Mill Hill (June 2013)
MILL HILL
 
 
 

WILDLIFE REPORTS 2013

Autumn Downland Butterflies (August):
 
Chalkhill Blue (male)
 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



 
OVERVIEW:

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

Lower Slopes of Mill Hill, May 2006

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
MILL HILL HOMEPAGE
LOWER SLOPES 2008
MILL NATURE RESERVE & MAP
OVERVIEW CITATION

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
"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)

FEATURE:
 
2003
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. 

     2009


OS Map
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

                                                                                                               Footpaths at Mill Hill

Map Geograph Satellite
 
 

WILDLIFE REPORTS


Mill Hill Wildlife Reports 2014 (Link)

29 November 2013
I visited the lower slopes of Mill Hill but I failed to see anything newsworthy or photogenic in poor light under an overcast sky in the middle of the day.

4 November 2013
Two male Kestrels aerially sparred for over five minutes over Mill Hill against the backdrop of a blue sky. Eventually, one of splendidly coloured Kestrels flew away to the west, whilst the first one seen resumed hovering over the down south of the Reservoir.
 

I was thinking it was hardly worth the trek to the lower slopes as there was hardly a plant in flower (mostly Hawkweeds*) and nothing moving apart from the common birds (Blackbirds and Magpies were noted). Just as I was about to leave I spotted a flash of yellow out the corner of my eyes and it was not one of the many leaves that fluttered a bit like a butterfly in the gentle breeze. It was the first of three Clouded Yellow Butterflies, of which two appeared to be courting, despite the faintest chill (>9.8°C) in the air after the warmest October in my memory. I disturbed the resting butterflies and they flew up rapidly over the steep slopes above the muddy path.
A few small patches of Nostoc Commune were noted after the rain, and a large damaged Big Blue Pinkgill, Entoloma bloxamii mushroom.
Butterfly Report

* Single flowers of Thyme, Milkwort, Self-heal, and Devil's Bit Scabious were also spotted. There were a few plants of  Common Centaury with closed flowers and a few budding Devil's Bit Scabious. The Carline Thistle had silver leaves and the heads that remain into the next year.

23 October 2013
After the over night rain deluge, the weather cleared and there was even a enough warmth for the surviving butterflies to be discovered in the breeze. just a restless Clouded Yellow over the lower slopes of Mill Hill. There was also a possible Large White but it was caught in a gust and blown away too quickly to be sure. It could have been a Brimstone or the Clouded Yellow.

15 October 2013
It was muddy underfoot but the sun shone intermittently through gaps in the clouds. A Red Admiral was quickly seen over the road before (south of) the first cattle grid. Mill Hill was in both shade and sunshine, but the sunshine was very weak for the first twenty minutes when I failed to spot a single butterfly in flight. I was about to register a blank when my eye caught a very bright Clouded Yellow that was settled before it flew off rapidly. It was the first of two seen on the lower slopes. The sun could be felt for the first time and almost simultaneously I disturbed the first of seven Meadow Browns, and later just the one Small White Butterfly. There may be more butterflies in hiding as it was only warm enough for butterflies for about ten minutes. One Meadow Brown was disturbed into flight by the frequent grasshoppers. One was identified as a Meadow Grasshopper, Chorthippus parallelus.
 

 Privet
 Dog Violet
 Meadow Brown
Hawkbit 

Notably there was a cleistogamic flowering Dog Violet in the south-central area below the path on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. Despite the muddy path, the bank was not especially slippery, but after the rain I was not surprised to see one clump of the rehydrated cyanobacteria Nostoc Commune.

8 October 2013
The sun went behind a cloud as I descended to the lower slopes of Mill Hill, where it is was five minutes before the first of ten Meadow Browns made an appearance. This one was more restless than the other and even stopped at the diminutive remaining flowers of a Milkwort. All but two seen in the transect acre were at the northern end. One pair of Meadow Browns continued copulating in flight when disturbed from the Devil's Bit Scabious. The northern end of the lower slopes was also attractive to a female Common Blue, a Large White, a faded Small Copper (a different one from seen two days earlier) and a much brighter Clouded Yellow than seen before. A few Common Darters (dragonfly) were seen. On my return a Speckled Wood Butterfly was spotted at the top of Chanctonbury Drive (SE of Mill Hill Road Bridge over the A27).
Full Butterfly Report

6 October 2013
Under a mixed cloudy sky, the sun disappeared behind a cloud and did not reappear until I was on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. Scores of grasshoppers were making short flights. One was recognised as a Meadow Grasshopper, Chorthippus parallelus. A few cleistogamic flowering Sweet Violets were scattered over the slopes.
 

 Clouded Yellow
 Common Darter
 Small Copper
Ivy Bee 

Meadow Browns were the first butterflies to be seen and this trek I counted 19 in the one acre transect in about half an hour and more after I stopped counting. All but one of the butterflies were congregated at the northern end but other species were sparse in numbers with just two Small Heath Butterflies, a Large White, and two brown females, one each of Common Blue and Adonis Blue. Pride of place was given to a good condition Small Copper. A restless Clouded Yellow was the one exception as it fluttered continually the full length of the lower slopes and back. It was seen to land for a few seconds. A Small White was noted as I returned by the winding path through the lower slopes.
The first of two Common Darters (dragonfly) was seen amongst the Brambles. The congregations of small colonial bees, the Ivy Bee, Colletes hederae, were again observed. There were over a hundred holes but not so many bees. Their habitat may have been helped to be created by the activities of Rabbits or by human disturbance. A small mushroom was found. It was thought to be a Stropharia dung species.
Full Butterfly Report

2 October 2013
On Mill Hill Road, north of the bridge, I spied a Dark Bush Cricket by the hedge. Venturing down to the dry lower slopes of Mill Hill, the first of over a dozen Meadow Browns fluttered around more rapidly than usual. Even more restless was two sightings of a Clouded Yellow (a half an hour apart) which may have been the same butterfly. It never stopped flying even for a second. Notably there was a large brown butterfly which I suspected was a female Adonis Blue. There was also a probable male Adonis Blue as well as a female Common Blue. The difficulty of identification was because the butterflies edges were tattered. The identification was made on size and brightness of the blue and on previous appearances. Most butterflies were at the northern end by the Devils Bit Scabious, where a fresh Large White Butterfly fluttered around. There appeared to be a shortage of nectar plants. Meadow Browns used the Devils Bit Scabious and Bramble and made a fleeting visit to Wild Basil. There was also a an orange-brown moth that flew from the ground to hedgerow height and disappeared. I have seen these before in September and they have never been positively identified, although they could be Vapourer Moths? Crane-flies were frequently seen over the low herbs.
Adur Grasshoppers & Crickets
 

 Meadow Brown on Bramble
 Sweet Violet
 Adonis Blue 
Dark Bush Cricket

Despite the paucity of butterflies it was still an worthwhile and interesting visit. Notably there was a cleistogamic flowering Sweet Violet at the southern end of the lower slopes. The spiky leaves of Carline Thistle had turned from green silver and mostly they were the final rusty-bronze colour.
 
Colonial bee holes

Nearer the northern end and sometimes near the path, there were small cliff edges of exposed soil and these were used by a congregations of small colonial bees, the Ivy Bee, Colletes hederae. A small bee Halictus sp. (male) was seen on Devil's Bit Scabious
A much large hole south of the path was dug by a Rabbit. I was almost certain of that before, but now the droppings outside seemed to indicate an inhabited burrow. 
Mill Hill Bees Report
 

A parliament of Rooks squawked over the top part of the sky and were identified by their raucous calls.

20 September 2013
After the rain and the near Gale, the day was fine, overcast with intermittent sunshine. A Speckled Wood Butterfly was seen by the hedge next to Mill Hill Road north of the bridge. The lower slopes of Mill Hill were cast in shade as the clouds blocked out the rays of sun. There no butterflies at all for nearly five minutes, just hundreds of Field Grasshoppers, Chorthippus brunneus, jumping everywhere I stood and scores of Crane-flies over the short vegetation. Meadow Browns were the first butterflies to appear, with about eight of them scattered over the first half half acre of the transect. A few Treble-bar Moths attracted my attention as I disturbed their resting place. A very tattered large brown butterfly was probably a female Adonis Blue. This was followed a smaller intact brown butterfly which I identified as a female Common Blue,followed by another female and blue male of the same species.
 

 
 
 Meadow Brown
 Devil's Bit Scabious
Devil's Bit Scabious

The butterflies were not attracted to the Carline Thistle. The leaves of this plant had turned from green to gold and then silver. However, at the northern end of the lower slopes there are three clumps of Devil's Bit Scabious growing close together and these provided a first class attraction for about 25 more Meadow Browns and about four Common Blues and a female Adonis Blue quarrelling over the available flowerheads in the sunshine. The dozen Large Whites over Mill Hill did not get a chance. And that seemed to be it, perhaps for the year until a restless Clouded Yellow flew by without pausing. There were more Meadow Browns as I returned by the winding path through the lower slopes.
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Grasshoppers

Small Heath12 September 2013
It was not warm enough for many butterflies and I only saw a few Large Whites on the outskirts of Shoreham and no butterflies at all on Mill Hill Cutting (SW). It was not in my plan in the late afternoon to visit the lower slopes of Mill Hill, but I thought I would record what could (probably not) be my last butterflies of the year. The idea was to see my last blue butterfly and then go home. In the event I had to quickly trek nearly the whole acre transect recording twenty Meadow Browns, ten Treble-bar Moths, one Small Heath Butterfly, before I saw my first Common Blue resting on Devil's Bit Scabious. It was only on the way back along the winding path that I saw a male Adonis Blue.

9 September 2013
After the torrential rain in the previous day and on an overcast day I expected the butterflies to be diminished in numbers and variety and it was as expected in the same proportions as before. Speckled Woods (3) were the first appear on the steps down to the lower slopes from the south. Adonis Blues showed quickly and tallied up to 24 in the transect acre. About half were females. Meadow Browns could be counted in the transect acre at 57 with females more than males. Carline Thistle was not the attractant. Only Devil's Bit Scabious proved a major nectar source with a few Hardheads and a Dwarf Thistle attracting Meadow Browns. There were four Small Heaths behaving as usual. Common Blues were not counted but there were about a dozen on the lower slopes with a few Large Whites and a restless Clouded Yellow.

Day flying moths were more than expected with a few Shaded Broad-bar (4), about eight Treble-bars, at least one pyralid moth Pyrausta purpuralis, and a Silver Y Moth. Round-headed Rampion was spotted in flower.
 
This female blue butterfly, probably an Adonis Blue looked worn and battered as it crawled through the short vegetation. It did not release an egg whilst I was watching and it was on Burnet Saxifrage, not Horseshoe Vetch (the caterpillar foot plant). 

I returned by the ridge route and spotted at least twenty Meadow Browns, another half a dozen or more Common Blues and Large Whites without trying.

1 September 2013
An afternoon visit to Mill Hill on the the day of Shoreham Air Show was a little overcast by the afternoon.
The upper part of Mill Hill was crowded with picnickers so I only visited the lower slopes and it appears that this year I have missed the second brood peak of the Adonis Blues with a reduction from the last visit to 49 (35 males and 14 females). Chalkhill Blues were almost finished with just four males seen in the transect acre and a female. Wall Browns impressed with five seen, four of them in fine condition, and in addition there was an estimated 80 Meadow Browns, frequent Common Blues, occasional Small Heaths, a few Speckled Woods on the southern steps, occasional Large Whites and Small Whites, a few Treble-bar Moths, and at least one faded pyralid moth Pyrausta nigrata. Autumn is here and the butterfly season was nearly over. The first Devil's Bit Scabious was in flower at the northern end of the lower slopes and a solitary Welted Thistle seen this year on the edge of the ridge path return route for the first time this year.

Meadow Browns and Adonis Blueon Carline Thistle

NB: On Mill Hill there was difficulty in separating the female Adonis Blues and Chalkhill Blues. There may be more female Chalkhill Blues than I first thought.
Adur Butterfly List 2013

28 August 2013

I ambled over the parched upper part, top meadows and middle slopes of Mill Hill, without any special searching and I saw over a hundred Meadow Browns, many of them amorous, at least 39 (36+3) Adonis Blues  including courting couples (probably the largest number ever seen on the upper part of Mill Hill), double as many Common Blues, a handful of Chalkhill Blues with some fresh males, five Wall Browns, occasional Small Heaths, frequent Speckled Woods, one Peacock and one restless Clouded Yellow. I declined to visit the lower slopes under the midday sun. There were frequent female Common Blues, but no Brown Argus were spotted. No Gatekeepers were recorded either. An Agriphila micro-moth was spotted.
Adur Butterfly List 2013
 

The small black fly could be a Tanachid Fly
They are commonly referred to as íParasitic Fliesí because the larvae feed on the body tissues of immature or adult invertebrates. However, although we use the term parasite they are really parasitoids - the difference being that parasites (like tapeworms) donít kill their hosts, but parasitoids usually cause the death of the host in some way - either by killing them outright - or by weakening them so much that they die
More Information

Aplomya confinis and Phryxe vulgaris are known to parasitise blue butterflies as well as other species and moths.

Both have endoparasitoid larvae that live within and kill the live caterpillars. 
 

Adonis Blue  on Carline Thistle

 Autumn Gentian
 Micro-moth Agriphila
 Robin's Pin Cushion
Adonis Blue on Marjoram

Autumn Gentian was seen flowering on the upper plateau and with the seeding of the Ragwort it was the beginning of autumn. The largest Robin's Pin Cushion I have ever seen was spotted on the middle slopes below the top copse.


26 August 2013
It was late afternoon and most of the butterflies were roosting, but they were easily disturbed in the short vegetation, and clouds of butterflies, a dozen and more rose into the air in patches. By far the most of them were Meadow Browns, but there were plenty of Chalkhill Blues, Common Blues and Adonis Blues. It was not possible to count the butterflies but in the one acre transect I actually saw an estimated over two hundred Meadow Browns and each of the blues in region of thirty five, but many were hiding. There were more female Chalkhill Blues than the very tattered males. Other species seen were Large Whites, a few restless Clouded Yellows (seven separate sightings but some may be duplicates), eight Wall Browns (two on the upper part) a few Small Heaths, a few Gatekeepers and one Small Tortoiseshell. A few pyralid moths were also seen.

Mill Hill (with Adonis Blues)  Click on the image to find the location on a map via Flickr

Click on the image to find the location on a map via flickr

I made an impromptu journey to the lower slopes of Mill Hill which was cast in shade from the few clouds on an otherwise sunny day.


Carline Thistle
Adonis Blues on Bramble
Meadow Brown 

Many of butterflies showed signs of damage, bird pecks, extensive in the Chalkhill Blues and large chunks missing out of some of the Adonis Blues.
A Shaded Broad-bar, Scotopteryx chenopodiata, and a Treblebar Moth were spotted on the lower slopes of Mill Hill.
Adur Butterfly List 2013
Adur Moths

21 August 2013
My impression was he number of butterflies were down on a week earlier, but there were still sufficient numbers to be omnipresent and enough variety to be interesting. There was also three or more times the density of butterflies on the lower slopes of Mill Hill than on the on the Lancing Ring meadows.
The butterfly species recorded were:
 

Green-veined White  1 *
Large White  30+
Small White 10+
Clouded Yellow 2
Brimstone 2
Small Heath 20+
Meadow Brown 180+
Gatekeeper 15+
Speckled Wood  10+
Wall Brown 3 
Small Tortoiseshell 12+
Red Admiral 1 
Peacock 4
Painted Lady 1 
 
Chalkhill Blue 58 (53+5) ~
Adonis Blue 74 ~
Common Blue  Est. 55+ ~
Brown Argus ??
Holly Blue 1
Silver Y Moth  8+
Treble-bar Moth  2  ~
     

The numbers are for the whole of Mill Hill except for the blue butterflies. These are for the one acre transect area on the lower slopes of Mill Hill only for the Chalkhill Blues and Adonis Blues with a counted tally and the Common Blues with an estimate. All other substantial numbers were estimated, with single digit numbers counted..

Southern part of Mill Hill
~  Lower slope transect area only (for the numbers recorded)
Upper car park Buddleia bush only
 

 Meadow Brown
Chalkhill Blues
Brimstone 
 Adonis Blue 

Adonis Blues (74 per acre) now exceeded the Chalkhill Blues (54) and Common Blues (E 55) on the lower slopes.  The Adonis Blues now visited the Carline Thistle. Two Clouded Yellows flew continuously over the lower slopes and I never saw either of them settle, not even once. There were frequent female Common Blues and the photographs failed to discover if any Brown Argus were there. Meadow Browns were seen mating on a handful of occasions and Chalkhill Blues were courting and one pair flew away in an embrace. Small Heaths were courting or sparring.
Brown Argus & Female Common Blues ID chart
 

 Meadow Browns
 Chalkhill Blue
 Common Blue
Small Tortoiseshell 

There were a handful more Chalkhill Blues over the middle slopes,. The Holly Blue was seen amongst the scrub. Common Blues were frequently seen over the middle slopes and upper meadows of Mill Hill. The transect estimate for Meadow Browns was about 130.  I had to wait right up until the end before I saw the Painted Lady and Red Admiral in the Buddleia by the upper car park. The Buddleia in the centre of the middle slopes hosted Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells, which were also on the Marjoram of the middle slopes with Meadow Browns and Common Blues. Gatekeeper numbers had reduced appreciably. The Small Copper was not discovered.
A Garden Orb Spider, Araneus diadematus, had wrapped up a blue butterfly caught in its web amongst the Brambles on the lower slopes.
A bird, possibly a female Blackbird, was disturbed amongst the Deadly Nightshade.
Adur Butterfly List 2013

I started and finished my tour of local sites at Mill Hill, where I hoped to photograph the second brood Adonis Blues. My brief morning visit was an instant success; only ten metres from the car park I found a beautiful female opening her wings wide to the morning sun for the very first time. When I returned in the evening the patches of longer grass and herbs along the lower slopes of Mill Hill were crammed with roosting butterflies. Large communal roosts of Adonis Blues, Chalkhill  Blues and Common Blues were a joy to sift through in the calm conditions. The biggest and most welcome surprise of the day came just as I started to descend the steep chalk slope at Mill Hill. At 6.10 pm most of the butterflies were already at roost ... but not the Silver-spotted Skipper which landed at my feet! County Recorder Colin Pratt can find no historic records of the species here, and it has certainly been absent since at least the 1930s. I was delighted, as this is the third new site for Silver-spotted Skipper I've found in the last few weeks.

Second Report by Neil Hulme on Sussex Butterflies


19 August 2013
Mill Hill under a cloudy sky and many of the butterflies on the lower slopes were hiding and their numbers were less than could be expected when sunny. This was especially true of the 50+ Adonis Blues and sometimes I had to almost tread on them to see them in flight. Both Chalkhill Blues and Meadow Browns were in excess of fifty as well as I started counting them but then guessed the numbers as I did not cover the full acre transect as normal. Females were only 8% of the Chalkhill Blues and one fresh specimen was suspected of being a female Adonis Blue but it is almost impossible to separate the females of the two species by appearance. Common Blues were around the fifty mark on the lower slopes but Gatekeepers were slightly less, estimated at just under fifty.
 
Robber Fly on the lower slopes of Mill Hill 
It looks like Machimus atricapillus ... the antennae look good for it (the very similar M. cingulatus has a slightly shorter arista) and is associated with chalk and limestone grassland.  Under Enquiry (link)
Adur Flies
 
Adonis Blues & Chalkhill Blue 

 Small Copper
 Chalkhill Blue 
Chalkhill Blue 

Adonis BluesOther butterflies seen were at least two Wall Browns amongst the longer Tor Grass, a handful of Small Heaths only when the sun came up briefly, one Peacock, four lively Clouded Yellows, occasional Large Whites, at least one Small White, and my first Small Copper of the year. A few Speckled Woods were seen by the southern steps. Treble-bar Moths were disturbed and these were not so lively. One faded pyralid micro-moth Pyrausta nigrata was spotted but I expect many more were in hiding in the early afternoon.
At the top of the hill by the hedge just north of the bridge, two Holly Blues fluttered around.
Carline Thistle was attractive to the Chalkhill Blues, Meadow Browns and to a lesser extent the Common Blues but not to the Adonis Blues.
Adur Butterfly Flight Times
Adur Butterfly List 2013

The small bee skulking around was thought to be a Nomada kleptoparastic (cuckoo) bee.

14 August 2013
Around the hedge by the houses on the north side of the bridge, a Holly Blue fluttered above my head as I cycled by. On the rain laden sky the southern top part of Mill Hill showed frequent Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns, Common Blues and my first Wall Brown of the early afternoon. On the southern steps my second Clouded Yellow of the day was quickly seen with a few Speckled Woods. The rain seemed so imminent that I did not walk the transect and count the butterflies but just made notes in passing over the lower slopes. Estimated numbers of Meadow Browns was at 150 an acre, Gatekeepers and Chalkhill Blues just under a hundred an acre and Common Blues well over fifty. Small Heaths were occasionally spotted and I was surprised to seen a slightly damaged Marbled White. There was a few Large Whites, a Small White, a Peacock Butterfly, a Small Tortoiseshell at least two male Adonis Blues as it briefly started to rain. If there was just the one Clouded Yellow it flew the whole length of the flower slopes, where at the northern end a Silver Y Moth fluttered onto some Wild Privet. As well as the Rabbit burrows there were at least two much smaller burrow-like holes only 26 mm in diameter.
 

  Deadly Nightshade
 Deadly Nightshade   Atropa belladonna
Wall Brown 
 Common Blue

I made a change from my normal route through Mill Hill Nature Reserve and did not climb up the steps through the scrub as the paths were too overgrown. Instead I trekked an easier passage (a more gradual gradient) to the middle slopes from the south. The Buddleia tree in the middle of the scrub hosted at least five Peacock Butterflies easily seen and a not so easy to spot Red Admiral. One Marjoram clump on the middle slopes hosted three Small Tortoiseshells and there were Gatekeepers everywhere and frequent Common Blues and occasional Chalkhill Blues.
In the copse at the top of the hill, the repeated call of a Green Woodpecker was heard clearly.
Full Butterfly Report

13 August 2013
Breezy and overcast so the butterflies were resting in the afternoon on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. About twenty of the Chalkhill Blues were hiding. Meadow Browns were everywhere though and over a hundred were spotted with frequent Gatekeepers and occasional Small Heaths, three Wall Browns and at least two Common Blues. There was also the unexpected sight of a possible Silver-spotted Skipper which would be a first for Mill Hill.  The possible sighting was on the short turf immediately north of the Reservoir. (I was unable to get a good look because of picnickers nearby.)
 

 Deadly Nightshade
 
 Small Bees
 Lasioglossumfulvicorne
 Greater Knapweed
 Small Heath

It felt like like autumn with the thistles and other wild flowers going to seed and the large black berries of Deadly Nightshade seen by me for the first time on Mill Hill on a bush on some cleared ground. The Rabbits had dug two large burrow entrances in the middle of the lower slopes.
Adur Butterfly List 2013
Adur Bees

8 August 2013
Hundreds of butterflies fluttered around the parched lower slopes of Mill Hill in an average year (but still less than a third of a tally in a good year). Chalkhill Blues were out in force with over two hundred seen around midday. The one acre transect count was 131 (with an estimated 15 females). Both Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns were everywhere with estimated numbers at about a hundred an acre for each. Common Blues were very noticeable with at least thirty seen mostly around the longer Tor Grass in the central part. Marbled Whites were still in flight which was a bit late for them. About ten were seen including two that seemed smaller than normal. There were some Large Whites that looked the size of Brimstones. The latter were not seen on the lower slopes. Both Green-veined Whites and Small Whites were also identified. Small Heaths had increased in number with fifteen or more. Speckled Woods were seen in the shady places around the southern steps and in the scrub at the northern end.
 

 
Carline Thistle 
 Chalkhill Blueson Carline Thistle
 
 Adonis Blue

Robber FlyA bright Painted Lady landed on a Stemless Thistle. A Peacock Butterfly was a colourful addition over the slopes. But the highlight of the day was a Dark Green Fritillary restlessly patrolling over the lower slopes by the bottom wayward hedge at about 12 mph. It landed just once for a second on a Hardhead. (The photograph was out of focus.) I went back to try a decent photograph and suddenly there was a flash of bright yellow in the sunshine from my second Clouded Yellow of the year. It ended up chasing the Dark Green Fritillary before it fluttered away rapidly. Butterflies were courting and three species were seen in copulation: Common Blues, Meadow Browns and Chalkhill Blues. At first I did not notice the brown female Chalkhill Blues but after I retraced my steps many more of mostly plain brown specimens were seen, as many as thirty five with one pair courting and another in copulation. It was then I had a closer look at the Common Blues and I found a handful of the larger male second brood Adonis Blues. The brown ones with orange wing fringe spots were almost certainly female Common Blues rather than a few Brown Argus. Moths made occasional appearances; the inevitable Six-spotted Burnet Moths, occasional Silver Y Moths, at least one Treble-bar Moth and a faded pyralid moth Pyrausta nigrata. A Robber Fly, Machimus atricapillus (Illustrated on the right) settled on the winding path.
Adur Butterfly List 2013
Chalkhill Blues Notes
Adur Flies 2013

Chalkhill Blues

6 August 2013
After the heavy rain of the previous day, I went straight to Mill Hill around midday.
On the southern part of Mill Hill, I noted scores of butterflies mostly Meadow Browns in excess of thirty, occasional Gatekeepers, Small Whites and Large Whites with a Peacock, Chalkhill Blue, a Small Skipper and another Speckled Wood all within a few minutes.
The object of the trip was to record the number of Chalkhill Blues in the one acre transect of the lower slopes. The tally was 115 (108 males and 7 females). Most of the transect walk was in the shade of a cloud, but when the sun came out, more of these blue butterflies appeared. The newly budding and flowering Carline Thistle was attractive to bees and butterflies. The other numbers were partly counts and estimates in the male Common Blues at 35+, or total estimates of the Meadow Browns at 230+ or double the number of Chalkhill Blues.  Other counts were Small Heaths (5+), one tattered yellow Brimstone, seven Marbled Whites (some sightings deducted to avoid duplicates), at least a dozen Large Whites, an estimated twenty or more Gatekeepers, two Treble-bar Moths and at least one Six-spotted Burnet Moth.
 

 Brimstone on Teasel
Meadow Brownon Carline Thistle 
 Chalkhill Blues on Carline Thistle

Ringlet Butterfly on Mill HillWalking through the scrub on MIll Hill, there were Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns everywhere. I even managed to spot a Ringlet by the gate to the Old Erringham pasture. On a large Buddleia surrounded by Stinging Nettles and Brambles on the overgrown middle slopes, there was score or more of butterflies, at least a dozen Red Admirals, four or more large Peacocks, one small Comma and the inevitable Meadow Browns and Large Whites.
When the scrub opened out to the open glade on the middle slopes Marjoram was flowing abundantly and attracted butterflies on most of the clumps, Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, Peacocks (three on one clump), Painted Ladies (two on the same clump and one on another) and the first of a few Green-veined Whites and some of the 19 Chalkhill Blues. The half a dozen or so Common Blues did not seem to be particularly attracted to Marjoram like the other butterflies, and all of the nine Brimstone Butterflies fluttered rapidly between one Wild Basil flower and another. A few of the small Restharrow were flowering on the middle slopes.
Finally over the top of Mill Hill, Gatekeepers predominated with frequent Meadow Browns, three male Chalkhill Blues, at least one more Small Skipper, a few Large Whites, at least one each of Painted Lady and Peacock, a few Six-spotted Burnet Moths and frequent Silver Y Moths.
Adur Butterfly List 2013

1 August 2013
I took a direct route to Mill Hill (through Buckingham Park and Buckingham Cutting (south) and the Dovecote Estate) with an object just to count the Chalkhill Blue Butterflies which it previous years had peaked at the turn of the month. In the one acre transect I counted eighty blue males that were very lively in the humid warm sunshine and there were many more all over the slopes. However, I did not spot even one of the brown females and I surmise that these blue butterflies have not peaked in numbers yet. The relative dearth of Chalkhill Blues was made up by my first ever definite Dark Green Fritillary in Shoreham, flying very strongly over the southern part of Mill Hill, over the Ragwort without settling. (It was only recognised as a fritillary and Dark Green is most probable because of the downs habitat. I actually thought it looked more like a Silver-washed Fritillary.) Shortly afterwards, I nearly walked into a good condition bright Painted Lady. It had settled on a Ragwort until I got my camera out. Sixteen of the twenty species of butterfly seen on the day were spotted on Mill Hill. Butterflies were common, with hundreds on the wing over the downs and far too many to count.
 

Gatekeeper
Marbled White
Yellow Wort
Ploughman's Spikenard

Many of the paths through the scrub were overgrown and some were impassable. I fought my way through where I could noting the Welted Thistle seemed to dying before flowering through lack of water. In the middle of the middle slopes there is a Buddleia Bush that hosted six Peacock Butterflies, two Red Admirals, Meadow Browns and the omnipresent Gatekeepers. Marbled Whites were still frequently seen. As I had seen male Common Blues earlier and two on the lower slopes, I thought the parched middle slopes and the overgrown top meadow could be brimming with them especially on the Marjoram. But there were only occasionally seen with a few Small Skippers and the inevitable Gatekeepers everywhere.
Full Butterfly Report
Butterfly List for the Day

NB: The two butterflies, the Gatekeeper and Marbled White (illustrated above) were actually photographed on the Buckingham Cutting (south). The butterflies on Mill Hill were restless and there were enough to keep bothering each other.
 
Traveller's Joy, Clematis, was beginning to flower extensively over the scrub.

Guest Report:
I completed my Mill Hill transect in the morning with the following results: Brimstone 4, Chalkhill Blue 110, Common Blue 2, Gatekeeper 16, Green-veined White 1, Large White 2, Marbled White 2, Meadow Brown 138, Peacock 11, Red Admiral 3, Small Copper 1, Small Heath 1, Small Skipper 1, Small White1, Wall 1, misc. whites 9, also Silver Y 5. Chalkhill Blues, Meadow Browns and Peacocks have increased since last week, and this was the first second brood Wall on Mill Hill.

Report & Images by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards


27 July 2013
Hundreds of butterflies fluttered over the lower slopes of Mill Hill around midday. It was warm when the sun came out from behind the wispy clouds with hardly a breeze and this encouraged the butterflies of mainly four species with 78 Chalkhill Blues (76 males and 2 females) counted in one acre of the transect, with estimated counts of 60 Gatekeepers, 75 Meadow Brown, and 25 Marbled Whites, plus 15 Large Whites, two Red Admirals, one Peacock and a bright yellow Brimstone Butterfly. Six-spotted Burnet Moths were frequently seen. I returned by the winding path route and as the sun and warmth became greater there were even more butterflies* all over the five acres of the lower slopes in about even distribution, with more on the upper part of the hill. The Marbled Whites were especially prevalent with another 25 seen around the winding path. Two tiny pyralid moths were spotted: Pyrausta nigrata and the colourful Pyrausta purpuralis. (* Estimated 350+ Chalkhill Blues on the total area of the lower slopes).
 

Chalkhill Blue (male)
 Ragwort
 Carline Thistle
 Meadow Brown 
 Chalkhill Blue

Small Skippers were frequently seen but it seemed that most of them were on the southern part of Mill Hill at the top amongst the Ragwort and Teasels. On the southern part there were the inevitable Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns, as well as a Comma Butterfly, a few Chalkhill Blues, and more Marbled Whites and a brightly coloured Painted Lady. The first shoots of Autumn Gentian were seen as well as the buds of Carline Thistle.
Full Butterfly Report

Brimstone Butterfly25 July 2013
In the afternoon the clouds cleared so I did my Mill Hill butterfly transect with the following result: Chalkhill Blue 63, Comma 1, Dark Green Fritillary 1, Gatekeeper 60, Green-veined White 1, Large White 1, Marbled White 16, Meadow Brown 116, Red Admiral, Small Heath 1, Small White 2, other Whites 8.
Gatekeepers and Chalkhill Blues continue to increase, but the big news was the Dark Green Fritillary which is the first I have recorded on Mill Hill. It settled a couple of times, then flew off strongly and left the area.

Report & Images by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards


24 July 2013
On the warm day, (but cooler than all the last week) I took the opportunity to make a leisurely visit to Mill Hill. 28 male Chalkhill Blue Butterflies were counted on the transect acre in the intermittent sunshine on the parched down. There were two more on the upper part of the hill. Butterflies were common with over one hundred of sixteen species seen in an hour. The most spectacular were the bright fresh red Peacock Butterflies. Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns were everywhere on the outskirts and downs. Over fifty Six-spotted Burnet Moths visited the purple flowers of the Knapweeds. Last and certainly least, I spotted an immigrant Painted Lady on the abundant Ragwort on the southern part of Mill Hill. (Recording was likely to be under the numbers actually there as I was looking for the blues on the open down rather than the numerous butterflies in the scrub, hedgerow and overgrown meadows. Many paths were almost blocked with vegetation more than I have seen before.)
Full Butterfly Report (graphical)
 

Harebell
Chalkhill Blue
Chalkhill Blue
Stemless Thistle
Teasel
Gatekeeper
Robin's Pin Cushion

Robin's Pin Cushion was seem for the first time this year on the lower slopes and there was a Harebell on the upper plateau.  There was plenty of Teasels with the Ragwort on the disturbed land. The middle slopes and meadow north of the upper car park seemed to be devoid of butterflies but some may have been hiding as I did not make a search. The grasses had grown high with the rain in spring, but the rest of down was parched.

19 July 2013
A Comma Butterfly seen on the hedges on the side of Mill Hill road north of the bridge. By the time I reached Mill Hill I was suffering from fatigue in temperatures of 25.9 °C at midday. I only ventured down to the southern part of the lower slopes where Marbled Whites and male Chalkhill Blues were in the same numbers and with the same restlessness as my previous visit two days ago. There were frequent Gatekeepers, occasional Small Skippers, Meadow Browns, two Small Whites and Large Whites, and at least one Small Heath and about ten Six-spotted Burnet Moths in flight. Surprisingly, no Small Tortoiseshells were spotted.
The first green shoots of Carline Thistle were noticeable with the grey remains from last year as well. Wild Basil was beginning to show.
 

Ragwort was quick to colonise cleared land on the top of Mill Hill. With it came the Cinnabar Moth and the caterpillars.

17 July 2013
On the southern upper part of Mill Hill, butterflies appeared in under a minute, firstly a Meadow Brown, followed immediately by a Small Skipper amongst the long grasses, and a Small Tortoiseshell amongst the prevalent Ragwort. The Ragwort also hosted a Cinnabar Moth but I did not see any caterpillars. The meadows were full of Greater Knapweed now in flower. Amongst the dense meadows I disturbed a Silver Y Moth and watched about ten Six-spotted Burnet Moths in flight.
At last I spotted my first Chalkhill Blues on the lower slopes of Mill Hill with 14 of the blue males counted in the one acre transect in the heat of the middle of the day. All these new butterflies were restless and none of them settled even for a second. The same restlessness applied to the Marbled Whites with 39 counted on Mill Hill (37 on the lower slopes). Gatekeepers (35+) were frequently seen amongst the scrub (including the hedgerow at the bottom of the lower slopes), two bright orange Comma Butterflies, two Speckled Woods, and a few Large Whites. A bright yellow Brimstone Butterfly skirted the hedgerow at the bottom of the lower slopes. I registered about five Small Heaths on the open slopes with frequent Meadow Browns (15+). I returned by the quickest ridge route where the Speckled Woods and most of the Gatekeepers were seen. There was another Small Tortoiseshell by the Reservoir.
 

 Yellow Wort
Round-headed Rampion 
 Knapweed Broomrape
Knapweed Broomrape

On Mill Hill and the adjacent pasture at Old Erringham, Round-headed Rampion was seen in flower for the first time this year. Ragged Robin was an unexpected find on the Old Erringham pasture by the gate and the single plant was accompanied by more than a dozen Round-headed Rampion flowers. There was an occasional Wild Basil flower appearing and very frequent Stemless Thistles on the lower slopes. The Broomrape was thought to be Knapweed Broomrape on the southern part of Mill Hill near the entrance to the steps and path down to the lower slopes.
Adur Butterfly List 2013

12 July 2013
The Mill Hill transect produced my first Chalkhill Blue (1) and Gatekeeper (11) of the season, plus 2 very worn Adonis Blue, 2 Large Skipper, 13 Marbled White, 27 Meadow Brown, 1 Red Admiral, 16 Small Heath, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 4 Whites.

Chalkhill Blue Report by Colin Knight on Sussex Butterflies
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

Alas, the Chalkhill Blues had not yet emerged on Mill Hill and pride of place went to the restless Marbled White Butterflies. Sixteen were counted. The first species of butterfly was the first of frequent Small Tortoiseshells (15+) in the vicinity of the Stinging Nettles on the southern upper part of Mill Hill. On the steps down to the lower slopes, I spotted which I thought was a Small Skipper. Marbled Whites were the first butterflies to be seen flying persistently and not settling on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. There was at least ten of them on the lower slopes favouring the Tor Grass patch. All of them were in continual motion.  By the bottom hedgerow I thought I spotted by first Gatekeeper of the year amongst the frequent Meadow Browns. Small Heath Butterflies seemed to have declined in numbers since a week ago and only about ten were spotted in the one acre transect area. Just one worn male Common Blue visited a yellow Hawkweed on the lower slopes. A Large White was very distinctive and one of two on the hill.
 

Small Tortoiseshell
Six-spotted Burnet Moth
Speckled Wood
Marbled White

Amongst the scrub there were some more Small Tortoiseshells and a handful of Speckled Woods. I returned quickly along the overgrown paths through the scrub and over the middle slopes and upper plateau where a half a dozen more Marbled Whites were seen as well as the frequent Meadow Browns. It was the fifteenth Marbled White that was the only one to settle for a few seconds. In a top meadow I spotted a skipper, which was thought to be a Large Skipper, but it was too quick for a closer look.
Amongst the longer grass at the top of the hill, I noted my first two Six-spotted Burnet Moths of the year visiting tall flowers amongst the grasses.
Full Butterfly Report
Flower Images
Adur Burnet Moths

5 July 2013
Late June (early July this year as the flora and fauna is three weeks late) is a latent period for butterflies with few new emergences and only straggling imagos from earlier metamorphoses. So I would not have been surprised if my tally on nearly a warm day (> 19.0 °C) was low in species and numbers.
On the southern steps down to the lower slopes of Mill Hill, a female Common Blue immediately landed on a Bird's Foot Trefoil. About half a dozen furtherCommon Blues were seen on the lower slopes in the sunshine. Most of them were the blue males. Small Heath Butterflies were everywhere and in excess of twenty were seen evenly spread over the lower slopes with one on the top part of the hill. A flash of brilliant blue and that was the first of about six fine condition male Adonis Blues. They were joined by a Large White. The Tor Grass on the lower slopes was growing taller than usual. I debated whether this would provide roosting conditions for butterflies when a very restless Marbled White was seen for the first time this year.

In the humid energy sapping conditions, I returned by the quickest ridge route where two fresh Speckled Woods courted in the shade of the scrub. On the steep slopes below the top of the ridge a pair of courting Small Tortoiseshells visited Thyme and Self-heal before settling out of camera range amongst the flowering Musk Thistles. Altogether five Small Tortoiseshells were seen as another Large White arrived.
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Mill Hill Flower Day Gallery

Both Silverweed and Creeping Cinquefoil were spotted at the top of the ridge. The Silverweed was easily recognised by its silvery serrated leaves at the top of the southern steps, but the Cinquefoil was harder to find at the top of the steeper slopes.

Finally, as I was about to leave Mill Hill, a head of a Rabbit was found near the top of the southern steps. The rest of its body was nowhere to be seen.

27 June 2013
Breeze-blown amongst waist high and sometimes shoulder high grasses on the more fertile meadows at the top of Mill Hill, there was hardly anything moving except the long grasses swayed by the south-westerly (Force 4). A small Small Heath Butterfly was seen over the short turf and a faded Wall Brown Butterfly landed on the path leading north-east from the upper car park. Just I was debating the absence of Common Blues, a large fresh male opened its wings in the meadow north of the upper car park. But it was the only one seen as the sun went behind the many clouds. The yellow patches on the middle slopes was all now Bird's Foot Trefoil. Other flowers noted on the upper and middle slopes were the first time this year included two Greater Knapweed, bushes of Tall Melilot, Agrimony, the first flowers of the invasive Dogwood and a few Pyramidal Orchids.
 

Musk Thistle
Thyme
Common Blue 
Creeping Cinquefoil

It was never my intention to go to the lower slopes but just to have a quick peek at the condition of the flora, and not expecting many butterflies in the late-June lean period. Small Heaths (15+) were frequently as well as fresh blue male Adonis Blues (12+) and many tattered males and one worn female. "A disappointing number of butterflies," commented Colin Knight. And then: "there is a Clouded Yellow, it has landed right in front of you!" By then I had put camera in the bag and I was heading for home. Colin spotted it first so it his prerogative to try and get first shot as I left him chasing the immigrant butterfly up the very steep bank. Some of the blue butterflies on the lower slopes were male Common Blues.
Adur Butterfly List 2013

Flowers on the lowers slopes by the path noted for the first time this year were the small Self-heal and the invasive Perforate St. John's Wort. On the open lower slopes I noted the invasive woody Privet, the diminutive Squinancywort, one Stemless Thistle, and Creeping Cinquefoil* for the first time ever on Mill Hill. A  Yellow Wort may have been budding but it was an overcast afternoon when their flowers would not be out. (*Silverweed with a similar flower but different leaves has been flowering for at least a month at the top of the steps down to the lower slopes at the southern end.) On the cleared patch I could not find the Hounds-tongue which was frequent earlier in the year, but one Musk Thistle was in flower.
Adur Wild Flowers 2013
More Flower Images
Adur Thistles

17 June 2013
Buffeted by a north-easterly Force 5, I felt I was nearly blown off the top of the Mill Hill after a struggle to cycle up. The top part of hill hosted many less butterflies than the current numbers on the lower slopes, notably five male Adonis Blues near the Reservoir,  followed by a few Small Heaths, one Green-veined White, two Large Whites, a handful of Dingy Skippers, four Wall Browns and about ten newly emergent Common Blues including at least one female. These bright blue males may be the advanced guard before the imminent main emergence. One of the Wall Browns had large chunks missing from its wings.
 

Wild Mignonette
Milkwort
Bladder Campion
Common Blue 

The dominant yellow flowers on less fertile slopes at the top of the hill was now Bird's Foot Trefoil, although there were plenty of Buttercups and Horseshoe Vetch. The prized meadows were beginning to look like rough pasture. Bladder Campion was noted in flower as well as the diminutive Eyebright. One patch of bright blue Milkwort on the middle slopes seemed to have about thirty different flowers on stalks.
Adur Milkworts

14 June 2013
A sudden spell of sunshine after midday was unexpected after the recent poor weather.
 

Horseshoe Vetch Pods
Adonis Blue 
Columbine
Columbine

On the steps down to the lower slopes of Mill Hill from the southern end, the first male Adonis Blues were already easily seen their bright blue clear amongst the remaining Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa. The Horseshoe Vetch was now fading and the seed pods could easily be found. A Dingy Skipper was seen immediately I stepped on to the slopes, the first of only about ten in an hour. The 1.2 acre transect count of Adonis Blues added up to 113 (including 17 females). Other butterflies around in the sunshine included frequent (20+) Small Heaths, a bright yellow Brimstone, a definite Green-Veined White, as well as few Treble-bar Moths. Female Adonis Blues received the attention of amorous males, and a mating pair was observed in flight. Other females crawled amongst the Horseshoe Vetch to lay their eggs. Some of the male Adonis Blues were in a tattered condition. On the top of the hill south of the Reservoir a Silver Y Moth fluttered amongst the meadow which was rather like rough pasture. White Campion and Red Campion grew on some disturbed land by the road with prevalent Hoary Cress.

Some of the chalkhill herbs were newly into flower, notably Dropwort, Wild Thyme, the towering unexpected Columbine, Aquilegia vulgaris, and the stem and leaves (but not the flowers) of Yellow Wort. Grasshoppers were stridulating amongst the Tor Grass. I only visited the lower slopes with passage through the southern part of Mill Hill.

Adur Butterfly List 2013
Wild Flora & Flora on Chalk  flickr Group

5 June 2013

Lower slopes of Mill Hill (compare with 2006 above)

4 June 2013
On another warm but windy day I did my Mill Hill transect with the following result: Adonis Blue 100, Brimstone 1, Dingy Skipper 4, Green-veined White 1, Small Heath 24, Wall Brown 1, Whites3. Adonis and Small Heath were building nicely. There were plenty of Treble-bar moths and some Burnet Companion Moths, plus a new one for me, a Pretty Chalk Carpet. A lovely red-headed Cardinal Beetle appeared, well named for his fabulous colour, and Common Milkwort was in flower.

Report & Images by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards


3 June 2013
Although not as luxuriant as the best years, the expanse of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, was flowering at its peak on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, (north of Old Shoreham). The yellow patches could be seen from a distance across the the other side of the wide valley. In the intermittent sunshine under the fluffy Cumulus clouds, butterflies fluttered amongst the yellow flowers, notably the male Adonis Blues in their first of two broods. In the UK. this medium-sized butterfly is only found on the chalk hills in the south-east of England. I counted 79 in the 1.2 acre transect on Mill Hill in half an hour, all the bright blue males apart from three of the chocolate brown females. One mating pair was spotted in less than ideal weather. Mill Hill Local Nature Reserve is nationally renowned for its blue butterflies which comes alive with the flutterings in the warmer months with at least 24 different species to be seen during the year. On this early June day, the Dingy Skippers were frequently seen in the short chalkhill vegetation on the infertile Rabbit cropped steeper slopes. There were also the Large Whites, the large bright yellow Brimstone Butterfly and the inconspicuous Grizzled Skipper. The tiny flash of orange was the Small Heath Butterfly. There was also one unidentified butterfly which was probably a Wall Brown. One of the male Adonis Blues was seen on the southern upper part of Mill Hill.
 
This is an unusual photograph of a first brood male Adonis Blue on last year's Carline Thistle. Horseshoe Vetch can also be seen. 

There were many more butterflies outside of the transect area including the female Adonis Blue (photographed below).
 

Adonis Blues
Carline Thistle &
Horseshoe Vetch
Dingy Skipper
Adonis Blue 
Adonis Blue

Hounds-tongue was budding, almost flowering, and was common especially in the disturbed cleared patches.

A large bird of prey flew low over the meadow below Mill Hill. I think it must have been a Buzzard. (The brown bird seemed too large for a female Sparrowhawk and even too large for a Buzzard, more the size of an Osprey).

Adur Butterfly List 2013

27 May 2013
With the sun came the butterflies on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, covered in a 50% flowering of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, but it was still a minute before the first of about 20 Small Heaths showed. This butterfly does not open its wings (visible to the human eye) but settled with wings closed aligned to the sun. A few pairs were amorous. After two minutes my first male Adonis Blue of the year fluttered energetically around the yellow flowers without settling. It was one of 14 counted. Dingy Skippers were slightly more prevalent than the Adonis Blues but I did not count them.
 

White Campion
Milkwort & Horseshoe Vetch
Adonis Blue
Small Heath

Two Grizzled Skippers were spotted and these were both extensively damaged and faded like most of the other few seen this year. In contrast the handful of Brimstone Butterflies were bright and lively. There was also a probable Wall Butterfly but I did not get a close look, so it cannot go down as my first of the year. A Treble-bar Moth flitted over the ground vegetation.
Full Butterfly Report

23 May 2013
I did my transect at Mill Hill on a windy, cool morning. Fortunately I had just finished when black clouds started dumping their load. I found a Large White and a Small Heath on the upper slopes and a brown Adder by the steps on the path to the lower slope. The bottom of the hill gave me an Adonis Blue, 3 Dingy Skipper and 2 Small Heath. A Chaffinch proclaimed his territory from the tallest bush.

Report & Images by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards


22 May 2013
I visited the lower slopes of Mill Hill. Although the weather was overcast with a cold wind, there were occasional sunny intervals .I saw the first Adonis Blue of the season, but only one around. Others seen were Grizzled Skipper (1), Dingy Skipper (3), Small Heath (5), Green-veined White (3).

Report by Simon Quin on Sussex Butterflies
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

19 May 2013
The first Wall Brown of the year was seen on Mill Hill in very overcast & intermittently drizzly weather.

Report by Kelly Westlake on Sussex Butterflies


17 May 2013
On an overcast afternoon I visited Mill Hill but virtually all the butterflies on the lower slopes were hiding. I managed to see my first Small Heath Butterfly of 2013, a damaged pale Grizzled Skipper, and I disturbed my first Dingy Skipper (this skipper was in turn dislodged when a Crane Fly landed on top of it) and Cinnabar Moth of the year. The yellow flowers of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, on Mill Hill were very common but nowhere near their peak. The pyralid moths were frequently seen especially Pyrausta nigrata but only one definite of the colourful Pyrausta purpuralis. I also spotted an occasional even tinier Violet Comet Moth, Pancalia leuwenhoekella. A Nomada fucata kleptoparastic (cuckoo) bee was seen at the top of the steps leading down to the lower slopes (southern end).
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
 

Pyrausta nigrata
Horseshoe Vetch
Milkwort
Whitethroat

Birds were very vocal and the calls of the Whitethroats from the scrub on Mill Hill exceeded all the rest.

Blackthorn on the downs had ceased flowering but I have not yet seen Hawthorn in flower. There were a still occasional battered Dog Violets to be seen.

6 May 2013
A regular Kestrel hovered over Mill Hill seen against a background of a bright blue sky on a sunny afternoon. It was not until the first week of May that I noted a handful of the yellow flowers of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, (when this important caterpillar plant would be expected to flower beginning in the middle to late April). The late flowering is likely to be responsible for the dearth of butterflies on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. I did manage to spot a pair of amorous Grizzled Skippers for the first time this year, as well a few Speckled Woods amongst the scrub (next to the steps) at the southern end, the inevitable Peacock Butterflies, one wandering male Orange-tip and a probable Red Admiral. A few tiny pyralid moths were spotted, one each definitely of Pyrausta nigrata and the colourful Pyrausta purpuralis.
Adur Butterfly List 2013
 

Blackthorn
Horseshoe Vetch

Cowslips were flowering profusely and Blackthorn was at its peak. There were still thousands of Dog Violets in clumps over the lower slopes.
NB: The flowering times of wild plants and shrubs, and the appearance of the first butterflies seems to be three weeks behind an average year.
Adur Violets
 

 circa 1968
6 May 2013

On the warmest day of the year so far so I headed to Mill Hill to do my butterfly transect in optimistic mood. It started well with a Small Tortoiseshell crossing my path as soon as I started my walk. I recorded several firsts for the year: one  Green Hairstreak, 4 Grizzled Skippers and one Dingy Skipper, plus 3 male Brimstones, several whites, including a Large White, a male Orange-tip, a Red Admiral, 6 Peacocks and 2 Speckled Woods. Several birds were singing vociferously: a Chaffinch, a Whitethroat and a Linnet. I spotted a few micro moths: Pyrausta nigrata, a Small Purple-barred Moth and a tiny Pancalia leuwenhoekella.

Report & Images by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards


1 May 2013
At the top by the bridge over the A27 I spotted my first Brimstone Butterfly of the year. The lower slopes of Mill Hill were covered in scattered clumps of Dog Violets visited by Peacock Butterflies and a patrolling Brimstone Butterfly one Small Tortoiseshell and a single Comma at the northern end. I looked for but could not find a single Horseshoe Vetch Hippocrepis comosa, flower which means they are late this year. White butterflies were occasionally seen and were too far away to decide if they were Small Whites, Green-veined Whites or Large Whites and possibly all three.
 

Cowslips
Dog Violets
Peacock Butterfly
Bluebell

Robin Lord reported (and photographed) the first Grizzled Skipper of 2013 on the lower slopes of Mill Hill but I saw no sign of it.
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

25 April 2013
I did my butterfly transect at Mill Hill and was surprised that the Dingy Skipper was still not out. It is now a month late compared with last year. There were plenty of Peacocks fighting at the bottom of the hill, plus some Small Tortoiseshells and male and female Brimstones and a Comma. A Buzzard circled overhead.

Report & Images by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards
Butterfly List 2013
 
Click on the image for a photograph of the underside. 24 April 2013
A dead snake was discovered on Mill Hill. I think this was a Grass Snake
Report & Image by Beth Wilson

21 April 2013
A flock of Crows rose in the thermals over Mill Hill and under an azure blue sky with a a few fluffy Cumulus clouds. On the top of the hill the westerly breeze (> Force 5)  was chilly but down on the sheltered lower slopes it was more pleasant (8.6° C) in the weak sunshine. Common Bee-flies visited the mixed violets scattered over the lower slopes where the conservation volunteers had cleared large areas of Privet.
 

Dog Violets have appeared but still the Sweet Violets exceeded them in numbers. Butterflies were seen in double figures for the first time this year: ten Peacock Butterflies (seven over the lower slopes of Mill Hill and the others amongst the scrub), three Comma Butterflies over the lower slopes, and one Red Admiral under the cover of the copse at the top of the hill, were seen in about an hour. One tiny pyralid moth was spotted, probably Pyrausta despicata. A male Chaffinch sang stridently from a perch at the northern end of the lower slopes.  A small flock of Goldfinches were seen at the top of the hill in the hedge by the road.
Butterfly List 2013

6 April 2013
In the morning the sky was blue, the temperature was 8° C and I found two Adders at Mill Hill.

Report & Images by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards


20 March 2013
The footpath 3138 from Old Shoreham was blocked by branches and a crude fence and any case was too muddy to use and warrened with rabbit holes. The path has always been narrow because of the fence surrounding Frampton's Field.
 
This map shows the footpaths to Mill Hill from Old Shoreham. When I was at school in the late fifties this route was over bare downs. Now it is overgrown. 



 
 
 

14 March 2013
In town almost all the snow had melted but on a very muddy Mill Hill there were still foot high (30 cm) drifts and running meltwater. The Sweet Violets had been flattened by the load of snow on top of them.
Adur Violets
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

12 March 2013

Snow blown around on Mill Hill  (12 March 2013)

The snow slowly melted during the day but not all of it, and the melted snow froze making some shady areas perilously slippery. Gusts of wind blew the powdery snow around and this effect could be seen at a distance, e.g. on Mill Hill from Shoreham Beach.

18 February 2013
Despite being very muddy the Cattle were loose on the upper part of Mill Hill, Five cows were seen in the southern area. Down on the lower slopes the Conservation crew had cleared some thorn and Privet. A male Kestrel soared over the middle slopes.
On the slope beneath the seat on the southern part of Mill Hill, the first Sweet Violets of the year were seen in flower. There were half a dozen clumps and over a hundred flowers that had not opened fully.
The lower slopes were covered in moss and the dead flowers of Carline Thistle with their silver leaves. A Nursery Web Spider scampered over the moss and leaves. It was well camouflaged and only revealed itself by moving. Two dead Great Mullein stood upright in some disturbed soil.
Adur Violets
Adur Spiders
 

Nursery-web Spider, Pisaura mirabilis
Carline Thistle
Sweet Violet
Sweet Violet

I was surprised to see my first butterfly of the year. A fine Peacock Butterfly rose from the path* amongst the scrub on Mill Hill and away over the Old Man's Beard. (*Path on the continuation north from the lower slopes.) I returned by the shortest ridge route. The Peacock Butterfly must have ventured out from hibernation with the first rays of sun under a blue sky. A male Pheasant trotted over the pasture to the east of Mill Hill.

21 January 2013

Mill Hill from the west

A thin layer of snow covered Mill Hill. It had mostly melted in the following day.
 
 


 
 
 

Mill Hill Wildlife Reports 2012 (Link)
Mill Hill Wildlife Reports 2011 (Link)



Adur Valley & Downs on facebook

Identification of Grasses (Link)
Mill Hill Grasses
 
 



 
 

17 SPECIES OF BUTTERFLIES DEPENDENT ON MILL HILL FOR BREEDING:
(Estimated numbers for Mill Hill Nature Reserve only are in brackets)


Chalkhill Blue (3000 +)
Adonis Blue (50 -100)
Dingy Skipper  (75)
Small Heath (250)
Wall Brown  (12)
Meadow Brown  (300)
Marbled White  (50)
Gatekeeper    (200)
Speckled Wood  (>50)
Green-veined White (2+)
Common Blue  (>4000+)
Small Blue       (5)
Brimstone        (8)
Small Skipper   (>50)
Large Skipper   (10+)
Grizzled Skipper  (20)
Brown Argus   (>30)
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.

(=30)

The following was confirmed only in 2009: Green Hairstreak.
(=31)

The next one is no longer found on Mill Hill but were there in the recent (reduced drastically to almost extinct by 1948 last record in  1968) past: Dark Green Fritillary (Records of this butterfly in 1857, 1938, and 1945 when it was common.)
The next one is no longer found on Mill Hill but were there in the distant (1947) past: Grayling.
The next one has been recorded near Mill Hill in the middle distance past:  White-letter Hairstreak

(=34)

The Silver-spotted Skipper does not appear to ever have occurred on Mill Hill
The Silver-studded Blue has never been recorded from Mill Hill

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

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