to 2005 Southwick Hill Reports
least twenty Swallows
and I counted sixteen Wheatears
around Slonk Hill Farm, north Shoreham, and the bridlepath to Mossy Bottom
produced a similar number of Wheatears
Junction, where there was at least one pair
Perched on top of a berried Hawthorn,
the white breast and grey wings of a Lesser
Whitethroat stood out clearly, and this
was the longest view I have had of this bird, albeit at distance where
its markings could only just be discerned through binoculars.
Rock Rose in small clumps on the verge
of the bridlepath
were even scanter than usual with a dozen or so Small
Whites and one Small
Heath on the route to New Erringham. Just
past New Erringham Farm to the north, a hundred Starlings
flew out of a small Bramble
Hedge; at first fifty flew out, followed by another twenty and then three
groups of ten birds each.
first fall (emigrating birds) of 18 Wheatears
were seen in a small area surrounding New Erringham Farm (north of Shoreham
on the downs).
Butterfly List (including the Database)
Butterfly Database (17-31 July 2004)
chalk bank of Slonk Hill has only been in existence
since 1971 when the road was built and it is a pity that it is a far from
tranquil spot because the variety of wild chalk plants would please a botanist,
albeit even of some of them are from continental seeds. It is ungrazed
and will never be because even humans would disturb the fragile bank. A
Skipper settled and this was a useful
size comparison being slightly larger than the Small
Blue Butterflies. The first
Blue Butterfly of the year was also seen
nectaring on a Hawkweed.
Hill Web Page
couple of Chalkhill Blues
were seen on Southwick Hill. Records of this butterfly on the hill are
examination of the Horseshoe Vetch on
Slonk Hill (A27 north road embankment) revealed this plant to be growing
upright in clumps, In this respect they differ from the prostrate form
on the lower slopes of Mill
Hill on two main counts:
the lack of long green stems and leaves running prostrate over the ground
means that although the flowers may be impressive it does not dominate
the flora in quite the same way as the prostrate forms and there are not
nearly as many leaves and consequently this form does not support as many
Blue Butterflies, if any at all.
this may a chromonsonal/genetic difference; it could be diploid instead
of tetrapoid but needs an expert to distinguish the two.
were a handful of small dark blue butterflies fluttering over the Horseshoe
Vetch and Common
Vetch on the steep chalk south-facing bank
in the humid sunshine as the traffic roared past. These butterflies were
Blue Butterflies, which is the first record
on these Nature Notes pages. I counted half a dozen, but I would estimate
that there were at least a dozen in flight in the hot sunshine around midday,
but they were not be be seen when I returned in the evening. These
butterflies were smaller than a Grizzled Skipper.
of the yellow flowering was because of
Thistle and there was an Ivy covering
on the top of the cliff. The Slonk Hill banks on both side of road are
rich in wild flowers and although not abundant in butterflies,
can show a variety.
List 2004 (Slonk Hill entry)
Hill North Habitat Notes (with photographs)
rested on the barbed wire and swooped to and fro on the bridlepath just
north of Slonk Hill Farm, immediately north of the pen with three black-faced
heavily fleeced hill sheep with curved horns. I do not know the breed and
this is always difficult of they have been crossed with other breeds.
north (south-facing part of Slonk Hill)) side of the A27 by-pass is covered
in yellow Horseshoe Vetch.
This steep bank is difficult to access.
Hill lacked any sort of interest, with the cows grazing almost every wild
flower out of sight, with a one probable*
Speckled Wood Butterfly in Holmbush
Close, but that was before the climb up the hill. (*
could have been a Wall Brown,
which would have been the first of the year.) The small patch of Horseshoe
Vetch spotted last year seems to have disappeared.
before sunset about 8:00 pm,
in a most extraordinary display of over a thousand birds that flew over
the downs above Highdown, Southwick, in a large black flock that swirled
in an undulating chain over half a mile long. It took two or three
minutes for the birds to fly over in groups of about ten, each followed
by a small gap at a height of about 25 metres (very rough estimate). These
birds were larger than Starlings (although
it was hard to judge their size) and without the white colour of seagulls.
The birds flew out to sea and disappeared.
by Mike Burtt
they did not fly like Starlings,
the idea of the huge flock feeding on the downs
and then flying back to their roost on the West
Pier, Brighton, seems the most likely explanation.
Buzzard was identified flying over the
eastern ridge (Thundersbarrow) as viewed from Mill
Hill, with 140
flying around as well as a flock of 33 Fieldfares,
and these thrushes were about fifty in total. A Peregrine
Falcon was seen near Truleigh Hill.
Buzzard was hanging and occasionally hovering
over a ridge between New Erringham Farm and Thundersbarrow Hill, north
of Shoreham in the evening from 5.15 to 6.03
pm (when virtually dark), viewed through a
scope from the minor road north of Mill Hill
at about 1 km distance.
had an obvious white tail with a thick dark terminal band! As well
as the tail pattern the bird I saw was heavy bodied and long winged (recalled
a small eagle more than a buzzard) with fairly uniformly dark upperparts
and very pale underparts with a somewhat darker head and belly and obvious
black tips to underside of primaries and secondaries. Though I saw
it for 45 minutes at reasonable range through a scope it was frustratingly
mostly facing directly away into the wind and at a similar height to me.
It appeared to have somewhat darker carpals and, from above, limited pale
at base of primaries - suggesting it was an adult/near adult (female)?
When first seen it was hovering by the road just south of New Erringham
Farm but it was slowly going away by time I stopped car and got my bins
on it. It then landed on a post just south-east of New Erringham
Farm, but was over the far ridge where it then remained by time I got my
scope set up."
TO THE REPORTS UP TO 2003
Happy Valley (behind Slonk Hill), Shoreham, two Stonechats
were recorded. New Erringham Farm produced a flock of about 25 Corn
Buntings, plus a further five on the road
to Truleigh Hill.
Scabious was still in flower on the edge
of the bridlepath running north from Slonk Hill. A Pheasant
struggled to become airborne on the path leading to Mossy Bottom from the
east, where a Clouded Yellow Butterfly
amongst the grasses. Two chirms of Goldfinches
numbering over 100 small birds flew around near New Erringham Farm. They
preferred to hide in the Hawthorn,
but not exclusively.
is a long walk to Southwick Hill and it is pity that more often than not
it turns out disappointing, but this time I veered off to the west and
found a patch Horseshoe Vetch (not in flower, of course) in a clearing
amongst the Gorse,
but there was just the one Chalkhill Blue,
but this could explain the presence of Adonis
Blues in August
2000, but the brightest blue today were
Blues (25+), the commonest blues on display.
were also the commonest butterflies after the Large
Whites (50+), with more than a score of
Browns (including a pair mating in flight)
and over a dozen Gatekeepers,
with a handful each of Small Tortoiseshells,
Woods (amongst the Gorse), Small
Whites (one landed on my bicycle), and
at least one Painted Lady,
Admiral, Wall Brown
and Clouded Yellow.
Images of the Day
Argus Butterfly was a surprise discovery
on on the Slonk Hill A27 southern embankment (TQ
228 067) with other butterflies including
Admirals, Large Whites, one
few Chalkhill Blues,
the shallow climb from Slonk Hill Farm north of the hill towards Mossy
Bottom, there were at least a dozen Painted
Lady Butterflies in bright colours, a
single Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly
with a bit of its wing missing (in old
colouration) as well as the usual Meadow
Browns and Gatekeepers.
The half a dozen blue flutterings in the long grasses and parched earth
by the bridlepath were Common Blue Butterflies.
Brown Butterfly flew past Mossy Bottom,
as simultaneously a couple of Goldfinches
perched on the barbed wire.
bridleway from north Southwick (Hawkins Close) to Southwick Hill and Thundersbarrow
recorded just three Wall Brown Butterflies
and nothing else worth mentioning, unless you count a dozen Jackdaws
on the National Trust grazed grassland.
are the small birds on the barbed wire
the left of the Hawthorn
uninteresting that I retraced my steps and took the path down to Mossy
Bottom. My attention was drawn to a pair of birds calling stridently
from a barbed wire fence by a Hawthorn tree at the junction with the path
down to Slonk Hill (TQ 225 078).
The male Stonechat
particularly striking with its almost black cap, really quite a red breast
and just a glimpse of white on the throat. The male frequently cocked its
tail in an upright manner. The female Stonechat
a rather pale brown comparatively, perched only about two metres away on
the same wire.
call of Stonechats are what made me aware of its presence. In this case
it may have been my presence that prompted the danger call. The Stonechats
seem to perform the role of sentinel like the Redshank
Page (Warning Calls)
Action Plan Notes
understory of the Hawthorn contained the Rock
Rose, recognised by the yellow flower and
this species of plant is known to the food plant of the caterpillars of
the Brown Argus Butterfly.
In this location it was inconspicuous, almost lost amongst the grasses.
Mossy Bottom I do not know if it was a Sparrowhawk
or a Cuckoo which flew rapidly away from me,
(and I was looking down on to the upper wings of the bird), to the small
copse in the south-west. It was too far away to be sure.
at New Erringham was unmistakable.
the bare field to the south-west of Southwick Hill the melody of a Skylark
the air for ten minutes or more without a break. It
would need a directional microphone to record the songs because in the
distance the hum of the traffic on the A27 could be heard as well as clattering
from the dockside at Shoreham Harbour.
small falcons are not always to separate at a distance, but the blunt-shaped
head and swooping flight without hovering, together with the subdued colours
(compared to a Kestrel)
indicated a male Sparrowhawk
at New Erringham Farm in the dip of the downs north of Shoreham.
shirt sleeves sunny weather was unseasonal, recorded at 21°
C in the shade and this brought the butterflies
out with 50+ Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies
the path north of Slonk Hill past New Erringham to Mill
Hill, with 15+
lapidarius, crawled into the long grass near Mossy Bottom Barn.
of Lancing (Ray Hamblett)
Notes for Lancing Ring