Slonk Hill Cutting:  A27 Embankment

(from May 2005, the Dovecote Bank and some of the top of The Drive entries will be on their web page only)
Slonk Hill:  northern side, road embankment. May
Slonk Hill

The footpath runs parallel with the main road through the spinney (linear wood) on the southern side, immediately north of Slonk Hill Farm Road.

There are several access points, notably at the top of The Drive (in the west) and by the bridge over the road to Slonk Hill Farm (in the east). Reports of the Dovecote Bank (from Mill Hill bridge to the top of The Drive) included this year.

There are no practical access points to the steep northern bank. 

Path in March 2005, southern side, north of Southland Hospital (longtitude). May

Link to the Slonk Hill Cutting 2006 Reports

9 October 2005
A dark Common Lizard was seen on a wooden pallet next to where the Water Shrew was seen before. This lizard was not quite fully grown.

2 October 2005
There was a shrew seen underneath a large piece of boarding of south of the path on the southern bank of the Slonk Hill Cutting where it winds its way through vegetation at the western end. I am not familiar with shrews: this one was 50% larger than a House Mouse and it had a white rim that appeared like the edge of a skirt around its dark grey-black furry coat. It moved to and fro about five seconds before disappearing. I have tentatively identified this as a Water Shrew, Neomys fodiens. This is a partially protected species. It is found in area where Slow Worms have been discovered before.
Mammal Society Factsheet on the Water Shrew
A minute later, there were two juvenile Common Lizards on an ant hill and they disappeared after about five seconds as well. These lizards were a dark brown in colour. Overhead there was a small flock of Rooks that flew into view above trees for about ten seconds.
This very small flying insect did not hover or buzz and looked like a miniature bee

This is probably a species of Lasioglossum, most likely Lasioglossum calceatum.

ID to genus confirmed and to species suggested by Philippe Moniotte on the British Insects (Yahoo Group)

Adur Solitary Bees

18 September 2005
As we drove through the Slonk Hill Cutting on the A27 at Shoreham a large flock of Starlings where swooping in tight formation at about 15 metres high to the left of the road. Among them an fast moving bird of prey was flying among them seeking out a target. As we passed we saw it take one of the birds with its talons in mid air. I think the raptor had a fairly long tail and was slightly larger than the Starlings maybe about pigeon size. It was possibly the local Peregrine?

Report and Photograph by Ray & Jan Hamblett (Lancing Nature)
on Sussex Birds (Yahoo Group)
NB: A Peregrine Falcon was seen on Shoreham Harbour Power Station in the morning.
Note by Peter Talbot-Elsden

A Slow Worm was recorded under a wooden pallet on the southern side overgrown* path. Acorns on a shrub-sized Oak Tree were spotted, the tree dwarfed and shaded by the Sycamore next to it. (*Difficult passage with covered arms and secateurs advised.)
This small hoverfly was photographed on the Slonk Hill Cutting Hawthorn on the southern side. This is guessed at Melanostoma scalare but there is not nearly enough detail in the photograph to be sure.  It is a female and the genus is probably correct. 

Adur Hoverflies

28 August 2005
At least one yellow Orb Spider, Araneus quadratus, was feeding on a grasshopper and the webs of Araneus species (the two common species were not differentiated) were frequent. There was a Kidney Vetch still in flower.
Picture Report
Adur Spiders

Araneus diadematus21 August 2005
A Common Lizard skittered across an ant's mound. A Garden Orb Spider, Araneus diadematus, caught a bee or hoverfly almost its own size in its web. At least a dozen male Common Blue Butterflies were around, and about half of them were bluish females. The Marmalade Fly (hoverfly), Episyrphus balteatus, was frequently seen. Other butterflies were at least two Speckled Woods, one Red Admiral, one Holly Blue, and a Wall Brown Butterfly at the top of The Drive on the road and it flew into the wall of a house was almost confirmed as a definite, but it flew away too rapidly for a close look. The small green damselfly was a Common Blue Damselfly female.
Butterfly List for the Day
Adur Spiders

18 August 2005

The first Wasp Spider seen this year was a smallish one that had captured a Meadow Grasshopper on the Slonk Hill Cutting and had rolled it up in its webbing.
Adur Spiders
Adur Grasshoppers

14 August 2005
The part of the Slonk Hill Cutting at the top of The Drive and the hedgerows to the east, produced at least one Gatekeeper Butterfly, a few Meadow Browns, and in the hedgerows the first standard coloured Speckled Wood Butterfly, followed by a darker one. The flitting brown was a Yellow Shell Moth. At least a dozen male Common Blue Butterflies were disturbed from the long grass further to the east. After a rain deluge and overcast sky with a distinctive breeze, made conditions relatively poor for butterflies. One Common Blue Damselfly was noted and one Syrphus hoverfly.

2 August 2005
Sunny, warm and exceptionally humid (about 70% at 22.2° C), but it showed promise for butterflies and other flying insects: a Red Admiral was the first butterfly seen, followed by frequent Meadow Browns (no Ringlets were seen), two Small Blues, a handful of Common Blues including bluish females, at least two Holly Blues, occasional Large Whites, at least two Small (or Essex) Skippers (some looked like Large Skippers, but closer inspection revealed all as Small Skippers), a handful of Speckled Woods and a confirmed Green-veined White, which may have been one of several. The tenth species to be recorded was a Gatekeeper.
Butterfly List for the Day
There were at least two and probably many more Common Darter Dragonflies, all with yellow abdomens. The blue green algae (Cyanobacteria) known as Nostoc commune was swelling up on the road bank after the recent rain.
Adur Dragonflies

31 July 2005
As I left home, I felt the first spots of rain under an overcast sky. On Slonk Hill, the sun pierced the cloud cover for five minutes and the butterfly count included 20+ Meadow Brown Butterflies, 6+ Gatekeepers and at least one Ringlet Butterfly on the southern road embankment. Adjacent to the path there were about a dozen Common Blue Butterflies with both males and the brown females (they look similar to Brown Argus Butterflies), a handful each of Large White Butterflies, Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers, and just the one Small (or Essex) Skipper, one Holly Blue and one Green-veined White actually seen. A Yellow Shell Moth was disturbed.
Butterfly List for the Day
Eyebright Common Blue male on Ragwort Common Blue Butterfly (female) This butterfly was moving when photographed Gatekeeper

There was also a handful of Common Darter Dragonflies amongst the Salad Burnet and roadside herbs.  A 14-spot Ladybird, Propylea quattuordecimpunctata, landed on my hand. The number of flying insects on the path was high enough to be irritating. The path was overgrown and passage by bicycle required walking.

22 July 2005
By 11:00 am the sky had become grey and overcast after a bright sunny start to the morning. Butterflies present on my passage visit and seen by me were Gatekeepers, Large Whites, Green-veined Whites, Meadow Browns, Small (or Essex) Skippers, Small Blues, a handful of Common Blues, a Speckled Wood and a Red Admiral: a total of nine species.
Butterfly List for the Day
Common Field Grasshopper Slow Worms Hoverflies mating (click to link to the Hoverflies web pages)

Hoverflies were mating and there were at least five different species of the usual ones. There appeared to be some young amongst the Slow Worms under a discarded mattress. Fleabane was beginning to flower. A Common Blue Damselfly flitted through the tall grasses, and a small-to-medium-sized dragonfly was spotted higher in the trees. Both the Common Field Grasshopper, Chorthippus brunneus, and the Meadow Grasshopper, Chorthippus parallelus, were common enough to get photographs. The first species was in the gravely meadow area including the Cotoneaster and the latter in the long grasses next to the overgrown path. Spiders included at least one Garden Orb, Araneus diadematus, and the tunnel nests of Agelena labyrinthica.
Adur Grasshoppers

Small Blue ButterflyBrown Argus on Bird's Foot Trefoil17 July 2005
Butterflies were common (about 400 in an hour*) but at least half of them were skippers which appear a bit like moths to the casual rambler. Fifteen species of butterfly and skipper were seen on the Slonk Hill Cutting (southern bank) which is the largest variety of species seen in a single day this year so far. I was pleased to note Ringlet Butterflies, Brown Argus and at least ten Small Blues. Of the numerous (40+) Six-spot Burnet Moths, a pair were observed on a Pyramidal Orchid which seem to be flowering later than usual this year. (*I spent 55 minutes on a delayed passage journey and my viewing total was estimated at 350 to 400.)
Adur Moths
Butterfly List for the Day
Teasel was bursting into flower 6-spot Burnets on a Pyramidal Orchid Yellow Wort on the Slonk Hill bank small white Ermine moth, exect species not known, on the eastern grassland (Ringlet) area of the Slonk Hill bank south

Adur Grasshoppers & Crickets

10 July 2005
As the temperature hit 27.2° C, I ambled it very slowly along the partially overgrown (the hedges had been cut back) path and bank. The Slonk Hill Cutting produced 23+ (counted) Small/Essex Skippers, but no Large Skippers, a partly counted and estimated 45+ Meadow Brown Butterflies, and partly counted and estimated 44+ Gatekeepers, 5+ whites, probably all Green-veined Whites (as one was confirmed). a count of 7+ Marbled Whites, plus an estimated 10+ Ringlet Butterflies. Alas, the Comma variant  hutchinsoni of yesterday failed to show.
Ringlet Butterfly
6-spot Burnet Moth
Chrysotoxum bicinctum
ID by Stuart Dunlop (Donegal)

There was at least 15, probably many more 6-spotted Burnet Moths. Species of hoverfly were collectively common, about 80 Episyrphus balteatus and at least a dozen Myathropa florea and more than half a dozen of at least one other species.
There was a small black and yellow hoverfly Chrysotoxum bicinctum. It looked very much like a Conop fly.

8 July 2005
The brown butterflies thought to be Meadow Browns yesterday all turned out to be Ringlet Butterflies. They behaved the same way today flying up after hiding in the grass, but this time I was able to catch up with them to confirm most of them were Ringlets, although there were a handful of Meadow Browns as well.
Five Small/Essex Skippers and three Marbled Whites, two Commas and one probable Green-veined White (looking like a Large White) were present as well. One of the Comma Butterflieslooked so odd it was almost aberrant and appeared to be much duller, and had smaller, lesser number of black spots and markings than on all the others.
This was the summer form hutchinsoni. These are quick developers (ex hibernators) that then breed themselves and their offspring mix it late summer with the slower developers (also ex hibernators) and are the normal darker more scalloped form.

Comment by Jack Harrison on the UK Leps (Yahoo Group)
One Blue-tailed Damselfly was seen amongst the taller herbs and grasses near the path. Wild Carrot was noticeable. There was a  small crab spider Misumena vatia. There was a bumblebee mimic hoverfly Merodon equestris var. equestris.
Butterfly List for the Day

7 July 2005
With a Force 5 Breeze blowing under an overcast sky, it was really too windy for butterflies, and when half a dozen brown butterflies were dislodged from the Slonk Hill Cutting (southern bank) they flew up and the wind blew them ten metres away in a second. This too quick for identification but they were probably (at least one was) *Meadow Brown Butterflies. However, the first butterfly did not flew away rapidly, and this turned out to be only the second Ringlet Butterfly positively recorded on the Adur Nature Notes pages, the first for July and the first time that the underside ringlets were seen. It was discovered in the long grass on the bank towards the eastern end of the Slonk Hill bank amongst the fading Spotted Orchids and in the same place a Ringlet was seen on a previous occasion in 2003. It could be similar in flight to a Meadow Brown and this butterfly could have been overlooked before. (* Some of these were more likely to be Ringlets.)
Ringlet Butterfly Marbled White Butterfly at Slonk Hill Cutting, 2005

Later, three Marbled White Butterflies were spotted amongst the long grass and Pyramidal Orchids more to the western end where the path joins the road bank. A Carder Bee (a common bumblebee) was attracted to Restharrow. The red flowery bits on the umbles of Wild Carrot were noticed. Vervain was in flower, and Lady's Bedstraw and Ribbed (=Common) Melilot.

Adur Butterfly Flight Times
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

3 July 2005
A passage journey proved promising for butterflies as the spinney at the eastern end opened out into the small (25 square metres) area of long grass and flowers next to the road, I immediately saw a Marbled White Butterfly (c 5) as the sun came out just after midday. Meadow Brown Butterflies were seen before at the Slonk Hill road bank to the east (between the spinney and the road) and they numbered in excess of 75. A solitary Small Blue Butterfly was quickly seen, but there only appeared to be one. A Large White Butterfly briefly sparred with a Marbled White. Then a dozen skippers all flew up from the long grass. It took a few minutes before one settled and I could then identify these as the first Small Skippers confirmed for this year and 13 were counted altogether. Another first of the year was Gatekeeper and there were at least five of them. There were at least five Comma Butterflies amongst the hedges and at least two Speckled Woods. And within the 25 minutes it took to transverse the route, I was able to confirm and photograph a couple of Large Skippers which were easily disturbed but not as restless as the Small Skippers.
Meadow Brown (larger than the Gatekeeper) Gatekeeper (smaller than the Meadow Brown) Small Skipper (slightly smaller than the Large Skipper) Large Skipper (marginally larger than the Small Skipper)

Over 100 butterflies, mostly Meadow Browns, but nine different species was encouraging before I left town.
Butterfly List for the Day
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

Other flying insects recorded included a confirmed Common Blue Damselfly and a probable hoverfly Volucella pellucens. Hoverflies were very frequently seen, mostly Episyrphus balteatus (especially in the more shaded areas where the path narrowed between two overgrown hedges), with Sphaerophoria scripta, Myathropa florea, and one or two Volucella bombylans var. plumata.

26 June 2005
Passage along the path in the late afternoon revealed a confirmed Small Heath Butterfly in the hedge behaving just like a Gatekeeper, a small butterfly that flitted around and when it settled it was a definite Brown Argus. The four Large Skippers were also confirmed identifications as well as the solitary Red Admiral.  I did not stay around long enough to see any Small Blues, but they may have been finished by now?

Perhaps, Musca, a house-fly ?22 June 2005
Some extra plants noted (but not mentioned before)  in flower in 27.9 ºC sunshine included the diminutive Fairy Flax, the larger Perforate St. John's Wort, Agrimony, Greater Knapweed and the common Hop Trefoil. The large white seed heads were Salsify. The path was beginning to get overgrown. In places there is the equivalent of hedges each side of the narrow path (wide enough for one person) and in these areas, flies including a handful of the one on the right. I have tentatively (without confirmation) identified this as a common species Musca autumnalis, in the same genus as the House Fly, Musca domestica. The usual species of hoverfly were around. The hoverfly Myathropa florea was noted.
Adur Flies

17 June 2005
A strong flying yellow butterfly, see over the Slonk Hill Cutting (south bank) and another over the Coastal Link Cyclepath between the A27 Flyover and the first road lay-by I first thought it must be a Clouded Yellow, but the absence of black around the battered wing edges convinced me that this was Brimstone Butterfly.
Common Spotted Orchids Common Spotted Orchids Pyramidal Orchid

It was a passage detour along the south bank path and nine Small Blue Butterflies were just a sample of five species of butterfly. Two plants noted in flower included the Grass Vetchling, Lathyrus nissolia, and Cut-leaved Cranesbill amongst the usual hundreds of Spotted Orchids and scores of Pyramidal Orchids. Wild Mignonette was easily missed and there were very frequent clumps of Kidney Vetch (caterpillar plant for the Small Blue Butterflies) in flower.
Hoverflies included one Volucella bombylans var. bombylans. This species is a bumblebee mimic.
Full Butterfly List
Moth List for the Day
Adur Orchids

7 June 2005
A Red Admiral Butterfly was still on patrol at the top of The Drive followed by white butterflies that were so battered that their identity could not be confirmed, but almost certainly Small Whites. Marmalade Flies and other hoverflies were noticed in numbers in excess of twenty on one bush.  In the sun drenched areas of herbs and long grasses on the south bank, the first blue butterfly was a Common Blue, but almost all the others were the first Small Blue Butterflies of the year. A large congregation of over a dozen Small Blues were nectaring on a patch of Horseshoe Vetch still in flower.
Small Blue on Horseshoe Vetch
Large Skipper
Burnet Companion from the Slonk Hill Cutting south bank

The first of the year three or four Large Skippers were spotted, but I did not recognise them until later. They occurred with the Burnet Companion Moth (2+) which is why I did not recognise them immediately. Spotted Orchids were begin to flower, but there did not seem to many of them as last year quite yet.
Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List 2005
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Flora & Fauna (Extra Images)

Common Blue male31 May 2005
Passage through at the top of The Drive revealed a Speckled Wood Butterfly and a Red Admiral Butterfly. Out of the shade into the sunshine by the side of the A27, there were three male Common Blue Butterflies on what I think was mostly the Greater Bird's Foot Trefoil by its greater height, with at least two Kidney Vetch in flower and flowering Bulbous Buttercups amongst the Salad Burnet and a single Spotted Orchid. The hoverfly Myathropa florea did its usual trick of flying off a leaf when approached and then returning to the same leaf.
Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List 2005

27 May 2005
A freshly killed Roe Deer (with antlers) was lying near the central reservation on the A27 as it goes through the Slonk Hill Cutting, about midway on the same longitude as Buckingham Park.
Roe Deer
Large Red Damselfly

Lacewing and a Large Red Damselfly

South Bank

Very little of note in the insect field: a handful each of Speckled Wood Butterflies, Large Red Damselflies, Andrena bees, Blue Lacewings and the hoverfly Leucozona lucorum in the shady area at the top of The Drive, Shoreham. Other species of hoverfly were also present.
A species of Fumitory
Fumaria capreolata
Andrena bee on Ribwort Plantain
Small Heath Butterfly

North Bank

There were seven adult and intact Adonis Blue Butterflies fluttering around the Horseshoe Vetch. The Kidney Vetch looked like flowering was imminent, but not quite yet. A Small Heath Butterfly settled on a Daisy and I spotted and confirmed close-up my first male Common Blue Butterfly of the year (I had already seen a female). White Campion and Yellow Rattle were flower. Flora included the first appearance of a Spotted Orchid.
An adult Great Tit was seen clearly amongst the Brown-tailed Moth nests in a Hawthorn tree south-west of Buckingham Barn. The trees on the road bank on the northern side opposite the Dovecote Bank look attractive in autumn, but it looks like they are mostly Sycamores, Hawthorn and pines. The vegetation in the open areas were rather rough clumps of grass with a spread of Ground Ivy. I disturbed a colourful male Pheasant in this area.
Butterfly & Moth Report

22 May 2005
Under an overcast sky, the first female Adonis Blue was recorded on the north bank of the Slonk Hill Cutting with three bright blue iridescent males, one which had lost a wing. The female butterfly appeared to be an indeterminate variety without the chocolate brown colour of the females. It is illustrated on the left below.

Adonis Blue female
Common Blue female

The first Common Blue Butterfly of the year was also recorded on the south bank of Slonk Hill Cutting. Surprisingly this was a female of the blue form, illustrated on the right above. There was also a Large White Butterfly on the northern bank and another one on the south and a Small White Butterfly at the top of The Drive, Shoreham town.
Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List 2005
Flora & Fauna (Extra Images)

The small spider Agalenatea redii had woven a net amongst the Salad Burnet.
Adur Spiders

Holly Blue Butterfly16 May 2005
The Kidney Vetch does not appear to be in flower yet on the south side and there were no Small Blue Butterflies on the overcast sky and breeze to be observed. The small blue butterflies were all Holly Blues and there was one Speckled Wood. Also, a Red-tailed Bumblebee and more than one Buff-tailed Bumblebee.
NHM Bumblebees ID
Adur Bumblebees

11 May 2005
The first occasional Kidney Vetch is in flower on the northern bank at the bottom near the road. A Treble-bar Moth, Aplocera, was recorded. St. Mark's Flies were very common on the southern side near the top of The Drive, Shoreham town.
The Common Milkwort from the road bank seem more colourful than from Mill Hill The first Kidney Vetch in flower in 2005
29 April 2005
A damp trek over the narrow path that links Mill Hill with the top of The Drive, (which I have christened the Dovecote Bank after the estate, [named after the Dovecote], which it overlooks), produced the surprise Small Copper Butterfly, one Small White and just three Speckled Woods, but there were certainly more of them. There was a Common Carpet Moth as well.
Enlarged Report
Adur Butterfly Flight Times

24 April 2005
The sun was just about out on passage over the Dovecote Bank where there were three Small White Butterflies and one Large White Butterfly and one Holly Blue showed, with four Speckled Woods at the top on the Drive, Shoreham. On Dovecote Bank there were just a few clumps of Cowslips and a few large Bulbous Buttercups as well.
Adur Butterfly List 2005

21 April 2005
The orange furry Carder Bumblebees favoured the white flowers of the White Dead NettleA Large Red Damselfly was seen over some brambles at the top of The Drive, Shoreham. The red was not very pronounced and this specimen was noted with a yellow horizontally striped thorax when viewed from the side.  A colourful Long-tailed Tit attracted my attention with its call from near the top of a tree.
Adur Damsels & Dragonflies
Freshwater Life "Smart Group"

A handful of Red-tailed Bumblebees, and another handful of Common Carder Bees Bombus pascuorum, favouring White Dead Nettle, and at least one Buff-tailed Bumblebee from the wooded path (linear spinney) by Slonk Hill South with a half a dozen Speckled Wood Butterflies. When the sun came out there was a Comma Butterfly sparring with a Peacock Butterfly in Hawthorn and the less wooded part of the path to the west, north of Buckingham Park and Ravensbourne Avenue.
NHM Bumblebees ID
Adur Butterfly List 2005
Extra Images (Buttercup +)

17 April 2005
The Red-tailed Bumblebee, Bombus lapidarius, was definitely confirmed from the wooded path (linear spinney) by Slonk Hill South.
Adur Bumblebees

Speckled Wood15 April 2005
On the footpath at the top of The Drive, Shoreham, a pair of Speckled Wood Butterflies were the first this year. Later, I saw and recognised my first male Orange-tip Butterfly of 2005, ten yards in advance, but despite this advanced warning, I failed to get a photograph as the camera batteries ran out. This was on the south-facing A27 road embankment a the top (north) of the Dovecote Estate.
More Images

10 April 2005
The second butterfly of the day was a Red Admiral Butterfly on the footpath at the top of The Drive, Shoreham, and this was the first record of this butterfly for April on these Nature Notes pages. The Red Admiral has been recorded in every month except May.
Other butterflies for the day included one a handful of both Peacock Butterflies (Mill Hill and the A27 road embankment a the top [north] of the Dovecote Estate, Shoreham), Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies (Mill Hill and the A27 road embankment), and one Holly Blue (top of Chanctonbury Drive, near [SE of] Mill Hill).
There was at least one Brown-tail, Euproctis chrysorrhea, Moth nest on the footpath at the top of The Drive, Shoreham. Honesty was in flower and there was a handful of these plants in the shade.
Adur Butterflies
Adur Butterfly List 2005
Adur Butterfly Flight Times
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
National Butterflies: First Dates

There was what looked like an Andrena Mining Bee (illustrated on the Adur Bees web page) on yellow flowers on the south-facing A27 road embankment north of the Dovecote Estate, Shoreham.
Photographs on the Adur Bees web page
On the same bank, a 7-spot Ladybird, Coccinella septempunctata, was on the wing: after crawling around a bit, it flew away.

3 April 2005
Just one Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly was seen over the A27 road embankment north of the Dovecote Estate, Shoreham.

This insect photographed above on a Dandelion at the top of The Drive, Shoreham looks familiar, but it does not seem to have been photographed before.
Note the slender "waist" though. It was not seen hovering. This is a Mining Bee? Andrena haemorrhoa ?
Notes on this Mining Bee
Earlier Mining Bee (Link)
Adur Bees web page

1 April 2005
I disturbed a hen Pheasant on the footpath at the top of The Drive, Shoreham. It did not fly off immediately; it scuttled away until could find place for a take-off.

27 March 2005
There was nothing newsworthy along the bare southern path on a cool slightly overcast day. Greater Periwinkle, Daffodils, Grape Hyacinth (garden escape) and Red Dead Nettle (an ubiquitous weed) were noted in flower.
Red Dead Nettle
Red Dead Nettle
Greater Periwinkle

16 March 2005
The Rook that flew over the path running adjacent to the A27 By-pass on the southern side was probably from the small rookery in The Drive, Shoreham. It flew in arc over the downs towards Mill Hill.

Shoreham Town & Gardens
Dovecote Bank including the Mill Hill Cutting

Link to Slonk Hill Reports for 2004

Slonk Hill South features on the Town & Gardens pages 2003 (Link)

Adur Nature Notes 2005