Mill Hill (June 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, Hawkbits, 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

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

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 21170 07444  (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)
Grid Reference Finder

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. 


Mill Hill on

Mill Hill on


OS Map

    Footpaths at Mill Hill

Map Geograph Satellite


Mill Hill Reports 2016

28 October 2015
I took my two dogs for a walk to Mill Hill as the weather was too good to miss. I began to think that even with the temperature close to 18 ºC, after more than an hour I had not seen any butterflies only this day flying Silver Y Moth.
I was about leave and 3 Clouded Yellows appeared (1 female and 2 males) and a Wall Brown.

Report by Dave Cook on Sussex Butterfly Conservation Reports

20 October 2015
Nothing much moved, no butterflies although I did spot an Autumn Gentian in flower on the lower slopes with a few Yellow Wort, some budding Carline Thistle, one Sweet Violet, one Devil's Bit Scabious, a few diminutive Milkworts and Self-heal, and occasional Ragworts, Hawkbits and Dandelions.

As I was leaving a Kestrel swooped down on some prey, but left the lower slopes after a pause without anything visible in it talons.

13 October 2015
Scores of House Martins flew to and fro over the steep slopes of Mill Hill, their plump white bellies catching the light of the intermittent midday sunshine. There were over fifty but less than a hundred House Martins and only two Swallows that flew over but did not join in the melee. They were not continually in flight and some birds chose the largest Elderberry bush (no berries) on the steep slopes as an occasional perch. Other House Martins preferred to land on the ground. In the straggly hedgerow at the bottom of Mill Hill, the commotion was halted by the whirring flight of a male Pheasant flushed from cover.

Clouded Yellow
House Martins
House Martins

A Clouded Yellow Butterfly was seen immediately I descended the southern steps to the lower slopes. It settled immediately on a Hardhead flower by the path, but I could not close enough for a decent photograph as the sun was casting lengthy shadows. There were three sightings of this fast flying butterfly on different parts of the lower slopes but it was flying so strongly it could have been the same one. Just one Meadow Brown was spotted and a Large White seen up closely. Flowers were exiguous but included at least two, possibly three species of yellow hawkbit/weed type plants, thought to be Rough Hawkbit and possibly Autumnal Hawkbit. I noted thousands of violet leaves and I thought there was far more than usual and a few Dog Violets were seen in flower on the steep and lower slopes. I spotted the Easter Fox Spider Alopecosa barbipes on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. It was chanced upon crawling over the short vegetation amongst the violets. Still no Autumn Ladies Tresses on the upper plateau and I did not note any Autumn Gentian or Harebells, and just a single Yellow Wort still in flower. No Musk Thistle was spotted anywhere and no Dodder spotted at all this year.

11 October 2015
In the fading light on a late still sunny shirt-sleeves late afternoon (after four), I visited the lower slopes of Mill Hill where I spied five good condition Meadow Browns and at least five strong-flying Clouded Yellows. There was also a Small White and a few Red Admirals over the top of the hill.
Adur Butterfly Report

4 October 2015
A short walk round the top of Mill Hill produced three Wall Browns, three Meadow Browns and two Small Heaths.

Report by Paul Day on Sussex Butterfly Conservation Reports
1 October 2015
Over the top of Mill Hill, scores of House Martins were flying to and fro prior to emigration. Down on the lower slopes of Mill Hill there were still frequent butterflies mostly Meadow Browns (11) but also occasional Small Heaths (4), Large Whites (6) and one old and worn male Adonis Blue. There was a slightly damaged Speckled Wood in the scrub and three more Meadow Browns in the long vegetation on the southern top part of the hill. A Yellowhammer flew through the scrub.  Craneflies were seen everywhere with most on the lower slopes. A pair of Metellina sp., long-jawed spiders had spun a web amongst the Blackberries near the gate to the Old Erringham pasture.

There were still a wide variety of flowers but overall they were not very numerous. Of special note there were frequent Dog Violets on the lower slopes, at least one budding Autumn Gentian (in the last few years there have been hundreds on the upper plateau where I did note any on passage) and an occasional Dwarf Thistle  and the inevitable and common Carline Thistles with mostly silver of gold ageing leaves.
Butterfly Report

23 September 2015
Cloudy but at least it was not raining and anything fluttering in the breeze was more likely to be a fallen leaf as the equinox passes and the days become even shorter. A Kestrel hovered over the upper part of the hill making a few unsuccessful dives whilst I was watching.

On the lower slopes of Mill Hill it was so cool it was not enough just to disturb the occasional remaining butterflies, in most cases they had to be spotted resting. This was certainly true of the five Small Heath Butterflies. One resting female of the blues on Carline Thistle, was not identified (it could be either the female Chalkhill, Adonis or Common Blue?). The seven Meadow Browns and a Red Admiral were more flighty but looked to hide after being disturbed.
Devil's Bit Scabious proved attractive to a Small Heath Butterfly and a small bee, possibly Halicitus or Lasioglossum. Small cliff edges of exposed soil were used by congregations of the Ivy Bee, Colletes hederae. Some Ploughman's Spikenard were still in flower. Carline Thistle was in various stages from the old grey remains from the previous year, to this year's plants with green, silver and gold leaves to at least one freshly budding growth. They were attractive to bumblebees (mostly Carder Bees) but not butterflies.
I looked for Autumn Gentian and only found one budding flower on the top plateau and I could not find any Musk Thistle or Dodder or Autumn Lady's Tresses anywhere.

8 September 2015
On a grey cloudy day, I thought there would be so few butterflies, I would be able to count them. Almost all were resting I and I had to almost tread on them to spot them in the afternoon.

Adonis Blue 
(Worn specimen, ID not definite)
Common Blue 
Small Heath

The lower slopes of Mill Hill with its short vegetation still did not make the resting butterflies easy to find although there was a flash of blue immediately after descending the southern steps. The bright blue of 32 (26+6) of the Adonis Blues were the easiest to spot especially if they chased after the six brown females. 39 Meadow Browns were the most numerous, much larger than ten Small Heaths. All these were in the transect acre with a few (3+1) Common Blues appreciably smaller in size than the worn Adonis Blues. A Green-veined White was belatedly identified from a photograph and a Carpet Moth was noted on a Privet leaf. A Common Darter (dragonfly) landed on some straw (=dead grass). The pyralid micro-moth Pyrausta purpuralis was frequently seen on the lower slopes.

More of the same resting butterflies on the middle slopes with one male Adonis Blue, five Small Heaths, at least seven Meadow Browns and a Small White recorded. One pyralid micro-moth Pyrausta purpuralis was seen on the middle slopes and there was likely to be more. Frequent Sweet Violets were flowering on the lower slopes with one Round-headed Rampion seen.
Adur Butterfly Day List

1 September 2015

Devil's Bit Scabious
Meadow Brown
Chalkhill Blue

On a cloudy day the butterflies were very frequent, but not too many to count. Almost all were resting. I stumbled across 50+ Meadow Browns, 20+ Adonis Blues, and a few Chalkhill Blues, Common Blues and Small Heaths on Mill Hill.
Devil's Bit Scabious was seen for the first time this tear and a few Sweet Violets were flowering on the lower slopes and the first Autumn Gentian was budding on the upper plateau. One of the Chalkhill Blues on the slopes to the north of the Reservoir was extremely worn and decrepit as shown in the photograph (above far right).
Adur Butterfly Day List

Mill Hill

28 August 2015

Two Kestrels hovered over Mill Hill and one swopped to land on the steeper slopes. Grasshoppers hopped about in thousands especially in the longer grass on the southern part of Mill Hill.

After a week of rain, a took my first opportunity between the showers to visit the lower slopes of Mill Hill in the middle of the afternoon. It was still too cool for the blue butterflies to be active but the Carline Thistle provided an attractant in addition to the butterflies disturbed as I walked along the one acre transect. Meadow Browns were common and I estimate a number of 150+ actually seen and these are the ones I dislodged in passing. They varied considerably in size. Thirty or so Small Heaths were slightly more active, but I did not manage a sighting of a Gatekeeper. Male Adonis Blues were spotted resting or visiting Carline Thistle. 28 males were counted on the transect acre, ahead of 20 male Chalkhill Blues and ten Common Blues (5 males and 5 females). There were four large brown females which could be either Chalkhill Blue or Adonis Blue?  The only other butterfly species seen flying was a brief sight of a Clouded Yellow.  I think I disturbed it as I passed with six Carpet Moths, one Treble-bar Moth and a few Silver Y Moths. The pyralid micro-moth Pyrausta purpuralis was frequently seen on the lower slopes and one Pyrausta nigrata. There was possible Holly Blue Butterfly over the hedgerow north of the bridge.
A few Common Darters (dragonfly) were noted. A Sweet Violet was seen in flower.

19 August 2015

Speckled Wood
Adonis Blue 
Chalkhill Blue 
Holly Blue

A visit on a cloudy afternoon to the lower slopes of Mill Hill was unlikely to be special but I did manage to chance upon a Holly Blue at the top of Chanctonbury Drive (south of the bridge). On the southern steps a Speckled Wood basked in the low mist. Conditions were dull enough to discourage butterflies from active flight and all seen were either disturbed or spotted resting. The radiant blue of the first of seven male Adonis Blues caught my eye before the first of a dozen male Chalkhill Blues. There were two large brown butterflies which could be either a female Adonis in good condition of almost certainly a female Chalkhill Blue which was already worn. Meadow Browns 20+ were frequently seen but Gatekeepers were only occasionally spotted. In the transect acre Wall Browns numbered five in about 20 minutes and one was worn and faded. One Peacock Butterfly was seen in flight. And that was the lot although it was worth mentioning that I had never seen so many active pyralid moths. Over fifty Pyrausta despicata and 15+ Pyrausta purpuralis were both seen on the lower slopes. Large moths included a Treble-bar. By the time I reached the middle slopes conditions were dull for any movement and by the top of the hill it was raining. I hurried home spotting a handful of Meadow Browns disturbed in the long vegetation.
At the time I thought this was probably the only Common Blue seen on the day on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. I am not absolutely sure from the photograph. It could be an Adonis Blue?

I did my Mill Hill transect while the weather was suitable. The Buddleia by the car park was covered in Painted Ladies, Small Tortoiseshells, Red Admirals and Peacocks - a reminder of childhood. Meadow Browns and Small Tortoiseshells were the winners this week: Adonis Blue 14, Brown Argus 2, Chalkhill Blue 20, Common Blue 11, Gatekeeper 7, Large White 1, Meadow Brown 70, Painted Lady 3, Peacock 3, Red Admiral 4, Small Heath 4, Small Tortoiseshell 7, Small White 1, Speckled Wood 2, Wall Brown 5.  (Colin Knight Postcards from Sussex)

14 August 2015

Pyrausta purpuralis
Chalkhill Blues on Carline Thistle
Chalkhill Blues

I made a brief visit to the lower slopes of Mill Hill to see how the Chalkhill Blues were faring there, although it was getting a bit late in the afternoon on an overcast day. There was a Holly Blue around the hedge, north of the bridge. Numbers of Chalkhill Blues were again low with an estimated 75 males and two females spotted. Lo and behold, a fresh male Adonis Blue was unmistakable amongst a dozen or so Common Blues, frequent Meadow Browns and occasional Gatekeepers, Large Whites and at least one Wall Brown, and a definite Green-Veined White. (Other butterfly watchers had arrived earlier and seen more butterflies including Clouded Yellows, a Dark Green Fritillary and a Silver-spotted Skipper.) Macro moths included a Treble-bar and a Yellow Shell Moth. The pyralid micro-moths Pyrausta despicata and Pyrausta purpuralis were both seen on the lower slopes.

12 August 2015
I did my Mill Hill transect on a warm but cloud covered morning, which accounted for the low numbers of everything except Walls. It was wonderful to see the brilliant colour of second brood Adonis Blues. Later the sun shone through and the butterflies rose up in numbers. Results: Adonis Blue 3, Chalkhill Blue 13, Common Blue, Essex Skipper, Gatekeeper 6, Meadow Brown 20, Peacock, Red Admiral, Small Heath, Small White, Wall Brown 8.

Postcards from Sussex by Colin Knight

10 August 2015

Middle Slopes of Mill Hill
Marjoram and Hemp Agrimony

A cloudy morning was not the optimum time to visit Mill Hill as the butterflies had not awoken and I even managed to disturb three resting Clouded Yellows (they are usually endlessly restless). Two were on the lower slopes and one on the middle. But I was still unpleasantly shocked how low the butterfly count in the transect acre on the lower slopes actually was. I recorded a mere 39 all male Chalkhill Blues, 36 Meadow Browns, an estimated 25 Gatekeepers, five clearly seen Wall Browns, a Peacock or two, a male Common Blue, and a few Large Whites. In the middle of Mill Hill some of the paths had been cleared and were passable whereas they weren't on my last visit. The Buddleia hosted Peacock Butterflies and Red Admirals. Two pyralid micro-moths Pyrausta despicata were seen on the lower slopes and many more would have been overlooked.

 Clouded Yellow
 Common Blue
 Chalkhill Blue

The middle slope meadows of Marjoram and Hemp Agrimony were habitats for one more male Chalkhill Blue, a few more Common Blues, more Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns and whites. The whites included Green-veined Whites and Small Whites. On the top meadow, it appears that the male Common Blues had hatched a new brood: the were scores seen, perhaps even hundreds hidden away. I also disturbed a mating pair of Essex Skippers. On the top short cropped slopes I spied a Small Heath Butterfly, and four more Wall Browns making a total of nine, and a 6-spotted Burnet Moth. Grasshoppers were everywhere: Meadow Grasshoppers, Chorthippus parallelus, and the Field Grasshopper, Chorthippus brunneus.
Adur Skippers

 Hornet Robber Fly
 Pyrausta despicata
 Field Grasshoppers
Carline Thistle

Two robber flies were noted: the smaller Robber Fly, Machimus atricapillus, on the southern steps and the much larger Hornet Robber Fly, Asilus crabroniformis, on the top meadow. Both of these flies will prey on butterflies as would a Southern Hawker (dragonfly) which flew over the lower slopes and seen from the middle slopes.
In the top meadow two Goldfinches chirmed to each other amongst the seed heads and thistles and saucer-like dead heads of the Greater Knapweed.

9 August 2015
Mill Hill in glorious sun amongst the Chalkhill Blues and the company of some nice butterfly people from Cambridge. They pointed out some Silver-spotted Skippers (3) I had missed, but I couldn't help them with their target species of Adonis Blue. Blow me down, a few minutes after they left I found a freshly emerged male of that species. Other highlights among 19 species of butterfly were at least 3 Clouded Yellows, quite a few Wall and a very faded Dark Green Fritillary. (Lindsay Morris)

7 August 2015
My Mill Hill transect today showed plenty of Walls: Brimstone, Chalkhill Blue 39, Comma, Common Blue 13, Essex Skipper 4, Gatekeeper 30, Meadow Brown 32, Peacock 10, Red Admiral 6, Small Heath, Small Skipper, Small White 3, Wall 9, Humming-bird Hawk-moth, Lesser Treble-bar 2.

(Colin Knight) Butterfly Conservation
3 August 2015

More a low mist than just overcast, inimical for the appearance of butterflies, but not the strong shadows to hinder photography. Nevertheless the weather was unfavourable as all the vanessids and most of the butterflies were in hiding. On the lower slopes of slopes of Mill Hill, the butterflies need mostly be disturbed to be seen in flight and then only 26 Meadow Browns, an estimated 15 Gatekeepers, six Wall Browns and just five male Chalkhill Blues, a clear Clouded Yellow, a possible Peacock and a few 6-spotted Burnet Moths were seen in the transect acre. The pyralid micro-moths Pyrausta despicata and Pyrausta nigrata, were both seen on the lower slopes. A Yellow Shell Moth was seen in a scrubby part of the transect as the northern end has now become. The middle and top slopes only added more Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns and two or three male Common Blues.

1 August 2015
A sunny day brought out the vanessid butterflies on the Buddleia, Hemp Agrimony and Marjoram on the middle slopes of Mill Hill: frequent Peacocks, frequent Red Admirals, two Painted Ladies and a Comma. Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns were widespread and frequent as expected. Over a dozen Small/Essex Skippers were spotted in the long vegetation where they were tricky to identify which species and this was not possible. Two Speckled Woods were spotted in the shade. The white butterflies were patchy and occasional: Green-veined White, Large White, Small Whites, one Brimstone were noted on the middle slopes and two Marbled Whites amongst the Tor Grass on the lower slopes. Frequent Wall Browns (15+) were widespread all over Mill Hill. They looked like a fresh appearance of the second brood. A Holly Blue was spotted on the hedge by the road and cattle grid, and frequent Common Blues in the top meadows (looking more like a rough pasture). As I took a route through the top scrub before descending through overgrown paths to the lower slopes from the north, the 22 male Chalkhill Blues for 75% of the transect acre was extremely disappointing. A single Small Heath was clearly seen on the lower slopes.

If this seems like a list the continual appearance of a variety of butterflies made it so. The prime spots for butterflies were on the middle slopes as the narrow path passes a large clump of Buddleia and soon afterwards the open area of Hemp Agrimony and Marjoram. A possible Brown Argus was rejected but a small moth Pyrausta purpuralis included on the middle slopes. 6-spotted Burnet Moths were substantially reduced in number from my last visit but were still frequently seen in the afternoon on the purple flowers. A large blue dragonfly in the scrub was probably a Southern Hawker. A Robber Fly Machimus atricapillus, landed amongst the stridulating grasshoppers on the lower slopes.
Adur Butterfly List 2015
Grasshoppers were stridulating and common on Mill Hill

On Silverweed on the southern steps. 
Meadow Grasshopper, Chorthippus parallelus

30 July 2015

Common Blue
Peacock Butterfly
Essex Skipper

A trip to Mill Hill was in order as the wind died down. It was still cloudy approaching the peak time (this year may be two weeks behind schedule?) for butterflies. Even it was still pre-peak the numbers of butterflies were tragically disappointing.  The first butterfly seen was a male Common Blue on the top southern part. The one acre transect on the lower slopes only produced four magnificent Peacock Butterflies, one Comma, 11 male Chalkhill Blues, frequent Gatekeepers (40+), frequent Meadow Browns (15+), frequent Six-spotted Burnet Moths (25+), the pyralid micro-moths Pyrausta purpuralis and Pyrausta nigrata, small Robber Fly Machimus atricapillus, a Common Darter (dragonfly), and a Dark Bush Cricket amongst the abundant and noticeable grasshoppers.
The middle and top slopes of Mill Hill added more Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, a few (5+) more Peacock Butterflies, a few (2+) Essex Skippers, a few whirring Silver Y Moths, a male Common Blue, a Painted Lady and a pair of Wall Browns. Conditions were inimical to butterfly spotting and the low numbers were partly explained by the butterflies hiding and needing to be disturbed in the early afternoon on a cloudy day.

Common Blue on Knapweed
Round-headed Rampion
6-spotted Burnet Moth on Wild Basil

The Chalkhill Blues rarely settled and were noted visiting Eyebright and Bird's Foot Trefoil flowers. Most butterflies were not active in their search for nectar flowers, except the pristine Peacocks first discovered basking on Ragwort and later spotted on Greater Knapweed. The Six-spotted Burnet Moths visited purple flowers almost exclusively: Greater Knapweed, Hardheads (=Lesser Knapweed), Dwarf Thistle, Wild Basil. Unusually, the prevalent Hemp Agrimony and Marjoram on the middle slopes did not attract any butterfly activity but by that time a big cloud had made it shady and cool. The Ragwort was very frequently found with the black and yellow caterpillars of the Cinnabar Moth crawling over its leaves and stem.

Near the cattle trough there was large clump of Fleabane, not normally seen on Mill Hill and a few Restharrow which is also unusual for this location. Round-headed Rampion was flowering on the upper plateau.

23 July 2015
My Mill Hill transect gave me a second brood Brown Argus. The Marjoram and Hemp Agrimony at the top of the hill were covered in Peacocks, Red Admirals, a Painted Lady and a male and female Dark Green Fritillary. I have only recorded one DGF in the previous 4 years and wonder where they have come from. Moths: Lime-speck Pug larva (Eupithecia centaureata) on Knapweed , many Silver Ys and Six-spot Burnets, Small Purple and Gold, Straw-barred Pearl. My count: Brown Argus, Chalkhill Blue 31, Comma 1, Dark Green Fritillary 2, Essex Skipper, Gatekeeper 73, Green-veined White 3, Large Skipper, Large White, Marbled White 11, Meadow Brown 40, Painted Lady, Peacock 6, Red Admiral 8, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White 4. (Colin Knight)

21 July 2015
I made a visit to Mill Hill, but this was curtailed by a combination of an overcast day and Strong Breeze (Force 6 gusting to Force 7). Butterflies were almost all hiding but I managed to disturb Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns and Small Skippers, one Marbled White and Peacock on the southern top part of the hill. It was going down to lower slopes when I changed my mind half-way along the path after I had seen a Chalkhill Blue and scores of Six-spotted Burnet Moths on Greater Knapweed flowers.

Round-headed Rampion
Meadow Cranesbill
Welted Thistle

A Swift flew over Mill Hill whilst a Skylark sang persistently. Of special note was my first Round-headed Rampion flower of the year near the path that winds its way through the lower slopes. Toadflax was also seen in flower for the first time this year.

19 July 2015
Spectacularly a pristine Dark Green Fritillary stole the butterfly show in the sunny meadow south of the Reservoir on Mill Hill. It was blown a bit on the breeze and fluttered from one Greater Knapweed flower to another quite rapidly. Fourteen other butterfly species included five male Chalkhill Blues, new Peacocks, new Comma Butterflies and the whirring Six-spotted Burnet Moths seen for the first time this year. The predatory Robber Fly, Machimus atricapillus, was seen at least twice on the lower slopes of Mill Hill.
Lindsay Morris spotted a Small Copper Butterfly and two Peregrine Falcons overhead.
Butterfly List for the Day

Six-spotted Burnet Moth
Dark Green Fritillary
Chalkhill Blue

A Fleabane flower was another surprise discovery in the Greater Knapweed meadow south of the Reservoir on Mill Hill. Musk Thistle seemed to be scarce this year and one flower on three windswept plants near the ridge (to the lower slopes) were all that were seen. Teasel was flowering and there were hundreds of Ragwort plants.

14 July 2015
On a cloudy humid day I made a trip to Mill Hill for the purpose of seeing if the Chalkhill Blues were yet in flight. I got lucky just as I had forgotten the quest, I spotted what appeared to be a fresh specimen amongst the undergrowth. By that time, I noticed the change in the season with appearance of the flowers of Carline Thistle, Small Scabious, Dwarf Thistle, Autumnal Hawkbit and Wild Basil on the lower slopes. And Hemp Agrimony, Marjoram, Field Scabious, Melilot, Lady's Bedstraw, Perforate St John's Wort, and Greater Knapweed on the middle and upper slopes. At least one of the distinctive Panorpa scorpion flies was seen amongst the scrub, and a Yellow Shell Moth.

Butterflies were again patchily distributed over Mill Hill with more of them on the upper part than the lower slopes. The cloudy day meant that that there were not so many in active flight, but I managed to see over fifty each of Gatekeepers and Marbled Whites, over thirty Meadow Browns, a few Small Skippers, one Small Tortoiseshell, and at least one splendid Large White Butterfly. There were also a few small pyralids Pyrausta despicata flitting over the lower slopes with at least one Small Heath Butterfly. The stripy caterpillars of the Cinnabar Moth were common (100+) on Ragwort on the upper part of Mill Hill, mostly near the Reservoir.
My first male Chalkhill Blue of the year was spotted on the lower slopes of Mill Hill at 1:43 pm. It flew off after 31 seconds and visited Self-heal, followed by Eyebright, and after four minutes flew strongly over the bottom hedge and disappeared from view entirely. 

This was a late first sighting of the year. Since I have been keeping a log since 2003, it was latest date of the first record (usually occurs in the first week of July) except for 2012 when poor weather prevented visits. 

6 July 2015
Marbled White Butterflies were common with over a hundred seen but patchily distributed over Mill Hill with 49 counted in the transect acre on the lower slopes. Meadow Browns 30+ (15 in transect acre),  Gatekeepers 25+ (9 in transect acre), Small Heaths (8+)  with a few Small Whites, a few Large Whites, two Brimstones over the lower slopes, at least three definite Small Skippers on the middle slopes, and one Painted Lady in the upper meadow brought the tally to nine species on a pleasant day. The tenth species was my first ever confirmed Ringlet from the upper meadow (north of the car park) of Mill Hill Nature Reserve. (The Ringlet had been suspected in recent years but I was never sure.)

There were occasional micro-moths including the Small Purple-barred Moth Phytometra viridaria and the pyralid Pyrausta despicata over the lower slopes and Silver Y Moth amongst the overgrowth up the top of the hill. A Dark Bush Cricket, Pholidoptera griseoaptera, was spotted on the edge of the scrub.
New plants seen in flower for the first time this year were Dwarf Thistle and Small Scabious on the lower slopes, and Marjoram on the middle slopes. Greater Knapweed was flowering and their big purple flowers attracted flying insects including butterflies, beetles, bees, hoverflies and stripy wasps.
The northern end of the lower slopes which in past years has been promising for blue butterflies is now almost completely overgrown with the invasive Privet.

3 July 2015

Small Purple-barred Moth

Eucosma campoliliana
Marbled White

It was too hot and humid in the middle of the day for a visit to Mill Hill. The butterflies were lively and common, with Marbled Whites leading the way with 60+ (49 in the transect acre on the lower slopes), Meadow Browns 30+, Small Heaths 20+, my first two Gatekeepers of the year, at least two Brimstones, three Small Tortoiseshells, one surprising Holly Blue, one Common Blue, at least one Large White and a close-up look at a Small White, four Cinnabar Moths and three pyralids, two Pyrausta purpuralis, and one Pyrausta despicata. A Dark Bush Cricket, Pholidoptera griseoaptera, was spotted and a small white patterned micro-moth identified as Eucosma campoliliana.
The Crow with a red mouth was a  fledgling born this year and some of the other six birds may have been youngsters as well. 

Then the heat and humidity got the better of me and I turned for home.

1 July 2015
My Mill Hill transect in the morning was bursting with Marbled Whites and the first Gatekeepers: Adonis Blue, Brimstone, Gatekeeper 6, Marbled White 74, Meadow Brown 10, Red Admiral 2, Small Heath 19, Whites 2, moths: Cinnabar, Common Purple and Gold 4, Marbled Orchard Tortrix, Satin Grass-veneer, Straw-barred Pearl, Yellow Shell plus a Mullein Moth caterpillar. (Colin Knight Report)

29 June 2015
On a sunny Moderately Breezy (Force 4) day, I cycled up to Mill Hill, locked my bicycle and walked to the lower slopes. Butterflies were very frequent and lively led by the omnipresent Small Heaths 20+, exceeded in numbers by Marbled Whites 30+, and accompanied by Meadow Browns 20+, a few male Common Blues, a Brimstone Butterfly, a Small Tortoiseshell. a Cinnabar Moth, a Mother Shipton Moth and the pyralids Pyrausta purpuralis and Pyrausta nigrata and a small brown/fawn moth. The first Carline Thistle appeared in flower this year with still some of the dead plants from last year standing upright. The miniature Squinancywort was also seen in flower for the first time this year.

On the middle slopes I added more Marbled Whites (7+), Meadow Browns (8+) and Small Heaths (9+), two more Cinnabar Moths, a Brimstone Butterfly, a Small Tortoiseshell, a Common Blue and four Small Skippers  Two Small Skippers were highly aggressive chasing away butterflies twice their size on numerous occasions (e.g. six times in 3 minutes). Field Scabious was flowering.

My attention was drawn to the melodious warbling from the scrub. This was a Whitethroat. On the open middle slopes the songs of the Skylark and Song Thrush competed with the stridulating of the grasshoppers and noise of the breeze blowing the long grasses about and the traffic on the A27. The drone of the small aeroplanes was negligible in comparison.

24 June 2015

Meadow Cranesbill, Knapweed Broomrape
Upper Mill Hill (south)

As anticipated the first Marbled Whites of the year came out in the sun on the lower slopes of Mill Hill amongst the Tor Grass and Brambles. At least seven were seen simultaneously. Small Heath Butterflies were omnipresent with 22 counted in the transect acre. Meadow Browns were occasional with about nine. The blues were represented by four Common Blues including a large male which could have been mistaken for an Adonis. There were occasional micro-moths including the pyralids Pyrausta purpuralis and Pyrausta despicata. .
Adur Knapweeds

Lower Slopes

New plants in flower included Perforated St John's Wort, Agrimony on the lower slopes and Welted Thistle next to the southern steps.


My Mill Hill transect gave me Marbled White 12, Meadow Brown 10, Small Heath 15, Adonis Blue 2, Brimstone, Common Blue 2, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell 7, an unidentified White, Small Purple and Gold Moth 2, Cinnabar 2.  (Colin Knight)

19 June 2015
Intermittently cloudy with a blue sky. Unfortunately it was more cloudy than not when I visited Mill Hill around the middle of the day. At the top of the Pixie Path (south side of the bridge to Mill Hill) a female Stag Beetle crawled across the narrow footpath. At the top of Chanctonbury Drive (SE of the bridge), the grass had been mown along with the Bee Orchid which did not survive and there were no butterflies visiting.
At the top of the southern steps I disturbed a Cinnabar Moth which flew away and disappeared. On the edges of the steps I noted both Silverweed and Creeping Cinquefoil close to each other but in separate habitats.
A much shredded male Adonis Blue appeared immediately on the lower slopes. All three males seen were badly damaged, in contrast to a generally fresher 13 (11+2) Common Blues in the transect acre. Quickly, I spotted my first five Meadow Browns of the year on the lower slopes. Small Heaths seemed to be everywhere and a constant presence, but the transect count only came to 18, with two pristine Small Tortoiseshells, two yellow Brimstone Butterflies  and a Treble-bar Moth.

Mill Hill

For the first time this year, I climbed the northern steps and disturbed a probable Peacock Butterfly. By this time it was cloudy and the all the butterflies were dormant apart from those I disturbed another Small Heath, a large Meadow Brown, and spotted a resting female Common Blue. On the top overgrown meadow (now looking like a neglected cow pasture) two Common Blues quarrelled. Passage was difficult and I expect there were many more. On the top plateau and in the same place as before I scared a Skylark into rapid flight. On the breeze-blown hill there were two more Small Tortoiseshells, two Red Admirals and two Large White Butterflies.

Approaching mid-summer and more plants began to flower: noting the almost complete demise of the Horseshoe Vetch, two late Dog Violets, the frequent Dropwort, the first of the slender Yellow Wort, the ground hugging Self-heal and one newly budding Carline Thistle. On the middle slopes there were yellow swathes of Bird's Foot Trefoil and Yellow Rattle. On the top of the hill a few Greater Knapweed appeared in flower, as well as the unusual appearance of the parasitic Knapweed Broomrape, Orobanche elatior, that grows brown and upright. There seemed to be more of these brown spikes than in previous years. On the southern top flattish part of Mill Hill, there were masses of Ragwort, not yet in flower, hundreds of plants instead of the occasional one in disturbed soil.  At the best northern end of the lower slopes, Privet is extremely invasive blotting out the Horseshoe Vetch for good. One Robin's Pin Cushion was spotted.

18 June 2015

Photograph by Etienne Fournier

My Mill Hill transect yielded Adonis Blue 14, Grizzled Skipper, Large Skipper, Marbled White, Meadow Brown 4, Painted Lady 3, Red Admiral, Small Heath 22, Small Tortoiseshell 2, Cinnabar, Straw-barred Pearl and an unidentified green larva. Itís a second bad year in succession for the Adonis Blue, the worst since I started recording in 2011. The second brood should be better. Small Heath are having another good year, they have been steady since 2011. The Grizzled Skipper is very late, this is week 12 of the transect year and the latest I have previously recorded one is week 9. (Posted by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards)

14 June 2015
An overcast mid-morning was not the best time for seeing Mill Hill's butterflies, although I did record several Adonis Blues, Small Heaths and a Brown Argus. Two recently-fledged Song Thrushes, and singing Yellowhammer, Skylark, Linnet and Whitethroat, with a Cetti's Warbler still singing from a ditch line to the east. A Kestrel hunting. Stars though were two Adders at the bottom of the slope.

Posted by Steve Gilbert on Sussex Ornithological News

12 June 2015
I did my Mill Hill transect: Adonis Blue 9, Brimstone, Common Blue 2, Meadow Brown, Painted Lady, Small Heath 10, Small Tortoiseshell, Silver Y, Cinnabar 2, Burnet Companion, Common Yellow Conch, Straw-barred Pearl. Plus a black Adder. (Colin Knight

7 June 2015
With large white Cirrus clouds ambling across the blue sky, the weather alternated between sunshine and shade, with shade winning out 70/30. I spotted my first grasshopper before I consciously heard the stridulating over the traffic noise and a persistent Song Thrush. But at least the near gales had died down.

Horseshoe Vetch
Adonis Blue
Larvae of the Mullein Moth

On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, Adonis Blues dominated and exceeded all the other butterfly species in numbers. As usual the bright blue males were most easily seen and out of a total one acre transect count of 44, 39 were males with only five females seen. Other butterflies present were 13 Small Heaths, at least six Brimstones (including three males sparring together), one probable Grizzled Skipper, two male Common Blues, a probable Yellow Shell Moth and lastly a faded Painted Lady. The Horseshoe Vetch had diminished and new flowers noted included Hawkbits, Dropwort, Fairy Flax, Eyebrights, Creeping Cinquefoil (first record on Mill Hill), Wild Thyme, and Privet. Just the leaves of Yellow Wort appeared. A Kestrel soared over the lower slopes, and there was a flock of more than a dozen Jackdaws congregating. Magpies could be heard cacking and a Chaffinch sang. On the southern steps I spotted two distinctive caterpillars on Great Mullein leaves. Predictably, I identified them as the unmistakable larvae of the Mullein Moth.

Mill Hill

I ventured up to the breeze swept top plateau where I spotted a male Common Blue Butterfly, and disturbed two or three Wall Browns whilst looking at White Campion, and scared a Skylark into rapid flight. Most of the yellow on the exposed top of the hill were Bulbous Buttercups, but there was some Horseshoe Vetch amongst the dried cow pats south of the upper car park.

28 May 2015
I did my weekly Mill Hill transect with the following results: Adonis Blue 15, Brimstone 1, Common Blue 1, Green Hairstreak 1, Grizzled Skipper, Peacock 1, Red Admiral 1, Small Heath 3, Wall 1, Cinnabar 1, Violet Cosmet 1, Common Yellow Conch 1. (Colin Knight Butterfly Conservation

25 May 2015

Fox on the lower slopes of Mill Hill
in the early morning at 7:00 am
Photograph by Etienne Fournier

24 May 2015

Mother Shipton Moth
Lower slopes of Mill Hill
Adonis Blue

A Buzzard descended from the low-flying clouds and a Kestrel hovered over the lower slopes of Mill Hill. There were more butterfly watchers than actual butterflies, but I did manage a glimpse of my first Small Heath Butterfly of the year as well as my first Mother Shipton Moth. The overcast conditions made for a paucity of butterflies in flight, but there were plenty (15+) of human feet to disturb 15+ Adonis Blues, including a mating pair, two or more male Common Blues, at least one very faded Dingy Skipper and at least three Brimstone Butterflies. The first butterfly I spotted was a bright Peacock and later a surprise Red Admiral showed briefly. The Horseshoe Vetch was at its peak (98%).

21 May 2015
A Cuckoo called repeatedly from below Mill Hill and I could clearly hear it above the noise of the traffic. It was my first Cuckoo of the year. A Buzzard soared above and a Kestrel was seen hovering as well as a flock of seven or more Jackdaws. The characteristic dipping flight was a Green Woodpecker (or it could have been a Jay?)  flying over the bottom hedge and into cover of some Blackthorn amongst the scrub.

Horseshoe Vetch with Adonis Blue
Adonis Blue 
Cinnabar Moth
Horseshoe Vetch

On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the Horseshoe Vetch was virtually at its peak (90%). That made up for the relative paucity of butterflies but they did include my first female Adonis Blues with three of the dozen or so males seemed more intent of sparring amongst themselves and quarrelling with a lone Brown Argus and a single male Common Blue. A Brimstone Butterfly patrolled the bottom hedgerow. Dingy Skippers were frequently seen with about a dozen actually noted but a Grizzled Skipper could not be confirmed. A Green Hairstreak flitted amongst the Brambles. There was handful of Peacock Butterflies and one was so badly damaged it looked like a Comma in silhouette of its underside. A single Cinnabar Moth was spotted on two occasions. And a Large Red Damselfly.

Wild plants spotted in flower on Mill Hill included a few of both Dog Violets and Sweet Violets, Red Valerian noted about a week before by Mill Hill Road, Meadow Buttercups and Silverweed on the upper part of the hill, Wild Mignonette on the lower slopes at the southern end, and the first two Eyebrights at the northern end.

Colin Knight added a Silver Y Moth and a Small Heath Butterfly to the list, found on the lower slopes of Mill Hill.
Jan Charteris photographed the small moth Scoparia pyralella, sometimes called a Meadow Grey, (I had noted this moth before in 2007.), and a Mother Shipton Moth as well as a Common Heath, Ematurga atomaria, found on the lower slopes of Mill Hill.

17 May 2015

Brown Argus
Green Hairstreak
Common Blue
Adonis Blue

A Kestrel soared over Mill Hill just after midday. It was seen hovering and then twice the bird of prey descended on the lower slopes but both times emerged without any visible prey. Weak sunshine on a breezy afternoon brought out frequent butterflies including the bright blue of my first male Adonis Blue of the year. It was the first of about a half a dozen and there were a few male Common Blues also seen for the first time of the year. These Common Blues sparred with the first of the year Brown Argus which were very distinctive perched on the taller herbs including Horseshoe Vetch. Both strong-flying Brimstone Butterflies and ground flitting Dingy Skippers were frequently seen, occasional Green Hairstreaks, two Peacock Butterflies with one each of a Grizzled Skipper and Wall Brown. Large moths were represented by my first Silver Y and an elusive and brightly coloured Cinnabar Moth.
Carpets of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, were abundant but this dominant flower had not yet peaked as there were plenty of buds. The first Hawkbits were seen and there were still a few Dog Violets in flower.
At the top of Chanctonbury Drive (SE of Mill Hill Nature Reserve) two Speckled Woods, two Holly Blues and a Large White Butterfly appeared.

17 people turned out to hunt for the Mill Hill May "Big 5" (Adonis Blue, Green Hairstreak, Wall and Dingy and Grizzled Skipper) on Sunday. Previous year Mill Hill May BC events seem to have coincided with unseasonal wintery type days! This looked to be heading the same way as we gathered at the top of the hill in a seriously nippy wind and jackets went on and hoods went up. It looked like the big 5 was in fact a big overpromise! However, as we got to the bottom of the slope the sun broke through and Ellie spotted the first butterfly - a lovely Green Hairstreak which perched obligingly for everyone to see and photograph. We saw 12 species including all the big 5, although not everyone managed to see the Wall. I was one of the unlucky ones and although I was supposed to have been the leader in fact I wasn't first onto any of them. Luckily we had some sharp eyed under 16's in Ellie, Rosie and James who spared my blushes.
I was also delighted to hear the nightingale on the site and a cuckoo calling away in the valley below.
We didn't do a count but the full list was Adonis Blue (10s), Common Blue (1), Green Hairstreak (10?), Small Heath (1-2), Dingy Skipper (low 10s), Grizzled Skipper (C5 - 10), Brimstone (1 - patrolling backwards and forwards), Small White (1), Peacock (1 - 2), Wall (2), Comma (1), Red Admiral (1). There could also have been Small Tortoiseshell caterpillars which I didn't see so it may have been 13 species. These are my guesses at numbers based on what I saw! Ellie, Rosie and James probably saw loads more!
Some Peacock caterpillars and a female Adonis Blue which he patiently photographed as it emerged with crumpled wings and crawled to nectar on flowers for the first time.
Thanks to everyone for coming along and contributing to a great butterfly hunting team effort. If anyone has any other photos please send them to the sightings page! (Chris Corrigan) Butterfly Conservation Sussex

15 May 2015

Jackdaw mobbing a Buzzard over Mill Hill
Photograph by Etienne Fournier

13 May 2015
While it was sunny, Mill Hill gave me 24 Dingy Skippers, 4 Small Heath, 3 Wall, 3 Common Blue, a Clouded Yellow (possibly 2), Brimstones, but unlike others present I couldn't find Grizzled Skipper or Green Hairstreak. Ah, the ones that get away... Nightingale was a lovely backdrop of sound too. (Lindsay Morris)  Butterfly Conservation

At Mill Hill I found Adonis Blue (first in Sussex this year), Dingy Skipper, Green Hairstreak, Peacock, Wall, Grizzled Skipper, Brimstone, Cinnabar, Hook-streak Grass-veneer, Lesser Treble-bar and a large black Adder. (Colin Knight Butterfly Conservation

10 May 2015
It was overcast around midday when I cycled up to the lower slopes of Mill Hill, to try out my newish camera on any butterflies that might be around. Alas as expected the dull conditions did not encourage any butterflies and my twenty minute one acre transect walk produced just four skippers and two of these were Dingy Skippers more intent on courting than settling for a photograph. A yellow male Brimstone Butterfly patrolled the bottom hedgerow. Two moths were disturbed: a Treble Bar and colourful Cinnabar Moth. A feint glimmer of sunshine and I took the opportunity to practice using my Nikons on the stationary wild plants, typically the now flowering Horseshoe Vetch, as the light had improved.

Green Hairstreak
Dingy Skipper
Grizzled Skipper
Wall Brown

A Kestrel soared over the blue sky and more Dingy Skippers appeared and I saw at least twenty, but some may be the same ones so there were at least a dozen, possibly many more visiting Horseshoe Vetch and landing on Bramble leaves after their amorous encounters. Two pristine Peacock Butterflies flew in tandem and landed on a Hawthorn flower. A gigantic white butterfly flew over my head and searched for her Brimstone partner. More yellow Brimstones appeared: four were seen simultaneously in flight. A sudden glimpse of green against the yellow flowers was the first of the Green Hairstreaks of the day, probably about five individuals with two more seen by other visitors. A flurry of activity produced a Grizzled Skipper and another skipper in a brief flirtation. There were occasional crane-flies, Honey Bees, bumblebees, a Small Purple-barred Moth, Phytometra viridaria, frequent pyralid micro-moths Pyrausta nigrata, small running spiders including Nursery Web Spiders, one Crab Spider Xysticus, very small bees and flies. No blue butterflies were seen. No Pancalia micro-moths were located on daisies. The ground hugging Milkwort outnumbered the last of the Dog Violets. As I was about to leave the lower slopes of Mill Hill I spotted a Wall Brown Butterfly with closed wings. The small black pollen beetles Meligethes now congregated on the newly flowering Silverweed at the top of the southern steps.

7 May 2015
Mill Hill transect on Thursday morning showed the first Common Blues reported in Sussex this year: Brimstone 3, Common Blue 2, Dingy Skipper 13, Green Hairstreak 3, Green-veined White 2, Grizzled Skipper 2, Peacock 1, Small Heath 1. Later I saw plenty more Dingies and Green Hairstreaks nectaring on Horseshoe Vetch. Moths seen: Pyrausta nigrata, P. purpuralis and Violet Cosmets on Daisies.

Report by Colin Knight on Postcards from Sussex

4 May 2015

Kestrel over Mill Hill
Photograph by John Tomsett

There was substantial bird song (Song Thrush) from the scrub on Mill Hill, which compensated for the lack of butterflies on a cloudy Bank Holiday. If wasn't for the sharp eyes of a dedicated butterfly spotter, I would not even have found a Grizzled Skipper. Even the Pancalia and Pyrausta nigrata micro-moths were less than a handful each.

The Horseshoe Vetch was not yet flowering in abundance. Both the Common Striped Woodlouse, Philoscia muscorum, and the Pill Woodlouse, Armadillidium vulgare, were seen. The small bees were probably Lasioglossum sp..

1 May 2025

Milkwort, micro-moth Pancalia leuwenhoekella, Germander Speedwell, Hawthorn (budding)
Milkwort, Gold-fringed Mason Bee on Horseshoe Vetch Hippocrepis comosa

It was cloudy and without a glimpse of sunshine, no butterflies were seen at all on the lower slopes, but there was a lot of bird (Song Thrush) song, tiny micro-moths, lots of small crawling spiders, one or two small bees, the first flowers of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, fading Dog Violets, a few Milkwort, Cowslips, and a moderate breeze from the north. The firstHawthorn was budding as the Blackthorn blossom was fading. Small spiders were frequently seen scampering amongst the short and intertangled vegetation. I think one was a Pardosa hunting spider, but a tiny one looked like it was a web spinner.

Dingy Skippers on Mill Hill
Photograph by John Tomsett


1 May 2015

Gold-fringed Mason Bee (probable)
Osmia aurulenta

on Horseshoe Vetch on Mill Hill

30 April 2015
An all too brief lunchtime visit to the sunny, sheltered bottom of Mill Hill produced 6 Grizzled Skippers, 8 Dingy Skippers, 4 Green Hairstreaks, Small Heath and Wall amongst 8 species of butterfly. Horseshoe Vetch just coming into flower - (Lindsay Morris) Butterfly Conservation

A Kestrel captured a rodent, probably a Vole.

Picture Report by Etienne Fournier

28 April 2015

Peregrine over Mill Hill
Photograph by Etienne Fournier

25 April 2015
I stopped off at Mill Hill for an hour early this afternoon more in hope than expectation as it was cloudy and quite windy. However, the sun did break through occasionally resulting in some butterfly activity on the lower slopes (where it was sheltered). My final count was Peacock (2), Large White (1), Small White (3), Grizzled Skipper (2), Dingy Skipper (2), Green Hairstreak (1) and Small Heath (1).

(Chris Hooker)  Butterfly Conservation

23 April 2015

Buzzard over Mill Hill
Photograph by Etienne Fournier

22 April 2015
With a fresh breeze blowing (Force 5 gusting Force 7) steadily from the north-east (ENE 72°) the sheltered slopes of Mill Hill were a pleasant (> 15.1°C) place to visit. And for the first time this year the species tally of butterflies went into double figures with ten definites recorded and one probable recorded. The edge of the copse at the top of Chanctonbury Drive (SE of Mill Hill) hosted a Large White, a Speckled Wood and two Red Admirals (first confirmed this year).

The lower slopes of Mill Hill were showing the beginnings of spring flowers with hundreds of Dog Violets scattered over the short vegetation proving attractive to a dozen or so active Peacock Butterflies. A Brimstone Butterfly sallied by, following the bottom straggly hedgerow. An orange butterfly fluttered from the scrub and it was probably a Comma Butterfly. But generally the small species had to be searched for. I got lucky with a brief look at my first Green Hairstreak of the year on a Bramble leaf, before another butterfly of the same species distracted its attention.

Dingy Skipper
Grizzly Skipper

A freshly emerged Dingy Skipper was chanced upon unexpectedly on some Ground Ivy and promptly flew off, where a single Grizzled Skipper made a repeated visit. A Clouded Yellow Butterfly was constantly active, flying at 12 mph or more over the more open slopes, rarely settling and only at a distance.

Small pyralid micro-moths Pyrausta nigrata were frequently (30+) seen and one other small moth recognised was a Small Purple-barred Moth, Phytometra viridaria.  The micro-moth Pancalia was seen on a Daisy (I had forgotten how small these moths were.) Last, but not least, Wall Brown rose from the southern slopes after I left after over an hour.

A Linnet sang from a bare Sycamore tree.

21 April 2015

Completely unplanned, my second visit to Mill Hill in as many days was rewarded by a completely unexpected Clouded Yellow Butterfly flying over the lower slopes. They have never been seen so early before and the only other early one was seen in 2007. Two Grizzled Skippers also made their first appearance of the year on the lower slopes with scores of the pyralid micro-moth Pyrausta nigrata visiting the abundant Dog Violets and the occasional Sweet Violet. Other butterflies in flight in the late afternoon on the downs were frequent Peacocks, and at least one Brimstone. Common Bee-flies were frequently seen and they were attracted to the violets as well.
Adur Butterfly List 2015

Quotes from Butterfly Conservation:

On a brief afternoon visit to Mill Hill, on the lower slopes we found at least 3 Clouded Yellow (in view at same time, but could possibly have been more), Also one Grizzled Skipper and several each of Common Purple and Gold (Pyrausta purpuralis) and Wavy-barred Sable (Pyrausta nigrata). (Jan-Paul Charteris)

Visited Mill Hill for the first time today. More butterflies seemed to be out compared with this time last year. Butterflies seen: Green Hairstreak, 2, (including one on blackthorn flower), Grizzled Skipper 4, Dingy Skipper 2, Orange Tip 4, Brimstone 4, Small Tortoiseshell 1, Comma 1, Peacock 2. (Simon Quin)

20 April 2015

My first House Martin of the year was seen flying to and fro over Mill Hill. On a breeze swept Mill Hill there were occasional Peacock & Brimstone Butterflies, a few Small Whites and Large Whites, and one Small Tortoiseshell. The relatively sheltered lower slopes hosted most of the butterflies and were covered in thousands of Dog Violets. The first handful of Milkwort flowers could be seen amongst the short vegetation where my first, of two, pyralid micro-moth Pyrausta nigrata flitted about. Just the two budding Horseshoe Vetch flowers could be seen with their accompanying pollen beetles. There was another micro-moth amongst the Stinging Nettles next to the southern steps. A Common Bee-fly visited Dog Violets over the southern slopes where scores of small spiders could be seen out of the corner of my eye amongst the dense intertwining leaves of the ground hugging vegetation. A small reddish bee visited the patches of Ground Ivy. I think the bee was the Red Mason Bee. A single claw-like budding Bird's Foot Trefoil was also spotted.

Quotes from Butterfly Conservation:

18 April 2015
This afternoon I joined Andrew Burns on the lower slopes of Mill Hill at Shoreham. The skippers are only just getting going, so it's still quite hard working spotting them. After much searching the final score was Grizzled 7, Dingy 2. (Neil Hulme)

Mill Hill lower slopes and waterworks road below. Ten butterfly species including 3 Grizzled Skippers, Green Hairstreak, Orange Tip. Also an Adder. Purple & Gold and Cinnabar identified amongst several day flying moths. More Peacocks than anything else, a lot less Small Tortoiseshell than last week. (Lindsay Morris)

17 April 2015
Then on to Mill Hill where I saw my first Grizzled Skipper and also found a mating pair of Pyrausta purpuralis. (Mark Cadey)
Alopecosa cuneata was a rather local species of spider found on Mill Hill.

16 April 2015
I did my Mill Hill transect this afternoon, recording 25 deg C at the bottom of the hill. I found my first Green Hairstreak of the year and several Grizzled Skippers, one of which roosted at 4:30 pm. I saw the same moths I reported Tuesday: Violet Cosmet, Straw-barred Pearl, Wavy-barred Sable & Common Purple and Gold plus a Little Roller. (Colin Knight

14 April 2015
I checked out Mill Hill this afternoon and found my first Grizzled Skipper of the year laying an egg. I also found four moths: Violet Cosmet (Pancalia leuwenhoekella), Straw-barred Pearl (Pyrausta despicata), Wavy-barred Sable (Pyrausta nigrata) & Common Purple and Gold (Pyrausta purpuralis). (Colin Knight

12 April 2015
I did my second transect at Mill Hill and saw just one Peacock, one Brimstone and one Small Tortoiseshell, though more showed as the temperature rose in the afternoon. I was pleased to find a new micro-moth, a Little Roller (Ancylis comptana). John pointed out a Wavy-barred Sable (Pyrausta nigrata) and Ian found a Brimstone Moth and a Straw-barred Pearl (Pyrausta despicata). (Colin Knight

6 April 2015

A rare appearance of a Red Kite over Mill Hill
Photograph by Etienne Fournier

5 April 2015

Easter brought a spell of weak sunshine and an Adder, Vipera berus, basked in air temperatures at 8.6 °C in the afternoon. It was curled up on a bed of grass by the steps going down to the lower slopes of Mill Hill. It stuck its forked tongue out and slithered off under the thorn. The coiled up snake was my first reptile of the year. I had only fifteen seconds before it sensed me and quickly disappeared. This one seemed nearly as big as a Grass Snake, at least 60 cm long. The opaque blue eye is perfectly normal and happens just before the animal sheds its skin. There were a few bumblebees and the inevitable Dung Flies on the Alexanders, but no still no butterflies in flight. The first Dog Violets flowered on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, with the Sweet Violets much less than in previous years. Green shoots of various herbs appeared through the layer of moss.
Adur Violets

2 April 2015

Stoat on Mill Hill
Photograph by Etienne Fournier

27 March 2015

Kestrel over Mill Hill
Photograph by Etienne Fournier

7 March 2015
With a brief appearance of the weak sun, I disturbed a butterfly on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, but it flew off so rapidly that I did not have a chance to identify it or chase it. I also spotted the first two Sweet Violets in flower this year on the upper part of Mill Hill. The lower slopes were covered in mosses.

Flora on Mill Hill
Carline Thistle, Mosses (with a sprout of Milkwort)
Carline Thistle, Ploughman's Spikenard (x2)

5 February 2015

I made my first visit to Mill Hill since 19 October 2014 and it was very much a spur of the moment decision because it was warmer than expected. At least until half way there when I turned back because of a sleet shower. But it stopped after ten minutes and continued on my cycle ride up the downs against a cold north wind. I had not expected to see anything of interest and it the usual path was too muddy to traverse without boots. I only ventured on the upper part of the Nature Reserve where the turf was still intact. A half dozen Robins, a Wren and Blackbird were all that was spotted with a few dead heads of the Teasel. I made it to the upper car park when I got caught again in a sleet shower which sent me cycling back home and I reached the town centre and there it was rain.

Mill Hill Reports 2014
Adur Butterfly List 2014


Mill Hill Wildlife Reports 2014 (Link)
Mill Hill Wildlife Reports 2013 (Link)
Mill Hill Wildlife Reports 2012 (Link)
Mill Hill Wildlife Reports 2011 (Link)

Adur Valley & Downs on facebook

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 following was confirmed only in 2014: Dark Green Fritillary

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.

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

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