Mill Hill (June 2013)
MILL HILL & the DOWNS
 
 
 WILDLIFE REPORTS 2016
 
 
Summer Downland Butterflies (August):
 
 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, Dwarf Thistle, Squinancywort, Fairy Flax, Small Scabious, Common Centaury and Wild Basil. There are other more widespread wild plants like the Mouse-eared Hawkweed, Rough Hawkbit, Lesser Hawkbit, 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
GRID REF FINDER

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

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

Mill Hill on

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OS Map
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

   Footpaths at Mill Hill

Map Geograph Satellite
 
 

WILDLIFE REPORTS



 
1 November 2016
Nothing much moved on Mill Hill, except for the resident Blackbirds and a few Magpies. A couple of Slow Worms were noted. On the upper southern part of Mill Hill there were occasional flowers of Greater Knapweed, Hoary Ragwort, Bristly Ox-tongue, Hawkweed Ox-tongue, Wild Parsnip, Hogweed, Oil Seed Rape, Creeping Thistle, a few Red Clover and at least one Rough Hawkbit and one Smooth Sow Thistle to be seen without searching. A clump of Hemp Agrimony was prominently in flower. On the steeper slopes I spotted a Great Mullein and on the steps down to the lower slopes a Wild Basil. The lower slopes added occasional flowers of Melilot, Lesser Hawkbit, at least one Common Ragwort and the dead copper and silver stage of the Carline Thistle.
 

Image:
Greater Knapweed
Rose Hips, Slow Worm, Carline Thistle
Hawkweed Ox-tongue, Melilot

14 October 2016
No butterflies were seen on Mill Hill in the afternoon and scarcely anything wild that moved: a Meadow Pipit, two Slow Worms (the golden one coiled up on the lower slopes was over 30 cm long), a greyCarder Bee on a flowering greater Knapweed, and a Magpie that perched for awhile. There was ample bird chattering from inside the bushes. Lesser Hawkbits emerged on the lower slopes with over a hundred plants seen compared to occasional Smooth Hawk's-beards. Rough Hawkbits were most likely on the upper plateau and slopes.

Bramble, Horseshoe Vetch, Creeping Thistle
Carline Thistle, Autumnal Hawkbit,  Rose Hips

There were so few flowers it is possible to name them all (not previously mentioned or shrubs): Common Ragwort, lots of Oil Seed Rape, Wild Mignonette, Great Mullein, Small Scabious (one), Yellow Wort (one), Bristly Ox-tongue (upper), Hawkweed Ox-tongue (scrubby margins), Creeping Thistle (cattle disturbed land, upper), Hogweed (upper), Wild Parsnip (upper), Wild Basil (almost all finished) and Melilot (remnants). The silver/copper plants of Carline Thistle were found to be prevalent around the rabbit warrens on the steep slopes. (I did not visit the middle slopes or scrub.) On the lower slopes there was a large patch of berried Cotoneaster. Privet was encroaching strongly from the southern end of the lower slopes but was almost entirely absent from the northern half. On examining the photographs at least one Autumnal Hawkbit was identified. There were no Ivy Bees, Devils' Bit Scabious or Musk Thistle seen.

13 October 2016
Mill Hill lunchtime. Intermittent sun but more chilly than of late. A Clouded Yellow, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood, a handful of Whites and Red Admirals. Two Ring Ouzels stole the show a bit.

Report by Lindsay Morris on Sussex Butterfly Sightings


8 October 2016
Two Ring Ouzels were seen on the lower slopes of Mill Hill.

Report by David Cook (Burgess Hill)


7 October 2016
No butterflies on Mill Hill and no butterflies anywhere in the afternoon, but it was cloudy and not butterfly weather. Yellow flowers were scattered around still in flower from the large yellow flowers of Perennial Sow Thistle (lower slopes and southern upper), Bristly Ox-tongue (upper),  Hawkweed Ox-tongue (scrubby margins), to the smaller Rough Hawkbits and Lesser Hawkbits on the lower slopes, and the very small Smooth Hawk's-beards. Devil's Bit Scabious was not seen in flower.

Lesser Hawkbit, Leontodon saxatilis

Smooth Hawk's-beard
Crepis capillaris

23 September 2016
Sunshine shined weakly in the afternoon. Flowers on the southern part of Mill Hill, have gone to seed, especially the abundant Greater Knapweed and Ragworts. There appear to be two species of Ragwort on Mill Hill, the usual Common Ragwort, Senecio jacobaea, which had mostly gone to seed, and the tentatively identified as Hoary Ragwort, Senecio erucifolius. The phyllary bracts are black tipped in the common species but not in the other species of Ragworts.

Ragworts

I only ventured to the southern steps leading down to the lower slopes on Mill Hill and spotted a good condition female Meadow Brown. No butterflies were seen on the Devil's Bit Scabious, but on my return two Wall Browns squabbled over the two Greater Knapweeds with drooping flowers on the steps. There were not many flowers: the tiny flowers of Vervain were noted.

Wall Brown

Wall Browns

Devil's Bit Scabious

12 September 2016
 

Hawthorn & Autumn Gentian
Autumn Gentian
 Meadow Grasshopper

Autumn Lady's Tresses

Swallows flew to and fro over the top of Mill Hill under a blue sky in a prelude to migration. In the complete opposite to my normal route, I walked over the top plateau toward the upper car park. The very short turf was covered in hundreds of budding Autumn Gentian plants with a few in flower. I stopped by some Small Scabious and chanced upon a single spike of the late orchid Autumn Lady's Tresses for the first time on Mill Hill for several years. My main object of the visit was to take a comparative photograph and not to look for butterflies.

Past & Present

Small White Butterflies were seen occasionally with the first of four Clouded Yellows, the first over the top of the hill and the first of a few Common Blue Butterflies seen in the afternoon. Silver Y Moths fluttered amongst the taller vegetation with a few Meadow Browns and a few Small Heath Butterflies. Amongst the scrub there were seven Red Admirals, a Speckled Wood and a dark Comma Butterfly. On the lower slopes two tattered male Adonis Blues chased after two females, one in fine fettle. Meadow Browns were frequently seen with occasional Small Heaths and two more Clouded Yellows.

Devil's Bit Scabious

Devil's Bit Scabious was flowering in a large clump on the west side of winding path below the Holly Tree. This attracted more worn Adonis Blues bringing the total to eleven including five females. There were other small moths on the lower slopes including a Straw Dot.
 

Adult Adder

Lastly, and the unexpected highlight of the afternoon, I discovered a 75 cm long adult Adder before I left
Butterfly Image Report

7 September 2016
My Mill Hill transect yielded Adonis Blue 32, Clouded Yellow 2, Comma 3, Common Blue 3, Meadow Brown 27, Red Admiral 2, Small Heath 13, Small White 2, Silver Y 2, Common Carpet 2, Treble Bar 1, Elbow-stripe Grass-veneer 2. The Clouded Yellow at the bottom of the hill was worn and nectared on thistle. The one at the top of the hill was in good condition, nectared on solely on the masses of Autumn Gentian and kept returning to the same area just south of the car park.

Report by Colin Knight on Sussex Postcards
6 September 2016
There was a very autumnal look to the downs with wild flowers going to seed and the first berries. Two Kestrels hovered over the ridge of Mill Hill at the same time.
Butterflies on the lower slopes of Mill Hill were appreciably less than at the beginning of the month in overall numbers and with the same variety, with 24 Meadow Browns, 14 Adonis Blues (including four females), an estimated 12 Small Heaths, a few Large Whites*, two Clouded Yellows, a few Treble Bar Moths, at least one Common Carpet Moth, and occasional faded pyralid micro-moths Pyrausta purpuralis and Pyrausta nigrata, on the incomplete (75%) transect walk. Most of the male Adonis Blues were tattered but the females were in mostly good condition. On the middle slopes and top I counted a dozen Common Blues, more Meadow Browns, more Large Whites, four more Clouded Yellows, two Red Admirals, a few Silver Y Moths, and a Common Darter (dragonfly). (* PS some of these could have been female Small Whites?)

Willow Warbler amongst the light Scrub

I discovered a Ploughman's Spikenard plant at the northern end of the lower slopes and also some Great Mullein. On the top plateau, most of the Autumn Gentian was budding and only a few flowers were seen.

Sloe Berries (Blackthorn)

1 September 2016
A quick visit in to Mill Hill in good afternoon conditions, sunny but not too warm, was rewarded over hundred butterflies of the expected small selection of species on the lower slopes.  I only completed a half acre lower slopes transect and I saw an estimated 50+ Meadow Browns, a counted 31 Adonis Blues (including nine females) (and including eight males and a female all seen together near but not settled on Devil's Bit Scabious near the winding path), six Common Blues (all bluish females), an estimated 20+ Small Heaths, six separate sightings of at least two Clouded Yellows, occasional Silver Y Moths, and frequent faded pyralid micro-moths Pyrausta purpuralis. Carline Thistle proved attractive to a handful of butterflies, but it was rather scarcer (only about a dozen clumps noted) compared to usual years. I failed to note any Ploughman's Spikenard this year, but it could have been overlooked as Ragwort was commonly seen with much more than usual.
 

First picture: Common Blue, Meadow Brown
Adonis Blues

Kestrel

A Buzzard glided at quite a low level over the northern part of Mill Hill, seen from the lower slopes. Forty five minutes after the Buzzard had flown off, a Kestrel hovered over the top part of the hill, seen above as clambered up the steep steps to the ridge and the top of Mill Hill. Three times in ten minutes it was seen to fold its wings and descend rapidly. But no prey was seen in its talons.

Greater Knapweed, Autumn Gentian, Autumn Gentian
Yellow Rattle, Traveller's Joy/Old Man's Beard

On the southern part of the top plateau (only part visited) one female Adonis Blue fluttered over the very short turf with Autumn Gentian. Some of the flowers of the Autumn Gentian were white. Meadow Browns were frequently to be seen on the southern top part of Mill Hill amongst the silver flower discs of Greater Knapweed. Blackberries were seen with a few ripe ones, and ripe Sloe (Blackthorn) berries.

29 August 2016
A brief lunchtime visit to Mill Hill - sightings included at least 3 Clouded Yellow, many Adonis & many Small Heath plus the star of the show for me - my first (and maybe only!) Silver-spotted Skipper of the year.

Blue Text Report by Lindsay Morris Sussex Butterfly Sightings


26 August 2016

Adonis Blues on Mill Hill
with Clouded Yellow and Painted Lady

I made a morning visit to Mill Hill to avoid the humid warmth of the midday sun. Specked Woods sparred in the shade at the top of Chanctonbury Drive on the way. The first Meadow Brownswere seen on the top of Mill Hill near the covered Reservoir, where a Painted Lady visited one of the minority Greater Knapweed remaining in flower. The sun was behind a cloud for most of the one acre transect count and the butterflies appeared immediately but were lacking in variety and numbers at first. An old and tattered male Chalkhill Blue visited a Carline Thistle flower, the first butterfly on the lower slopes and only the first of two males. This followed quickly by the first of 104 fresh male Adonis Blues in the lower slopes transect area, with about the same or even more Meadow Browns, frequent 25+ Small Heaths, and frequently seen both Large Whites and Small Whites, eight Common Blues (including two females), definitely two strong flying Clouded Yellows, one Brimstone Butterfly and frequent bright fresh and faded pyralid micro-moths Pyrausta purpuralis and at least one Pyrausta nigrata. A Southern Hawker (dragonfly) cruised by. Carline Thistle was the usual popular nectar flower, but there did not seem to be as many live plants as usual. Devil's Bit Scabious was flowering for the first time this year at the northern fringe of the lower slopes and it is considerably diminished compared ot the amount of clumps I usually expect to see.  The Clouded Yellows fluttered rapidly from one Basil flower to another and made a visit to a Dwarf Thistle for at least three seconds. As I sat down on the bank after finishing my transect count my first female Adonis Blue (probable ID) landed next to me.

Despite the warmth, I decided to ascend the steep slopes which were now covered in more fluttering Adonis Blues in the sunshine, at least another two dozen. There were three more fresh Chalkhill Blues one which visited a brown female but it did not stay long enough to be sure it was the same species. Common Blues increased in frequency near the top of the steeper slopes. I clambered up the steeper slopes at its lowest climb and then it opens up into ridged middle slopes of largely grasses and Ragwort which I was relatively unfamiliar with this area. Two adult Rabbits were feeding in the semi-exposed open and they made off at considerable speed over 20 metres when they spotted me. Three more Clouded Yellows were seen simultaneously including two sparring in the sunshine. There were frequent Large Whites and Small White Butterflies, at least another ten Small Heaths, frequent Meadow Browns, a probable Holly Blue, two Treble-bar Moths, and more micro-moths Pyrausta purpuralis. The top of the hill added many more of the butterflies already mentioned as well a Common Carpet Moth and a Silver Y Moth. The new plants of Autumn Gentian were common on the top plateau. A Common Lizard skitted across the path in front of me.

22 August 2016
My Mill Hill transect provided some pleasant surprises: Adonis Blue 27, Chalkhill Blue 5, Clouded Yellow 2, Common Blue 8, Gatekeeper, Holly Blue, Meadow Brown 73, Small Heath 16, Whites 3, moths: Common Carpet (Epirrhoe alternata), Common Grass-veneer (Agriphila tristella), Silver Y, Common Purple and Gold (Pyrausta purpuralis), Treble-bar (Aplocera plagiata), Yellow Shell (Camptogramma bilineata). The Clouded Yellows had a brief battle at one point.

Blue text Report by Colin Knight  on Sussex Butterfly Sightings


15 August 2016

Mill Hill
Clouded Yellow
Painted Lady, Chalkhill Blue Common Blue (it might be a Chalkhill?)

A Wall Brown Butterfly danced around the southern steps to the lower slopes of Mill Hill. Then I chased my first Clouded Yellow Butterfly of 2016 up the steeper slopes of Mill Hill amongst nearly two hundred butterflies including my first Brown Argus of the year on the lower slopes on a sunny afternoon. The lower slopes hosted very frequent Meadow Browns, about fifty (partially transect counted to 29) Chalkhill Blues (including five females), six Common Blues and five Adonis Blues, frequent Gatekeepers, about ten Small Heath Butterflies, and a selection of large and small moths. The middle and upper part of Mill Hill hosted frequent Common Blues, Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns everywhere with a few Large Whites. On the Hemp Agrimony and Marjoram there was also at least one Peacock, three Painted Ladies and occasional Small Tortoiseshells. I spotted a few small white butterflies, but I could not confirm their identity.
Moths: Treble-bar, Common Carpet Moths, Silver Y, plus pyralid micro-moths were seen including frequent bright fresh and faded Pyrausta purpuralis and occasional Pyrausta despicata.
 
Autumn Gentian was seen in flower for the first time this year at the southern end of the plateau.

A young Yellowhammer on the middle part of Mill Hill was not a bird I expected although it has been seen before. The middle slopes were beginning to look a little parched in the absence of rain. 

8 August 2016
It was a promising but ultimately disappointing trip to Mill Hill.

The southern steps of Mill Hill hosted about a score of a tiny micro-moths Yellow-spot Twist, Pseudargyrotoza conwagana.
Mill Hill lower slopes:  Meadow Browns (74), Chalkhill Blue (17), Gatekeepers (FQ), Adonis Blue, Common Blue, a few Green-veined Whites and at least one 6-spotted Burnet Moths and two Treble-Bar Moths. The pyralid micro-moth Pyrausta purpuralis was conspicuous and the handful seen probably many less than were present. Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns were spotted copulating.

Middle Slopes (north)

Mill Hill middle slopes:  the Marjoram and Hemp Agrimony proved attractive to over dozen each of  Red Admirals, Meadow Browns, Peacocks, one Small Tortoiseshell, three Painted Ladies, occasional Gatekeepers. The shadier areas hosted at least two Speckled Woods. Two female brown-coloured blue butterflieswere seen on a patch of Horseshoe Vetch, and they looked like Common Blues.
(I looked for Wall Brown in their normal hants, but they were not there.)
Mill Hill top of the hill: the copse at the top hosted Speckled Woods, otherwise frequent Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns, a Common Blue, at least one Brimstone (it was nearly missed and mistaken for Large Whiteas it was very pale.).
Adur Butterfly Day List

5 August 2016
Not so lucky on Mill as two days ago. The highlights of a very ordinary visit was a Kestrel hovering over the lower slopes, A Green Woodpecker with its distinctive dipping flight over the scrub on the middle slopes and a Skylark leaving the short turf of  the top plateau. A grey coloured Mouse shared the underneath of the flat piece of wood with the large and fat Slow Worms.

Gatekeeper, Dingy Footman, Small Tortoiseshell, Green-veined White
Painted Lady, Pyrausta despicata,
Peacock, Pyrausta purpuralis, Wall Brown, Adonis Blue

The breeze and cool weather may have reduced the number of  butterflies with well over fifty Meadow Browns on the lower slopes with 28 Chalkhill Blues, one male Adonis Blue, frequent Gatekeepers, frequent confirmed Green-veined Whites, occasional Peacocks and Red Admirals, one Small Tortoiseshell, and two Wall Browns. Occasional 6-spotted Burnet Moths were all resting on purple flowers. A few pyralid micro-moths were seen including a very bright fresh Pyrausta purpuralis and a few fresh looking Pyrausta despicata. Robber Flies, Machimus atricapillus, were frequently noted. Carline Thistle flowers were seen for the first time this year. Meadow Grasshoppers were very common, but at least one Field Grasshopper was spotted.

Pyrausta despicata, Teasel, Wall Brown, Carline Thistle
Painted Lady, Chalkhill Blue, Slow Worm

Venturing on to the middle slopes, I noted that at three previously used passage routes through the scrub were overgrown and impassable. Marjoram was in flower but it was the taller Hemp Agrimony that attracted frequent butterflies, notably over ten Peacocks, over ten Red Admirals, at least one Small Tortoiseshell, one Painted Lady and both Large Whites and Green-veined Whites. Two more Wall Browns and more Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers inhabited the mixed scrub and open area of the middle slopes.

At the top. the former meadow (now overgrown) north of the upper car park hosted one fresh male Common Blue, and I expect there were more, but passage was difficult. There were two further Chalkhill Blues on the top part of the hill as well as a smattering of Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers. Round-headed Rampion was flowering on the plateau.

3 August 2016
Overcast with the breeze turning into a steady Gale Force 7 (gusting to Force 8) in the afternoon, it was just the type of day not to record.

A flash of colour under the overcast sky was a large Painted Lady (only my second this year) that fluttered around on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, so I decided to make a note of the butterflies even if the wind made photography difficult. Meadow Browns were very frequently seen, their numbers well in excess of 28 male Chalkhill Blues, frequent Gatekeepers, occasional Large Whites, probable Green-veined Whites (or a Small White?), three Wall Browns, occasional Red Admirals and Small Heaths, at least one Peacock Butterfly, and occasional 6-spotted Burnet Moths all on the lower slopes. The flash of blue was the first of the second brood male Adonis Blue (which seemed very early; 11 days earlier than 2015).  A few pyralid micro-moths were seen including a very bright fresh Pyrausta purpuralis and a few fresh looking Pyrausta despicata. At least one Robber Fly, Machimus atricapillus, landed on the southern steps in front of me and another was discovered in a photograph later. Dwarf Thistle was notably commonly in flower on the lower slopes, apparently more so than in previous years, No snakes were seen although there were Slow Worms and Common Lizard by the road at the top.

PS:  After examining the photographs at home, I discovered my first ever Silver-spotted Skipper on the lower slopes of Mill Hill in the corner of an image, not seen at the time.

Full Butterfly Report

Horseshoe Vetch leaves
Pyrausta despicata

Habitat Gallery (Ground Vegetation)
 
 

 Slow Worms


1 August 2016

Slithering and sliding through the Tor Grass, the adult Black Adder seemed to sense me and reversed direction before my camera could focus. At first, it was coiled up looking like a discarded belt on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. It was a rainy day for reptiles as I spotted a Common Lizard by a an ants nest with at least a dozen Slow Worms on the southern top part of Mill Hill near the road. 

Too cool for butterflies to be active, they were commonly disturbed but only 14 male Chalkhill Blues, and an estimated 40 each of Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers, two Wall Browns, two Peacocks, one Large White, one Marbled White all on the lower slopes restricted transect. A Small Skipper fluttered amongst the Greater Knapweed on the southern part of Mill Hill. The 6-spotted Burnet Moths did not fly at all but could be found easily on purple flowers, especially the plentiful Dwarf Thistle. A Treble-bar Moth was disturbed, easily seen because of its pale colour. A few pyralid micro-moths Pyrausta nigrata were seen and a few Scorpion Flies, Panorpa.. The visit to Mill Hill was curtailed after less than an hour because of light rain.
Adur Flies

Bee & Wasp
The bee on the left was thought to be an Andrena. Species ID was not possible.
The small wasp on the right is the predatory species Cerceris rybyensis. Its prey is small bees which it paralyses with its sting. This is is my first record although the wasp looks familiar.
ID of the wasp by Stephen Boulton on Insects of Britain and Northern Europe
on facebook
31 July 2016
I made a cursory and extremely brief 20 minute visit to the lower slopes of Mill Hill in case there was an explosion of butterflies (last seen in 2003): there wasn't. In a half acre transect Meadow Browns were very frequent (50+) with an estimated thirty Chalkhill Blues.  Two female Chalkhill Blues were noted. Ten species of butterfly were seen including frequent Gatekeepers occasional Large Whites at least one each of Green-veined White, Marbled White, Red Admiral, Peacock, Small Heath, Speckled Wood (on the southern steps) and occasional 6-spotted Burnet Moths.

In the southern top part of the hill, some of the light scrub had been cleared, improving the view, and possibly encouraging growth of wild plants

 

29 July 2016

Dwarf Thistle, Round-headed Rampion, Carline Thistle
Chalkhill Blue Butterfly, 6-spotted Burnet Moth on Greater Knapweed, Buddleia

On a cloudy and cool afternoon inimical for butterflies, a brief (30 minutes) casual visit to Mill Hill, resulted in my first Wall Brown Butterfly of the year immediately as I stepped on the southern steps to the lower slopes, where I spotted my first female Chalkhill Blue Butterfly of 2016.  Male Chalkhill Blues were frequently seen. I also noted Carline Thistle budding for the first time this year a well as my first Round-headed Rampion in flower. Other butterflies on the lower slopes were frequent Meadow Browns, occasional Gatekeepers, one Small Tortoiseshell, and 6-spotted Burnet Moths and a few pyralid micro-moths Pyrausta nigrata.
At the top I was buffeted around by the breeze to distraction and soon headed home. I did spot a male Chalkhill Blue Butterfly at the top though and more Round-headed Rampions.
Butterfly Report

26 July 2016
It is not always best to visit Mill Hill in the mornings, but the doubts I had over the identification of Peacock Butterflies over the lower slopes five days ago were put to bed as two were positively sighted on Ragwort on the southern end of the lower slopes. Peacock Butterflies were frequently seen (15+) later on plentiful flowering Marjoram and Hemp Agrimony on the middle slopes. Despite the cloudy breezy day, butterflies were all over Mill Hill, with frequent Meadow Browns on the lower slopes  but Gatekeepers (as befitting their name) were more prevalent and frequently seen on the upper semi-scrub parts of the hill, but the meagre total of nine male Chalkhill Blues were only found on the lower slopes. Occasional Red Admirals (8+) were no longer the dominant vanessid. Three Small Skippers were quickly spotted as I parked my bicycle amongst the meadows of Greater Knapweed south of the reservoir. Other butterflies of few numbers each fluttered over the lower and upper Mill Hill and these were the whites with Marbled Whites, Green-veined Whites and Small Whites all positively identified. Frequent 6-spotted Burnet Moths whirred around. A Dusky Sallow Moth, Eremobia ochroleuca, rested on a Greater Knapweed flower . A Common Carpet Moth was disturbed amongst the thorn. Robber Flies, Machimus atricapillus, were seen occasionally. Three large Slow Worms were noted, one silvery  in colour and another golden one.  A Kestrel flew just above the thick scrub. Goldfinches were seen amongst the thorn on the the top of Mill Hill and could even have been nesting?

Cinnabar Moth caterpillars were frequently seen munching on Ragwort, which was common all over Mill Hill Nature Reserve and abundant on neighbouring pastures. Melilot was abundant on the middle slopes area (northern end: the Triangle) and also on the upper part of the hill south of the Reservoir. The remains of a Kidney Vetch (infrequent on Mill Hill, found nearby) were seen amongst the Greater Knapweed. The former meadow north of the car park was now overgrown with Brambles and impassable without difficulty (daunted, I did not try). The prickly Dwarf Thistle was common and widespread on most parts of Mill Hill.
Middle Slopes 2016
Butterfly Report & Images
Adur Butterfly List 2016

21 July 2016

Chalkhill Blue

Cloudy and a bit of an afternoon breeze was welcome after the two day heat wave. On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the male Chalkhill Blue Butterflies (36) were numerous and settled enough for a photograph. They were joined by Marbled Whites, Gatekeepers, Red Admirals and Meadow Browns, Large Whites, unidentified whites, all frequently seen as well as two possible Peacock Butterflies, one Silver Y, Yellow Shell and occasional 6-spotted Burnet Moths. There was at least one micro-moth Thistle Ermine, Myelois circumvoluta, and a few pyralid micro-moths Pyrausta purpuralis. Cinnabar Moth caterpillars were frequently seen munching on Ragwort which was more prevalent than in any previous years. Spiders were seen with egg sacs including a Wolf Spider, Pardosa. These hunting spiders were frequently spotted. A Devil's Coach Horse Beetle was seen. I noted one Pyramidal Orchid still in flower on the lower slopes, above the winding path.

20 July 2016
Ringlet Butterfly was photographed on Mill Hill.

Report by Pip


18 July 2016
On the first warm day (>25.3° C) of the year, the male Chalkhill Blue Butterflies (16) finally emerged on the lower slopes of Mill Hill when I visited in the middle of the day. They were all flighty and once in flight they rarely stopped. They were noted making visits of less than a second on Bird's Foot Trefoil and longer on a Bramble flower. Other frequent butterflies were Marbled Whites, frequent Meadow Browns, a few Red Admirals, occasional Green-veined Whites, a few Large Whites, occasional Gatekeepers, large moths:Cinnabar Moths, frequent 6-spotted Burnet Moths, a Silver Y Moth, a Yellow Shell Moth,  pyralid micro-moths Pyrausta nigrata, Pyrausta purpuralis, and Cinnabar Moth caterpillars

Lower Slopes
Autumnal Hawkbit, Pyrausta purpuralis, Wild Basil, Perforate St. John's Wort
Bramble with Gatekeeper, Greater Knapweed, Stemless Thistle, Yarrow

The rain earlier in the year had caused some vegetation to grow quicker than normal and the path at the bottom was covered in Brambles to such an extent I nearly trod on a large Black Adder coiled up on the path in front of me.
 
Pyrausta purpuralis from the lower slopes of Mill Hill.

15 July 2016
I did my Mill Hill transect: first Chalkhill Blue of the season, Comma, Gatekeeper 18, Green-veined White 2, Marbled White 11, Small White 1, unidentified Whites 9, Meadow Brown 14, Peacock, Red Admiral 11, Small Tortoiseshell, Six-spot Burnet, Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana). Outside the Cement Works on the A283 I found an Essex Skipper, a Six-spot Burnet and a Crescent Plume (Marasmarcha lunaedactyla)

Report by Colin Knight


14 July 2016
The sun appeared from behind the white clouds in a blue sky, but, alas, there still was no sign of the Chalkhill Blues around the middle of the day on Mill Hill. I disturbed a couple of Skylarks on the top of the hill, but that was it for anything newsworthy. Butterflies were about, frequent Marbled Whites, frequent Meadow Browns, a dozen Red Admirals, occasional Green-veined Whites, a few Large Whites, two Small (or Essex) Skippers, two Gatekeepers, one Small Heath Butterfly, a Silver Y Moth, a Cinnabar Moth and occasional pyralid micro-moths Pyrausta purpuralis. A Cinnabar Moth caterpillar was seen on the leaves of a Ragwort plant. A few Robber Flies, Machimus atricapillus, were seen, and plenty of other flies, beetles, small spiders, moths and other organisms. The small Soldier Fly, Chloromyia formosa, on Hogweed near the uppercar park was a new addition to the Mill Hill fauna on these web pages. The small orange beetles seen on Hogweed and other flowers were Rhagonycha fulva (a Soldier Beetle, Cantharidae).
Adur Butterfly List 2016

Hogweed, Musk Thistle, Greater Knapweed, Marbled White on Hardhead
Cinnabar Moth. Wild Mignonette, Dwarf Thistle, Small Skipper

Dwarf Thistle was spotted in flower occasionally for the first time this year as well as my first plant of Musk Thistle on the steep slopes. Small Scabious was also seen in flower for the first time this year.

13 July 2016

Dropwort, Wild Basil, Pyramidal Orchid, Common Green Grasshopper
Gatekeeper, Traveller's Joy, Wild Carrot

The Buzzard spotted me and was gliding over the meadow as I descended the southern steps (just cut back of intruding vegetation). After ten minutes on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, rain interrupted play and I left before the hour was up, not before I had seen 35+ Marbled Whites, 20+ Meadow Browns, a few Small Heaths, my first three Gatekeepers of the year, at least two Large Whites and one vanessid thought to be a Red Admiral.  About ten of the Marbled Whites and two of the Gatekeepers were at the top part of Mill Hill in the thicker vegetation by the underground Reservoir. Self-heal was common (several hundred flowerheads, possibly many more) on the lower slopes. Yellow Ants (species not identifed) and two Slow Worms were recorded on the upper part of Mill Hill. I also recorded only my second Common Green Grasshopper, Omocestus viridulus.
Adur Grasshoppers

11 July 2016

Buzzard over Mill Hill
Photograph by Etienne Fournier

I faced a gale at the top of Mill Hill as I started my weekly transect. The usual hotspot at the bottom of the hill yielded Comma, Gatekeeper 8, Marbled White 9, Meadow Brown 5, Red Admiral and Small Heath. Moths: Yellow Shell (Camptogramma bilineata) 2, Common Grey (Scoparia ambigualis), Common Purple and Gold (Pyrausta purpuralis) 3 and Cinnabar larvae, plus one big, fat black Adder.

Report by Colin Knight


6 July 2016
A large bird of prey was perched on the hedgerow at the bottom of Mill Hill. It made a leisurely take off and glided over the meadow below. It seemed large enough to be a Buzzard and that is what it was. No Rabbits were seen in the open as is often the case. The afternoon sunshine persuaded a few butterflies into flight: the first of a handful of Large Whites and a Red Admiral in the residential part of Shoreham. The first of frequent Marbled Whites was seen in Mill Hill Road, south of the bridge. The lower slopes of Mill Hill were visited for the first time for a month. The one acre transect butterfly count recorded 23 Marbled Whites, 5 Small Heaths, 3 Meadow Browns, at least one Small Skipper, two Large Whites, one probable male Common Blue, one Cinnabar Moth and a few Silver Y Moths. The small pyralid micro-moth Pyrausta nigrata was frequently seen.

Silver Y Moth, Grasshoppers, Candy-stripe Spider, Centaury
Small or Essex Skipper, Common Lizard, Small Tortoiseshell on Greater Knapweed

Passage through the scrub and over the middle slopes recorded just one more Marbled White, but the top part of the hill added two Small Tortoiseshells, a Large White, a Small White, ten more Marbled Whites and seven more Meadow Browns. A Common Lizard inhabited an ant's nest on the overgrown meadow in the north-east corner. New plants in flower were Lesser Centaury and Field Scabious, the latter providing a hidden location for a small web spinning Candy-striped Spider, Enoplognatha sp. Field Bindweed provided an ambush location for a small Crab Spider, Misumena vatia.  There were frequent hoppers but only of three species actually seen, the omnipresent Meadow Grasshopper, Chorthippus parallelus, at least one Common Green Grasshopper, Omocestus viridulus (first record on Mill Hill, thought to be overlooked before?), and occasional Dark Bush Crickets, Pholidoptera griseoaptera. A smaller Robber Fly, Machimus atricapillus, landed on my hand. Two Cinnabar Moth caterpillars were seen on a budding Ragwort plant.
Adur Grasshoppers
 

White version of Self-heal, Prunella vulgaris.

The remnants of Cowslips were still visible on the middle slopes. 

4 July 2016
A Moderate Breeze (Force 4) blew the flowers about on the exposed top plateau (and incline) of Mill Hill were the Dropwortand the clumps of long grasses swayed in the wind. Greater Knapweed was beginning to flower and Meadow Cranesbill did not sway so much because their stems were stouter and they grew in the slightly less exposed fertile areas supported by more vegetation. In these conditions, I did not expect to encounter more than occasional butterfly and was only in the meadow (turned to a Bramble and Stinging Nettles neglected pasture) to the north of the upper car park, I disturbed a Meadow Brown, in an area where I noted Melilot was prevalent. On the middle slopes a few Marjoram were budding. A Kestrel patrolled under a sky of low grey clouds. Eventually the clouds bumped in to the hill and it became damp and I curtailed my brief (under an hour) visit. The greenery was denser than usual on the upper hill and I put this down to the wet weather. Nipplewort was recorded mostly on the path edges. Bird's Foot Trefoil was abundant on the area of low vegetation both on top of the hill and in the middle section, thinning out in the extremely exposed areas. There did not seem to be so many of the yellow flowers as in a average year. Slow Worms were located in two places, one each side of the country road. One Slow Worm was as large as I have ever seen but I only saw its head. A small spider was also spotted. It looked unfamiliar at first because of its egg sac, but was a small Wolf Spider Pardosa. NB: I have not managed to locate any Musk Thistle this year.
Adur Spiders

Mill Hill: Upper & Middle
Spider with egg sac, Dropwort, White Clover & Self-heal, Meadow Cranesbill
Greater Knapweed, Squinancywort, Dogwood,Slow Worm

3 July 2016
I did my Mill Hill transect: Marbled White 25, Meadow Brown 11, Small Heath 2, Ringlet 2, moths: Pretty Chalk Carpet, Common Purple & Gold, Silver Y.

Report by Colin Knight


24 June 2016
An impromptu to Mill Hill was rewarded by the first Marbled White Butterflies of the year. I disturbed over 25 but rarely would they settle in view for more than a few seconds. The colourful Cinnabar Moths were even quicker to hide and were only out in the open for a second or two. The intermittently cloudy day meant that most butterflies were in hiding, although I managed to spot frequent (12+) Meadow Browns, at least half a dozen tattered Adonis Blues (they were so tattered they could have been Common Blues), a handful of Small Heath Butterflies, frequent (15+) Silver Y Moths, a few smaller moths, two sightings of a Red Admiral (it may have been the same butterfly?) and one Small Tortoiseshell all over the lower slopes on a humid afternoon. A colony of Ants was spotted under a piece of wood.
 

 Ants
Marbled White Butterfly
Adonis Blue 

It has been a month since I last visited the lower slopes of Mill Hill and of particular notice were the new flowering plants for this year, notably, the miniature Eyebright, the first Dropwort, Yellow Wort, ground-hugging Self-heal and  Wild Thyme, the invasive Privet shrub, the common Rough Hawkbit, Perforate St. John's Wort,  and a few of Vervain, Squinancywort, Common Centaury, and others.  I spotted a Dog Violet. Bird's Foot Trefoil was abundant. There was another Hawkweed-type (with dandelion-type leaves and smooth stem) which I have not positively identified: I think this was Autumnal Hawkbit flowering early? Scarlet Pimpernel was present in three small clumps seen. Bittersweet was flowering by the southern steps.

Notes:
A small brown moth was Pyrausta despicata. A smaller pyralid moth Pyrausta purpuralis was seen.
Yellow Meadow Ants can hide the caterpillars of the Chalkhill Blue Butterfly protecting them from predation.
The brown butterfly on the right was thought most likely to be a Common Blue, but it crawled amongst the leaves of Horseshoe Vetch suggesting it could be an Adonis Blue. The four blue males were so ragged that they could not be identified for sure, but three of them were seen on Bird's Foot Trefoil in flower.
The smaller Robber Fly, Machimus atricapillus, were occasionally seen (10+) and were seen mating on the lower slopes. There were more of this predatory fly than seen before.
On the top of Mill Hill (south of reservoir) I noted some very small crickets (with long antennae) as well as grasshoppers. Three Slow Worms were also noted.
A small brown beetle was discovered to be Omaloplia ruricola. This scarab (chafer beetle) is Nationally Scarce B species and found on calcareous grasslands. TQ 21064 07294. ID by Stewart Bevan
The mushroom on the lower slopes was thought to be a Stropharia.

Lower Slopes of Mill Hill
Self-heal, Perforate St. John's Wort, Eyebright, Dog Violet
Privet, Thyme, Vervain, Squinancywort, Dropwort

On the upper part of Mill Hill (south of the Reservoir) new flowering plants were Meadow Cranesbill, Agrimony, Creeping Thistle, Yellow Rattle, two Common Poppies, one Pyramidal Orchid, a few flowering Greater Knapweed, and by the roadside a few Meadow Vetchling and Cornflower.

I did my Mill Hill transect: Adonis Blue, Marbled White 4, Meadow Brown 7, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Small Heath 10, Small Tortoiseshell, moths: Silver Y 4, Yellow Shell.

Blue text report by Colin Knight


19 June 2016
I did my Mill Hill transect on Sunday: Adonis Blue  4, including a mating pair, Brimstone 2, Marbled White, Meadow Brown 3, Small Heath 8, Small Tortoiseshell. moths: Wavy-barred Sable, Cinnabar, Straw-barred Pearl, Mother Shipton, Hook-streak Grass-veneer, Common Purple and Gold, Common Carpet and Garden Grass-veneer.

Report by Colin Knight


29 May 2016
On Sunday my Mill Hill transect produced Adonis Blue 14 (females 3, males 11), Brimstone, Common Blue 3, Dingy Skipper 2, Small Heath 7, Speckled Wood, moths: Yellow Shell, Camptogramma bilineata 3, Grass Rivulet (Perizoma albulata) 2, Silver Y, Autographa gamma, and Hook-streak Grass-veneer, Crambus lathoniellus.

Report by Colin Knight


22 May 2016
 

Adonis Blue 

A cloudy day on the lower slopes of Mill Hill was too cool for butterflies to be in active flight. I disturbed a Red Admiral by the Stinging Nettles on the partially cleared slopes on the southern part, a Speckled Wood on the southern steps, spotted a Peacock Butterfly amongst the decent covering of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, on the lower slopes, followed by a handful of Small Heath Butterflies and best of all eight Adonis Blues, including a female. There were no skippers to be seen.

A flock of a dozen Jackdaws were feeding on the lower slopes. They were persistent but I could not see what they were eating. A Kestrel soared overhead. A tiny Zebra Spider, Salticus scenicus, was noted on a wooden post and I'm not sure if I have recorded this common and widespread species of spider on Mill Hill before? The diminutive Eyebright and Fairy Flax were seen in flower for the first time this year as well as Mouse-ear. Dog Violets were still commonly scattered over the lower slopes. Cowslips were still in flower at the same time that Hawthorn was blossoming. Silverweed flowers appeared on the southern damper parts of Mill Hill.

17 May 2016
In the early afternoon on a breezy intermittently cloudy and sunny day, a flash of blue on the southern upper part of Mill Hill was my first male Common Blue Butterfly of the year. followed by a Small Heath Butterfly and at the top of the southern steps a restless Speckled Wood Butterfly.

Swathes of yellow of the Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, at its peak, covered the lower slopes of Mill Hill. But there were large patches where this flowering herb was absent whereas it was abundant a decade ago.
 

Dingy Skipper
Cinnabar Moth
Green Hairstreak

I clambered down during a period of brief sunshine and for fifteen minutes the slopes were alive with butterflies, occasional Grizzled Skippers, frequent Dingy Skippers, a pair of patrolling Brimstone Butterflies, a Peacock Butterfly, frequent Small Heaths, and four more bright blue Common Blues. I looked carefully to identify the blue butterflies and none were Adonis Blues, until I found a male decrepit Adonis Blue that couldn't fly. By that time the sun had disappeared behind a cloud. A strong flying Adonis Blue landed nearby and immediately took off again. Tracing my steps over the lower slopes I managed to spot my first Green Hairstreak of the year on a Horseshoe Vetch flower. The flash of crimson was the first of two Cinnabar Moths I disturbed. There was one pyralid micro-moth of the species Pyrausta nigrata.
Adur Butterfly List 2016

10 May 2016

A colony of Slow Worms on the upper part of Mill Hill was my fourth species of reptile this year (Adur has five species) on a cloudy day with a hint of a breeze and mist in the valley. Too cool for butterflies although I did disturb a very fresh Speckled Wood near the upper copse on Mill Hill. Clumps of Cowslips were very noticeable on the upper part of Mill Hill where Horseshoe Vetch and Milkwort showed in the areas of shorter vegetation.Garlic Mustard was flowering in the sunnier more open parts of the upper copse. Rabbits were in evidence, both family groups running into shelter and fresh burrow on the middle slopes (northern end). Small flocks of Jackdaws descended to ground level in search of sustenance. Further north at Beeding Hill, Rooks dug into the cattle pasture in their search for grubs.

9 May 2016
 

Hounds-tongue
Grizzled Skipper landed on a Dandelion
Hawthorn

Hawthorn
 
 
 
 

Down on the lower slopes, the yellow of the Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, was abundantly in flower, but nowhere near its best showing, and the Dog Violets were still commonly scattered over hillside. The small orange flutterers were a bit of a puzzle a first until one settled and then I recognised the first Small Heath Butterflies (7) of the year. The afternoon was a bit duller than expected and the one and only Grizzled Skipper landed on a Dandelion, followed by eight Dingy Skippers that did not settle within camera range. At first there was a glimpse of the sun and five Brimstone Butterflies flew along the bottom hedge, and a pair of Peacock Butterflies were courting. Then the clouds blotted out the sun leaving a Small White Butterfly, and after the first spots of rain, a good condition Red Admiral. Occasional Pyrausta micro-moths of two downs species: Pyrausta nigrata and Pyrausta despicata were noted. An even smaller Cocksfoot Moth, Glyphipterix simpliciella was photographed on Germander Speedwell.  Most of the yellow rosettes were Dandelions, but there were a few Hawkbits/Hawkweeds and blue Milkworts were now frequently seen amongst the Horseshoe Vetch leaves. Hounds-tongue was seen with its first flowers near the steps down to the lower slopes from the south. Cowslips had a score or more clumps in flower at the southern end of the lower slopes, the area where all the skippers were seen.
 
 
 
 

Blackthorn

Most of the Blackthorn blossom had blown away on the top of Mill Hill, where Hawthorn was now flowering.

4 May 2016
 

Blackthorn

Contrary to reports of the day before, Blackthorn was still flowering plentifully on the upper part of Mill Hill and the green leaves of Hawthorn but not the flowers. On Mill Hill, the Horseshoe Vetch was now beginning (and probably been around for about a week) and the flowers were already common on the lower slopes with equally common Dog Violets. The violets were visited by at least two Grizzled Skippers and I also saw my first two Dingy Skippers of 2016. A few Brimstone Butterflies patrolled the bottom hedgerow, and a Small White and a handful of Peacock Butterflies, and frequent Pyrausta micro-moths of the three downs species: Pyrausta nigrata, Pyrausta purpuralis and Pyrausta despicata seen very clearly. The even smaller Pancalia micro-moths were also spotted on Daisies.

Flora of the Lower Slopes

A Buzzard glided high in the blue sky above Mill Hill and I was rewarded by the sight of a pair of Linnets perching on Privet. Bird song could be heard above the noise of the traffic. Down on the ground amongst the short vegetation that still included the brown coloured mosses, the first Milkwort appeared prostrate with the other herb leaves and grasses and the first small blue flower of Germander Speedwell. The Easter Fox Spider Alopecosa barbipes (ID to genus only, species problematical) was spotted quite often crawling amongst the undergrowth. A few St Mark's Flies were seen around the steps at the southern end leading down to the lower slopes.
Adur Spiders

20 April 2016
Dog Violets were scattered and abundant all over the lower slopes of Mill Hill and were visited by frequent (12+) Peacock Butterflies, but very little else was spotted on the sunny afternoon. A bright yellow Brimstone Butterfly fluttered by the at the top of Chanctonbury Drive (SE of Mill Hill) followed by a worn Red Admiral.  On Mill Hill proper there were no butterflies or anything moving on the southern upper part. On the lower slopes a white butterfly fluttered past, too quickly to be identified although it did look like what would have been my first Green-veined White Butterfly of the year. Small moths flitted about. These were the pyralid micro-moths of the species Pyrausta nigrata, Pyrausta purpuralis and Pyrausta despicata seen very clearly and all three species definitely identified. The first and only Grizzled Skipper landed in front of me. A pair of faded Small Tortoiseshells danced together and another was seen later. A bright yellow Brimstone Butterfly fluttered by. There were hearsay reports of three more Grizzled Skippers, a Dingy Skipper and a Green Hairstreak.
Butterfly Report (with images)
Adur Butterfly List 2016
 

Pyrausta despicata
Pyrausta nigrata
Pyrausta purpuralis

Spiders were frequently seen amongst the short vegetation. I think that at least ten of them were the Easter Fox Spider, Alopecosa barbipes. Blackthorn flowers had finished on the top of Mill Hill and I missed the full bloom this year. Cowslips were spotted in flower on the lower slopes. The black ground beetle Phosphuga atrata crawled rapidly over the short herbs.

Moss & Violets
Chalkhill Ground Vegetation

12 April 2016
A Buzzard soared over the lower slopes of Mill Hill in the bright blue sky. On the ground, sliding through the undergrowth of Tor Grass and Brambles a young black Adderslithered into view. It was tricky to spot and half an hour or so later we were rewarded by the sighting of a silvery Adder with very attractive black triangular markings and shortly afterwards a different larger black Adder, but only for about five seconds before they were hidden. My first two Common Lizards of the year skitted over the area at the northern end of the the lower slopes that had been cleared of Privet bushes. These were my second and third species of reptile seen this year.
 

Frequent Peacock Butterflies danced over the lower slopes. They were very easy to spot gliding down to feed on the abundant Dog Violets. There were a few Brimstone Butterflies of both genders, that patrolled over the lower slopes and two of my first Small Tortoiseshells of the year that visited the Dog Violets. A Small White Butterfly fluttered by. Spring seemed to have awakened the early insects, including Red-tailed Bumblebees also attracted to the violets, A small  Halictus rubicundus bee settled on a bare patch of earth for a second. Common Bee-Flies, Bombylius major, were frequently seen. And two Treblebar Moths and the pyralid micro-moths Pyrausta nigrata and Pyrausta despicata. Small spiders of the genus Alopecosa crawled amongst the herb growth. (These spiders could be one of at least two species.) Not nearly so easy to spot were the first few Grizzled Skippers of the year that appeared about 2:15 pm. They also visited the violets.
Subsequent perusal of the blurry photographs showed one of the Bee-flies had dotted wings indicating the scarce Dotted Bee-fly, Bombylius discolor.
Adur Butterfly List 2016

5 April 2016
Fluffy white Cumulus clouds sped across a blue sky and the sun shone briefly though the gaps. These brief spells encouraged butterflies to flutter around in search of nectar on an otherwise cool day (> 10.4°C). On the southern top part of Mill Hill, I spotted my first bright yellow Brimstone Butterfly of the year in the distance. On the violet scattered lower slopes pairs (7 in total) of Peacock Butterflies danced over the thorn, and were joined by my first Small White Butterfly of 2016. Most of the thousands of violets were rain battered Sweet Violets, but the first Dog Violets appeared in flower. A male Pheasant strutted in the meadow below (west of) Mill Hill.
 

At the top of Chanctonbury Drive (SE of the bridge to Mill Hill) a damaged Red Admiral made an appearance and again this was a first of the year. It was joined by two further Brimstone Butterflies.
Adur Butterfly List 2016

17 March 2016
In the afternoon I had two further sightings of Peacock Butterflies on the lower slopes of Mill HIll. On all occasions the butterfly only settled for about second in the feeble sun. The lower slopes also hosted the first wild Sweet Violet in flower for 2016.
Adur Violets

11 March 2016
I  walked over the top of the hill and the muddy paths down to the lower slopes without discovering anything of interest on a day when the mist obscured the long views. The conservation workers seemed to have cleared the woody vegetation  from the meadow north of the top car park, as well as a clump of thorn on the middle slopes (seen from a distance) and the Privet from the northern part of the lower slopes, but there was still plenty of Privet on the southern part of the lower slopes. Alexanders in flower attracted Dung Flies in the upper car park. A female Pheasant was disturbed from cover amongst the scrub to the north of the lower slopes.

15 January 2016
I cycled up past Mill Hill into a north wind on my newly acquired bike, with a wind chill just below zero. On the highest part of the local downs east of the disused Cement Works over a hundred Rooks flocked on a bare field, whilst on the other side of the country road, the land was being excavated for cables as part of the Rampion Wind Farm scheme at right angles to existing electricity pylons.

Extensive flooding to the north in the low lying fields around Henfield could seen from the muddy footpath north of and downhill from Beeding Hill car park.

There was little of interest, but I noted blatant evidence of damaging cattle poaching on the short turf top plateau of Mill Hill. The were large mounds of soil dug up by Moles by the upper car park.
 


 

Mill Hill Wildlife Reports 2015 (Link)
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
 
 



 
 

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 following was confirmed only in 2014: Dark Green Fritillary
(=32)

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.
 
 
 

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 pagesLink 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