all species), and at least two Treble-bar Moths.
The first Carline Thistle was flowering on the lower slopes. A male Kestrel flew at low level over the hay meadow to the west of and below Mill Hill.
 Carline Thistle
Adonis Blue
Meadow Brown (male) 

Amongst the scrub there were frequent Speckled Woods and one Large White, on the middle slopes frequent Common Blues, at least one Adonis Blue and frequent Meadow Browns. A Shrew darted rapidly across a path to the north-west of the upper copse. At least two fresh Common Darters were noted and they could have been more. Autumn Gentian was commonly budding and some were flowering. The Plantain was in the Bramble-covered meadow north of the upper car park. The meadow hosted a dozen plus Common Blues but it and the nearby meadows were much poorer than in previous years.  The flowering umbels of Greater Burnet Saxifrage were frequently seen.
Adur Butterfly & Moth List 2011
Wild Carrot and Burnet Saxifrage (Umbellifers)
11 August 2011
Robber Fly preying on a Chalkhill Blue Butterfly on Mill Hill. 
  Adur Flies

3 August 2011
A slow amble over the middle slopes of Mill Hill in the post midday sunshine (22.8 °C) saw me venture in glades and thorn off my usual path, noting that Kidney Vetch was frequently seen in a small area (south of the Triangle) when only occasional flowers had been seen before. It was amongst abundant Wild Basil and clumps of Marjoram and this area attracted four male Chalkhill Blues and a pair of courting second brood Dingy Skippers (of five seen in under an hour). A Chalkhill Blue was noted visiting Plantain and Wild Basil. Common Blues were the most frequent butterfly with over 70 blue males seen. Other butterflies were frequent Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers and Small Heaths, a few Large Whites, a few Wall Browns, one Peacock, one Comma, and a few Six-spotted Burnet Moths. Under the shade there were frequent Speckled Woods.
The meadow north of the car park (which was usually so good for Common Blues) was now invaded by Brambles and a Common Ink Cap mushroom grew from a dried out cow pat (which should have degraded months ago).
Unusually, I rapidly (>15 minutes) traversed the transect acre of the lower slopes, counting 42 Chalkhill Blues (just one female) two male Adonis Blues, one Marbled White, and the usual Common Blues, Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, Small Heaths and one Treble-bar Moth.
Adur Butterfly & Moth List 2011

1 August 2011
As I was not happy with my one acre transect count on Mill Hill the previous day, I went to the lower slopes and made a fresh count in very good conditions (humid, weak sunshine, 20.2 °C, ESE Force 4) and in the 20 minutes (timed) it took me to amble along the transect, I counted 58 Chalkhill Blues (including six females). The count included one mating pair. Although this has been typical of the last couple of years, it was only a tenth the total of a good year and below par even for poor years. The first of three second brood male Adonis Blues showed, and without trying half a dozen second brood Dingy Skippers, including courting pairs, fluttered into view. This was more that usual years when only a few are seen.

Chalkhill Blues on Mill Hill (two mating, and one paired male visting Squinancywort)

There were the expected frequent Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, Common Blues and Small Heaths, a few Large Whites  and one yellow Brimstone Butterfly. I sat down above the winding path (the transect are is south of the path) and watched a further 20 Chalkhill Blues including a mating pair that flew close enough to be photographed. Amongst the Brambles next to the path at the northern end of the lower slopes there was an unidentified butterfly that could conceivably have been a Brown Hairstreak.

I returned by the quickest ridge route and noted on the top part of the hill two male Chalkhill Blues, enough Common Blues to indicate they must be common in the top meadows.  A Wall Brown fluttered over me. A Brown Argus on the southern part of the Mill Hill was unusual in the location it was spotted.
Eleven species
Adur Butterfly & Moth List 2011

The first Clouded Yellow of the year was seen patrolling the bottom slopes of Mill Hill right by the boundary hedge and was one of 19 species in the afternoon including 60 Chalkhill Blues, six Adonis Blues and five Wall Browns.
Full Report
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

Report by Mark Senior on UK Butterflies (August 2011 Sightings)

31 July 2011
At the usual peak date for Chalkhill Blues on Mill Hill I went directly to the lower slopes in the late morning arriving on the slopes at 11:15 am and although a male Chalkhill Blue appeared immediately at the southern end, butterflies were frequently seen but not common. In the next 25 minutes I ambled along the one acre transect, I disturbed 33 male and four female Chalkhill Blues, two Small Heaths, occasional Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, and Large Whites, four Common Blues, and a Wall Brown. I sat down for 15 minutes (timed) and when I looked around I noted a further 25 male Chalkhill Blues in flight. When I got up and moved around I noted 35 male Chalkhill Blues, and most of these appeared fresh and could have just emerged. This was a poor total of 72 Chalkhill Blues on the lower slopes.
A further eight Small Heaths, more Common Blues were also seen, and without making more than a cursory attempt to search, I discovered at least half a dozen second brood Dingy Skippers, five on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, and one whilst looking for a Brown Argus on the middle slopes in the the Triangle area amongst the Wild Basil. There could have easily been more. The scrub and copse added six Speckled Woods and a Peacock Butterfly. The middle slopes also added frequent Meadow Browns, a female Chalkhill Blue, a female Common Blue and a few Six-spotted Burnet Moths and another Wall Brown. The top meadows added a Brimstone, a Brown Argus, and frequent Common Blues. There was a male Chalkhill Blue on the Old Erringham pasture.
Summary Butterfly Report

Small Scabious was seen on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, and Autumn Gentian was very common on the middle slopes and upper part of the hill. I saw my first Round-headed Rampion of the year in flower on the upper plateau.

28 July 2011
A targeted search of the slopes and upper glades of Mill Hill produced 12 Dingy Skippers, this being by far the strongest second brood showing I have ever seen. The knock-on effects of the unusually warm spring may yet produce more unexpected events in the late summer and autumn butterfly calendar.

Report by Neil Hulme on Sussex Butterflies
Adur Skippers

Common Blue (female)27 July 2011
Approaching would should be the peak period for the Chalkhill Blues on Mill Hill with hundreds, perhaps thousands fluttering around, it was dire that I only saw a fleeting view of one male in half an hour on the one acre transect. It was cloudy and there was a low frequency of any butterflies about on the lower slopes around midday and these had to be disturbed. On and over the lower slopes there were frequent white butterflies probably Large Whites, 3+ Meadow Browns, 3+ Gatekeepers, 2+ Red Admirals, one Marbled White, 1+ Speckled Woods, four Common Blues (two of each gender), a probable Brimstone Butterfly, one Treble-bar Moth and frequent pyralid moths Pyrausta nigrata and at least one Pyrausta purpuralis. It was so disappointing, that I quickly left by the quickest ridge route where I encountered a definite Brimstone Butterfly, one Wall Brown, 2+ Gatekeepers, on the vegetated path, and another male Common Blue and Meadow Brown on the meadows south of the Reservoir.
Adur Butterfly & Moth List 2011

24 July 2011
Occasionally the sun shone through the gaps in the clouds, but it was too cool for most butterflies. It was a few minutes before I spotted my first butterfly on the lower slopes (descending from the south): a second brood Wall Brown briefly visited a Violet. Perhaps, the most notable observation were six Brimstone Butterflies, three of each gender over the central area of Wild Basil and St. John's Wort. In the transect acre, I disturbed just nine male Chalkhill Blues as the sun had gone behind the clouds, with at least three Meadow Browns, one Gatekeeper, two Large Whites, one Comma, and at least one pyralid moth Pyrausta nigrata amongst the jumping grasshoppers. In the Hawthorn scrub, I noted a few Speckled Woods and a larger than normal Red Admiral settled.

By the time I reached the middle slopes of Mill Hill about 1:00 pm, there was a rising flock of twenty Rooks and a large black cloud over Erringham Hill. I heard a Skylark sing but I could not see the bird, only a House Martin and a Magpie. Typically, flitting from one stem head to another my first pristine Brown Argus of the year showed amongst the Marjoram to the north of the Triangle area of the middle slopes of Mill Hill Nature Reserve. It was accompanied by a fresh male Common Blue. The top part of Mill Hill was now very scrubby and as I hurriedly crossed there were very few butterflies: a Large White, nine Gatekeepers (five around one Ragwort flower), six Meadow Browns and a Speckled Wood. I noted that Ragwort was more frequently seen than in previous years on the southern part of Mill Hill.
Summary Butterfly Report

The condition of Mill Hill was giving me and other visitors cause for concern because of the amount of dog excrement and remaining cow pats do nothing to discourage dog owners leaving their mess behind. Creeping Thistles, Ragwort and Brambles have increased on the top part of the hill and there is more discarded litter than I have seen before. The blue butterflies have decreased from thousands to just a hundred or so. 

22 July 2011
I headed off to Mill Hill to get my weekly butterfly transect done while the sun was shining. More Chalkhill Blues emerged, including some large specimens. There was a second brood of Adonis Blue. A big surprise was second brood Dingy Skippers. I also saw a Grass Snake slither away into the Brambles.
The count was 5 Adonis Blue, 1 Brimstone, 1 Brown Argus, 9 Chalkhill Blue, 1 Comma, 1 Common Blue, 2 Dingy Skipper, 6 Gatekeeper, 1 Large White, 2 Marbled White, 7 Meadow Brown, 8 Peacock, 7 Red Admiral, 2 Small Heath, 4 Wall Brown.

Report by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards

15 July 2011
A blue sky but a rather cool day for July, 19.2 °C at midday: so this meant the blue butterflies were not actively flying. On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, Gatekeepers were frequent (over 40) and amorously lively, just two male Chalkhill Blues were disturbed, and there were two definite male Common Blues which looked appreciably smaller, one resting Treble-bar Moth, a few Meadow Browns, one Marbled White, and four Peacock Butterflies. I returned by one of the quicker routes noting only more Gatekeepers.
Adur Butterfly & Moth List 2011

Chalkhill Blue (male)10 July 2011
On a cloudy day, the first male Chalkhill Blue Butterfly of the year flew about quickly, noted only landing briefly on the yellow flowers of Bird's Foot Trefoil and hiding amongst the leaves of Horseshoe Vetch, on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, There were occasionally other butterflies: occasional Gatekeepers, Large Whites, and Green-veined Whites, one Red Admiral, a few Meadow Browns, one flying Burnet Moth, a few Yellow Shell Moths and one Brimstone Butterfly. I only visited the lower slopes. The yellow of Hawkbit, Bird's Foot Trefoil and Yellow Wort covered the slopes.
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Full Butterfly Report

4 July 2011
On a very pleasant sunny day (18.0 °C) with a slight breeze, on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, there was no sign of the first Chalkhill Blues, just the occasional Marbled Whites, frequent Small Heaths and Meadow Browns. The three pyralid moths were also seen: Pyrausta nigrata, Pyrausta purpuralis and Pyrausta despicata.
Stemless Thistle were beginning to flower and their prickly leaves could be felt when sitting down.

2 July 2011
It has still not warmed up with the air temperature only reaching 17.3 °C at 1:00 pm feeling warmer when the sun pierced the cloud cover. And on the lower slope of Mill Hill, the first Chalkhill Blue was yet to appear (the first one had been seen elsewhere in Sussex). There were frequent Marbled White Butterflies (including a mating pair), frequent Small Heaths, occasional Meadow Browns, occasional Large Whites and one worn Peacock Butterfly on the lower slopes. In the scrub there was frequent Meadow Browns, occasional fresh Red Admirals, occasional Gatekeepers and at least three Comma Butterflies. On the top of the hill, there were a few more Small Heaths, Red Admirals, Marbled Whites and Large Whites.
The lower slopes were covered in yellow flowers which I think were mostly Lesser Hawkbit. Grasshoppers were stridulating loudly and constantly.
Full Butterfly Report

30 June 2011
On an overcast afternoon, I visited Mill Hill in the off-chance that I would see my first Chalkhill Blue recorded in June (as the indicator flowers were about one week earlier than 2010). None were seen and as an aside, I did note six Marbled Whites, two Small Heaths, two Meadow Browns and a few Large Whites on the lower slopes. There were also pyralid moths seen occasionally flitting over the herbage, with Pyrausta despicata occasionally seen and at least one Pyrausta nigrata. My first of the year Cinnabar Moth caterpillar was seen on a budding Ragwort plant.
Violets with purple spurs and rounded sepals (thought to be Sweet Violets) were occasionally seen on the southern end of the lower slopes as well a frequent Dog Violets. Squinancywort was seen for the first time this year. The frequent Musk Thistles on the cleared scrub area was a particular attraction for the Marbled Whites. A Common Inkcap (fungus) was seen next to a dried cow pat.

27 June 2011
On a hot and humid morning, the lower slopes of Mill Hill hosted 15+ Marbled White Butterflies, 12+ Small Heaths, two Large Whites, at least four Meadow Browns, one Comma, one Burnet Moth and two Red Admirals (the latter at the southern steps). I only visited the lower slopes, but on the southern part of Mill Hill there were two more Marbled Whites, another Small Heath, a Yellow Shell Moth and a Cinnabar Moth. There were more sightings of Marbled Whites, but these were excluded as they were thought to be the same butterfly seen twice.
A new blooming of violets made their regular appearance in summer but there is a puzzle over which species they are, with pointed sepals (like the Dog Violet) and a whitish-purple spur (with a shape like that of a Sweet Violet). On the cleared land north of the path on the lower slopes, Great Mullein was frequent, with Musk Thistle, and Perforate St. John's Wort all flowering.
Adur Violets

Common Broomrape24 June 2011
On an overcast day, the sun shone briefly and the breeze was still a Force 5.
Predictably, butterflies were hiding. A Red Admiral rose from the southern part of Mill Hill. On the wind swept lower slopes, I recorded nine Small Heaths, two Meadow Browns, one Marbled White and a Common Blue. In the Hawthorn scrub, there was a Large White, two Meadow Browns and a Comma. Battered by gusts on the top another Large White, another Marbled White and a Yellow Shell Moth showed.
Taken 18 June 2011


Yellow Rattle 
Red Bartsia

Parasitic plants were very much in evidence on Mill Hill, with Common Broomrape*, Orobanche minor, (? ID ?) added to my local flora list, as well as Yellow Rattle, Red Bartsia and Eyebright. Other new flowers included Centaury, Meadow Cranesbill, Field Scabious and Melilot (species not identified). Yellow Wort was partially opened despite the cloudy conditions and frequently seen in flower on the lower slopes. Smooth Sow-thistle, Sonchus oleraceus, was seen under the top copse.
(* In 2012, Brianne Reeve suggested this was Knapweed Broomrape, Orobanche elatior.)
Butterfly Report

21 June 2011
I finally found a sunny window in the morning to do my weekly butterfly transect at Mill Hill with the following result: two Common Blue females, two Green-veined White, one Large Skipper, three Marbled White, four Meadow Brown, seven Small Heath, one Small Tortoiseshell, and one Small White.
It was interesting to watch a Buzzard soaring overhead carrying a Pheasant and a Kestrel looking for its next meal. There were many Pyramidal Orchids in flower.

Report by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards
Buzzard (Natural Heritage, Scotland)
Buzzard (Birdguides)
Do Buzzards eat Game Birds? (Bird Forum)

18 June 2011
Blown up the downs by a  WSW Force 6 Strong Breeze (28 mph) gusting to Fresh Gale (Force 8) which  nearly blew me off my feet, the conditions were far from optimum for butterflies and I would not have been surprised if I had not seen any at all. The original intention was see the Bee Orchids on the verge at the bottom of Mill Hill Road but they were not present. However, the wind behind me was so strong that it was not a struggle to ascend the hill by the road. Wild Thyme was notable on the lower slopes of Mill Hill and this may have also attracted a good condition Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly. It flew away because I was there. The first of two Yellow Shell Moths on the transect flew amongst the Brambles. Small Heath Butterflies were amorous with 15 counted and ten on them seen simultaneously in the middle of the lower slopes beneath the path. It was here I saw my only Marbled White Butterfly and my first of the year. Pyralid moths were occasionally seen flitting over the herbage, with Pyrausta nigrata, Pyrausta pupuralis and Pyrausta despicata definitely identified. Grasshoppers were common. Bird's Foot Trefoil was noted but the Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, flowers had now disappeared; their curly brown seed pods could still be seen amongst the prostrate ground flora.
A Robin's Pin Cushion on Bramble with Perforate St. John's Wort A Robin's Pin Cushion
on Bramble with Perforate St. John's Wort

A Robin's Pin Cushion was seen on a Bramble. The Magpies were making a lot of noise and these may have been newly fledged youngsters. I returned by the ridge route because of the adverse weather conditions and noted five more Yellow Shell Moths.
Adur Butterfly & Moth List 2011
11 June 2011
Cucumber Spider, Araniella cucurbitina, on Mill Hill.  Adur Spiders

At Mill Hill, I saw and photographed my first Marbled White Butterfly of the year. I also spotted a Common Heath Moth, Ematurga atomaria.

Adur Butterflies: First Dates

31 May 2011
Swallows are coming in. I saw my first of the year against the cloudy sky and later four of them swooped low over the top of Mill Hill as I felt the first drops of rain. A female Pheasant whirred from what used to be a meadow and is now a bramble-covered temporary pasture. Despite the poor conditions there were still butterflies on the lower slopes of the hill, with 14 shredded and tatty Adonis Blues (with two good condition females) disturbed, and a probable Meadow Brown which I am satisfied it was my first of the year and the first one I have seen personally in the month of May. Eight Small Heaths were seen on the transect and a pristine Small Tortoiseshell. By the time I reached the Hawthorn scrub and middles slopes I hurried in the intermittent drizzle and did not see any more butterflies. There was lots of bird song with Wrens chittering amongst the small trunks of Hawthorn. Yellow Wort was seen in flower for the first time this year on the lower slopes, the first yellow Great Mullein flower on the southern steps to the lower slopes, and the first flowering Musk Thistle on the brim of the ridge near the Reservoir. On the southern part of Mill Hill, a single Yellow Rattle was showing its first flowers.
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

The Sussex Butterflies web pages contain further reports and photographs from Mill Hill

20 May 2011
The first butterfly of the day was a male Common Blue on the southern part of Mill Hill. A weak sun shone through the clouds for the 20 minutes it took me to complete the 1.2 acre transect on the lower slopes of Mill Hill recording 46 Adonis Blues (including seven females and one pair attempting to mate), four Small Heaths, one male Brimstone Butterfly, one confirmed Large White as it settled on a Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, flower, one tattered Peacock Butterfly, and one Green Hairstreak. All the butterflies were reasonably lively in the afternoon, buffeted by a Force 5 from the south-west, and there were a handful more Adonis Blues off transect. There was a Wall Brown and two Speckled Woods in the Hawthorn scrub, where I heard a pair of Chiffchaffs singing before I saw one of the small birds fly up into the low thorn canopy. Two more Adonis Blues fluttered over the Horseshoe Vetch on the middle slopes Triangle area, but the sun had gone behind the cloud by I had reached the top of the hill and all the butterflies were now hidden, although I caught sight of another Peacock before it disappeared under a Bramble leaf.
Full Butterfly Report

Common Blue Butterfly (male)16 May 2011
Because I omitted to visit the upper part of Mill Hill the previous day, I trekked up in identical cool and breezy conditions and wandered over the middle slopes and the former meadows near the top car park and recorded 37 Common Blue Butterflies (33 males 4 females), my first Cinnabar Moth of the year, one Small Heath Butterfly, a flying Wall Brown, two Speckled Yellow Moths and a few of the tiny pyralid moths Pyrausta nigrata.

Sea Campion was noted by a path at the northern extreme of Mill Hill Nature Reserve. In contrast to the lower slopes the amount of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, in the Triangle are of the middle slopes was as luxurious as usual and even on the top plateau (south of the upper car park) the swathes were much better than 2010. Eyebright poked their pretty little flowers up from a clump of Bird's Foot Trefoil leaves on an ant's mound in the Triangle middle slopes of Mill Hill. On the top of Mill Hill, a single Greater Knapweed was in almost full flower, and amongst the Brambles I saw a Greater Bird's Foot Trefoil in flower.  (I omitted to visit the lower slopes and Hawthorn scrub.)
Adur Butterfly & Moth List 2011

15 May 2011
On a cool (>15.1 °C) cloudy day I visited Mill Hill and despite being buffeted about by a WNW Moderate Breeze (Force 4) the first butterflies to attract my attention were a couple of courting Holly Blues by a hedge to the south-west of the bridge over the A27 (top of the Pixie Path). On the southern part of Mill Hill, a handful of new male Common Blue Butterflies were the first I had seen this year. Going to to the steps to the lower slopes from the southern end, the north-westerly direction of the wind made conditions poor for butterflies on the exposed slope. Almost all of them were hiding or resting, and on the 1.2 acre transect I disturbed exactly 100 Adonis Blues (88 males and 12 females) in 25 minutes. None of them was flying until I arrived. One Small Heath was seen out of the corner of my eye, one Green-veined White was actively fluttering around but disappeared for five minutes, and the five Dingy Skippers were seen in flight, three of them at eye level. I also disturbed two Yellow Shell Moths and one Treble-bar Moth. There were occasional micro-moths but none of the normal pyralids were observed. Because of energy sapping wind and the first spots of rain I did not wander around Mill Hill as usual but remained on the lower slopes for half an hour noting almost as many more (estimated 60 more seen) Adonis Blues on the steeper slopes above the winding path, including 15 more females, two courting pairs, but none of them were seen mating. Two females seem to discourage the amorous advances of the now worn and damaged blue males and crawled over the leaves of Horseshoe Vetch looking to lay their eggs. Small grasshoppers were frequently seen and they were heard stridulating. Occasional Honey Bees visited the Horseshoe Vetch, their weight folding the small flowers over.
Adur Butterfly List 2011

Adonis Blue (female)

This year the expanse of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, on the lower slopes was extremely disappointing. It was already past its prime and the flowers were only showing about 20% of their usual brilliance after an extended dry spring. The spiral horseshoe seed pods were commonly seen. On the lower slopes the first Dropwort was seen in flower, there was still frequent Dog Violets and the inevitable Milkwort, and the miniature Fairy Flax with their flowers closed in the cool overcast conditions. A flowering Dogwood was also seen on the lower slopes. The first Lesser Hawkbit, Leontodon taraxacoides, of the year, was seen near to the gate to the Old Erringham pasture. On the edge of Mill Hill Road, Sea Campion was noted for the first time in Mill Hill Nature Reserve. Fumitory was almost about to flower and this delicate plant was hidden in the undergrowth by the path as it winds its way through the Hawthorn at the northern end of the lower slopes.

Horseshoe Vetch starts flowering in middle to late April, peaks in mid-May, continues in profusion for about a week and is usually all over by the first week in June.
Flowering Dates of Horseshoe Vetch

It is surmised that the failure of the flowering Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, on the shallow soil lower slopes of Mill Hill was because of the driest Spring on record.
Met Office Rainfall Statistics for the Spring of 2011

13 May 2011
I visited Mill Hill to do my weekly butterfly transect. It was a warm day with cloud and sun pushing through and I recorded: 182 Adonis Blues, two Brimstone Butterflies, six Dingy Skipper, four Green Hairstreak, two Grizzled Skipper, three Holly Blues, and two Large Whites. The Adonis Blues were mating all over the lower part of the hill.

Report by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards

10 May 2011
We had an evening stroll after work up to Mill Hill, Shoreham, to see what delights awaited us. We were not disappointed. We found one Dingy Skipper, two Grizzled Skipper, two Cinnabar Moths (the first of the year), about ten Small Heath and about fifty Adonis Blues.

Report by Nick Linazasoro & Martin Fuller on Sussex Butterflies

8 May 2011
On a cool (13.6 °C) and cloudy day, there was a Gentle Breeze (Force 3) but no gaps in the clouds for the sun to shine. There was just one Dingy Skipper seen in active flight on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, but I disturbed 41 male Adonis Blues in 20 minutes, invisible amongst the Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, until I almost trod on them and I also spotted seven more resting with their wings open before fluttering off at my approach. Previous estimates that in these conditions that there will be three times as many Adonis Blues resting and unseen and one male Adonis Blue was seen resting with its wings closed unusually on a small Privet and it was not about to fly away even if approached to 100 mm with a camera. So on the 1.2 acre transect the estimate (3 x 41 + 7=) was 130 Adonis Blues extrapolated over the five acres by three times to 390 on Mill Hill. The first glimpse of fluttering on the lower slopes was my first of the year Yellow Shell Moth, and first of two seen, and also one of the Treble-bar Moths. After it began to spit with rain, I avoided the scrub and wandered over the middle slopes where I notes my first two Silver Y Moths of the year. I disturbed a Peacock Butterfly on the southern part of Mill Hill on the verges of the road.

Adonis Blue (male)
 Bird's Foot Trefoil
Horseshoe Vetch
Adonis Blue (male)

Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, was abundant on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, but at a few days away from its full bloom. There were also small amounts on the middle slopes (the Triangle) and on the plateau to the south of the upper car park. The amount on the plateau was much less than before the cattle grazing and included the occasional Bird's Foot Trefoil, the first area on the hill in which this plant was seen in flower. There were still dried cow pats all over the place and they were a great nuisance. On the ridge by a warren of Rabbit burrows, Elderberry was beginning to flower. White Campion was in flower near the Reservoir on Mill Hill. Dropwort was budding on the lower slopes.
Flowering Dates of Horseshoe Vetch

7 May 2011
I did my weekly transect at Mill Hill in the morning and counted 1 Holly Blue, 2 Brimstone Butterflies, 7 Small Heath, 23 Dingy Skipper, 112 Adonis Blue. Most of these were at the bottom of the hill, though I did see Dingy Skippers and Adonis Blue by the top car park. The hill was covered by Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, and I saw a Green Hairstreak, 2 Small Coppers, 2 Grizzled Skippers and a Red Admiral.

Report by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards

1 May 2011
On a cool breezy day, the Adonis Blues were emerging from the herbs as I strolled along my 1.2 acre transect on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. In 25 minutes I recorded 31 (including four females) and as I waited about eight minutes for the Small Copper to appear, another nine fluttered by. The other butterflies recorded on the transect were one male Orange-tip, six Brimstones, 21 Dingy Skippers, eight Grizzled Skippers, six Green-veined Whites,  two Green Hairstreaks (the most I have seen in a day), three Peacocks, five Small Heaths, and two Wall Browns at the southern end. A half a dozen Treble-bar Moths were counted, some of them hiding amongst the new growths of Privet. On the rest of Mill Hill, I recorded four Holly Blues, two more Dingy Skippers, two strong flying Brimstones, two more Wall Browns leaving Mill Hill and fluttering over Old Erringham pasture, five Speckled Woods in amongst the Hawthorn, a courting pair of Adonis Blues, two Green-veined Whites that obliged me by remaining still for a few seconds each, and one Red Admiral.
Fourteen butterfly species on Mill Hill
Adur Butterfly List 2011

Beautiful Demoiselle
Adonis Blue (female)
Grizzled Skipper

A female Beautiful Demoiselle, Calopteryx virgo, (a damselfly) fluttered like a butterfly over the Brambles south of the Copse at the top of Mill Hill Nature Reserve.

29 April 2011
My first of a handful of male Adonis Blues were seen this year on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, together with my first of frequent Small Heaths, my first dainty Small Copper at the northern end of the lower slopes, my second Green Hairstreak of the year on Brambles in the same area, 27+ Dingy Skippers, two Grizzled Skippers and a notable record of Brimstone Butterflies mating. There were also occasional male Orange-tips, a Wall Brown, more Brimstones, frequent Green-veined Whites, occasional Large Whites, Speckled Woods and Holly Blues on Mill Hill. A larger medium-sized Treble-bar Moth was noted.

Link to Colin Knight's report and better photographs
Adonis Blue
Small Copper
Brimstone Butterflies

First of the year flower appearances noted were Bird's Foot Trefoil on the (now) pastures of Mill Hill, NW of the upper car park, and Hounds-tongue on the lower slopes. A dozen Jackdaws fossicked over the yellow carpet of Bulbous Buttercups on the Old Erringham pasture. On the lower slopes the flowers of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, were abundant but at least a week (probably more) from showing like a carpet of yellow. The first very small green-coloured grasshoppers were hopping around amongst the herbs a especially at the southern end of the lower slopes where the Horseshoe Vetch was making a comeback after the Privet had been cleared. A female Broad-bodied Chaser patrolled over the Brambles south of the Copse at the top of Mill Hill Nature Reserve in the same area as three days previously.
Full Butterfly Report
Flowering Dates of Horseshoe Vetch
Colin Knight's Report of the Day (Link to Sussex Postcards)

26 April 2011
I visited Mill Hill in the afternoon and saw scores of Dingy Skippers, on the lower slopes it seemed as if there was one every few feet! Also a fair number of Grizzled Skippers, Small Heaths (including one mating pair) and a few Brimstones and Peacocks. The male Adonis Blues (first of the year) are just starting to emerge and I got a photo of a nice pristine specimen. Also one Small Copper (first of the year) and one Wall Brown. But alas no Green Hairstreaks!

Report by John Williams on Sussex Butterflies

The Sussex Butterflies web pages contain further reports and photographs from Mill Hill

On a breezy (Force 4 to 5) cool (>16.0 °C ) day, I made a quick visit to Mill Hill, with the west-facing lower slopes partially sheltered from the northerly wind. The Blackthorn had ceased and the Hawthorn was beginning to flower.

The scrub at the north-west end of Mill Hill Nature Reserve

A 30 minute walk over the 1.2 transect on the lower slopes instantly produced the first of three Grizzled Skippers, but most skippers in flight were Dingy Skippers with at least 25 and a few of these turned out to be Burnet Companion Moths. There were thousands of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, in flower on the lower slopes but nothing like its peak occurrence. A large greenish-white female Brimstone Butterfly visited Milkwort which had largely replaced the Dog Violets. Pyralid moths were occasionally seen flitting over the herbage, with Pyrausta nigrata and Pyrausta despicata definitely identified. Crane-flies, Tipula, were mating.

Brimstone Butterfly
Crane Flies
Horseshoe Vetch

An early Wall Brown Butterfly (my first of the year) was seen fluttering over the everlasting cow pats of what was recently a wild flower meadow, now a Bramble-covered pasture on Mill Hill, NW of the upper car park. This was shortly followed by a few Large Red Damselflies  and my first dragonfly of the year which was a female Broad-bodied Chaser flying over the Brambles.
A Common Carpet Moth was seen amongst Bramble on the middle slopes. I returned a meandering route through the scrub and grass of the middle area of Mill Hill without spotting anything of note.
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

24 April 2011
The rarely recorded day-flying mico-moth Elachista biatomella was caught and identified by Tony Davis on Mill Hill and an evening moth trap caught 37 other species of moths including four Barred Tooth-striped Moths. Whilst trapping in the evening we were serenaded by a Nightingale and a Cetti's Warbler, Cettia cetti.

Report by Dave and Penny Green and Tony Davis on Sussex Butterflies

The first Small Heath Butterfly of the year was seen on Mill Hill. The slope was covered in Dingy Skippers. I spotted Brimstones, Peacocks, Orange-tips, Large Whites, a Speckled Wood, and three Grizzled Skippers. Two Holly Blues were seen in a woodland path at the top. A Burnet Companion Moth was spotted. A Buzzard patrolled overhead.

Report by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

17 April 2011
Spring arrived on a sunny day (14.5 °C) visit to Mill Hill where the first flowers of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, appeared on the lower slopes with another prostrate downland herb Milkwort. All of the few Horseshoe Vetch flowers and occasional  Daisies were covered in tiny black beetles Meligethes, and the slightly larger shiny green beetle Cryptocephalus crawled amongst the vegetation. By the path Germander Speedwell was seen for the first time this year. Salad Burnet was beginning to flower.
Flowering Dates of Horseshoe Vetch

Salad Burnet
Horseshoe Vetch
Green Hairstreak
Salad Burnet
Horseshoe Vetch
Green Hairstreak Butterfly

Brimstone Butterflies flew strongly over all parts of Mill Hill, with 15 recorded of both genders. Peacock Butterflies were similarly widespread with at least six counted but I think there were more. On the lower slopes the skippers were occasionally seen both Dingy Skippers (including a courting pair) and Grizzly Skippers, plus a Green-veined White. A fluttering amongst the bramble on the middle part of Mill Hill was recognised as the locally scarce Green Hairstreak Butterfly. On the carpet of dried cattle excrement which was once a meadow on the upper part of Mill Hill, I noted a Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly. A strong buzzing noise announced the arrival of a Bee-fly to the expanse of Cowslips at the northern end of the middle slopes. Unfortunately, it buzzed off without resting its wings and I could not discern if was the common species or the rarer Dotted Bee-fly. The first of two Red-tailed Bumblebees, Bombus lapidarius, disappeared into a small hole on the lower slopes of Mill Hill.
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Bumblebees 2011

12 April 2011
I could not miss the chance to see the Adders, Vipera berus, and they were located* on the lower part of Mill Hill about mid-way along under the scrub at the bottom (west) of the slopes. I saw four separate Adders, two were black, one was dark and another was almost silver with the black triangles. I assume the writhings of the two Adders were copulation. I got within two metres of them without disturbing their mating embrace under the Brambles, which I observed through my binoculars.  The silver one was the most impressive as it slithered through the undergrowth.

(* discovered with the help of Colin Knight).

Adderation (by Colin Knight) Link

If you or someone else has been bitten by a snake, you should follow the advice outlined on the web page below and seek medical attention by visiting the nearest Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department or dialling 999 to request an ambulance if it is a medical emergency (shock).

NHS Adder Bites

Orange-tip Butterfly visiting a Dog Violet (early afternoon)
Grizzled Skipper
Orange-tip Butterfly
Grizzled Skipper
Violet Cosmet Moths
Dingy Skipper

I also discovered the first of at least six Dingy Skippers and at least nine Grizzled Skippers, two Green-veined White Butterflies, a few Peacock Butterflies, and as I was leaving a male Orange-tip Butterfly made hurried visits to the abundant Dog Violets. Pyralid moths were also frequently (30+ actually noted) seen flitting over the herbage, with frequent Pyrausta nigrata , a few  Pyrausta purpuralis, and Pyrausta despicata definitely identified. The tiny Violet Cosmet Moths, Pancalia leuwenhoekella, were frequently seen on Daisies. Occasional Common Bee-flies flitted around and although they did not settle for positive identification, I think they were all the common species. Cowslips and Ground Ivy were noted on the lower slopes. The frequent dried cow pats were a considerable nuisance.
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Skippers

Three Adders (Photograph by Colin Knight)11 April 2011
At Mill Hill I was rewarded by a fantastic display by at least four Adders. A large brown female was mating with a 'white' adder. A black Adder then appeared but decided not to interfere. The pair disappeared into the bushes, then two black Adders twisted about each other while rearing up to determine dominance. All this occurred in the same spot.
Two Whitethroats sang fiercely at each other at the top of the hill. There were just a few Dingy Skippers and 10 Grizzled Skippers which were nectaring on Dandelions.

Report by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards
Moth Report from Mill Hill (by Dave and Penny Green)

10 April 2011
I called in at Mill Hill to see what the butterflies were up to. John was already there, followed by Chris. As there were quite a number of Dingy Skippers in flight including pairs in aerial combat, I called Neil Hulme. Richard, Dan and Cherie also arrived to make for a 'flutter' of butterfly fanciers. A guy from Scotland completed the party and we were able to show him both Dingy and Grizzled Skippers. Neil reported that he had seen a pair of Adders, Vipera berus, together the previous day, one a black Adder. We came across the same pair plus another one.

Report and Photograph by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards

9 April 2011

Mill Hill showing the Blackthorn in bloom and
Common Gulls in flight over the River Adur
View from the west

8 April 2011
In April the extent of the Blackthorn scrub on Mill Hill have be easily discerned by the patches of white flowers before the Hawthorn blooms. Dog Violets flowered in abundance on the lower slopes bathed in a weak sunshine with some Sweet Violets remaining. The Dog Violets were in greater profusion than the earlier Sweet Violets.

Top Copse at Mill Hill showing the Blackthorn in bloom
View from the south-east

Dog VioletsOn the lower slopes of Mill Hill, Peacock Butterflies were frequent, with occasional Brimstone Butterflies, including a mating pair. I nearly fell over my first Grizzled Skipper visiting a Dandelion. Colin Knight spotted and photographed a Dingy Skipper and this may be the first report of this small butterfly in England this year. Pyralid moths were also frequently (25+ actually noted) seen flitting over the herbage, with Pyrausta nigrata and Pyrausta despicata definitely identified. The tiny dark insects on Common Daisies were Violet Cosmet Moths, Pancalia leuwenhoekella. There were probably scores of them, but I only noted a few. I only visited the lower slopes, where I noted both a Crow and a Rook together (just passing each other) in the air above the ridge. Later, Colin Knight reported a Burnet Companion Moth. He also saw a Comma on the upper part of the hill.
Skippers on Mill Hill (by Colin Knight)
Adur Skippers
Full Butterfly Report

7 April 2011
I was surprised by the number of Peacock Butterflies we saw all over Mill Hill, a total of 22. There was plenty of aerial fisticuffs, including one bunch of five flying together in a ball. We had a male and female Brimstone, two Small Tortoiseshells and one Grizzled Skipper at the bottom of the hill at 1:45 pm. Later I saw an Orange Tip flying west to east at the bottom of the hill following the shrub line, with two brief stops. A Buzzard soared overhead and Whitethroats were heard singing.

Report by  Colin Knight on Sussex Butterflies

3 April 2011
A Kestrel hovered over Mill Hill on an overcast day. The first glimpse of colour and movement was a pristine Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly, seen on straw on the southern part of Mill Hill and at least two more were seen on the lower slopes, again choosing straw as favoured landing spots. A few Peacock Butterflies (at least two) visited Dog Violets which were now the dominant species with  thousands of plants flowering on the lower slopes, all mixed up with the remaining Sweet Violets. A Brimstone Butterfly skirted the hedgerow at the bottom of the lower slopes. The small Pyrausta nigrata pyralid micro-moths were frequently seen (about a dozen actually observed) and one very faded Pyrausta purpuralis. This was the earliest in the year that they have been recorded. The yellow flowers were Dandelion but their leaves could not be seen. A Common Bee-Fly, Bombylius major, was also spotted amongst the Dog Violets, which were also visited by Carder Bees (bumblebees). I returned by the shortest ridge route. At least three spider webs were only noticeable amongst the ground flora because they were covered in dew.
Adur Violets
Moths that feed on Dandelions

2 April 2011
On Mill Hill I found my first Grizzled Skipper of the year, plus a couple of Peacock Butterflies.

Report by Neil Hulme on Sussex Butterflies
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Adur Skippers

29 March 2011
A careful examination of the Pancalia micro-moths on the lower slopes of Mill Hill revealed some (17) to be the Scarce Violet Cosmet, Pancalia schwarzella, (ID confirmed by Tony Davis, and the first Sussex records since 1931) rather than the common species Violet Cosmet, Pancalia leuwenhoekella. The latter species has a white band on its antennae. The Easter Fox Spider, Alopecosa barbipes, was also found.
I also found a nationally scarce carabid beetle Licinus depressus which has specially adapted jaws to feed on snails.

Full Report by Graeme Lyons on The Lyon's Den
Lyons Den: Mill Hill

25 March 2011
In the evening we lugged a generator and MV trap down to the bottom of Mill Hill to survey for Barred Tooth-stripe Moth (BTS) and see what else was around. Although one Barred Tooth-stripe flew to the light at 7:30, this was the only one that the MV attracted this time, whereas on previous visits good number have come to the trap. Between the trap and wandering around with nets we managed to record 14 moth species including 1 Oak Beauty, 8 Clouded Drab, 1 Red Chestnut and a few micros including a very pretty one with raised scales on its wings that we have tentatively identified as Acleris cristana. In addition to the BTS that visited our trap we found 21 resting on Privet, one resting on a grass stem and a final moth that landed on Penny as we were walking back up to the car with the trap. If anyone else goes to hunt for them, they were very obvious on the Privet about 20 meters above the northern end of the lower path, a couple of hours after sunset.

Report by Dave and Penny Green and Judith and Jim Steedman on Sussex Butterflies

22 March 2011
With a spell of sunshine I visited Mill Hill for the first time since January. A Brimstone Butterfly flew rapidly over the shorn southern part of Mill Hill Nature Reserve and over the lower slopes before disturbing a Peacock Butterfly on a Sweet Violet. The first Bee-fly of the year was seen on the southern steps to the lower slopes covered in abundant Sweet Violets visited by a few Honey Bees and occasional Peacock (about 6) and Brimstone Butterflies (at least 3). At least one faded Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly was spotted over the slopes cleared of Privet by the conservation workers.

A photograph showing the density of Sweet Violets on the lower slopes of Mill Hill
visited by a Brimstone Butterfly

The volunteer workers seemed to have made a good job of the clearance, but, alas, the Cattle had been allowed to venture down below the path and had left frequent cow pats drying in the sun. The southern part of the hill was appreciably shorn of vegetation, but the upper meadows were so covered in cow pats that walking through them would have been unpleasant. The Cattle had now been removed from Mill Hill. A few Queen Buff-tailed Bumblebees were seen.
Adur Butterfly List 2011
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Adur Butterfly Flight Times

Mill Hill 2011

12 January 2011
Cattle have been introduced by the South Downs Conservation Board* to the upper part of Mill Hill and a small herd were seen grazing on the southern part of the Nature Reserve. (* The South Downs National Park Authority will become operational on 1 April 2011.)

7 January 2011
As the first rays of sunshine of the year occurred for about an hour around midday, I ventured to Mill Hill for the first time for over a month.  It was squelchy and very slippery on the path down to the lower slopes, and as it levelled out the path contained a few puddles. Much of the Privet below (west of) the path had been cleared and much of this land was covered in fallen leaves. No flowers were seen apart from the dead heads of Carline Thistle.
The cleared southern part of the lower slopes of Mill Hill as viewed from the northern part of the lower slopes.
Moss on the lower slopes


Moss was noted as prevalent on the lower slopes, but not exclusive to Mill Hill and seen in the same amounts on the chalky grass roads verges in north Shoreham. The return ridge route was much less slippery. Over a dozen Rooks flew overhead.


Mill Hill Wildlife Reports 2010 (Link)


Identification of Grasses (Link)
Mill Hill Grasses


(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)
Green Hairstreak ( a few)

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.


The following was confirmed only in 2009: Green Hairstreak.

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


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.

17 August 2009
A possible (unconfirmed) Brown Hairstreak Butterfly was spotted.

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 2011 web pages

Link to the Adur 2010 Nature Notes pagesLink to the Adur Nature Notes 2009 web pages
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