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)
It includes Buckingham Cutting and Buckingham Barn.
Slow Worm
Apple Blossom
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). 

Horseshoe Vetch on the Slonk Hill Bank Mouse-ear Hawkweed

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


Slonk Hill Cutting Reports 2007

10 November 2006
I chased a male Pheasant which trotted off down the path through the spinney and then veered off into the scrub, but that it was all that moved. The path that was overgrown in late summer has now been cut so it is just about passable.

17 August 2006

A Wasp Spider had captured a grasshopper on the southern meadowbank of the Slonk Hill Cutting and rolled it up with its silken web ready for consumption. A probable orb spider Araneus quadratus was also spotted. Hemp Agrimony was in flower nad has been for at least a month, possibly two. It looked a bit dried out and wilted under the heat.
Adur Spiders

6 August 2006
  Female Common Blues

I walked along a stretch of the crumbly southern road bank because the path was too overgrown with Brambles and it was then I nearly stumbled over the Black Slug, Arion ater,sliding uphill at a steady pace. That was until I poked its head and then it stopped and contracted into a ball at half of its original (measured) length of 100 mm. There was a Brown Argus Butterfly amongst the frequent Common Blues.

4 August 2006
Vervain by the path

Common Blue Butterflies were common on the south meadowbank and by the path, which means I estimated them in excess of a hundred. Meadow Browns were frequent, one confirmed Small Copper was a first for the area and there could have been more, a Holly Blue settled amongst the Common Blues, and there were a few Small Whites. Gatekeepers were not recorded and I spent a few minutes looking for them.
Butterfly Report

1 August 2006
Canadian Goldenrod

A late afternoon passage journey along the southern path (eastern half) of the Slonk Hill Cutting, under an overcast sky with a Strong Breeze (Force 5) blowing, revealed a handful of Speckled Woods in the linear spinney, occasional Meadow Browns disturbed from their rest on the meadowbank, three Holly Blues in the hedgerows, frequent male and female Common Blues (20+) in the longer grasses and vegetation by the path, three Small White Butterflies and two Red Admirals at the Buckingham Cutting. In the five or so minutes I actually stopped to look around, I failed to see either Small/Essex Skippers or Gatekeepers. A Yellow Shell Moth was seen.
Six species of butterfly is poor even for a passage journey.

30 July 2006
Male and female Common Blue Butterflies, Meadow Brown Butterflies, Gatekeepers and Large Whites and one Speckled Wood on the southern meadowbank of Slonk Hill. Brown Argus Butterflies were suspected, but all the photographs indicated female Common Blues.
There were at least a dozen of the large webs of the spider Agelenas labyrinthica spread over the vegetation, especially amongst the Cotoneaster. A Leaf Cutter Bee, Megachile sp. was seen on the south part of Slonk Hill in tall vegetation next to the path.
Butterfly Report
Adur Butterfly First Flight Times
Adur Spiders

23 July 2006
It was cooler and just about tolerable to observe the following butterflies: the first of the second brood male Common Blue Butterflies, just the one Ringlet and a dozen or so Meadow Brown Butterflies in five minutes, the same number of Gatekeepers and only a handful of Small Skippers and even less Large Whites.  One Comma Butterfly was seen rising from the path through the linear copse. There was a Green-veined White identified with some difficulty from a photograph.
The most exceptional Lepidoptera were the large numbers of Silver Y Moths at a rate of at least five a minute in the long grass and herbs of Slonk Hill north and south. Chalkhill Blues were absent from the Slonk Hill Cutting despite the large amounts of Horseshoe Vetch.

There were two Slow Worms under the cardboard and some long-legged spiders amongst the mostly dead heads of Kidney Vetch and amongst the Brambles with the first blackberries.
Butterfly Report
Adur Moths

11 July 2006
On a day of weak sunshine, the following plants were noted in flower for the first time: Trailing Bellflower, Campanula porscharskayana, Common Toadflax and Teasel.
Ringlet Butterfly Trailing Bellflower 6-spot Burnet Moth

The first butterfly spotted was a Ringlet and there were frequent Gatekeepers and Small Skippers, a dozen or so Meadow Brown Butterflies noted but only one Marbled White seen on the southern path and bank. No Large Skippers or blue butterflies of any kind were seen. There were a handful of 6-spot Burnet Moths and Silver Y Moths and one small conopid fly Sicus ferrugineus. The three Wood Mice were still there.
Adur Flies 2006

3 July 2006
Two Ringlet Butterflies were seen on the southern grass embankment of the Slonk Hill Cutting. Three Wood Mice were seen hiding under the cardboard.
Butterfly Report
Adur Butterfly First Flight Times

27 June 2006
A passage visit to the meadows on the south bank of the Slonk Hill Cutting revealed 16 Meadow Brown Butterflies, including mating pairs, three Marbled Whites and one Large Skipper. Buckingham Cutting added at least two worn Small Blue Butterflies.
A small hoverfly was seen hovering in the Slonk Hill Cutting mixed meadow, and the fly would not keep still long enough for a decent photograph. I have identified it as Xanthogramma pedissequum. The same hoverfly was seen before on 23 June 2006.
Adur Hoverflies

There were at least three Wood Mice seen underneath the cardboard.

20 June 2006
Spotted Orchids (Location shot) Meadow Vetchling on the northern bank Salad Burnet on the northern bank Mouse-eared Hawkweed on the northern bank

I could not find any Small Blue Butterflies on the north bank after a 15 minute search. There did not seem to be as much Kidney Vetch as in the last two years. There was a Large Skipper on the southern side. A Slow Worm was seen in the normal location.
There were hundreds of Common Spotted Orchids on the southern grassy area as usual. Most of them were the normal mauve to purple with distinctly spotted leaves athe the base of the plant, but there could have been 3% that were white with leaf spots that could be noticed but they were not nearly so clear. A Small Blue Butterfly fluttered around on the south bank. I did not venture as far as the Buckingham Cutting, because of the Brambles on the path. The dandelion-like seed clocks of Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon, Tragopogon pratensis, were unmissable.
Butterfly Report & List
Adur Orchids

11 June 2006
Kidney Vetch with Small BlueAdonis Blue Butterflies were recorded on the north bank of Slonk Hill, but on this unstable terrain was very difficult to ascertain numbers. I recorded five and there were undoubtably many more. The female Adonis Blues were actually crawling in amongst the dense clumps of Horseshoe Vetch and I had to be alert to see them at all. The same terrain problems made the numbers of Small Blue Butterflies difficult as well. Kidney Vetch was now beginning to flower and there were undoubtable many more than the dozen I counted in a garden-sized patch. One Small Blue was seen on my passage journey over the southern path of the Slonk Hill Cutting, with the first of the five or so Large Whites on the day. There were two Slow Worms with long tails (not foreshortened as photographed above) were seen in their usual location under the cardboard.

5 June 2006
An afternoon passage journey along the overgrown path on the Slonk Hill Cutting south bank produced the disappearing tail of a Common Lizard under a rotten log on the Spotted Orchid grass bank and a Speckled Wood Butterfly in the shade.

4 June 2006
On the north bank of the Slonk Hill Cutting the Small Blue Butterflies were there as predicted. Nine of these very small butterflies were recorded, half of them on the Horseshoe Vetch, and all in a small garden-sized area. There was absolutely no sign yet of Kidney Vetch in flower. There was also a much larger Holly Blue Butterfly that landed on a Wayfaring Bush, and two Large Whites flying around and a Small White Butterfly.
Holly Blue on Wayfaring Small Blue on Horseshoe Vetch Small Blue

On the southern part of Buckingham Barn Cutting there were more Small Blue Butterflies, at least three, probably more, as well as a Common Blue Butterfly.
On the southern bank of the Slonk Hill Cutting both Common Spotted Orchids and Pyramidal Orchids were beginning to flower.
The Slow Worm with the truncated tail was seen again. The hoverfly Merodon equestris was present.

29 May 2006
On the southern grass embankment of Slonk Hill the first handful of Spotted Orchids were flowering, but there were scores, probably hundreds, where the spotted leaves could be seen, but the flowers had not appeared yet. On the northern bank, the clumps of Horseshoe Vetch were mostly in flower, with common (300+) flowering Mouse-eared Hawkweed with frequent Sow Thistles.
Adonis Blue on Horseshoe Vetch (not all in bloom yet) Small Blue Butterfly Small Blue Butterfly

Painted Lady on Mouse-eared HawkweedOn an overcast day, I thought the rain would arrive before I saw any butterflies. Just as I was about to give up for a sunnier day, I spotted a Painted Lady on the yellow flower of a Mouse-eared Hawkweed. A minute or so later, the unmistakable blue of a male Adonis Blue fluttered over the Horseshoe Vetch. As I decided to rush for cover I nearly stumbled over my first two Small Blue Butterflies of the year on the northern bank of the Slonk Hill Cutting.
Adur Butterfly First Flight Times

Two Slow Worms with long tails (not foreshortened as photographed above) were seen in their usual location under the cardboard. There were scores of the dainty flowered Wood Avens (=Herb Bennet), Geum urbanum, growing tall under the Sycamore in the linear spinney.

25 May 2006
A brief visit to Buckingham Cutting (both sides of the A27) revealed Milkwort and Horseshoe Vetch amongst the continental Salad Burnet (nearly in flower) and occasional Bird's Foot Trefoil on the north side, and on the southern side plants noted in flower included plentiful Hawthorn, Ground Ivy, Bulbous Buttercups, Ragwort, Bluebells, Red Clover, White Campion, Common Vetch and a few others.
Red Admiral, Small White, Holly Blue and one Speckled Wood were the butterflies recorded. A single Silver Y Moth fluttered amongst the Horseshoe Vetch in flower on the north bank of Buckingham Cutting.
Butterfly Report for the Day
Another Wood Mouse was seen under a piece of cardboard. This one was greyish and looked much smaller and no yellow could be seen on its throat or neck.

18 May 2006
The large Wood Mouse was seen trotting along the path quite openly, but it disappeared before I could get my camera out. It has the same appearance, the pale feet and underbelly were very clear. A different Slow Worm was seen from the one illustrated above. This one was longer and the one in photographs appears to have lost part of its tail. A Large White Butterfly flew over and a Holly Blue came out of the hedge. There was no sign of the Kidney Vetch so in view of the overcast condition, it did not seem worth looking for the Small Blue Butterflies.
14 May 2006

A Wood Mouse, Apodemus sylvaticus, (or it could be a Yellow-Necked Mouse, Apodemus flavicollis), was seen under a piece of cardboard with two Slow Worms on the southern path of the Slonk Hill Cutting. (This was the location where a Water Shrew was seen before. This mammal looked and behaved differently.)

The mouse put its paws over its face looking like it was cleaning itself when it was disturbed. It did appear to have a yellowish tinge to the rodent but this has not come out in the photograph. 

5 May 2006
Despite the warm sunshine, circumstances only allowed me a passage trip along the path on the south side of the Slonk Hill Cutting, where seven Speckled Woods, one Peacock, one Green-veined White Butterfly and a surprise Red Admiral were seen in ten minutes. Hoverflies of the familiar species were common and flies of all sorts buzzed in my face as I cycled the path.

4 May 2006
Rather a briefer than normal passage discovered about eight Speckled Wood Butterflies, three Peacock Butterflies, three Holly Blues, and at least one Small White fluttering over the Hawthorn and Ivy. There was still just the one adult Slow Worm (the same one).

29 April 2006
This time it was a male Pheasant that trotted along the southern path before rising vertically to a height of three metres and then flying north over the A27. Just the one Slow Worm was seen underneath the piece of carboard.

21 April 2006
"Has spring sprung at last?" I spotted my first Speckled Wood Butterfly of the year on the hedges next to the path on the Slonk Hill Cutting (south bank).
Slow Worm

This is where I saw my first Wasp (at the top of The Drive) and first Slow Worm of the year underneath the piece of carboard (the wooden pallet has been removed). Bumblebees and hoverflies were frequently seen. There was a surprise clump of mushrooms next to the path. It could have been an Agrocybe (to be checked out).
Butterfly Report

It was the warmest day of the year so far as the air temperature measured 21.7 ºC at 2:52 pm.

Zebra Spider7 April 2006
A pale female Pheasant trotted down the path ahead of me near the top of The Drive and then disappeared completely without flying off. The undergrowth was thick and prickly. There were two small brown and white crab spiders on the green roadside box. I have identified them as a common species known as the Zebra Spider, Salticus scenicus. No hoverflies were spotted.
Adur Spiders

2 April 2006
There was nothing newsworthy on a passage journey along the bare southern path on a cool slightly overcast breezy day. A large clump of Red Dead Nettle (an ubiquitous weed), Sweet Violets and  Chickweeds were noted in flower. No hoverflies were spotted.

Link to the Slonk Hill Cutting 2005 Reports

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 2006