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*
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.
Footpaths at Mill Hill
14 August 2018
Speckled Wood, Chalkhill Blue, Adonis Blue
Lower slopes of Mill Hill
After a week of inclement weather, I made a visit to the lower slopes of Mill Hill under a cloudy sky. Butterflies were still common and intermittently lively, mostly needing to be disturbed by me or other butterflies in the afternoon. I completed a full one acre transect. Adonis Blues were the dominant presence with a count if 131 males in the transect with probable 7 females*. Chalkhill Blues were down to a tatty dozen and Common Blues about the same in number. Meadow Browns were constantly in sight with an estimate of 175+ of various sizes including very frequent numbers of large females. Small Heaths (30+) were rarely out of sight. Occasional Small Whites were lively. I spotted a Speckled Wood over the southern steps and a Red Admiral shortly afterwards, and a pyralid micro-moth: a Pyrausta despicata. (* I was unable to discern if they Adonis Blue females or Chalkhill Blues, although I think all but one or two is most likely the former.)
The blue butterflies and Meadow Browns were attracted to Carline Thistle but also visited Dwarf Thistle and miniature Hardheads, and a Chalkhill Blue made one visit to the first Devil's Bit Scabious of the year and a Ploughman's Spikenard.
A Kestrel hovered over the ridge and made two vertical dives down to the ground, but, again, I did not see any prey in its talons as it resumed hovering.
6 August 2018
An early afternoon truncated visit to the lower slopes off Mill Hill was just too uncomfortable with the excessive warmth and drenching humidity. In a one third of an acre transect, I counted 133+ lively male Adonis Blues, an estimated 30+ Chalkhill Blues including five brown females, 25+ Common Blues, 60+ Meadow Browns 15+ Gatekeepers 15+ Small Heaths, occasional Small Whites, four restless Clouded Yellows, two Wall Browns, a few Speckled Woods (over the southern steps) and a Treble-bar Moth. At one stage thirty Adonis Blues surrounded me. On the southern top part of Mill Hill, there were occasionally more Chalkhill Blues, Meadow Browns and a pyralid micro-moth: a Pyrausta despicata.
I cycled up to Mill Hill about midday for the annual count of Chalkhill Blues on the fixed one acre transect on the lower slopes. The 30 minute count recorded 51 male Chalkhill Blues. This was a very low day count but not the worst recorded which was 30 in 2016. They were even outnumbered by male Adonis Blues which were counted at 58.
were about the same number of Meadow
50+), frequent Common
(15+), Small Heaths
(15+) a few Small Whites and
a solitary Marbled White on
the lower slopes transect. Carline Thistle
was the best flower attractive to the butterflies
as the parched slopes. A Treble-bar
Moth landed and I remember noting the
bright colours of a pristine Purple Pyrausta
MIcro-moth. Only after completing
the transect, I found a female Chalkhill
Blue very slowly crawling over some Horseshoe
I only visited the lower slopes, returning by the winding path where I
met a Speckled Wood
over the southern steps. There is a Buddleia
by the lower car park and this hosted a fresh Painted
Lady, a tattered Comma
Butterfly and a Red
Weed was seen for the first time by the
southern car park.
Adur Butterfly List 2018
On the turn of the month, the Chalkhill Blues were expected to reach peak numbers on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, but for the fifteenth successive year the numbers have been terribly disappointing. Under a cloudy sky, a third of an acre transect at the northern end of the lower slopes recorded 26 (including two females) and were nearly usurped by 24 male Adonis Blues and frequent Common Blues. I did manage to spot my first two Clouded Yellows of the year. Then the sun came out briefly and suddenly I was surrounded by 25 more Chalkhill Blues and a few extra Adonis Blues as well. This made it difficult to arrive at a count which must have been fifty or more. It was still a disappointing tally. Two females were spotted with one crawling over Horseshoe Vetch leaves before laying her eggs.
Chalkhill Blue on Carline Thistle
(350+) were common and ubiquitous all over Mill Hill, with very frequent
Small Heaths and
the shade, a few Small
Whites, a surprise
Marbled White from a patch of long grass
on the lower slopes, a Wall Brown
on a path near the copse, hundreds of Common
in the meadows with a few Brown
a Painted Lady
south of the Reservoir. On passage through the middle slopes I noted a
Burnet Moth, and
Y Moths amongst the denser vegetation
especially Knapweeds foliage, with a Treble-bar
Moth on the lower slopes.
Adur Butterfly List 2018
30 July 2018
It felt cool in the late afternoon when I made an unplanned visit to the upper part of Mill Hill under a cloudy sky. The breeze spoilt many photographs as long grasses were blown into the frame blurring the image. Butterflies were easily disturbed on the plateau with seven male Chalkhill Blues and a Red Admiral. In the top meadow, Common Blues were frequently sent into flight with my footfall, with frequent Brown Argus, Meadow Browns and Silver Y Moths, a Painted Lady and a Wall Brown. A very quick detour to the middle patch of Mill Hill added a resting Small Heath and Gatekeepers.
Deadly Nightshade on the Middle Slopes
Already too warm by 11:00 am, the butterflies were all very active on Mill Hill. Ubiquitous and common, Meadow Browns (200+) were in the meadows, middle slopes, scrub and lower slopes with plenty of large females. Common Blues (100+) had a similar widespread appearance with most in the taller meadow habitat with Brown Argus. Gatekeepers (30+) will only found in the hedgerows, scrub and visiting Marjoram. Chalkhill Blue Butterflies were more widespread than expected with 16 counted on the top and middle of Mill Hill and a very disappointing 31 males on the parched lower slopes on the half acre transect. There seemed to be a new emergence and an a impressive display of Small Heaths (50+) in both the meadows and more open slopes. Other butterflies in frequent numbers were Large (or Small?) Whites everywhere is small numbers (12+), a dozen energetic male Adonis Blues on the lower slopes, and about the same number of Speckled Woods in the shade of the scrub and copse.
A Silver-spotted Skipper attracted my attention landing on an isolated flowering Hardhead on the northern middle slopes. It was very obliging for a photograph as well. Not so obliging was a restless Wall Brown on the middle slopes above the ridge path, where a Treble-bar Moth landed and I found just one 6-spotted Burnet Moth.
flowering on bushes scattered over Mill Hill. Meadow
the main visitors accompanied by a handful of the more colourful Painted
Ladies, a few Red
Admirals and a Peacock
Butterfly. A Kestrel
hovered over the middle slopes and swooped down to the ground suddenly,
but I did not see any prey in its talons.
Adur Butterfly List 2018
With the humid warm weather approaching a health risk, perhaps a visit to Mill Hill was ill advised, but I wanted to check up on the number of butterflies in the afternoon on the parched downs. Meadow Browns and Chalkhill Blue Butterflies were seen on the long grass verges as I cycled up to the upper car park. Leaving the car park compound by the north gate, I was immediately greeted by a dozen butterflies of four species, very lively in the sunshine. I did not know where to point my camera! Chalkhill Blues were too lively as were Common Blues and Meadow Browns and the four Painted Ladies were continually moving but a larger target. The meadow north of the upper car park was full of literally hundreds of butterflies, the nature of the tall and dense vegetation made an estimate of a mostly Common Blues and Meadow Browns beyond my attempt. A dozen male Chalkhill Blues were seen as the butterflies chased each other around and I managed to spot a BrownArgus. Under the shade of the copse and in the scrub, Speckled Woods were frequently seen.
Mint Moth, Painted Lady
The first of frequent Large Whites, Gatekeepers (20+), Small Heaths were seen in the open Marjoram patches of the middle slopes with many more Meadow Browns (100+) and Chalkhill Blue Butterflies (20+). A Comma Butterfly and a Peacock Butterfly were seen on Buddleia. On the middle and lower slopes, the green shoots of Carline Thistle appeared with a few budding flowers. Almost all the whites were Large Whites but I identified two Small Whites. A faded Mint Moth was spotted on Marjoram. A Treble-bar Moth landed. 6-spotted Burnet Moths were down in numbers but still frequently seen. A single Harebell flower was spotted on the short turf at the top of the hill.
Spikenard, Wayfaring Tree
Greater Willowherb, Carline Thistle, Common Blue on Marjoram
Generally, the downs looked parched and this was much more noticeable on the lower slopes and even the butterflies seem to think so as it was not as crowded as the upper meadow. I was surprised to see a handful of the first second brood Adonis Blues which spent all their time in agonistic conflicts with 20+ Chalkhill Blues and 15+ Common Blues. The first of the female Chalkhill Blues were seen but I did not manage a good look a them before they were chased away. It took me a second to recognise a second brood Dingy Skipper. Small Heaths were easy to spot in the short vegetation. Ploughman's Spikenard was beginning to flower.
I made a trip to Mill Hill in the afternoon when the Cirrus cloud cover made it a bit cooler. On the middle slopes the cooling breeze blew the flowers about making all types of photography varying from difficult to near impossible. Butterflies were common in varying degrees, Meadow Browns (100+) were ubiquitous but the other butterflies were more specialised in their appearance, frequent Gatekeepers amongst the thorn, occasional Speckled Woods in the scrub with two Peacock Butterflies on Buddleia, and a dozen male Chalkhill Blue Butterflies over the parched lower slopes, with a few Small Heaths. Most butterflies visited the Marjoram patches on the middle slopes, including more Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers, Large Whites, Small Whites, three more Chalkhill Blues and the first of the Common Blues. Three Marbled Whites and a Wall Brown and a Brimstone showed very briefly over the lower slopes.
last place on Mill Hill I visited was the meadow to the north of the upper
car park which was alive with butterflies: more Meadow
Gatekeepers, frequent Common
seen, more hidden) and a few Brown
Burnet Moths were down in numbers compared
to my previous visit with Silver
Y Moths frequently seen in the undergrowth.
Upright Hedge Parsley, Torilis japonica, (umbellifer) was recognised in some shady areas (it may have been overlooked in previous years). On the top plateau there seemed to be more Small Scabious than I remember before.
Under Cirrus clouds, and cooler than before this month at 20.3 °C in the early afternoon, meant the butterflies were not so lively and had to be disturbed, but there was not the energy sapping heat, nor the strong shadows in bright sunshine that can make photography more tricky. On the top meadow of Mill Hill (north of the upper car park) and middle slopes (the Patch to the south of the copse) Meadow Browns (200+) were omnipresent with most hidden, frequent 6-spotted Burnet Moths, and frequent Gatekeepers, shared the top and middle with occasional Chalkhill Blue Butterflies (4+), Common Blues (4+), Large Whites, Small Whites, Green-veined Whites, Small Skippers, a very worn Ringlet and a Peacock Butterfly.
I made just a passage journey across the parched lower slopes with Meadow Browns (75+) disturbed just about everywhere, Gatekeepers in the hedgerow-like, white butterflies including three Marbled Whites, but I do not recall actually noting a Small Heath. Over the southern steps there was a pristine Red Admiral and a Speckled Wood. Five separate male Chalkhill Blue Butterflies were disturbed, which meant in each case I nearly trod on them, as the sun was behind the clouds. Burnet Saxifrage was seen in flower on the middle slopes.
Blue on Melilot,
Burnet Moth on
Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown
Over the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the flash of pale blue were the very active and restless male Chalkhill Blue Butterflies, and I could not be sure how many there were, anything from three seen simultaneously quarrelling with a Marbled White and other butterflies, to fifteen separate sightings? The snag was they were so restless that I could have counted the same one twice or more .I'd estimate about eight seen on the lower slopes transect. They were outnumbered by the frequent Meadow Browns, frequent 6-spotted Burnet Moths, and frequent Gatekeepers, and shared the lower slopes with Marbled Whites, Large Whites, Green-veined Whites (some large ones) and a few each of Small Heaths, Small Skippers, Silver Y Moths, and two species of Pyrausta micro-moths. I thought I recognised the bright yellow and flight pattern of a Clouded Yellow Butterfly, but did not get a close look so it could have been a Brimstone? On the southern steps there was a Speckled Wood and a Peacock Butterfly, identical to my previous visit.
Adur Butterfly List 2018
Round-headed Rampion, Dwarf Thistle, Chalkhill Blue Butterfly
Lower slopes of Mill Hill
Buzzard over Mill Hill
hung in the breeze (at Kestrel height) over
the ridge in the early afternoon. It was my first thought as a Buzzard.
It soared away, downwind south-west, higher in the sky in under a minute.
is tempting to say the Buzzard rose
on the thermals (ridge or slope soaring: air currents rising up
the side of Mill Hill) after this hot weather. There is an alternative
description of using dynamic
soaring using gusts of wind?
NB: Soar, riding of thermals or updrafts with wings and tail spread and a minimum of wing action.
Updraft and downdraft, in meteorology, upward-moving and downward-moving air currents, respectively, that are due to several causes. Local daytime heating of the ground causes surface air to become much warmer than the air above, and, because warmer air is less dense, it rises and is replaced by descending cooler air.
Ring up, to, to rise in a spiral.
I recorded my first Round-headed Rampion flower of the year near the winding path through the lower slopes of Mill Hill. I only visited the lower slopes, retracing my steps, in hope that a Chalkhill Blue would deign to stop and open its wings. Nearly, until another of its own kind chased it from its flower.
Scabious, Teasel, Greater Knapweed
Round-headed Rampion, Dwarf Thistle, Vervain, Wild Mignonette
Flora of the lower slopes of Mill Hill
All the signs of late summer; the meadows had been cut for hay and the young birds were out of their nest and trying to survive on their own. Gatekeepers (butterfly) fluttered around in the hedgerows, where the first Travellers Joy, Clematis, was climbing.
Most of all, the a flash of sky blue and the first male Chalkhill Blue Butterfly emerged on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. Meadow Browns were frequently seen all over Mill Hill, but it was the flashing contrast of frequent Marbled Whites that were most noticeable. A formidable butterfly predator, the Southern Hawker (dragonfly) flew over the southern steps on Mill Hill where in the relative shade under the early afternoon sun, a dark pristine Speckled Wood, (the underwing view of) a fine Peacock Butterfly and a Red Admiral were all disturbed simultaneously.
Scabious, Chalkhill Blue on Bramble,
Greater Knapweed, Dwarf Thistle, Small Heath
Butterflies were constantly seen on Mill Hill with the total number well over a hundred in under an hour, mostly restless and querulous, the male Common Blue combative with the Chalkhill Blue. A bright yellow Brimstone Butterfly was positively huge when compared the frequent Small Skippers and occasional Small Heaths. Only one at a time Burnet Moths were spotted over the lower slopes. Immigrant Silver Y Moths were occasionally seen almost everywhere like they have been for the last week or more. Likewise the Large White Butterflies. Small Scabious was seen in flower near the path on the lower slopes for the first time this year.
A bird descended like a Kestrel, from above the ridge to the steeper slopes, but it looked like a Crow.
A very parched Mill Hill was visited in the sunshine of the early afternoon under a clear blue sky on the warmest day of the year recording 26.0 °C in the shade at 3:00 pm by the Met Office (Shoreham). It was breezy (Force 4) on the top of the hill, the long grasses regularly swaying. Conditions were far from ideal for a walk under the burning sun and the downs were empty apart from a few dog walkers.
Common Centaury, Small
Wild Thyme, Dwarf Thistle
of butterflies fluttered around but would
not settle on the nectar flowers
for the most part. On the top and middle part of the Mill Hill, Meadow
led the way ahead of restless Marbled Whites
and frequent Small Heaths with
occasional Large Whites.
the middle slopes, three very bright blue
fresh butterflies fluttered around the low
vegetation. These can only be new male Common
Blues. A few Cinnabar
Moths were disturbed and a few Silver
Y Moths fluttered amongst the dense growths
of Greater Knapweed,
which was now flowering. My first Gatekeeper
the year was spotted a on the edge of the scrub, and a second one skirting
the scrub on the parched lower slopes. On a patch of Burdock
the disturbed land near the cattle trough, I spied my first Small
Skipper of the year. Finally, a Comma
Butterfly flew next to the road. A small
on Ox-eye Daisy
on the steeper slopes of Mill Hill was my first ever record of Calocoris
Adur Butterfly List 2018
Greater Knapweed & Knapweed Broomrape
the flowers newly in bloom since my last visit, the tall parasitic Knapweed
Broomrape was searched for and found south
of the covered reservoir near to the top of the steps down to the lower
slopes. Musk Thistle
and Great Mullein
were flowering near the top of the steep slopes, and the prickly leaves
and the first flowers of Dwarf Thistle
appeared. Of the much smaller plants the first flowers of Vervain
and Wild Basil
were noted for the first time, with Restharrow
where the cattle had been. Deadly Nightshade
flowering on the middle slopes where I had not noticed it before, with
the green berries (they turn black later) appearing. The diminutive Wild
were beginning in flower. Common Centaury
was noticeable and in the meadow north of the upper car park, I spotted
my first Field Scabious.
was already in flower with Greater Willowherb
and lots of Mugwort
on the cattle disturbed land. There were a few Common
Ragwort in flower on the top of the hill,
but far less than I remember. Lady's Bedstraw
and Hedge Bedstraw
were now a flowering component of the top part of Mill Hill. Pyramidal
Orchid adorned the middle part where Marjoram
6 June 2018
Often, the beginning of June shows a dearth in variety of butterflies as the Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, nears its end with more seed pods than its yellow flowers, which are exceeded by the flowers of Bird's foot Trefoil. In the early afternoon on the lower slopes of Mill Hill there were still over eighty (roughly counted) blue butterflies fluttering around in the sunshine. Most of these were Adonis Blues with occasional Common Blues, all very lively with only the females settling, wings closed, to deposit eggs. Add on another twenty five mostly male Adonis Blues, quite a few in good condition, on the middle and top part of Mil Hill. Other butterflies seen on the day were an estimated forty Small Heaths, a handful of Brimstones, four Dingy Skippers, two Painted Ladies, one Large White and my first Meadow Brown of the year. As I heard the stridulating grasshoppers and spotted a few, I disturbed at least one Cinnabar Moth and one small pyralid: a Pyrausta purpuralis.
Dropwort was notably flowering even amongst the prostrate Bramble are of the lower slopes. Two patches of Musk Thistle was pleasing to be seen, although this seems to be reducing over the years. Dogwood was flowering and increasing on the middle slopes. There were still a few flowers of Meadow Cranesbill amongst the grasses in the southern part at the top of the hill, but this has almost disappeared. Bladder Campion seems to thrive in the same habitat amongst long grasses.
Thistle, Meadow Cranesbill, Creeping
Dropwort, Bladder Campion
Dogs are becoming a nuisance every other visit to Mill Hill for the first time this year, running off their leads, barking at people, and two discarded poo bags as well as increased excrement. It is intolerable on a Nature Reserve.
4 June 2018
Photograph by Sean Stones (WYLD Photography)
Sidelined at home for just over a week with illness (a summer virus) and unsuitable weather (predicted heavy showers and lightning) and I missed one day for bicycle repairs (awkward puncture), so the receding Horseshoe Vetch and new summer flora was expected on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, after my absence. In the afternoon an advection mist rolled up the Adur valley. Conditions were too cool for active bees and butterflies. However, they were commonly found resting and the male Adonis Blues were frequently seen still in the short vegetation with their blue wings open. Every butterfly seen was disturbed by my passage and my tally of Adonis Blues was an estimated 135 (110 males and 25 females) in the one acre transect (counted 88 males and 17 females in the reduced transect 30 minute walk). some of the Adonis Blues were tatty and worn. Occasional Small Heath Butterflies rose from hiding and I disturbed at least one Cinnabar Moth and a few smaller moths including one pyralid: a Pyrausta nigrata.
Moth, Adonis Blue amongst
Horseshoe Vetch with seed pods
Buff-tailed Bumblebees on Musk Thistle
Lower Slopes of Mill Hill
The highlight of a dull afternoon was a dozen bumblebees on a patch of unexpected Musk Thistle on the lower slopes. Other flowers on the lower slopes seen for the first time this year were the first Dropwort, Rough Hawkbit, the ground-hugging Creeping Cinquefoil, and the first diminutive Wild Thyme, Fairy Flax and Eyebright. Pushing through the short vegetation, the tall spikes of Yellow Wort were not yet flowering. The rolling mist turned to fog and visibility and light was poor on the middle slopes. Bladder Campion was seen flowering in a brief cursory visit. Greater Knapweed, Yellow Rattle and Ribwort Plantain were flowering amongst the long grasses south of the Reservoir. Common Poppies were flowering in mass in the meadow below Mill Hill.
Mignonette, Yellow Rattle
Musk Thistle, Bladder Campion, Wild Thyme, Dropwort
Dogs in packs were again seen off lead chasing Rabbits down their holes under the Deadly Nightshade by the lower path. This is how the dogs get bitten by Adders.
On the Mill Hill transect with conditions overcast and damp, there was a solitary Small Heath at the top. Things were a bit better on the lower half where the tally for Adonis Blues was 184.
22 May 2018
Middle slopes of Mill Hill
I cycled to the upper car park on Mill Hill (as I missed out the top and gentler middle slopes on my last two visits). The upper plateau was covered in grasses and Bulbous Buttercups and the amount of Horseshoe Vetch was noticeable less than in previous years. Small Heath Butterflies were a frequent sight. An open meadow-like area north-west of the car park hosted a mixed collection of butterflies fluttering occasionally in the sunshine. The first contestants turned out to be the first of a few male Common Blues and his surprising opponent was revealed as my first Green Hairstreak of the year. A single fine condition Dingy Skipper was querulous with other butterflies as well. Hawthorn was blossoming near to the border to Erringham Hill. On close inspection most of the handful of blue butterflies in the meadow were Holly Blues although there was at least one male Adonis Blue. A Brimstone Butterfly and a Large White fluttered by and two Wall Browns landed briefly where passage had worn a path and revealed bare chalk. Another first of the year was a pretty Mother Shipton Moth. Melilot and Bladder Campion were just beginning to flower on the middle slopes of Mill Hill.
The meadows of the middle slopes have long grasses and a different flora from the lower slopes
The rough meadow north of the car park lacked anything of interest until another Wall Brown fluttered over. I cycled up to Beeding Hill and the top part of Anchor Bottom. But this was covered in more grasses and buttercups and despite looking, I could not find anything worth a photograph.
Dogwood and longer grasses swamp out the Horseshoe Vetch on the middle slopes
21 May 2018
Lower slopes of Mill Hill
and humid, so humid that there a few sports of rain, and slightly overcast
conditions in the early afternoon, which might make the butterflies
hide but easier to photograph. The lower slopes
of Mill Hill were still covered in the glorious carpet of Horseshoe
and the blue butterflies
were semi-torpid but easily disturbed and many of them seen resting. I
decided to count the Adonis
Blues in a slightly
altered one acre transect (taking 50 minutes
with pauses for photography) and this slowly built up to an unprecedented*
males and 10
females. There was a higher density of
and Honey Bees
on the richer swathes of Horseshoe Vetch
at the northern end. After I completed a count I saw over a hundred more
on the steeper slopes, and the female
count rose to 25+ including one mating pair. These numbers simply swamped
the other species with frequent
Heaths, just a few Grizzled
Skippers and Dingy
Skippers, and one Brimstone
and one Small
White. I spotted at least one Treble-bar
Moth on the
lower slopes. The micro-moths
were not seen. (*since my records were compiled
Extrapolation of the count over the five acres of the lower slopes making allowances for lower numbers at the southern end, leads to me to make a conservative estimate of 600 Adonis Blues on Mill Hill, a larger number than recorded before.
Common Blue, Wild Mignonette, Common Daisy
by the ridge route where I spotted a further dozen male Adonis
Adur Butterfly List 2018
May 2010 Report (for comparison)
18 May 2018
Cinnabar Moth, Adonis Blues
WIth the yellow carpet of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, looking splendid a day or two off its peak, the butterflies were out in force, in numbers, if not variety. In the transect acre there were estimated to be in excess of a hundred butterflies fluttering around in the sunshine. At least sixty were the lively and amorous male Adonis Blues, and the rest were made up of female Adonis Blues, frequent Common Blues, frequent Small Heaths, occasional Grizzled Skippers and Dingy Skippers, and a few Brimstone Butterflies and Small Whites. I spotted at least one Cinnabar Moth on the lower slopes, and one Carpet Moth where the cattle had disturbed the flora and spoilt the habitat by the water trough. There was almost an absence of the micro-moths that are usually so common, no Pancalia and just the one pyralid: a Pyrausta purpuralis. The only surprise of the early afternoon was a very quick male Broad-bodied Chaser (dragonfly) chasing after the skippers. A few Azure Damselflies were seen around the Brambles. There was a brown butterfly over the southern steps which was either a Wall Brown or a Speckled Wood.
Vetch was dominant on the lower slopes
except for one Bramble-covered
bare patch which I put down to mismanagement.
A few diminutive, Milkwort
Germander Speedwell and Scarlet
Pimpernel, and taller
Salad Burnet interrupted the blaze of
yellow. I noted the much larger Hound's-tongue
in bud near the scrub.
When the pack of dogs had moved off the hill, the Kestrel hovered over edge of the Hawthorn-flowering scrub. A couple of adult Slow Worms were hiding under a piece of wood at the top. I was satisfied with only visiting the lower slopes.
Adur Butterfly List 2018
17 May 2018
Vetch on Mill Hill and
Hawthorn on the hedgerows of the Downs Link Cyclepath
14 May 2018
Hawthorn and Horseshoe Vetch
in blossom all over Mill Hill and most be about 60% of full flowering.
Likewise the yellow swathes of Horseshoe
more than half in flower, attracting the bees
The annual photographs show large bare patches where Horseshoe Vetch used to be prevalent in 2006.
Dingy Skipper, Common Blue, Grizzled Skipper
It was only on the lower slopes that butterflies and moths were frequent if rather patchily distributed. The first of 9+ Grizzled Skippers were immediately seen from the southern steps. But I was simultaneously distracted by two Cinnabar Moths which I may have disturbed. Small Heaths (15+) were chasing other butterflies around all over the place. They prevailed over at least two surprise clearly seen Brown Argus. All this before I spotted my first dozen or so blue butterflies, mostly quarrelling with other butterflies and skippers and not keeping still. The first recognised were the slightly more numerous (8+) male Common Blues, but at the same time there were at least five male Adonis Blues. They were causing such a commotion with each other that it was difficult to count them. Dingy Skippers were seen all the time, rarely keeping still, but the count was only five as one kept flying to and fro. An Azure Damselfly,Coenagrion puella, avoided the melee. A pale flutter was a Treble-bar Moth. A few Brimstone Butterflies patrolled the thickets/hedge and the larger brown butterfly was seen to be a Wall Brown. I did not note any of the very small moths. A few small white butterflies, on the top of the hill, were not positively identified, but were most likely Green-veined Whites.
adult Slow Worm
slithered into hiding on the top southern part of Mill Hill. More of a
surprise was the skitter of a very small Common Lizard amongst
the vegetation and green grasshopper nymphs
of the sheltered lower slopes. In the top copse, gusts of wind blew the
Mustard horizontal and flat at times.
Adur Butterfly List 2018
I haven't had a chance to get to Mill Hill for awhile so with the prospect of fading sunlight I headed there at lunchtime. What a difference a couple of weeks makes. The place was alive with Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, Small Heath. A single Green Hairstreak was seen and about 6 male Common Blue and 6 male Adonis Blue and 1 female.
7 May 2018
Wayfaring Tree was in flower next to the path down to the lower slopes
Hawthorn was starting to flower in the hedges. Butterflies were out in the baking sunshine with my first Large White of the year at the top of Chanctonbury Drive (south-east of the Mill Hill Road Bridge). On the southern part of Mill Hill, I spotted my first of the year Small Heath almost immediately followed a clear sighting of at least two Green-veined White Butterflies. Down the steps on to the lower slopes where it was shimmering warm and the first Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, was flowering. The flowers attracted occasional (10+) Dingy Skippers which were not allowed to settle by frequent (20+) agonistic Small Heaths. Small moths flitted amongst the intertwined leaves including small Pyrausta moths with a definite Pyrausta nigrata and Pyrausta despicata. Two Brimstone Butterflies fluttered overhead and I disturbed two very fresh Wall Browns.
Skipper on Milkwort
Horseshoe Vetch, Cinnabar Moth
after ten minutes did the first of at least ten fresh, lively and
amorous Grizzled Skippers appear.
A brightly coloured Cinnabar Moth
fluttered around but would not stay still as usual. Crane
Flies were frequently seen on the lower
slopes. A large clump of Wayfaring Tree
was in flower next to the path down to the lower slopes. The small Milkwort
appeared but mostly blue ones were seen. But they exceeded in number
over the few remaining Dog Violets.
There were still patches of Ground Ivy
the new Germander Speedwell. A
black and yellow hoverfly Xanthogramma
flitted amongst Stinging
Nettles on the southern steps. It was so warm
that I returned by the path without completing the full transect. Cowslips
in flower on the southern top part of Mill Hill.
Adur Butterfly List 2018
After the recent sunny spell of a few days, the mud on the southern steps down to the lower slopes of Mill Hill has already dried out and the Blackthorn was in blossom everywhere. It was even too warm for diligently spotting butterflies and on the lower slops where on passage I noted a mere one Speckled Wood, 2+ Peacocks, a Brimstone or two, one Small White, and frequent small Pyrausta moths. Too warm for packs of dogs and there were only four butterfly watchers who reported Grizzled Skippers and a Green Hairstreak. It was really too warm for me as well and I did not stay long in the afternoon. Common Bee-flies visited Ground Ivy and Dog Violets. My first adult Slow Worm of the year was seen under a flat piece of wood on the southern top part. A Kestrel flew over but this regular inhabitant of Mill Hill has a tendency not to stay around when there is even one dog, however small. A Wren was making more noise than the buzz of the traffic, the drone of small aircraft and the baaing of the sheep in the field below.
Erringham and the Lower Slopes of Mill Hill
with Blackthorn in flower
Earlier in the day there was more than one hearsay report of Red Kites over Erringham Hill flying towards New Erringham.
11 April 2018
Fauna and Flora and Fungi
Zebra Spider, Salticus scenicus, Dog Violet
Unknown small larva, Thimble Morel Verpa conica
visit to the lower slopes of Mill Hill, spoilt entirely by 18 dogs and
four people all at one time on the lower slopes. The dogs were yapping
and running free and leaving their mess over the chalkhill flora. Two dogs
were barking repeatedly at me over a distance of 12 metres in separate
incidents. I wish I had not bothered as the steps and paths were muddy
and nearly treacherous caused by excessive footfall. In the middle of the
day I did spot a handful of Brimstone Butterflies
and the same number of Peacock Butterflies.
Violets had already taken over from Sweet
Violets as the dominant violet
over the lower slopes. After the rain there was a mushroom
I had not seen before on Mill Hill, and a Common
Bee-fly visiting violets.
I looked for possible Grizzled Skippers
but even the dead remnants of Carline Thistle
in which they hide were hardly present. I was so depressed by the state
of Mill Hill Nature Reserve and the dogs that
I hurried home by the ridge route. There were a few Blackthorn
south of the Reservoir but there were no sign of flowers on the main clump
next to the road.
for Mill Hill Nature Reserve
state that dogs should be on a lead (interpreted to mean under close control,
not in packs running around free).
|Three Thimble Morel, Verpa conica, mushrooms were the first I have ever seen anywhere amongst some grass below the path on the middle area of the lower slopes of Mill Hill.||
5 April 2018
Slopes (looking southwards)
Despite the rain and muddy steps, the slopes were looking dry and parched
(in contrast to the standing water on the levels below)
Still a slight chill under the cirrus blue sky as a Buzzard glided over Erringham Hill and a Kestrel hovered over the edge of the ridge on Mill Hill above the steep part of the lower slopes. They did not remain on station for long before they were disturbed by an excessive number of dog walkers.
Daffodils, Ground Ivy
Violets were commonly spread over the
lower slopes but not abundant and the flowers
were a bit bedraggled after the recent rain which left the steps and paths
muddy but passable. Ten Peacock Butterfliesflew
past me and settled very briefly (not on the violets)
and seven of these were on my lower slopes
one acre transect. I spotted a pair of Small
Tortoiseshells, my first of these butterflies
of the year, near some short growths of Stinging Nettles on the
edge of the scrub on the middle slopes. Buff-tailed
Bumblebees were frequently seen and I
noted one Common Bee-fly,
major, on a path through the scrub. A
Plum was spotted in flower but there was
no sign of any Blackthorn
Lastly, a Red Admiral settled on the Chanctonbury Drive lawn at the south-eastern end of the bridge over the A27.
In the weak sunshine I spotted my first butterfly of the year; a Red Admiral over Mill Hill Road at the southern end of the bridge over the A27.
A Buzzard glided over Erringham Hill, seen in the photograph from the top meadow of Mill Hill Nature Reserve.
2 February 2018
Mill Hill Road
On a cloudy day with a chill breeze, I would have been lucky to see anything of note. The best I could manage was a one second peek of a rodent scurrying into hiding. It was not even long enough to be sure of what it was? It qualifies as my second wild mammal of the year. It was very rapid with a short white tail and I think it was a Mouse (rather than a Shrew). There was evidence of the activity of Moles on the top of the hill, with mounds of grey-brown earth. The dead remnants of Carline Thistle seemed less than usual. Birds were not showing and the sky was empty apart from a few gulls and a Crow. The thorn was bare and hosted a Robin. A young Song Thrush was seen on the top plateau.
Mill Hill Wildlife Reports 2017 (Link)
Hill Wildlife Reports 2016 (Link)
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)
of Grasses (Link)
Mill Hill Grasses
Reserve is defined in Section 15 of
the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949,
as land managed for the purpose:
of providing, under suitable conditions and control, special opportunities
for the study of, and research into, matters relating to the flora and
fauna of Great Britain and the physical conditions in which they live,
and for the study of geological and physiographical features of special
interest in the area; or
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). There are huge variances each year for most species.
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
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.
A possible (unconfirmed) Brown Hairstreak Butterfly was spotted. A confirmed one was spotted nearby.
Brown Hairstreak and Silver-spotted Skipper have been confirmed from Mill Hill. The first is notoriously difficult to spot and was probably already there. The skipper may be a new addition, but it is small and not easy to spot, and there have now been numerous sightings
History of Mill Hill
Lower Adur Levels (MultiMap) including Lancing Clump and Mill Hill
Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa
First Draft of the Article for the Shoreham Society Newsletter