Mill Hill (viewed from the Adur Levels in late July 2012)

Autumn Downland Butterflies (August):

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
Horseshoe Vetch (Photograph by Andy Horton)
Autumn Gentian
Horseshoe Vetch
Common Milkwort
Dog Violet
Autumn Gentian

Other indicators on the lower slopes include Dropwort, Autumn Ladies Tresses (upper plateau), Hairy Violet, all of which are rarely found on pastures, restored wildlife meadows or agricultural downland. Other downland plants that are more likely on the biodiverse down herbland are Wild Thyme, Carline Thistle, Stemless Thistle, Squinancywort, Fairy Flax, Small Scabious, Common Centaury and Wild Basil. There are other more widespread wild plants like the Mouse-eared Hawkweed, Hawkweeds, Autumnal Hawkbit, Bird's Foot Trefoil, Ground Ivy, Germander Speedwell, Field Speedwell, Sweet Violet, Self-heal and Yellow Wort.
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

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

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. 



OS Map

Map Geograph Satellite

More photographs can be found on Mill Hill at facebook
Supplementary Images Blog

Mill Hill 2013 Reports
10 December 2012
On a chilly day, a few clouds scattered across the sky. Mill Hill was muddy under foot and I only made a cursory visit to the southern part, descending the steps but not venturing on the lower slopes which were thought to be much too slippery without special walking boots. There was nothing of interest seen. Sheep grazed on the stubble of the hay meadow below Mill Hill. 

15 October 2012
With Cumulus clouds rushing across the sky, the weather was changeable, the sun shining through the gaps in the clouds for a few minutes on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, and I was subsequently battered by hail blowing horizontally (Force 4) from the west on the upper plateau. A male Kestrel hovered over Mill Hill, silhouetted by the changing cloud types.

 Common Darter
Common Darter 
 Carline Thistle & Dogwood Leaves

Altogether, there was very little of interest: dragonflies replaced butterflies and Common Darters were frequently seen with 14 counted and one large predatory Southern Hawker near the copse at the top of the hill. A Comma Butterfly rose from some blackberries. Flowers were scarce and most had turned to seed. Dogwood leaves had turned to a dark red and there was the feel of autumn with the fallen leaves under foot. Two Long-tailed Tits were noted in the scrub to the north of the lower slopes.
Shoreham Weather 2012

10 October 2012
I had no intention to visit Mill Hill when I left but a brief spell of sunshine and I made a detour. A Buzzard soared over the southern part of Mill Hill Nature Reserve and drifted over the New Erringham pasture to the east. A cloud obscured the warm rays of the sun when I descended to the lower slopes from the southern end. After the rain of the previous few days, I was not surprised to see both the algae Nostoc Commune and the White Dapperling mushroom on the lower slopes. On the bare patch south of the Reservoir a very large mushroom rose above the brown soil. I could not see a volva which ruled out Volvariella gloiocephala. I am not sure what species it is?  There were also small clumps of Stropharia coronilla (probable ID) nearby.

 Carline Thistle
 Autumn Gentian
 Unidentified Mushroom 
(without a volva)

I noted three Meadow Brown Butterflies, a Red Admiral and a Comma. The latter was disturbed when I was collecting blackberries and I did not see it until it moved after I picked the blackberry it was on. At least one Common Darter dragonfly was seen over the lower slopes.
Adur Fungi Report
Full Butterfly Report

4 October 2012
On the fourth day of the month the rain had stopped and it was worthwhile taking the camera out. It was relatively cool (> 15.7 °C) and a the blustery wind (Force 5 gusting to Force 6) from the WSW nearly blew me off the exposed lower slopes of Mill Hill. Conditions were such that I would not have been surprised if no butterflies appeared and this appeared to be the case until I saw my first flutter of a until I saw my first flutter of a Meadow Brown Butterfly (probably a Small Heath) in the Tor Grass, followed immediately by a Treble-Bar Moth and shortly afterwards a pristine Comma Butterfly simultaneously with two Meadow Brown Butterflies. Common Darters (dragonfly) frequently arose from the lower slopes of Mill Hill.
Full Butterfly Report

 White Dapperling
 Comma Butterfly
Lasioglossum species  morio ?

Wind swept, slightly muddy, and there were not many flowers. Carline Thistle mostly (90%) had silver leaves, but a few new green growths were budding. After the recent rain I expected to spot the handful of White Dapperling, Leucoagaricus leucothites, mushrooms growing out from amongst the open herbland. I returned by the shortest ridge route picking blackberries.  I noted just two flowers of Devil's Bit Scabious and one Small Scabious flower. There was also a small black bee seen visiting Devil's Bit Scabious, Small Scabious and Ragwort, as well as a few Crane-flies. Traveller's Joy, Clematis, was changing to Old Man's Beard.
Adur Bees
Adur Flies

18 September 2012
I stopped at Mill Hill to do my weekly butterfly transect in the sunshine. The results show a considerable decline since last week: Adonis Blues 21, Comma 1,  Meadow Brown 55, Small Copper 1, Small Heath 3, Small White 1. I also saw a Treble-bar moth, Aplocera.

Report by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards

16 September 2012
On a cool, cloudy breezy day, most of the butterflies on MIll Hill had disappeared in unfavourable conditions. There was still frequent Meadow Brown Butterflies and a few Adonis Blues of both genders, and a Common Carpet Moth or two. A Large White and Speckled Wood on the path at the top but that was all. A Southern Hawker dragonfly hawked to and fro over the path next to the overgrown top meadow. By this time dark grey clouds had appeared and one gust nearly blew me over.

 Small Scabious
 Field Scabious
 Traveller's Joy
 Wild Carrot

Dodder on St. John's WortOn the lower slopes about half of the Carline Thistle leaves had started to turn from green to brown to grey but the flowers still provided nectar sources for bumblebees and butterflies. However, there was also some new Carline Thistle that was yet to bud. The Devil's Bit Scabious was in flower but the ones seen were empty of butterflies. Dwarf Thistle was still seen in flower. The host plant for the red entrails of parasitic Dodder to attach to was discovered to be Perforate St. John's Wort. There just one location discovered at the northern part of the lower slopes. Autumnal Hawkbit (and other Hawkbits) were seen but this flower does not seem to be a very attractive nectar source.  Small Scabious was now recognised from the larger Field Scabious and both were in flower. Small Scabious was found on the lower slopes but it is best seen near the gate to the Old Erringham pastures. Field Scabious grows on the deeper soil of the middle slopes. Amongst the scrub near the gate there was just a single Welted Thistle remaining in flower. On the top plateau the short flowering season of Autumn Gentian had already come to an end. Musk Thistle was absent from the top of the ridge area where he has been seen late flowering for years, but there was still a few plants in flower on the upper slopes. When the cattle trough has been located the area had deteriorated to Stinging Nettles, swathes of Greater Willowherb now devoid of seed, with a few still flowering Creeping Thistles. In the meadows not all the plants had finished but there was only an occasional Greater Knapweed to make a slight show amongst their deadhead discs.
Scabious Files

Autumnal Hawbit, Leontodon autumnalis
Cichorioid Daisies

11 September 2012
On an overcast breezy day, butterflies were common on Mill Hill. Meadow Brown Butterflies were the most prevalent with an estimated 150+ in the transect acre of the lower slopes. Adonis Blues were also common with over a hundred seen. The males were very tatty and all were damaged to some extent. The females fared better with 20% of them in fine condition and most of them crawling in amongst the leaves of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa. The tally in the transect acre was 86, with 49 males and 37 females. After I completed the acre and stopped counting, I then found another hotspot of about 24 more, about 12 males and 12 females all within the transect acre. Adonis Blues were not evenly distributed and seemed to be divided into hotspots where the density was much higher. The males had to be identified from about ten much fresh and undamaged Common Blues. The Adonis Blues did not seem to be choosy when visiting nectar sites and they were seen on Carline Thistle, Wild Basil, Dwarf Thistle, and many of the common flowers. Small Heath Butterflies were frequently seen (20+) on the lower slopes with one on the upper meadow.

 Hornet Robber Fly
Adonis Blues
Adonis Blue 
 Dodder Cucusta epithymum

The two other species of butterfly were seen on my downs trip in the middle of the day before it suddenly became cooler were occasional Red Admirals and occasional Large Whites. Meadow Browns were present everywhere on Mill Hill, but they were in the greatest density over the lower slopes.  Moths spotted included a probable Vapourer Moth over the southern part of Mill Hill, and a few Treble-bar Moths over the lower slopes.
Aerial insect predators were around with a Common Darter and a Southern Hawker dragonfly and a Hornet Robber Fly (first of the year) over Mill Hill. The hoverfly Helophilus pendulus was spotted in the lower car park and this hoverfly has been widespread and more prevalent than usual this year. The parasitic plant Dodder Cucusta epithymum was discovered on the northern part of the lower slopes.
Adur Butterfly and Moth List 2012
Adur Flies

4 September 2012
Adonis BluesIn the morning I made the most of good weather to do my Mill Hill butterfly transect with the following result:  Adonis Blues 106, Brown Argus 1, Common Blue 1, Meadow Browns 186, Red Admiral 3, Small Heath 11, Small Tortoiseshell  4, Small White 7, Speckled Wood 2, Wall 1. The Small Tortoiseshells were all on 2 Buddleias.

Report by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards

3 September 2012
When the sun came out in the early afternoon, the lower slopes of Mill Hill were alive with butterflies. At one point on my return journey, a spot just above the path it was difficult to avoid treading on the brown female butterflies amongst the Horseshoe Vetch leaves. This was after I had completed my one acre  transect count which was half done in shade where the butterflies were not so lively. The count of the Adonis Blues came to an unprecedented 205 (132 males 73 females) and this was thought to be under-recorded by about 45 because of the overcast conditions at first. Although there were hot spots the Adonis Blues seem to be just as prevalent on all of the five acres of the lower slopes so the total numbers may be in excess of 800. Many were tatty and damaged but at least 20% of the males were in fine condition and some looked as good as new. There were two mating pairs seen and occasional courting pairs. At least a dozen of the females were crawling amongst the Horseshoe Vetch to lay their eggs so many of these could have missed the count. The male Adonis Blues were very aggressive amongst themselves but more so chasing off other blue butterflies, but not harassing them. The nectar plants used by the Adonis Blues noted were Carline Thistle, Hardheads, Dwarf Thistle and Traveller's Joy (Clematis). They were more interested in mating.
NB: I noted the considerable difference in colour of the female Adonis Blues in August compared to May this year. I am not absolutely positive that all the brown females are Adonis Blues. Some could have been Chalkhill Blues and one or two might even have been female Common Blues?

 Brown female butterfly
amongst the Horseshoe Vetch leaves
 Adonis Blues
 Adonis Blues

Because of the numbers of butterflies all appearing at one time were too difficult to count I stopped counting the Meadow Browns, so the part count and part estimates was in excess of 150 in the transect acre. All the other eight butterfly species hardly registered in the final numbers tally. Small Heaths (15+) led the way, with at least half a dozen male Common Blues all being chased by the Adonis Blues, one Speckled Wood over the southernmost steps, a few Large Whites, one Brimstone, one Small White Butterfly, one or two Red Admirals, a Treble-bar Moth and a Shaded Broad-bar Moth. Because of the strength-sapping humid conditions I returned by the path through the lower slopes seeing well over fifty more Adonis Blues. On the top southern part of Mill Hill there were occasional Silver Y Moths, possibly many more, amongst the leaves of Greater Knapweed. The nectar plants used by the Meadow Browns were noted as Wild Basil and Hardheads, but they were more interested in mating as well. The nectar plants used by the Small Heaths were observed as Wild Basil. A Common Blue visited Bird's Foot Trefoil flowers.

28 August 2012
I did my Mill Hill transect and was delighted to see a Painted Lady (first of the year) and a mating pair of Adonis Blues. Other transect results:  Adonis Blue 201, female Brimstone 1, Meadow Brown 265, Peacock 1, Red Admiral 3, Small Heath 12, Small Tortoiseshell  1, Small White 1, Speckled Wood 1. I  then visited Steyning Downland and joined eight other enthusiasts at the reserve where I found two Brown Hairstreaks in reasonable condition.

Report by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards

23 August 2012
Under another Cumulus sky, the sun shined only for period of up to ten minutes, but it was still worth a trip to Mill Hill by the direct road route through the Dovecote Estate.
Mill Hill was alive with butterflies in same places with fifty or a hundred seen all at once on the best parts of the lower slopes. This was despite a large cloud casting a big shadow over the hill about midday. Leader in numbers and presence were the Meadow Browns, estimated at more than 350 (maybe 500+) an acre in the best areas on the lower slopes. They were even more impressive because a third of them were females are I noted two mating couples. I was difficult to estimate their numbers but there was at least thousand on the five acres of the lower slopes and there were many more in the scrub and in moderately high densities (100+ an acre) on the middle slopes and the top meadows.

 Meadow Brown
Adonis Blue on Carline Thistle 
Bumblebee and 6 Spotted Burnet Moth
on Greater Knapweed 

Rivalling the Meadow Browns for presence on the lower slopes were 138 Adonis Blues in the transect acre and many more all over the lower slopes with a few above the ridge as well. This tally included about 20 brown females.  There were only 21 Chalkhill Blues (including two females) on the lower slopes and the Common Blues were almost as many, estimated at about a dozen, including four females. Three Wall Brown Butterflies on the lower slopes were more than usual.
It ws the middle slopes overgrown glades and top meadows that were the stronghold of the Common Blues with hundreds seen and many more hiding as cloud blocked out the sun. Walking through the Hawthorn scrub I encountered Speckled Woods and Meadow Browns. In places the undergrowth had grown so much I did not recognise the paths that led into the open glades. In a glade with Hemp Agrimony, there were half a dozen Red Admirals visiting. As a passing cloud resulted in a noticeable temperature chill, a Brimstone Butterfly quickly hid. There were hundreds of butterflies but only twelve species, plus four species of micro-moths.
Full Butterfly Report (First Draft Record) & Species List

On the slopes beneath the upper plateau, Autumn Gentian was common above the very short sward. Devil's Bit Scabious, Carline Thistle and Ploughman's Spikenard began to appear in flower on the lower slopes.

21 August 2012
I did my Mill Hill butterfly transect. I parked my car by a Buddleia and saw two Small Tortoiseshells and a Red Admiral on this butterfly magnet. Transect  results:   Adonis Blue 121, Chalkhill Blue 8, Common Blue 11, Gatekeeper 10, Holly Blue 1, Meadow Brown 305, Peacock 1, Red Admiral 6, Small Heath 3, Small Tortoiseshell 4, Speckled Wood 4, Wall Brown 14, Small White 1. The Adonis second brood are booming and this was the largest number of Walls I have ever seen in one place. 13 species of butterfly.

Report by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards
20 August 2011
Deadly Nightshade on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. 
Photograph by Su Reed

17 August 2012
On a sunny and very humid day the butterflies were out and about in the early afternoon. They appeared immediately I descended the steps from the southern end to the lower slopes. A Speckled Wood showed simultaneously with about ten butterflies amongst the hedgerow/scrub bordering the path. These weren't Holly Blues, but Common Blues of both genders including small version of the attractive blue and brown females. A Wall Brown landed on one of the bottom steps at the same time as one of these females (thought to be a Brown Argus at the time).

Autumn GentianThe open lower slopes were alive with hundreds of butterflies, at an average of a butterfly per square metre over the southern part of the lower slopes, usually a less favourable area for numbers on the Shoreham Bank. I spent under a quarter of an hour on the hill, but I still managed to see over fifty of each of four species: Meadow Browns, Chalkhill Blues, Adonis Blues and Common Blues. (I estimated their numbers to be over 100 of each in the transect acre.) At least half, possibly more, of the Chalkhill Blues were very tatty. Brimstone Butterflies were amorous with their partners and chased off rival males and a Large White. Small Heath Butterflies chased each other over the sun bathed slopes. I only completed a quarter of the transect because it was so humid that my spectacles misted up. At least one Silver Y Moth landed in some Privet and the small pyralid moths frequently flitting about the undergrowth were Pyrausta despicata with at least one Pyrausta purpuralis. Just when I thought I was going to have to exclude Gatekeepers from my list, a female opened its wings in mint condition.
Butterfly Day List

13 August 2012
A brief trip to the lower slopes of Mill Hill was curtailed by rain. It did give me the chance to see my first second brood male Adonis Blue of the year immediately as I descended the steps from the southern end. It was one of 13 seen on an uncompleted (66%) of the acre transect. A handful more were noted as walked back along the winding path. The Chalkhill Blue count was low as well with just 23 males disturbed. Other butterflies spotted were one Speckled Wood, one or two Wall Browns (it could have been the same one), frequent 50+ Meadow Browns, frequent 15+ Gatekeepers, a surprise Small White, a lonely male Common Blue and a Small Heath.

Autumn Gentian 
  Adonis Blue 
 Wall Brown

A 6-spotted Burnet Moth was first spotted on the now flowering Autumn Gentian. At least two Treble-bar Moths showed and one Common Carpet Moth. The small pyralid moths frequently flitting about the undergrowth were Pyrausta despicata. Carline Thistles were budding and the first flowers appeared.

12 August 2012
I did my Mill Hill butterfly transect and found the second brood Adonis Blues have increased dramatically since Thursday. I also found 3 Small Tortoiseshells and 3  Walls which obligingly opened their wings in contrast to those at Chantry Hill and Steyning. The rest of the transect results: Adonis Blue 23, Chalkhill Blue 68, Common Blue 5, Gatekeeper 7, Holly Blue 1, Meadow Brown 174, Peacock 1, Red Admiral 1, Small Heath 1,  Small White 1, Speckled Wood 1. I saw an Adder in a usual basking spot and a Roe Deer dashing across the bottom field.

Report by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards

9 August 2012
I did my Mill Hill transect with the following results: Adonis Blue 4, Brimstone 4, Chalkhill Blue 144, Common Blue 5, Gatekeeper 3, Holly Blue 1, Meadow Browns 192, Peacock 2, Red Admiral 2, Small Heath 4, Small White 3, Wall 3.

Report by Colin Knight on Sussex Butterfly Reports

5 August 2012
One characteristic of chalk downland is the ground hugging prickles of the small thistle known variously (as the Stemless Thistle as the bulb usually appears straight out of the prickly leaves) or the Dwarf Thistle. The latter name was more pertinent in this wet summer as many of them have visible stems. The flowers which appear in autumn were very common all over the middle and lower slopes of Mill Hill. The upper meadows are now too overgrown for it (without the annual forage harvesting). The leaves of Mouse-eared Hawkweed were noted on a part of the middle slopes I do not normally visit.

Meadow Brown on Dwarf Thistle
Chalkhill Blue on Hardhead

Because of the dreadful weather I missed the peak emergence of Chalkhill Blues on Mill Hill this year. (The Chalkhill Blue Butterflies tend to emerge simultaneously over two days at the turn of the month.) On the first suitable (if far from ideal) day a trip to the lower slopes of Mill Hill discovered only 90 in the transect acre on a cloudy cool (>18.0 °C ) day. There were 86 males seen and four females including two mating pairs. There were further male Chalkhill Blues occasionally noted on the middle and upper part of Mill Hill exceeding ten to bring the total over a hundred seen in an hour.
NB: This represents a tremendous fall in the numbers of Chalkhill Blues since 2003 when thousands shimmered over the Horseshoe Vetch. The reason for the demise is not known. In 2003 the acre count at the peak would be too many to count but in excess of 750 per acre in the transect acre and 3,000+ simultaneous estimate over the five acres of the lower slopes at their peak.
2003 Report

On the southern part of Mill Hill, a Large White Butterfly and a patrolling large yellow Brimstone Butterfly were seen within a couple of minutes. The first butterfly seen on the lower slopes was a Marbled White. Subsequently, Meadow Browns were common over the whole of Mill Hill exceeding a hundred in total. Gatekeepers were frequently seen with five Small Heath Butterflies and five Common Carpet Moths spotted. A few 6-spotted Burnet Moths flew with their wings whirring. A Buddleia bush amongst the deep scrub was an attraction for Red Admiral and Peacock Butterflies with at least two of each. Male Common Blue Butterflies were frequently seen on the upper meadow (north of the car park) with occasional Small Skippers. On the wildlife meadows south-west of the upper car park I spotted my first Brown Argus of the year (its identity confirmed when it opened its wings).
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Full Butterfly and Moth Report

A Swallow flew over the Ragwort-covered pastures to the east of Mill Hill.

31 July 2012
At the expected peak period for the Chalkhill Blue Butterflies I felt obliged to check out Mill Hill although the conditions were far from ideal with overcast skies and a very irritating breeze (Force 5) and cool (> 18.6 °C). On Mill Hill the pattern of roosting butterflies emerged with almost having to step on any butterflies to get them to show. On the lower slopes one acre transect I counted 64 Chalkhill Blues which comprised 62 active males and one mating pair spotted in about 30 minutes. Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers were both frequently seen, most of them disturbed by my presence, with one intact Small Heath Butterfly. In contrast to the butterflies, a few 6-spotted Burnet Moths flew with their wings whirring and would not keep still. Other moths disturbed were two Common Carpet Moths, a Treble-bar Moth or two, and a Shaded Broad-bar, Scotopteryx chenopodiata. Just one Pyrausta nigrata pyralid moth made an appearance, but these micro-moths are easily overlooked.

 Chalkhill Blues
Chalkhill Blue
Wall Brown 

Traversing the middle slopes of Mill Hill, the scrub hosted occasional Gatekeepers and a few Meadow Browns. I avoided the Copse and upper meadows and plateau and chose a path through the scrub where a pristine Wall Brown Butterfly patrolled. This was the first of the second brood I had seen and it visited a Self-heal flower. There were five male Chalkhill Blues seen over the ridge area on the upper part of Mill Hill.
Full Butterfly Report

As befitting the last day of summer, the budding Autumn Gentian was almost about to burst into flower as was Carline Thistle on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. I recognised Small Scabious as different from Field Scabious.

A caravan and trailer-sized bare patch has been created on the southern part of Mill Hill meadow in this month. It will be interesting to see what grows there? I am not in favour (general principles) of introducing new plants, but it would be interesting see some Corn Cockle? This area would normally be covered in Greater Knapweed and Melilot with Red Bartsia, Yellow Rattle and Hardheads seen in flower next to the patch. Mill Hill could be improved for wildlife with careful planning?
Some of the steep slopes on the southern part of Mill Hill have been cleared of trees and scrub, and Teasels have colonised.

27 July 2012
It was cool and humid (18.2 °C, compared to the last two warm days) and a visit to Mill Hill saw fresh Chalkhill Blues emerging. In the the transect acre 91 of the pale blue males appeared in 20 minutes on the verdant lower slopes. As it got warmer (20.1 °C) more appeared in flight estimated at 150 in the acre and I spotted my first brown female of the year. The vegetation was lusher and greener than normal and included frequent Round-headed Rampion, the dark blue flowers appearing above the low sward herbs.

Chalkhill Blues

Other butterflies on the lower slopes included frequent Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers, a few Large Whites, at least a pair of Green-veined Whites, a female Brimstone Butterfly, a ragged Small Heath, two Marbled Whites, two 6-spotted Burnet Moths, a Treble-bar Moth and the micro-moth Pyrausta nigrata. On the southern part of the top of Mill Hill Nature Reserve, I added a Small Skipper, Red Admiral and a Common Carpet Moth. Ten butterfly species and three macro-moths were noted.

Robin's Pin Cushion

Robin's Pin Cushion (a gall, created by groups of larvae of the Gall Wasp, Diplolepis rosae) was prominent on at least one of the Dog Roseplants. Red Bartsia was spotted for the first time this year next to the cracked mud path on the lower slopes. This small herb is a regular feature of the upper meadows. Nearby, Scabious was growing and this may have been Small Scabious. Two days of sunshine after the heavy rain and already the exposed soil is cracking. An adult Rabbit lay dead on the path.
Adur Butterfly and Moth List 2012
Adur Pyralids

British Plant Gall Society
Plant Galls by Gall Wasps
25 July 2012
Dichetophora (Sciomyzidae) fly on the upper part of Mill Hill. 
It is most likely to be Dichetophora obliterata (female).

ID on by Mucha Fero and Jonas Mortelmans

Dichetophora obliterata: an attractive fly with a rust coloured abdomen and grey thorax. The thighs are quite distinctive, being orangey-red just above the knee joint but pale in the upper parts nearer to the body. This widespread species is known as a snail-killing fly. The larvae are predatory on snails. 

Adur Flies

23 July 2012
Under a blue sky, the sun bathed Mill Hill in light (>19.3 °C), and I found myself on an overgrown part of the southern part of Mill Hill Nature Reserve which was covered in Stinging Nettles and not normally an area that I visit. A Southern Hawker (dragonfly) flew past (first of the year). A path had been worn and by the path a clump of Marjoram was beginning to flower. I stopped for a photograph and if I hadn't I would probably missed three visiting Small Skippers*, my first of the year. As other places had been reporting an abundance of Chalkhill Blues I visited the lower slopes of Mill Hill again to see if there was a new emergence or a reason for the demise. It was sunny enough but the tally of butterflies was like the previous day with 46 fresh flighty male Chalkhill Blues (in the 1.2 acre transect) noted, but none appeared to be new emergences. They were again using Self-heal as a nectar plant. Meadow Browns were frequently seen but not counted and they numbered at least twenty, occasional Gatekeepers, a few Large Whites,  one Small Heath, two Marbled Whites and a 6-spotted Burnet Moth completed the half an hour tally for the lower slopes. A bright Peacock Butterfly was seen on the top part as I returned by the quickest ridge route.
(*These could be Essex Skippers?)
Butterfly and Moth List 2012
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

22 July 2012
At least the clouds have dispersed and the sun shines and the butterflies appeared as it warmed up in the early afternoon to a below average 17.8 °C. On the lower slopes of Mill Hill the fresh male Chalkhill Blues appeared from the verdant ground vegetation with 45 counted in the one acre transect.  This is a week before the peak emergence is due. Some had darker than normal upper wing borders and their favoured nectar flowers were Bird's Foot Trefoil and Self-heal. The second most prevalent butterfly were the frequent Meadow Browns of the seven species seen in just over an hour. 14 Meadow Browns were seen on the lower slopes and about another ten on a more hurried trek over the middle slopes and upper part of Mill Hill.

Chalkhill Blue
 Welted Thistle
Chalkhill Blue 
Chalkhill Blue 

The lower slopes also hosted a Gatekeeper, Marbled White, a Treble-bar Moth and a Silver Y Moth. The middle slopes hosted a 6-spotted Burnet Moth and under the canopy of the top copse two Speckled Woods fluttered around. The top meadows were full of flowering Melilot and Greater Knapweed and hosted one more Marbled White as well as a few more Silver Y Moths. Autumn Gentian appeared about the plateau turf but was not yet flowering. A single bunch of Restharrow was also noted and this plant is not prevalent on Mill Hill and may only arrived since the cattle have been grazing in the winter. Round-headed Rampion flowers were frequently seen on the top of Mill Hill with most of them spotted on the plateau south of the upper car park.
A Whitethroat flew amongst the scrub.. A melody of the Linnet was heard from the plateau north of the Reservoir as I was about the leave Mill Hill. There was still time to see a Comma Butterfly, a pristine Peacock Butterfly and another Gatekeeper.
Butterfly & Moth Report

Round-headed Rampion20 July 2012
No sun equals no butterflies, but a visit to a verdant Mill Hill under a cloudy sky and I managed to disturb two male Chalkhill Blues for my first time this year. Two new Round-headed Rampion flowers were noted on the lower slopes as well, both of them close to the winding path. Frequent Stemless Thistle flowers were seen amongst their prickly leaves. After the blues two Meadow Brown Butterflies appeared, possibly because I almost trod on them. On the southern part of Mill Hill Greater Knapweed was beginning to flower framed in the meadows by the yellow swathes of Melilot.
Butterfly Report

16 July 2012
I visited Mill Hill. As soon as I dropped onto the lower slopes I saw my first Chalkhill Blue of the year. This was followed by another ten plus a magnificent Peacock, Meadow Browns, Small Heath, Gatekeepers, Green-veined and Large Whites.

Reportby Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards
Butterfly and Moth List 2012
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

15 July 2012
There was standing water on the southern part of Mill Hill on a cool day (15.1 °C) with small amounts of the algae Nostoc Commune on the lower slopes. Any butterflies needed to be disturbed and there were just a handful seen under a under a cloudy sky on the lower slopes: two Marbled Whites, a surprise Comma, one Small Heath and two Meadow Browns. The best place for all the butterflies was the largest Tor Grass patch where a pyralid micro-moth Pyrausta nigrata was clearly seen. There was also a Gatekeeper and an unidentified white butterfly on the wind swept top part of the hill.

An unusually verdant Mill Hill (upper)

About twenty Cinnabar Moth caterpillars were seen on just two budding Ragwort plants near the top of the steps at the southern end of Mill Hill.

Cinnabar Moth Life Cycle

13 July 2012
Another unseasonably cool and overcast day. Despite being not warm enough (>16.2 °C) for butterflies, I made a brief trek to the lower slopes of Mill Hill. Conditions were worse than expected, with a Moderate Breeze Force 5, gusting to Force 7, blowing from the south-west straight on to the exposed slopes. And rain was in the air. I did manage to disturb my first Gatekeeper of the year as well as a single Meadow Brown. A pale Treble-bar Moth was disturbed as well.
Butterfly and Moth List 2012
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

 Stemless Thistle
 Stemless Thistle

After the wettest June on record continuing into July, the lower slopes were looking lusher than usual. The foliage was greener than the normal parched appearance. The leaves of Horseshoe Vetch and Salad Burnet predominated, but the chalkhill vegetation was varied. The flowers of the following were noted as being abundant on the lower slopes: Eyebright, Squinancywort, St. John's Wort, Autumnal Hawkbit, Bird's Foot Trefoil and Wild Thyme. Diminutive Self-heal flowers were particularly common on the lower slopes this year. And there will be more as some were still budding. Wild Basil, Stemless Thistle, Centaury and Field Scabious were noted in flower for the first time this year on the lower slopes. The green shoots of Carline Thistle was appearing above ground as there were still some of the old grey plants around from last year. Some of the yellow rosettes belonged to one of the Hawkweeds or perhaps, more likely to be Cat's Ear ?

On the southern part of the upper part of Mill Hill, the abundant yellow Melilot was framed by the abundant purple Greater Knapweed. Hogweed was noted in passing as the rain spots got heavier, the large plant swaying in the gale force gusts. Meadow Vetchling was noted on the eastern verge of the country road, next to the pastures of New Erringham.

The wet weather in June and the first half of July resulted in a verdant lower slopes of Mill Hill with even more abundant leaves of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, than usual. There was plenty of hiding places for any newly emerged Chalkhill Blues and none were seen on a damp breezy day.

4 July 2012
I visited Mill Hill in the afternoon on what turned out to be uncomfortable humid conditions and slippery under foot. I did manage to spot my first four Marble White Butterflies of the year as well as eight Small Heath Butterflies, a few Silver Y Moths and one faded pyralid micro-moth Pyrausta pupuralis on half of the lower slopes transect only. Great Mullein was now flowering on the lower slopes and I spotted the first tiny flower of Vervain. Wild Thyme, Bird's Foot Trefoil and Eyebright were abundant and Hawbkits, Self-heal and Perforate St. John's Wort commonly seen in flower. After the wet weather I was not surprised to discover two White Dapperling mushrooms. South of the Reservoir there was a patch of Meadow Cranesbill five metres to the north of the Broomrape. On the eastern edge of the road I noted my first Field Scabious and flowering Mugwort.
Adur Butterfly & Moth List

27 June 2012
On a humid overcast day, large swathes of Bird's Foot Trefoil were seen on the pastures and meadows below, above and on the middle slopes and upper plateau of MIll Hill. Not surprisingly there were very few butterflies although eleven Small Heaths including courting pairs on the lower slopes with a Yellow Shell Moth disturbed amongst the abundant flowering Privet, and four pyralid moths with Pyrausta nigrata and Pyrausta despicata identified.

 Eyebright & Bird's Foot Trefoil
Wild Thyme 
Musk Thistle

Flowers noted for the first time this year on the lower slopes included Squinancywort and the upper slopes Musk Thistle, and in the middle area White Campion, and one the edge of the road Meadow Vetchling. As the rain curtailed my visit I heard the prolonged song of the Skylark, but I could not see this small bird as the grey clouds rolled in.
More Flowers

24 June 2012
There were not many butterflies on Mill Hill despite good conditions: two Meadow Brown, 17 Small Heaths and a Marbled White, (my first of the year), were recorded.

Report by Colin Knight onSussex Postcards
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

18 June 2012
CampionI made a quick sojourn to the upper part of Mill Hill north of reservoir with a brief detour to the middle slopes. In conditions too cool and breezy to be inimical for butterflies I noted three Small Tortoiseshells and a Silver Y Moth over the meadows fringing the copse at the top and a Speckled Wood under the shade of the trees. Plants coming into flower included Pyramidal Orchid, Greater Knapweed and Agrimony. The Triangle section of the middle slopes (northern end) was swathed in the yellow of Bird's Foot Trefoil, although there was also some Horseshoe Vetch still flowering. Dogwood was also flowering. I also noted large bunches of Bladder Campion* next to the road and occasional Red Campion amongst the scrub. (* ID to be checked.) Nipplewort was seen on the edge of the road.
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Campions

17 June 2012
I did my weekly butterfly transect at Mill Hill. There were no Adonis or Common Blues so I guess the recent gales had finished them off. "The Adonis have had a bad year compared to last year." I saw a Holly Blue, two Small Tortoiseshells, a Meadow Brown and 12 Small Heaths. Small Heaths have been showing in good numbers everywhere but Small Tortoiseshells were having a bad year nationally. It was good to see sizeable Mullein Moth caterpillars, Shargacucullia verbasci, in large numbers on three Great Mullein plants.

Report by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards

14 June 2012
Just a footprint away, I nearly trod on an Adder on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, all coiled up basking under the clouds, before it slithered into the undergrowth before I could get my camera to focus. It was an adult grey snake with the distinctive black diamond markings and a chunky good looking specimen. Too cool (about 16 °C, Force 5) for butterflies to be active, I nevertheless saw at least a dozen Small Heaths were lively and I recorded two Adonis Blues (one of each gender) and a male Common Blue. The damaged and old male Adonis Blue was roosting amongst some Tor Grass. The first fluttering was a Yellow Shell Moth followed by the first of a few Treble Bar Moths. A few of the small pyralid micro-moths were seen, notably Pyrausta pupuralis and Pyrausta despicata definitely identified.

 Yellow Rattle
 Dog Violet

Parasitic plants were also appearing, notably on Mill Hill with the first appearance of the year of a species of Broomrape (possibly Knapweed Broomrape) and the first of the prevalent Yellow Rattle on the southern (top) part of Mill Hill. The diminutive Eyebright and Wild Thyme had come into flower on the lower slopes, where Dog Violets were still common and I saw my first Yellow Wort this year. A few small bees were seen in the flower heads of the Lesser Hawkbits. Greater Knapweed was seen in flower next to the road by the bridge over the A27 to Mill Hill. (I did not visit the upper part of Mill Hill.)
Full Butterfly & Moth Report
With the Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, almost gone on Mill Hill, the large patches of yellow plants on the downs pastures and Adur Levels were Bird's Foot Trefoil. However, it was such a strange year that there were still some new buds of Horseshoe Vetch.

I started off by doing my weekly butterfly transect at Mill Hill. The results were disappointing as numbers were very low and the few Adonis Blues were weather beaten following the exceptionally heavy rainfall of the past few days. Count (previous week's numbers in brackets): Adonis Blue male 3 (15), female 5 (3), Small Heath 6 (16).

Second Report by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards

5 June 2012
In the morning I had a window of dry, warm weather so I did my weekly butterfly transect at Mill Hill. When I finished I was able to do some photography before the rain settled in for the rest of the day. I noticed some more of the Milkwort plus the delicate white flowers and pink buds of Dropwort.
Butterfly count:
Adonis Blue: male 15, female 3
Common Blue: male 3, female 1
Dingy Skipper 1
Small Heath: 16

Report & Photographs by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards

1 June 2012
A very early start at 5:30 am to catch the roosting butterflies on the lowers slopes of Mill Hill; there were many roosting butterflies, mainly on clumps of tall grasses. Afterwards I did my weekly transect:

Adonis Blue male 92
Adonis Blue female 22
Common Blue 8
Small Heath 29
Small Copper 1

Columbine, Aquilegia vulgaris, was spotted in flower.

Mill Hill Report & Photographs by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards

27 May 2012
With the fine weather continuing, Mill Hill was bathed in sunlight under an almost clear blue sky. The Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, was more extensive than four days previously, with thousands of fresh flowers but also a considerable number (thousands) of drooping and faded flowers. Violets were more numerous than normal at the end of May and it appears that both Sweet Violets and Dog Violets were having a second flowering with hundreds, well over a thousand scattered over the lower slopes. Dropwort was budding and beginning to flower and the first Bramble flowers were noted. Grasshoppers were heard stridulating for the first time this year.  I also noted the tiny colourful beetle Paederus littoralis amongst the diminutive leaf undergrowth.
 Green Hairstreak on 
Horseshoe Vetch
 Horseshoe Vetch & Fairy Flax
 Adonis Blues

Adonis Blue Butterflies were particularly common and the acre transect count came to at least 128 (including five females and a mating pair). I spotted my first my first of two Burnet Companion Moths of the year on the lower slopes (the only area visited). Small Heath Butterflies were frequently seen (25+) amongst the short vegetation landing with their wings closed and sometimes at an oblique angle to the sun. Two small white butterflies patrolled the bottom hedge without landing to reveal its identity. I would think it is probably a Green-veined White. The Brimstone Butterfly was positively huge as they sparred, the first of two. A few Treble-bar Moths were seen landing on the Brambles and this moth will land on Privet as well. At the northern end of the lower slopes frequent male Common Blues (12+) mixed with the Adonis Blues and there were probably some small females as well.
Just as I was about to leave I had a fleeting glance of an elusive Green Hairstreak. I returned via the lower slopes and then noted five Dingy Skippers at the southern end (area missed out at first). This area upped the Adonis Blues count including the mating pair. An then I spotted another Green Hairstreak which was very keen on visiting Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa. Finally, at the top of the steps at the southern end, a Comma Butterfly flew past.
Full Butterfly & Moth Report

23 May 2012
On a warm (20 °C) sticky day, the Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, was at its peak flowering on the lower slopes of Mill Hill and was comparable to other years but not to a good year. The new young growths of Privet were extensive. Adonis Blues appeared immediately and although the transect acre count was 32 (including three females) they did not come out until later when I estimated about sixty. Altogether ten species were butterfly were spotted on a day when not all of them were prepared to show in the middle of the day. Small Heaths were frequently seen, a handful of Brimstone Butterflies but only two Dingy Skippers were noted. There were hundreds of the late-flowering violets, more than noted in previous years. Dropwort was budding.
Full Butterfly Report

20 May 2012
Again, too cool (14.2 °C) for butterflies and too breezy (Force 4 from the north) to photograph flowers close-up, overcast without any sun, the rain of the past few days had nevertheless stopped. Nevertheless, I made an afternoon trip to Mill Hill to check out the extent of the Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, which was not so extensive in previous years and nearly at its peak. Despite the cool conditions I did note a Holly Blue and a Red Admiral at the top of Chanctonbury Drive (SE of Mill Hill). On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, there were no sign of butterflies at first and eventually the first of 23+ Adonis Bluesappeared and this included a fresh female, the first seen this year. Other butterflies seen on the lower slopes were a few Small Heath and just the one Dingy Skipper. The first Lesser Hawkbits, Leontodon taraxacoides, of the year, was seen on the lower slopes. Forget-me-nots were recorded and I do not recall seeing them before on Mill Hill. There were still hundred of violets although they were battered by the recent rain. I thought one had a vague perfume.

 Milkwort & Horseshoe Vetch
 Adonis Blue 
 Small Heath
Horseshoe Vetch 

For the first time this year I travelled to the middle and upper part of Mill Hill, but there were no butterflies seen. There were patches of Horseshoe Vetch on the top plateau (south of the upper car park),  but the meadow north of the car park was in a bad way (like a rough partial cattle pasture).
Hounds-tongue was beginning to flower and the first Wild Mignonette was spotted on the upper plateau of Mill Hill, with White Campion on the roadside. Elderflower was budding with the first flowers noted.

13 May 2012
On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, flowers were now making a show appreciable enough to be seen as I descended the steps (from the south) where my first Common Lizard Lacerta vivipara, of the year was spotted next to a discarded plastic bag. A new spread of violets were present in hundreds. They all had a purple spur and rounded sepals. Because of their different flowering date and a even violet (with a few white specimens) colour, I have tentatively identified these as Hairy Violets, Viola hirta.
Adur Lizards
Adur Violets

 Dingy Skipper
 Adonis Blue 
Common Blue 
Hairy Violet

At last the sun came out (13.0 °C at 1:00 pm, with a Moderate Breeze Force 4) and with the warmth encouraged the butterflies and for for the first time this year they were common (100+) on the lower slopes of Mill Hill But they were slow to appear at first, frequent Dingy Skippers and a few bright blue male Adonis Blues were both very lively. A pristine Peacock Butterfly basked on a Cotoneaster. After twenty minutes the numbers increased and there were at least twenty Adonis Blues, Dingy Skippers everywhere (60+), a few Green-veined Whites, Brimstone Butterflies of both genders (one female sparred with a Green-veined White), the first male of a few Common Blues of the year, my first of four Small Coppers, occasional Small Heaths, at least two Grizzled Skippers, a fleeting glimpse of a Wall Brown and a single Comma Butterfly. Both the Common Blues and Small Coppers visited Milkworts (not the more plentiful Horseshoe Vetch). One of the Small Heaths was so worn its orange looked the colour of a Gatekeeper. Moths included a Treble-bar and the micro-moth Agapeta hamana.
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Adur Skippers
Adur Moths

A Green Hairstreak Butterfly visited a Horseshoe Vetch flower on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, as well as taking an excellent photograph of the micro-moth Pancalia leuwenhoekella.

Hairstreak Report by Su Reed

11 May 2012
I headed to Mill Hill to do my butterfly transect. The Adonis Blue made his appearance for the first time this year. I also saw a Green Hairstreak, Peacocks, Small Whites and Small Coppers mating, Dingy Skippers all over the bottom of the hill, a male Brimstone and Small Heaths. A flight of four Peacocks flew past me as I ate my sandwich, I assume these were three males pursuing a female. The Dingy Skippers were busy chasing any butterfly that flew near their territory, including Peacocks many times their size. The brown female brown Adder was basking in her usual place by the bonfire site at the south end of the hill.
Report & Photographs by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards

7 May 2012
A quick late afternoon dash to Mill Hill provided the first butterflies of any kind this Bank Holiday! In an hour or so we saw about 20 Dingy Skippers, 5-10 Grizzled Skippers, 1 Peacock, 3 Green Hairstreaks and two lovely fresh Wall Brown Butterflies (first of the year). Small Copper and Small Heath also seen (but not by us).

Report by Chris and Tom Corrigan on Sussex Butterfly Reports
Adur Butterfly List 2012
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

30 April 2012
A bright turquoise-blue sky showed in the north and east on a breezy unpromising day, but the sun and some of butterflies came out in the afternoon. I checked out the lower slopes of Mill Hill where my first of 14 Dingy Skippers flitted between the thousands of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, flowers. I also spotted by first Small Heath Butterfly of 2012. The small day-flying pyralid moth Pyrausta nigrata flitted occasionally between the Horseshoe Vetch which all hosted the small black pollen beetles Meligethes.  At the top of the hill around the Alexanders on the east side of the road just north of the hedge by the house, a male Orange-tip Butterfly fluttered around without pausing.

 Dingy Skipper visiting Horseshoe Vetch
with Violet leaves

Flowers noted on the lowers slopes included Horseshoe Vetch, Cowslips, Common Daisies, Milkwort, Germander Speedwell, Bluebells and Dog Violets.
(I was not happy with the focusing and macro of my new Canon SX40 and now wished I had purchased another camera.)
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Skippers

I did my weekly transect at Mill Hill as it was a blue sky day. There were several Green Hairstreaks at the north end of the lower slopes, plus many Dingy Skippers and some Grizzled Skippers. I spotted the brown female Adder at the southern end.

Report & Photographs by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards

23 April 2012
I left to do my weekly transect at Mill Hill as it was a sunny day (it started raining for all of the afternoon around midday). There was a wind at the start and I was surprised to find a Grizzled Skipper at the top of the hill. Beside the path near the bottom of the hill I found a black Adder. At the bottom there was another Grizzled Skipper, a Green-veined White, a Peacock, a Small Heath, Speckled Wood and many Dingy Skippers, fighting and nectaring. Just below the car park I found a Small Copper, my first of the year. I tried my new camera, a Panasonic Lumix FZ45 with close-up lens, on the Dingy Skippers and am very satisfied with the results. I am getting depth of field, clarity of detail and colour vibrancy that I cannot achieve with my other cameras.

Report & Photographs by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards
Adur Butterfly List 2012
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

16 April 2012
On a Cumulus day too cool for butterflies, a visit to Mill Hill was only entertained because the forecast for later in the week was worse. On the lower slopes the first flowers of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, appeared with another prostrate downland herb Milkwort. The tiny black pollen beetles Meligethes scrambled over the flowers on the bank, especially on Horseshoe Vetch, Dandelions and on a few of the violets. Salad Burnet was just beginning to flower and their leaves were commonly seen lying prostrate on the bank. Dog Violets predominated with thousands still present. The thousands of Sweet Violets had all faded, which leaves the identity of some of the fresh violets near the bottom of the slope as a bit of a puzzle. I have tentatively identified it as a Hairy Violet. Occasionally, a skipper (butterfly) rose from the ground and fluttered rapidly to a new resting place. The only one positively identified was a fresh Grizzled Skipper. A small bee, one of the Nomada species visited a Dandelion. A few Buff-tailed Bumblebees, Bombus terrestris, were noticeable in the absence of the butterflies.
Adur Violets
Adur Butterfly List 2012

 Horseshoe Vetch
Salad Burnet
 Hairy Violet ?
 Grizzled Skipper

Blackthorn was flowering near its peak on the top part of Mill Hill and in the scrub. The first Hawthorn flowers were noted on Mill Hill and the first Blackthorn leaves.
The familiar Kestrel hovered over the middle slopes.

10 April 2012
On a sunny day with a cold wind, the male Adders performed their dominance dance a black snake and a normal patterned one intertwining and raising their heads and front part of their bodies above the flora on the lower slopes of Mill Hill down by the scrub at the bottom (west side). The black Adder discovered a female underneath the Brambles. Grizzled Skippers and Small Heath Butterflies were seen.

Report & Photographs by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards

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

6 April 2012
Dingy Skippers, a Small Heath and a Green Hairstreak Butterfly were all seen for the first time this year on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, with Grizzled Skippers, a Speckled Wood, a Green-veined White and a Peacock Butterfly. Four Adders and a green Common Lizard, Lacerta vivipara, completed a very satisfying afternoon.

Report & Photographs by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards
Adur Butterfly List 2012
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

3 April 2012
An unprecedented 26 Grizzled Skippers were seen on Mill Hill and only one of them was a female. A handful of Peacocks and single Comma and Small White were the only other butterflies seen.

Report by Neil Hulme on Sussex Butterfly Reports

1 April 2012
I visited Mill Hill again to conduct a butterfly transect. Unfortunately due to the cold wind I only recorded three butterflies- a Speckled Wood, a Peacock and a Grizzled Skipper. However, the dearth of butterflies was compensated for by the excellent Adder sightings, all along the bottom of the hill by the bushes. First I saw a black Adder, then two grey ones, which slithered along the bush line in their hunt for food. One moved fast at about about 15 metres per minute and I was able to keep getting ahead of it to take photos as it approached. However, it was too fast to get the shots I was after.

Report & Photographs by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards

30 March 2012
Finally I gave in to temptation and went to Mill Hill where I saw five Grizzled Skippers in various places. One in particular was immaculate and quite beautiful, so presumably newly emerged. In addition to all the pyralids on the wing I noticed several tiny, but delightful Violet Cosmet Moths, Pancalia leuwenhoekella, (approx. 3-4 mm long).

Report by Richard Roebuck on Sussex Butterfly Reports
Adur Butterfly List 2012
Grizzled Skippers and Adders on Mill Hill (by Colin Knight)

29 March 2012
Encouraged by the reports of others, I visited Mill Hill and quickly spotted my first Grizzled Skipper of the year  flying around on the northern part of the lower slopes. It might not have been so easy to spot to newcomers as there were scores of smaller day-flying pyralid moths, mostly Pyrausta pupuralis and Pyrausta despicata but also Pyrausta nigrata. There were at least a couple of restless Brimstone Butterflies and a few more Peacock Butterflies on the lower slopes of Mill Hill in the middle of the day sunshine. Dog Violets were in flower now equalled or exceeded the thousands of Sweet Violets on the lower slopes of Mill Hill.
Adur Butterfly List 2012
Adur Violets

27 March 2012
I recorded ten different butterfly species in a day, which I cannot recall ever doing before during the month of March. In just a couple of hours at Mill Hill (Shoreham) I counted four Grizzled Skipper (first of the year), one Orange Tip (first of the year), one Speckled Wood, one Holly Blue (first of the year), one Brimstone, one Small White, 14 Peacock, one Red Admiral, two Small Tortoiseshell and two Comma. The day-flying moths Pyrausta pupuralis and Pyrausta despicata were both present in good numbers, along with the odd Pyrausta nigrata.

Report by Neil Hulme on Sussex Butterfly Reports

I was surprised to find a freshly emerged Grizzled Skipper on Mill Hill. There were also half a dozen Peacocks and a Small Tortoiseshell. Reptiles were also out enjoying the sunshine, one black Adder, two Common Lizards and a Slow Worm.

Report by Tim Newman on Sussex Butterfly Reports

26 March 2012

Sweet Violet (left) and Dog Violet
Sweet Violet    and  Dog Violet
Dog Violet

Amongst the thousand of Sweet Violets on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the first Dog Violets were in flower. There were at least two Brimstone Butterflies and at least four  Peacock Butterflies, with at least one more of each over the scrub near the gate to Old Erringham. Small pyralid moths were frequently seen flitting amongst the violets on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, with Pyrausta nigrata, Pyrausta pupuralis and Pyrausta despicata seen very clearly and all three species definitely identified. This was the earliest and the first time in March I seen any of these three species. The micro-moth Violet Cosmet, Pancalia leuwenhoekella, was spotted on a Sweet Violet flower. A Common Bee-Fly, Bombylius major, (first of the year) was spotted over the path amongst the Hawthorn scrub on Mill Hill. On the lower slopes, the yellow flowers were small Dandelions, and a Red-tailed Bumblebee visited the Sweet Violets.
Adur Butterfly List 2012
Adur Butterfly Flight Times
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

The conservation workers have been making inroads on clearing some of the extensive scrub/woodland on the southern part of Mill Hill.
 20 March 2012
There was now only one Kestrel hovering above Mill Hill on an overcast day. 

19 March 2012
A Red Admiral Butterfly flew over the top of Chanctonbury Drive (SE of Mill Hill), only my second species of butterfly seen this year. Long-tailed Tits flew to and from between the hedges and scrub and the Lesser Celandines were in the open gardens that adjoined the grass bank. Two Kestrels soared high over Mill Hill. On the lower slopes many of the thousands of Sweet Violets were looking battered by the recent rain.
Adur Butterfly List 2012
Report on the Mill Hill Blog

12 March 2012
Under a blue sky and weak sunshine (14.6 °C) the Sweet Violets were flowering on Mill Hill, where I saw two Peacock Butterflies (my first two butterflies of the year), one flying across the road at the top of the hill and another one fluttering over the lower slopes. There was frequent small bird calls and activity from the Hawthorn bushes and I caught a glimpse of the small birds but not enough to identify most of them except for the Robin Redbreast. There was extensive moss growing at the southern end of the lower slopes which had been noted early in previous years. The conservation workers had cleared some of the scrub. I only visited the lower slopes and did not see any cattle and only a few dried cow pats on the lower slopes.
Adur Violets
Adur Butterfly List 2012
Adur Butterfly Flight Times
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
The photograph on the left is the gall made by the small gall wasp Diplolepis rosae known as Robin's Pin Cushion. It is found on the Dog Rose.

Life Cycle

The final instar stage is reached by late October. The larva ceases feeding. It now passes into the prepupal stage, in which form it over winters inside the gall known as the bedeguar. In the following February or March the prepupa undergoes a final moult and becomes a pupa.


Peacock Butterfly

Peacock Butterfly

10 March 2012
I visited Mill Hill to check out the butterfly transect territory I will be visiting weekly from the beginning of April. I was hoping the Adders would be showing and was rewarded with four basking snakes. I had seen two and was returning by the path and spotted a black one. While photographing this I noticed a grey one slithering away nearby.

Report by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards



Mill Hill Wildlife Reports 2011 (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. A confirmed one was spotted nearby.

There is also the possibility of one of the Fritillary butterflies.

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 2012 Nature Notes pagesLink 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