summer plants of the upper meadows include Greater
Knapweed, Hardheads (=Lesser Knapweed),
Scabious, Meadow Cranesbill, Alexanders,
Meadow Vetchling, Yarrow,
St. John's Wort*, Great Mullein* and
many others. Herb Robert is
found amongst the scrub.
(*notably on disturbed ground.)
Plants of Ancient Downland
indicators on the lower slopes include Dropwort,
Ladies Tresses (upper plateau), Hairy
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,
Thistle, Dwarf Thistle, Squinancywort,
Flax, Small Scabious,
Basil. There are other more widespread
wild plants like the Mouse-eared Hawkweed,
Rough Hawkbit, Lesser Hawkbit, Bird's Foot Trefoil, Ground
Speedwell, Field Speedwell, Sweet Violet,
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.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.
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
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
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
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
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.
Road Routes to Mill Hill
This week's Mill Hill transect and I was grateful for the blue sky: Adonis Blue 7, Clouded Yellow 4, Common Blue, Meadow Brown 11, Peacock, Red Admiral, Small Copper 4, Small Heath 3, Small White 4, Wall Brown . I saw four more Wall Brown after the transect was completed, but they were very skittish.
20 September 2017
A flying visit to Mill Hill produced 3 very fresh female Wall Brown within minutes of the brightening sky mid afternoon at the northern end of the middle path. Unfortunately no males were seen.
19 September 2017
I spent a fabulous couple of hours at Mill Hill, and enjoyed the company of Dave Cook. Among the fresh butterflies seen were several Common Blues, Small Coppers, Brown Argus, four out of five Clouded Yellows, many Peacocks and a few third brood Wall Browns. A total surprise was a female Brown Hairstreak.
With an hour to kill and the sun in the sky, I headed to Mill Hill in the morning. There were still a few butterflies. Peacock, Common Blue, Adonis Blue (female), Small Heath, Meadow Brown, Small Copper and a Clouded Yellow.
18 September 2017
Swallows swooped low over the upper plateau of Mill Hill with changeable weather prior to migration. Their forked tails were clear on a mainly cloudy day. When the sun shone through the gaps in the clouds a few butterflies made some brief flights in search of nectar notably a Clouded Yellow flitting from Hawkbit to Ragwort for a second on each. Three Small Heath Butterflies were seen. On the rough meadow at the top, occasional Meadow Browns were disturbed. There was a Small White Butterfly around the Blackthorn on the edge of the top copse by the tarmac path. The Blackthorn was losing its leaves. On the middle slopes two male fresh Common Blues fluttered about, rarely settling. No butterflies were seen on Hemp Agrimony in the early afternoon.
There was still a little bit of flowering colour on the top meadows and twenty or so wild plants were still showing amongst the thousands of seed heads. The white fluffy seeds of Creeping Thistle were noticeable blown about in the slight breeze. Round-headed Rampion could be searched out on the plateau.
6 September 2017
on Mill Hill
Photographs by Dave Cook
Quite a few fresh Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, around the Hemp Agrimony on the upper north side of Mill Hill. And on the lower slope three male Clouded Yellow plus one very fresh looking female amongst lots of Small Heath and now tired Adonis Blue. On the way back to the car I found one very fresh female Wall Brown in the grass and a very amiable Painted Lady.
Scabious, Autumn Gentian, Small Heath
Autumn Gentian, Greater Knapweed
Mill Hill Upper
Blustery with rain in the air, a cloudy afternoon was unfavourable for butterflies to be out and they weren't. Well, not many on the upper part of Mill Hill, just seven Small Heaths and seven Meadow Browns, one Large White, one Small White and the tiny pyralid micro-moth Pyrausta despicata on the area immediately north of the Reservoir. A flight of a dozen or so Swallows flew low over the top plateau prior to migration. A chirm of seven Goldfinches was an attractive sight as they settled on the bushes south of the Reservoir. In the rough meadow north of the upper care park, I disturbed another dozen Meadow Browns in a minute and another twenty on the middle slopes in three minutes. The large patches of Hemp Agrimony did not host any butterflies, but a Peacock Butterfly rose from the path in front of me. Although the weather was autumny there were still too many flowers to list. The Common Carder Bee (bumblebee) could be seen visiting flowerheads, mostly the few remaining Greater Knapweed and Field Scabious.
I spotted a gap in the bad weather at noon and headed to Mill Hill: Adonis Blue 20, Brown Argus 2, Clouded Yellow, Meadow Brown 31, Red Admiral, Small Heath 18, Small White 2, Mother of Pearl moth (Pleuroptya ruralis).
1 September 2017
I made a brief sortie to the upper part of Mill Hill as the weather was pleasant and the white fluffy clouds on the blue sky were conducive to photography in the middle of the day. There was a Common Lizard and a few plump Slow Worms south of the Reservoir. Butterflies were very frequently flying around and I chose the area immediately north of the Reservoir to record the species which were frequent Meadow Browns (20+) and frequent Small Heaths (15+), seen continuously as were the males of the occasional Adonis Blues (8+), more conspicuous than frequent with at least two chocolate brown females in fine condition. A tatty brown female looked like a Chalkhill Blue.
White, Small Heath, Adonis
Peacock, Meadow Browns
On the middle slopes, Hemp Agrimony was an attractant for at least three Peacock Butterflies, two Red Admirals, a male Common Blue and occasional Meadow Browns. Common Ragwort and other flowers were visited by a big Large White and a handful of Small Whites.
Worms, Meadow Cranesbill, Ragwort
With the marked difference between the flora on the top of Mill Hill and the Rifle Range, Steyning Downs visited yesterday, came a difference in the butterflies seen. I only made a passage visit to the small area north of the Reservoir on Mill Hill where the frequent Meadow Browns were the same but not five Chalkhill Blues including an amorous pair, half a dozen or so male Adonis Blues, occasional Small Heaths (9+) and a one second glance of a Silver-spotted Skipper visiting a low level Lesser Knapweed. One Chalkhill Blue made a fleeting visit to a Round-headed Rampion. The micro moths were probably the Common Grass-veneer Agriphila tristella. They were prevalent but I have no idea how many there were.
Adur Butterfly List 2017
24 August 2017
purpuralis, Painted Lady
Adonis Blue, Adonis Blue, Chalkhill Blue
On a cloudy day, I made late morning visit to Mill Hill before the intermittent weak sun had woken up the butterflies. I still managed to disturb several hundred. The tally for the half transect (the Privet prevented the whole acre transect) on the lower slopes was an unprecedented 153 Adonis Blues(including 17 females), 11 Chalkhill Blues (including one female), a few Common Blues (including one female), an estimated 75+ Meadow Browns, an estimated 30+ Small Heaths, a few each of Green-veined Whites, Small Whites and Large Whites, at least four restless Clouded Yellows, a Treble-bar Moth, a Blood-Vein Moth and frequent faded pyralid moths Pyrausta purpuralis. A few of the Meadow Browns visited the Devil's Bit Scabious now in flower at the northern end of the lower slopes. Some of the Meadow Browns looked fresh, but none of the Adonis Blues did and one in ten was frayed at the edges. Perennial Sow Thistle was recorded at the northern end of the lower slopes for the first time.
Bit Scabious, Great Mullein, Musk
Dropwort, Round-headed Rampion, Carline Thistle, Autumn Gentian
On the plateau north of the Reservoir, Autumn Gentian was now beginning its short flowering period. It was where the vegetation had grown where the top plateau abuts the Reservoir compound that I counted nine more male Adonis Blues, one Chalkhill Blue and over a dozen Meadow Browns. On the middle slopes there were eight more Adonis Blues and a Chalkhill Blue, another twenty or so Meadow Browns, the same number of Small Heaths and a few Common Blues. One particularly large Green-veined White visited of of the few remaining Marjoram in flower. As I rested on the seat, a yellow Brimstone Butterfly flew past. The tiny micro-moth Pyrausta despicata was also spotted.
Mullein, Adonis Blue,
Common Toadflax, Meadow Brown
Stropharia Dung Mushroom, Carline Thistle, Fairy Flax, Inkcapl Mushroom
set in and I only made a less than cursory visit to the meadow north of
the upper car park as I expected just more of the same. I did chance upon
a faded Painted Lady visiting
a Greater Knapweed
in flower. Musk Thistle
was flowering on the ridge. Common Toadflax
was flowering on the top of Mill Hill in several places.
More Mill Hill Flora Images
21 August 2017
Lady's Tresses, Sloe,
Top of Mill Hill
spikes of Autumn Lady's Tresses
(an orchid) had just appeared on the top plateau
of Mill Hill, just north of the Reservoir, on
a grey overcast afternoon. They were small
and difficult to spot. I looked over hundreds of Autumn
Gentian but although budding none of them
showed in flower. The knapweeds
had mostly ceased flowering and the top of the hill showed Common
Ragwort yellow as the most prevalent colour.
A single Common Toadflax
was seen on the east verge of the country road. Although the conditions
were inimical for butterflies,
I disturbed frequent Meadow
occasional Small Heaths and
Pyrausta despicata, as well as one
each of a male Adonis Blue
Blue on the top of the hill (the only
Garden Orb Spider, Araneus diadematus, the first record from Mill Hill, where it was discovered on a Hardhead south of the Reservoir.
After the early morning rain it was gusting to Gale Force 8 and on the top of Mill Hill, it felt constant from due west nearly blowing me off my feet. For the record on the meadow north of the top car park, there were frequent male Common Blues (30+), frequent Meadow Browns (25+), a few Small Whites, two Wall Browns, occasional male Adonis Blues (5+) and a handful of Small Heaths.
Blue x 2
Round-headed Rampion, Greater Knapweed, Lesser Knapweed x 3
Top of Mill Hill
The windswept middle slopes showed the Hemp Agrimony growing up and in flower, but hosting only the occasional butterflies, mostly Meadow Browns, but also my first Common Darter (dragonfly) of the year. The small area north of the Reservoir as rather exposed on the plateau area where I spotted more Small Heaths and the only male Chalkhill Blue on passage, and disturbed more than a dozen Meadow Browns amongst the taller and thicker vegetation in a minute.
As I was not happy with the pictures yesterday, I returned to the top of Mill Hill but the southerly breeze was much too strong (Force 6) for photography. There were still plenty of Meadow Browns with more than fifty in ten minutes, and occasional pristine male Chalkhill Blues and good condition male Adonis Blues, a few poor condition Common Blues and a few Small Heaths and big Large Whites all in the small area north of the Reservoir. There were three large Slow Worms as well.
After two weeks off because of rain, breezes and other inclement weather, I cycled up to Mill Hill in warm humid conditions in the afternoon. Butterflies were common enough but not very varied. I parked my ebike just north of the Reservoir and I was immediately struck by butterflies quarrelling in the breeze. A male Adonis Blue chased a good condition male Chalkhill Blue where the plateau merged into the longer vegetation above the ridge with a few Meadow Browns. It was good sign and I counted nine Chalkhill Blues in a minute.
Blue, Adonis Blues
Adonis Blue on Bird's Foot Trefoil, Autumn Gentian with Chalkhill Blue, Adonis Blue visiting Squinancywort
Top of Mill Hill
Alas, there was so much Privet on the southern end of the lower slopes it was impassable in places and not conducive to spotting butterflies. When I eventually managed to fight my way through to open ground Meadow Browns were everywhere, well over a hundred, exceeding the total of blues altogether which comprised over fifty (52) Adonis Blues, just under forty Chalkhill Blues (37), and frequent Common Blues. A few females of all three species were seen. Some of the male Chalkhill Blues were in pristine condition. Small Heaths were frequent as well and there must have been more than twenty on the lower slopes. At least six Clouded Yellows fluttered past and that was it apart from a few Large Whites and over the southern steps a tatty Speckled Wood showed. A few Treble-bar Moths were spotted. Occasional tiny pyralid moths Pyrausta purpuralis and Pyrausta nigrata flitted amongst the short vegetation
Silver-spotted Skipper visiting Dwarf Thistle on Mill Hill
the middle slopes and upper meadows there were very frequent Meadow
frequent Adonis Blues, Chalkhill Blues, Common
Blues and Small
Heaths. The Hemp
Agrimony hosted one Small
Tortoiseshell and a Red
Admiral. The short turf of the upper
plateau added a Brown Argus.
I packed my camera away to unlock my bike to go home. It was then I spotted
my first Silver Spotted Skipper
of the year visiting a Dwarf Thistle
right next to my ebike! On the plateau Round-headed
Rampion was in flower
and hundreds of Autumn Gentian
were budding. There was still time for a pyralid
despicata to make an appearance. I
did not spot a single Gatekeeper
Adur Butterfly List 2017
As far as I am aware this is the first positive record of a Brown Hairstreak from any part of Mill Hill. This one was discovered by Etienne Fournier near the copse and north of the top car park. It occurred where there was Blackthorn and sloe berries in the tall hedgerow.
An unconfirmed fleeting view of this elusive butterfly has been seen by
myself on Mill Hill
as well as one personally photographed record in north Shoreham in 2010.
Cumulus clouds were thinly spaced across the blue sky and the sun was out more often than it was in. This made for more active butterflies chasing each other and generally more visible, but not much more in total numbers seen. A few Speckled Woods and a Holly Blue were seen over the southern steps down to the lower slopes where blue butterflies just about exceeded the orange ones. On the one acre transect area of the lower slopes I counted 41 Chalkhill Blues (including five females*), 15 male Adonis Blues, an estimated 20 Common Blues, a few Brown Argus. an estimated 25 Meadow Browns, an estimated 12 Gatekeepers, about a dozen Small Heath Butterflies mostly in pairs, at least one Large White, three (one large white one) large Brimstone Butterflies, another Speckled Wood, one tattered Wall Brown, three strong flying Clouded Yellows (attracted to the Wild Basil), two second brood Dingy Skippers, two Treble Bar Moths and a few 6-spotted Burnet Moths. The list is fourteen different butterfly species from the lower slopes. (* the females were all seen walking over Horseshoe Vetch.)
Adonis Blue, Painted Lady, Meadow Brown
by the ridge route and over the middle slopes, adding four Red
Admirals on Buddleia,
five Peacock Butterflies,
a Small Tortoiseshell
and a Painted Lady
patches on the middle slopes of Mill Hill were also attractive to more
(20+) and Gatekeepers
(20+), one good condition
Wall Brown, another big yellow Brimstone
Butterfly, unidentified Whites^,
two more Clouded Yellows,
and a score or more Common Blues that
stopped for only a seconds.
(^ one could have been a Green-veined White.)
Photograph by Etienne Fournier
The top meadows on Mill Hill were only transversed on passage and given only a cursory view. I quickly disturbed a dozen or more Common Blues, more Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers, and one pristine Brown Argus. A few pairs of Small Heaths were present over the top plateau. There were five male Chalkhill Blues immediately north of the Reservoir.
A large cloud blocked out the sun and sent a large shadow over the lower slopes of Mill Hill. This tends to send the butterflies into hiding and then they were only seen if actively disturbed. This gives disappointing numbers of butterflies at the peak time for numbers in the whole of the year. I battled though the Privet on the lower slopes and I only recorded 53 male Chalkhill Blues plus one mating female on a 90% coverage of my transect acre. I was surprised to record my first eleven second brood male Adonis Blues. A Wall Brown visited a Dwarf Thistle. Small Heath Butterflies courted in the breeze.
Tortoiseshell, Gatekeeper, Chalkhill
Wall Brown, Red Admiral, Adonis Blue, Painted Lady
Chalkhill Blue Numbers per transect acre on Mill Hill
Yellow fluttered rapidly over the lower
slopes without pausing. Meadow
nearly as many as the Chalkhill Blues
on the lower slopes and more on the whole of Mill Hill as I only saw one
additional Chalkhill Blue
above the ridge. Gatekeepers
were very frequently seen and the most numerous (80+ altogether seen) on
both the lower slopes and the middle slopes where they were attracted to
which also enticed a Small Tortoiseshell
(one of two) to visit for nectar. Buddleia
proved attractive to occasional Red
Admirals, a Peacock
and a Painted Lady.
Male Common Blues were
occasionally seen on the lower slops but frequent on the top of the hill,
especially so in the meadow north of the car park where I also spotted
a Small Copper,
an unmistakable Brown
Argus, and a Large
Burnet Moths and Silver
Y Moths occasionally attracted my attention
as well as a definite small pyralid
Pyrausta purpuralis on Marjoram.
The Robber Fly,
atricapillus, was spotted amongst some
Thistle, Marjoram, Carline Thistle
with Wall Brown, Gatekeeper, Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown
Flora with Butterflies
Thistle was seen in flower for the first
time this year. There were also at least three large white mushrooms,
with a stem ring and a diameter of at least 65 mm and thought to be White
25 July 2017
Chalkhill Blue, Small Heath
On a cloudy day I visited the lower slopes of Mill Hill where I fought my way through the invasive Privet to complete a 90% transect registering a count of 21 male Chalkhill Blues and if I was to include the southern part of the top of the hill they were exceeded by both Common Blues and Meadow Browns, and these were exceeded by 6-spotted Burnet Moths. The lower slopes also hosted at least one Large White Butterfly, a pristine Small Tortoiseshell, frequent Small Heath Butterflies, and a Treble-bar Moth. I returned by the ridge route and noted a Peacock Butterfly over the path through the scrub and the distinctive hoverfly Chrysotoxum bicinctum by the Reservoir. This hoverfly Chrysotoxum bicinctum is widespread and has been found in north Shoreham, Lancing and Steyning by me before but I had not seen it on Mill Hill. Gatekeepers were frequently seen by the bushes on Mill Hill.
John's Wort, Ploughman's Spikenard, Great Mullein, Greater
Perennial Sow Thistle, Gatekeeper
Lower Slopes of Mill Hill
Flora of Mill Hill
Great Mullein were a relatively new noticeable feature on the disturbed land on the northern end of the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the yellow flowers had now appeared on the tall stem, which rises from the large rosette of leaves. More Ploughman's Spikenard was flowering in large groups on the lower slopes with more budding Carline Thistle. And my change of route back via the ridge route added more Musk Thistles, Spear Thistles, Creeping Thistles, and Welted Thistle to the widespread Dwarf Thistles. Perennial Sow Thistle was noted by me for the first time on Mill Hill by the southern steps. The small umbellifer Upright Hedge Parsley Torilis japonica was identified for the first time.
Butterflies were fluttering all over Mill Hill with sixteen of the expected species. Common Blues (100+) were all over the top of the hill where I spotted a Brown Argus almost immediately. Chalkhill Blues (55+) were widespread with most over the lower slopes where I was pleased to see my first Clouded Yellow of the year.
Butterfly List of the Day
Knapweed, Mugwort with
Thistle was budding on the lower slopes.
On the upper plateau of Mill Hill I recorded my first Round-headed
of the year. This flower is easily overlooked. Not so the Musk
Thistle where I made a quick search and
found my first of this flower of the year when most of the plants had already
gone to seed. My first Ploughman's Spikenard
was also spotted on the ridge rather than the lower slopes. I spotted my
first ever pyralid
Mint Moth Pyrausta
aurata on the middle slopes of Mill
Also, the hoverfly
found in the same area on Wild Parsnip
and other flowers.
Wild Flower Images of the Day
10 July 2017
Basil, Greater Knapweed, Painted Lady,
Dwarf Thistle, Perforate St. John's Wort & Wild Basil, Robin's Pin Cushion, Meadow Grasshopper nymph
Lower Slopes of Mill Hill
the southern part of Mill Hill, I noted quite a few Meadow
Y Moths. On the steps down to the lower
slopes a Speckled Wood
showed in the shade before I was distracted by a Peacock
and my first Painted Lady
of the year. Scores of butterflies
fluttered around on Mill Hill including my first dozen or so of the first
male Chalkhill Blues
of the year over the lower slopes. On a warm sunny afternoon, all the butterflies
were extremely lively especially over the large patch of Wild
Basil at the northern end of lower slopes
where they were joined and disturbed by frequent
Small Heaths, Gatekeepers, male Common
Blues and Marbled
Whites., a couple of Brimstones,
a Red Admiral,
a Small White,
and a Large White.
I only visited the northern end of the lower slopes for under an hour.
From the path I also spotted lots more Meadow
Burnet Moths as I returned hurriedly.
Pin Cushion was spotted and the yellow
Hawkbit identified on the lower slopes.
I did manage to add a brownish Small Skipper
to the list amongst the Greater Knapweed
and many grasses south of the Reservoir.
Adur Butterfly List 2017
A rustle in the dense but very short vegetation on the lower slopes of Mill Hill was recognised with a clear view of a Common Lizard, Zootoca vivipara, which may have been after a Meadow Grasshopper, Chorthippus parallelus. Some vegetation like Privet was alarmingly everywhere blocking off half the lower slopes, whereas other flowers like Marjoram, the tall Great Mullein, Wild Mignonette, the diminutive Squinancywort, Dwarf Thistle, Wild Basil, Field Scabious, Small Scabious, were attractive natives coming into bloom. Welted Thistle was seen on the ridge, but Musk Thistle seems to have disappeared and likewise Meadow Cranesbill.
Welted Thistle, Vervain, Gatekeeper, Wild Basil
were all over Mill Hill and Marbled
were frequent too, but there
were not many
for summer and not many species, frequent fresh Gatekeepers,
an occasional Small Heath a
Whites. Looking out for blues,
I disturbed a Treble-bar Moth and
a Silver Y Moth,
and spotted a 6-spotted Burnet Moth.
Adur Butterfly List 2017
19 June 2017
Bird's Foot Trefoil
The chalk downs above Shoreham were swathed in the yellow of Bird's Foot Trefoil, on the middle slopes of Mill Hill and New Erringham pasture to the east of Mill Hill Nature Reserve. A Rook soared like a Buzzard in the mostly blue sky on the warmest air temperature of the year reaching 25.6 °C at 10:00 am and 26.1 ° C at 11:00 am when I was on Mill Hill.
Yellow Wort, Common Green Grasshopper, Agrimony, Comma Butterfly
Butterflies were very frequently seen but not much variety, twenty five or so Meadow Browns amongst the long vegetation on the top part of Mill Hill south of the Reservoir with many more wall hidden with at least one, probably more, Silver Y Moths. On the Privet covered lower slopes, the lively Marbled White Butterflies (18+) merged well with the flowerheads of the invasive Privet bushes, Small Heath Butterflies (18+) courted in the gaps between the bushes with a few male Common Blues and one Small Tortoiseshell on my less than one acre transect walk. Frequent tiny pyralid moths Pyrausta puperalis, flitted amongst the low herbs. Grasshoppers were stridulating in the sunshine. At lest one ws the Common Green Grasshopper, Omocestus viridulus.
There were at least a dozen Meadow Browns, half a dozen Small Heaths, and another four Marbled Whites on my passage return over the middle and top part of Mill Hill north of the Reservoir. Add to my tally a Brimstone, Comma and three more Small Tortoiseshells on the fringes of the scrub.
The morning flowering Yellow Wort was both attractive and common, possibly as many as I had ever seen before on both the lower and middle slopes where the soil is shallow and undisturbed. There was the yellow of the upright Rough Hawkbit and Mouse-eared Hawkweed, and the ground hugging Silverweed on and around the ridge. Vervain was noted for the first time next to the path, and the diminutive Eyebright had been flowering for sometime but not previously mentioned. A handful of Pyramidal Orchids were seen scattered around as single spikes.
This was found with Knapweed on Mill Hill, but I am not sure which species?
I think it is Knapweed Broomrape from previous records compared.
I eventually found some Knapweed Broomrape
after a search on the southern top part of Mill Hill.
Mill Hill Flower Montage
At last the breeze was gentle (Force 3) on a sunny humid day. The white flowers of Elderflower, Privet and Bramble were dominant in the landscape. Privet threatened to overrun the lower slopes of Mill Hill and certainly blotted out many of the Dropwort flowers. In the bare patches Yellow Wort opened its flowers in the morning.
Thyme, Greater Knapweed, Dropwort
Silver Y Moth, Yellow Wort, Agrimony
the southern top part of Mill Hill I stumbled across a Small
Tortoiseshell, a pale green
Brimstone and a male Common
Blue Butterfly in the late morning. On
the lower slopes the flowering Privet
had grown up so much that I did not complete my normal transect walk and
just made a cursory unhurried visit. Brimstone
Butterflies patrolled as usual and one pair
was courting. Frequent
Small Heath Butterflies were harder to
spot because of the excessive Privet,
with occasional larger Meadow Browns
some blue butterflies.
There were a handful of battered and ragged blue
butterflies. I have a tendency to think that
at least four were the surviving remnants of the first batch of male Adonis
Blues. I disturbed about seven Cinnabar
Moths which was an unprecedented number
in a hour. A pale Silver Y Mothsettled
in front of me. The pyralid
Pyrausta despicata was spotted occasionally
on the lower slopes of Mill Hill.
Adur Butterfly Report
A Peregrine Falcon made three passes at a Buzzard over the southern steps on Mill Hill, before both birds of prey flow off on a windy late afternoon. On the same day the Buzzard descended and caught a Rabbit which it flew up with, only to be mobbed by a Crow.
Falcon altercation with a Buzzard
over Mill Hill
Photograph & comments by Etienne Fournier
the same day the Buzzard
descended and caught a young Rabbit
which it flew up with, only to be mobbed by a Crow.
Photograph & comments by Etienne Fournier
My Mill Hill transect produced Adonis Blue 28, Brimstone 2, Peacock, Red Admiral, Small Heath 19, Small Tortoiseshell 3. Moths: Cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae) 3, Burnet Companion (Euclidia glyphica), Common Purple and Gold (Pyrausta purpuralis), Hook-streak Grass veneer (Crambus lathoniellus), Lesser Treble-bar (Aplocera efformata).
22 May 2017
On the lower slopes of Milll Hill, I tried to count the Adonis Blues in the designated one acre transect area (which now takes me half an hour to traverse if I do not pause) but at the count of 91 (including seven females), the numbers were too many together at the northern end to get an accurate count but estimated at 125 in the acre (10% females). They were accompanied by frequent Common Blues which almost all appeared to be males. A few Adonis Blues mated. Others were chased by the frequent amorous Small Heaths. Brimstone Butterflies were incessantly on patrol, although one did visit a Bramble flower. Two Dingy Skippers courted and one was seen alone. They were drabber than a Mother Shipton Moth of the same size and similar behaviour. A Peacock Butterfly flew overhead and was seen to be intact when it later landed. The most distinctive find were three Cinnabar Moths which quickly disappeared into hiding. Altogether there was not much variety which included a single Green-veined White. I only visited the lower slopes of Mill Hill, but access was over the top southern part and it looked as though there may have been a late in the day emergence of Common Blues as they were occasionally disturbed on passage.
Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, abundantly covered the slopes but thousands of flowers were withering to seed. The first Dropwort buds and tiny flowers were on show, and I spotted a miniature Fairy Flax. The hoverfly Merodon equestris and theThick-legged Flower Beetle, Oedemera nobilis, visited Bramble flowers. Looking up on occasions to the blue sky, there were no birds of prey to be seen. I saw what may have been the white rump of a Wheatear flying over the lower slopes as I was leaving by the southern steps.
21 May 2017
slopes of MIll Hill from the ridge
Annington (distance) and Old Erringham Farm in the background
As a weak sun was shining, I made a quick visit to the upper part of Mill Hill, where a female Adonis Blue landed on the path in front of me just above the ridge. Occasional Brimstones were the most prevalent butterfly in the late morning fluttering strongly around the scrub, where I was surprised to see a lively female Holly Blue. Small Heath Butterflies fluttered around in the shorn vegetation.
butterfly visitors commented on the dearth of butterflies on the top of
Mill Hill although they could add two Small
Coppers and some Common
Blues to my tally.
Adur Butterfly Report
Mill Hill was covered in glorious swathes of the yellow of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, flowering the slopes, mostly the steep slopes and lower slopes but also some quite large patches on the upper part of the hill.
were common (over a hundred)
for the first time this year with male Adonis
the way with sixty plus and a few flighty females. About twenty male Common
Blues were seen for the first time this
year with frequent Brimstone
Butterflies, frequent Small
Heaths, just two Grizzled
Skippers, and one of each of Dingy
Wood, a first of the year Wall
and a Green-veined White.
made for eleven different species,
most this year in over an hour on Mill Hill,
and it was only sunny for some of the time and one
cloud let loose a few drops of rain. I also
spotted a Treble-bar Moth
and my first of the year pyralid
Rolf also spotted two Green Hairstreaks
and three Cinnabar Moths.
The small beetle Isomira
murina was recorded for the first
Full Butterfly Report
9 May 2017
Summer seemed to have put in its first appearance with the glorious blue of my first male Adonis Blue Butterfly of the year. It appeared on the lower slopes of Mill Hill at 3:00 pm with the sun still behind the fluffy cirrus clouds. It was the first of about ten, nine in perfect condition, but one slightly torn and ragged.
of the bright yellow flowers of the
Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa,
the slopes. This vitally important butterfly food plant was virtually at
is peak flowering. I noted a couple of Dog
Violets amongst the yellow exuberance.
Two Green-veined White Butterflies, three bright yellow Brimstones Butterflies, a worn Peacock Butterfly and the first of the dozen or more Small Heath Butterflies showed after five minutes or so. A flash of bright crimson was my first Cinnabar Moth of the year. My first damselfly of the year, a Large Red Damselfly, flitted around the short vegetation.
Skipper, Dingy Skipper
Adonis BlueLarge Red Damselfly
Nine species of butterfly were seen on Mill Hill, but I had to wait around for an hour before a spell of sunshine enticed a veritable flurry of activity and the appearance of the skippers, including my first of only a few (maybe just one or two seen several times) Dingy Skippers of the year. Grizzled Skippers were discovered mating on a Bramble shoot. A flash of orange was a surprise Small Copper Butterfly which was another first for two years. A Red Admiral was seen at the top of the southern steps as I left after an hour and half. The first shoots of Yellow Wort were spotted.
4 May 2017
Vetch, Andrena bee,
Carline Thistle, Hounds-tongue, Small Heath Butterfly
Too breezy for photography, too cool for butterflies, and my days are numbered for scrambling about on steep hillsides. Nevertheless the Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, was flowering in abundance on he lower slopes of Mill Hill with most yet to burst out into full bloom. Three Swifts darted to and fro over the upper plateau at great speed, possibly feeding on small flies. Half a dozen or more Jackdaws were attracted to the steep slopes amongst the Horseshoe Vetch (corvids seen at this time of year more often than not), joined by a few Crows and Magpies. At least one of the Jackdaws was collecting nesting materials of small dried grasses and sundries of which there was plenty on the slopes. Red-tailed Bumblebees and Honey Bees were frequently seen visiting the Horseshoe Vetch. And I stayed long enough to record three Peacock Butterflies on the edges of the scrub on the middle slopes, three Grizzled Skippers on the lower slopes followed by my first Small Heath Butterfly of the year. Hounds-tongue was very frequently seen on some cleared ground above the winding footpath through the lower slopes, and just one Mouse-eared Hawkweed by the gate to Old Erringham pastures. No Violets were casually spotted on the lower slopes, but frequent Milkwort was on the upper plateau (immediately south of the upper car park) scattered with more Horseshoe Vetch.
was in blossom at the northern end of the lower slopes on Mill Hill.
were in good voice from the bushes. I think I recognised the song of a
Lackey Moth Caterpillars in their silken tent on Blackthorn on the upper part of Mill Hill, with Slow Worms, both found south of the Reservoir on a rainy day.
At Mill Hill, to help find some roosting Grizzled Skippers. By now everything was asleep, but a careful search of the scrub revealed 5 snoozing Grizzled Skippers, 2 dozing Dingy Skippers, 3 sleepy Small Heaths and a comatose Brown Argus (which may be a national first for the year).
I walked Mill Hill late morning in the fading 'grey' sun and in the sheltered areas out of the cool easterly breeze at the bottom of the steep slope, I counted at least 12 Grizzled Skippers, 10 Dingy Skippers, 3 Small Coppers, 4 Small Heath and one very fresh and surprisingly sprightly Adonis Blue that wouldn't pose long enough for a picture.
19 April 2017
On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the first hundred or so flowers of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, were showing along with the the first flowers of Milkwort. Young Privet was everywhere over the southern part of the lower slopes. coming back vigorously every year and threatening to shade out the chalkhill plants. There was not much to see: a group of five Rooks, Slow Worms and a Common Lizard on the top part. On the lower slopes two Peacock Butterflies and two Grizzled Skippers were reluctant to settle within camera range. I spotted a worn small pyralid moth Pyrausta despicata, and frequent micro-moths Pancalia leuwenhoekella and many small spiders running in the short vegetation. Pyrausta nigrata was not seen. Two Common Bee-flies hovered around the lower slopes.
It was cold and cloudy at Mill Hill this morning with nothing flying but eventually the sun came out for a few minutes and I managed a picture of a Green Hairstreak. The wings look slightly crumpled so maybe they weren't quite dry (though it was able to fly).
9 April 2017
Blue larva with
Photograph by Su Reed
I accidentally caught an Adonis Blue, Polyommatus bellargus, larva complete with it's attendant ant while trying to scoop up the spider! I was amazed, what a find! I knew they were there, and I knew others had seen them but I never expected to find one myself.
The ant in the photograph is probably the Meadow Ant, Lasius flavus. There is no certainty that the caterpillar is the Adonis as it could be the Chalkhill Blue. Because of the date I think the Adonis Blue is much more likely.
7 April 2017
of Holly Blue Butterflies
fluttering high in the trees at the top of Chanctonbury
Drive, north Shoreham, were my first of the year. This is on the way
to Mill Hill, where the highlight on the lower slopes was another first
of the year: a pair of mating Grizzled
Skippers on a dead Carline
Thistle plant. Dog
Violets were now the dominant violets
on the lower slopes. On a hazy late afternoon, there was not much movement,
my first Swallow
of the year flew over the Blackthorn
in blossom, a Kestrel
hovering and descending on ot the steep slopes, a handful of Peacock
Butterflies and a Small
Tortoiseshell, the fattest Slow
Worm I have ever seen, Common
and frequent active small Alopecosa
crawling amongst the short vegetation. At least two species of micro-moth
flitted around in amongst the short herbs, including occasional Violet
Cosmet Moths, Pancalia
Adur Butterfly List 2017
At least 2 Grizzled Skippers have emerged on Mill Hill. 3 Brimstone, Small White, Green-veined White, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma and several Peacock in half hour walk at lunchtime today.
2 April 2017
I went back to Mill Hill with Chris Corrigan. There were plenty of micro moths including a number of Small Purple and Gold. I also saw a Toad and a couple of Common Lizards. There were butterflies about including Brimstone, Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells, Speckled Woods and a single Red Admiral. About ten minutes after I had abandoned all hope, I caught sight of a Grizzled Skipper out of the corner of my, sitting on vetch. It was amazingly vivid so had probably just emerged. Unfortunately in the fumble for my camera I took my eye off butterfly and it was gone. Half an hour of searching failed to find it again. Fortunately, some time later Chris spotted a second one just six feet in front of the spot Neil had deemed propitious. This was the earliest sighting of a Grizzled Skipper in England for 2017.
31 March 2017
Slopes, Dog Violets. Dog Violet, Sweet Violet
Common Bee-fly, Slow Worms, Hawthorn
Falcon soared and rose of the thermals
over Mill Hill on a sunny but breezy
(steady Force 5)
afternoon. The Dog Violets
were already flowering on the lower
slopes, in roughly equal numbers with Sweet
Violets. A Common
Bee-fly buzzed around the lower slopes,
which were sheltered from the easterly breeze. Peacock
Butterflies were courting high into the
blue sky. After the falcon had flown away a Skylark
be heard but scarcely seen, .
I cycled to Mill Hill, where a Peacock Butterfly put in appearance over the pasture north of the Bridge, east of the road followed by a Comma Butterfly. Only a few Sweet Violets were scattered over the lower slopes of Mill Hill, so I ventured not much further than the southern steps, but I spotted a handful of Peacock Butterflies in as many minutes.
A Buzzard soared over Mill Hill where I also found my first Slow Worm of 2017.
The sun came out and the air temperature measured 14° C at its highest at 4:00 pm. A Crowmobbed a small (male?) Kestrel high over the ridge. A clump of Daffodils was flowering.
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)
of Grasses (Link)
Mill Hill Grasses
SPECIES OF BUTTERFLIES DEPENDENT ON MILL HILL
(Estimated numbers for Mill Hill Nature Reserve only are in brackets)
Blue (3000 +)
Adonis Blue (50 -100)
Dingy Skipper (75)
Wall Brown (12)
Meadow Brown (300)
|Marbled White (50)
Speckled Wood (>50)
Green-veined White (2+)
Small Blue (5)
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.
following was confirmed only in 2009:
following was confirmed only in 2014: Dark
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
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.
A possible (unconfirmed) Brown Hairstreak Butterfly was spotted. A confirmed one was spotted nearby.
History of Mill Hill
Lower Adur Levels (MultiMap) including Lancing Clump and Mill Hill
First Draft of the Article for the Shoreham Society Newsletter