MILL HILLVetch Trail (Lower Slopes) : Shoreham Bank


Horseshoe Vetch

Information on Hippocrepis comosa (Horseshoe Vetch) plus
Message on Hippocrepis comosa

"The prostrate downland tetraploid race of Hippocrepis comosa is not harmed by moderately heavy sheep grazing and is resistant to moderate trampling, but doesn't persist after ploughing or disturbance of the ground, or in areas grazed by cattle."
Journal of Ecology Vol. 61, pp. 915-926 (1973).

Identification Notes (Link)

UK Biodiversity Calcareous Grasslands
Mill Hill (lower slopes) Flora Images (technical)

7 January 2004
It was only on a sombre but warm, 12.3 °C mid-afternoon, January that I noticed a couple of small Holly Trees, without berries, on the steep slopes higher than the path that weaves its way through the lower slopes.
Mill Hill 2004 (with new map)

15 December 2003
VioletOn the path down to the lower slopes of Mill Hill, a Robin Redbreast put in a seasonal  (they are present all the year) appearance. And a solitary thrush dug for worms in the short wet grass. From its pronounced yellow throat-breast colour, I think it was a Song Thrush. Incongruously, it was feeding much more out in the open than was usual for the normally timid Song Thrush. There were a score or more of empty snail shells, more than usual. I saw one solitary small Dog Violet flower, but an absence of any grassland fungi, although in the scrub to the north, one small tree provided home for a common woodland toadstool, possibly the parasitic Honey Fungus, Armillaria.
ID for a Hairy Violet by Michael Lush on UK Botany
Message about this Violet

25 November 2003
Buffeted by the breeze, the expected Kestrel hovered over the lower slopes. After 50 mm of rain in the last three days, the grass was green and the paths muddy. The upper part of the lower slopes just below the ridge was thick with rabbit faeces. So thick, that if I wanted to sit down on the short wet swards of tufty grass, it would have near impossible to find a bit that has not been used as a rabbit latrine.

27 October 2003
In the afternoon, an unidentified mouse fell out of the Hawthorn bush branches and after a fraction of second to gain its bearings, scampered off into the undergrowth (a patch of bare grey earth underneath the Hawthorn). It looked like a House Mouse to my untrained eye although it seemed about 10% larger with better groomed dark brown-grey fur. It could have been a Yellow-necked or a Wood Mouse? There was little or nothing of special interest: Blackbirds and Robin Redbreasts, but no butterflies. Sheep grazed in the field below the slopes of Mill Hill on the western side.

17 October 2003
In the clear morning light I had another distant view of the "bird of prey" I saw a couple of days ago. The light was better and I really now think it is most likely a female Kestrel (which I thought it was in the first place). However, it still was a dark chocolate brown in colour, still seemed about to hover (it stalled in flight rather than hovered), but never did so, and spent part of the time chasing small birds amongst the bushes (which Kestrels do in autumn). The disposition of the tail in flight was Kestrel-like and the light underwing as well.
There were Blue Tits, Blackbirds, Magpies, Pied Wagtails, House Martins clearly noticeable, but no butterflies.

16 October 2003
There were a pair of Stonechats amongst the Hawthorn as I looked down from the Mill Hill ridge on to the steep slopes below.

15 October 2003
Its caw (call) was a cross between that of a Magpie and a Crow, but it looked more like an overlarge Thrush or Blackbird: a couple of Ring Ouzels, Turdus torquatus, looked a very dirty black with a white/grey breast as they chose Hawthorn bushes ahead of other shelter on the lower slopes of Mill HiIl.  According to the Shoreham & District Ornithological Society 1988 "Birds of Shoreham" the peak month for migrating Ring Ouzels is October.

Just a speck in the distance (Photograph of this raptor by Andy Horton)A hawk was perched for at least a few minutes on another Hawthorn bush that stood out amongst the clump of scrub that forms and extensive border of Mill Hill with the field on the western side further down in the Adur valley. I took the opportunity to have a closer look (through my 9 x 40 binoculars) at this dark brown raptor, partially silhouetted in front of the low sun, that seemed to have a bulbous head. Suddenly, it took off and descended Wagtail-like and disturbed a couple of small birds in the stubble field below. Later, presumably the same bird, was observed performing a low level glide and wing tilting, (demonstrating more agility than I have ever seen in a Kestrel), showing off the white underside with a large amount of dark edging to the wing-tips, before it landed in another small Hawthorn at the top of the ridge (my viewpoint was from a clump of turf in the centre of the path through the Vetch Field (lower slopes). I have identified this 'bird of prey' as a female Merlin, Falco columbarius. (See the note below: this identification is wrong!) This bird disturbed the House Martins, so it is possible that these were the intended prey. The bird seemed as large, if not larger than a Kestrel, so the other possibility is that it was a female Hobby, Falco subbuteo. (The Hobby is both rarer than the Merlin and it would have expected to have migrated south a month ago.)
I now think it is probably a Kestrel afterall.(17 October 2003). Observations of a hovering bird on 26 August 2004, now make me convinced that this bird was a Kestrel.
In the scrub, there were plenty of rustlings (as usual), and twice the source was discovered to be foraging Blackbirds. Dozens of House Martins flew to and fro. There were Meadow Pipits and Skylarks as well.
Butterflies were limited to two Red Admirals, one Wall Brown (in the Tor Grass area), and a very tattered Speckled Wood Butterfly in the scrub to the north.
Common Darter Dragonflies, Sympetrum striolatum, were widespread and at least a dozen were noted.

8 October 2003
About 25 Common Darter Dragonflies, Sympetrum striolatum, and at least a couple of Migrant Hawkers, Aeshna mixta, were seen on the lower slopes of Mill Hill in the early afternoon. I had not expected more than an occasional butterfly, but there were at least two Wall Browns clearly seen - they must be the third brood - as well as two Meadow Browns with a female that settled, two unidentified white butterflies, as well as one strong flying Clouded Yellow Butterfly and there could have been two of them.
Adur Dragonflies

24 September 2003
Still the summer lingers on, but the temperature of 17.1 ºC on a sunny day falls below 20 ºC, as expected in the final quarter of the year.
Common Blue Butterfly feeding on Stemless ThistleFresh Wall Brown Butterflies some put in an appearance on the path down to the lower slopes of Mill Hill. They were still very flighty and would not settle long enough for a photograph. The small moth-like brown flying insects were discovered to be small female Common Blue Butterflies and there were larger male Common Blues as well, seeming much bluer in flight than when they settled (but not as bright as Adonis Blues, but I checked just to make sure*). One Small Heath settled with its wings closed and then a handful of Meadow Brown Butterflies were identified, not so easy with the first one that disappeared into the Brambles. By the stile that leads on to the overgrazed land, three Clouded Yellow Butterflies danced around each other, and I was pleased to see a large party of ramblers on this footpath which is so often blocked by cows. The return journey produced a Red Admiral Butterfly and a Large White followed by a Small White Butterfly.
Adur Butterflies Flight Times
From the Privet and Bramble patch in the lower centre, a blue male Emperor Dragonfly rose suddenly, and there were a handful of dull brown Common Darter Dragonflies.

(* Subsequent identifications in 2004 revealed that it is very easy to identify worn Adonis Blues as Common Blues. The former butterfly is slightly commoner than the Common Blue on the lower slopes.)

14 September 2003
A mating pair, the dark blue male Southern Hawker Dragonfly* in tandem with the emerald green female, was a magnificent sight as they flew rapidly up the lower slopes of Mill Hill and quickly disappeared. The scores of House Martins all seemed to be flying from west and east up from the Adur valley on to the downs to the north of Shoreham. There were a handful of Common Darter Dragonflies as well. (*This was originally identifed as an Emperor Dragonfly but the ID has been changed.)
Late in the season, but on an exceptionally warm day for September at 21.8 ºC, the numbers and varieties of butterflies was expected to be small in order of first seen was a Wall Brown (4+), Large Whites (6+), Meadow Browns (15+), Small Heaths (8+), small Common Blues (12+) and one Red Admiral. There was a possibility of a couple of Adonis Blues in the northern part of the slopes, but these could not be confirmed.

Adonis Blue or Chalkhill Blue?
7 September 2003
Just one female blue butterfly was spotted briefly with a plain chocolate brown upper wing, but I still cannot be sure if it was an Adonis Blue or a Chalkhill Blue, despite managing a photograph shown on the left. (Even if I had a butterfly net, I might have left it at home on an unpromising time of the year for butterflies). The butterfly on the Carline Thistle in the photograph below (second from the left, click on the image to enlarge and view the butterfly) is probably the same species. A half a dozen Meadow Brown Butterflies were identified on the lower slopes as well as at least one unidentified (to species level) Cabbage White Butterfly.
Blue Butterflies of Shoreham
Adur Butterflies Flight Times
Habitat Images

30 August 2003
Chalkhill Blue Butterfly femaleOn the Saturday of Shoreham Air Show, Mill Hill was closed to cars so there was only about a hundred people on the hill at one time, and apart from a couple of blackberriers, and one dog walker, the parched lower slopes were empty. The first blue was the bright blue of the Common Blue Butterfly, but the Adonis Blues soon appeared and the final count was 25. It was easy to get the species mixed up as the female blues that had orange spots on the upper hindwing (see the photograph on the right) were Chalkhill Blues.  There was at least a pair of Chalkhill Blues in pristine condition, but all three species of blues were about in the same numbers, but Common Blues and Chalkhill Blues were mostly worn and battered, with one third females.

One puzzle was a brown butterfly that looked exactly like a Brown Argus. There was no hint of white roundels on the upper wing and was just like the specimen seen and photographed on 23 July 2003  with orange spots neatly arranged on both the upper wings. There just a hint of blue colour, if anything less than shown in the photograph on the earlier date (click on this text). (Alas this butterfly flew off when disturbed by what looked like a larger female Chalkhill Blue.)
PS: Brown Argus Butterflies were discovered and confirmed in August 2004.

Battered Common Blue Butterfly on rabbit excrement. This could even be an Adonis Blue.A Clouded Yellow Butterfly flew from north to south late in the afternoon. Meadow Brown Butterflies, including many large females, and Small Heath Butterflies were very frequently seen, with numbers of both exceeding fifty. A few Small Whites fluttered past rapidly.
A male Common Darter Dragonfly buzzed over.
Flora Images

22 August 2003
Although overcast, I was disappointed to count only twelve Adonis Blue Butterflies. Chalkhill Blues were more numerous at thirty and probably many more, Meadows Browns were noticeable, possibly fifty plus, Small Heaths, sixty plus, a single Clouded Yellow and a handful of Small Whites.

20 August 2003

Almost immediately, I descended the sheep's trail (chalk path) from the south, a flash of a brilliant blue butterfly caught my eye. The second brood Adonis Blue Butterflies are now out and flying around in their brilliant blue on the lower slopes of Mill Hill,  the black 'chequerboard' marking of the wings and underwing spots were consistent with this identification of some very flightly butterflies that were not keen to rest. One even ventured up amongst the the brambles and long grasses immediately south of the reservoir on the upper slopes.  The count was 25+ and I was careful to avoid counting the same butterfly twice and to exclude the Common Blue Butterflies (15+) in the total. All the Adonis Blues were males and they favoured the most southerly area of the lower slope below the path, and inundated by Privet. The Adonis Blue Butterflies were also be found in the central and northern areas where they competed for nectar plants with thirty or more very old and worn looking Chalkhill BluesThere were also a dozen or so of the diminutive Common Blues, butterflies that were smaller than normal, but still the same species. (I should have made a note of this common distinction before: these have occurred often enough.)
Adonis Blue Action Plan (Butterfly Conservation)
Adonis Blue
Adonis Blue
Carline Thistle
Chalkhill Blue (worn)
Chalkhill Blue (worn)
The Small Heath Butterflies exceeded a hundred mostly on the lower slopes. There was one Small White Butterfly and at least thirty of the good condition Meadow Browns, some still amorous, and getting their mates mixed up with Small Heaths some of the time, and generally the butterflies were fighting over insufficient nectar plants. The Carline Thistle was an important attractant, standing like the Yellow Wort above the very short sward. The 15 to 20+ Common Blue Butterflies on the lower slopes were as battered as the Chalkhills at times.
Time 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm. Temp: 15.3° C. Wind 4 mph, NW 325° Azimuth.
The Kestrel was being mobbed by the Crows over the scrub to the north, near the stile. It fanned its tail distinctively (observed from underneath) as it hovered above the butterfly meadow.
15 August 2003
I arranged to meet Andy Gattiker of the South Downs Conservation Board on Mill Hill. The land was parched: there has only been 56 mm of precipitation since the beginning of July (in 46 days). In a month since St. Swithun's Day 2003 the total rainfall was 40 mm. All but two days of August have been without rain and the total for the month up to today was only 4.32 mm.
On the steeper lower slopes (if the cattle ventured down there) there is an inevitability of harm to the Horseshoe Vetch and other herbage, although this was argued that their grazing would do more good than harm. I completely disagree on the lower slopes: the erosion and poaching can only be seriously harmful. It is a pity that the Chalkhill Blue Butterflies were not showing very well. There were only about forty seen fluttering around in the prime sheltered area with Small Heaths, Meadow Browns, one or two Wall Browns and a dozen or more Common Blue Butterflies. If the cattle do get down on to the lower slopes (and the stile and fencing have now been removed), they will simply choose the prime sheltered area for Chalkhill Blue Butterflies to trample about in, and avoid the steep slopes where the young Privet is. The grass is at the ideal height of 4 cm for Chalkhill Blue Butterflies.
In this photograph the scrub incursions of Privet, Dogwood and Hawthorn on to the slope can be seen. In ten years or so, these incursions could develop into a full grown wood of Hawthorn, Ash and Sycamore.
Privet should (and sometimes is) controlled by digging up the small patches and cutting off the top of large clumps and treating the stumps with herbicide. There is an extensive stand of Dogwood on the lower slopes, above the footpath.
7 August 2003
The parched dried downs slopes still hosted 120 (counted + estimated) Chalkhill Blues on my path with scores of Common Blues as well. With the Chalkhills there was a difference in age, the males mostly battered and worn. The Common Blues varied in size and freshness - some were a very bright blue.  Small Heaths (15+)  were quite noticeable now with the usual Meadow Browns, Wall Browns, Large Whites and I forgot to note down whether I had seen a Gatekeeper or not. There were at least three, probably more than five strongly flying Clouded Yellow Butterflies. I searched for any signs of Adonis Blue without success.
The Wayfaring Tree on the public footpath has been cut back so that dog walkers can pass.
2 August 2003
Today, Saturday, when it was too hot really, there were two groups of three people all told looking at the butterflies. Nobody would estimate the numbers. One expert watcher described it as thousands of Chalkhill Blues. One pair who go to Dorset and other places, says the Chalkhill Blues are as abundant or more abundant as any place they had ever been to see them. The numbers were too great to estimate but I have arrived at a figure of at least 3000, being substantially more than on 30 July 2003. Everywhere we stepped dozens of Chalkhill Blue Butterflies emerged and there were many more hiding than could be seen. The term is abundant rather than very common as numbers exceeded a thousand. Very common, I would use for numbers between 500 and 1000, common from 100 to 500. I undertook a search for an Adonis Blue in the area of the May emergence, but without success.

Chalkhill Blue: Butterfly Conservation Advice Leaflet

In one static spot there would be 30 to 50 butterflies within a radius of two metres. Mostly Chalkhill Blues, but Common Blues, Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, and a handful each of Painted Ladies, Wall Browns and Large Whites. The blue Chalkhill Blues, with brown on their wings were males as they chased the females. All the butterflies were more flighty and restless than when it was cooler. I looked until I found a Small Heath Butterfly in the short grasses. This small butterfly does not open its wings but aligns its body at an acute angle and is now easily recognised. This may be one from the second brood which is not due until August.
Butterfly List

Chalkhill Blues (Photograph by Andy Horton)30 July 2003
On an overcast, cool, with brief sunny spells, light rain at times, it would be thought of as unpromising day for butterflies. However, the whole of the lower slopes of Mill Hill were alive with the amorous flutterings of an estimated 2,000 + Chalkhill Blue Butterflies reaching densities of three every square metre (two males and one female) on plenty of occasions. On my restricted transect the count came to 250 (within two metres each side of me, partly estimated* as there were so many). The lower slopes cover nearly five acres of ground so the guesstimate is a conservative one. This year, the numbers must approach the historic records of thousands of Chalkhill Blues reported in the past. Some (50+) specimens were halfway between the colours of each sex, i.e. predominately blue, with a substantial brown tinge. (* Subsequent counts have indicated a probable underestimate.)

Altogether on Mill Hill and its approaches there were seventeen different species of butterflies, a new record in one day for me. An unusual second brood Dingy Skipper was recorded on the lower slopes, and other butterflies included one Small Heath, at least a couple of Wall Browns, a handful of Painted Ladies, Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers, one Large White, and a few Small Tortoiseshells. No Small or Large Skippers were seen in this area.

Butterfly List (Species Recorded)
Blue Butterflies of Shoreham
Adur Butterflies

Variations of Chalkhill Blues (Cockayne)
28 July 2003
Chalkhill Blues were not so plentiful as before. I expect there were about fifty seen as I was not counting. There were Wall Browns, Meadow Browns, Small Heaths, Gatekeepers, and Painted Ladies in a brief walk down the sheep path. Some of the female Chalkhill Blues were in a very battered and damaged condition.
Butterfly List (Full Report)
The photograph on the right shows the insignificant patch of Tor Grass, Brachypodium pinnatum, which is too small in quantity to present an immediate problem. It is also appears to be favoured by the Wall Brown Butterflies.
23 July 2003
The estimated count of Chalkhill Blues was down to about 120+ nearing the end of the afternoon. In the field to the west of Mill Hill, the flood plain provided a roost for dozens of Common Blue and Chalkhill Blue Butterflies that were actually seen and because it was a large field there could have been many more, although the numbers did seem to thin out further into the long coarse grasses. The other butterflies on the lower slopes included lots of Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers, Small Heaths (6+), at least one Wall Brown, a few Large? (probably Small) Skippers and an occasional visiting Painted Lady. The Wall Brown was restless rushing from the relatively few (compared to the upper slopes) nectar plants to another, settling much too briefly on the Stemless Thistle flowers to capture a better photograph.

Wall Brown amongst the short sward (Photograph by Andy Horton)

21 July 2003
Only 200+ Chalkhill Blues on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, an appreciable fall from the abundance of yesterday. A Wall Brown was also a first from the lower slopes nectaring (not often seen with this butterfly) on Stemless Thistle and other flowers. At a rough estimate there seemed to be about three Chalkhill males to each female. On some of the females the upper wing orange spots were very clear which is not always the case on Mill Hill. The very bright blue was the odd Common Blue Butterfly. The possible discovery of a Brown Argus Butterfly was rejected as more likely to be a female Common Blue. A Brown Argus was discovered on the Slonk Hill southern embankment but even this one is not 100% certain (picture below on the right).
Identification Notes about the Brown Argus

Butterfly List

Female Chalkhill Blue in July 2003
Female Chalkhill Blue  by Andy Horton
Brown Argus

Female Chalkhill Blues compared
July 2003 on the left with the orange spots (ab. postaurantiaextensa?) and August 2001 on the centre from the upper slopes
The image on the extreme right is the Brown Argus
For comparative female Common Blue image, click on this text
Variations of Chalkhill Blues (Cockayne)

20 July 2003
Early Evening
Courtship with Chalkhill BluesI returned to Mill Hill in the early evening and I was surprised that on the lower slopes, the abundance of Chalkhill Blues seen at midday was simply not on view any more. There were still plenty of Chalkhill Blues around but I only counted about thirty and most of them were hiding and only rose into flight because I disturbed them. (Do the Chalkhill Blues on the lower slopes disperse quickly to find longer grasses for roosting and nectar plants?) On the approaches to the Vetch Trail from the south a handful of Wall Browns left the chalk path and half a dozen 6-spotted Burnet Moths buzzed around the Knapweeds.
There were a couple of Magpies and Jackdaws searching the slopes for food.

Over 300 Chalkhill Blue Butterflies were observed fluttering around and copulating on the lower slopes of Mill Hill and they were to be seen on the sunny day at a conservative average of one butterfly every two square metres. At this prevalence, I got the impression that I was constantly about to step on one.
Over the five acres (the area was measured later at 6.4 acres) of the lower slopes this would give a figure of 2,500 butterflies, and the 25 acres of upper slopes would have supported hundreds as well. On reflection this number is an overestimate as the Chalkhill Blues were not evenly distributed. It would be fairer to say this was the density for an area of about one acre and four acres were only at about one per four square metres (conservative estimate veering on the low side) plus another minimum of 200 on the other slopes. So I arrive at a number count of 1,200 Chalkhill Blues. This is near the peak number for this emergence as over the next few days the butterflies disperse to looks for better nectar sources and roosting sites in the longer grasses. The concentration of butterflies is near the bramble bushes at the bottom of the slope.
Phil Weller reported Marbled Whites from the long grass on the ridge. The lower slopes supported Meadow Browns (50+), Gatekeepers (30+), and Small Heaths (only one identified positively).
The grass and herbs still remained very short like a rough lawn, and the lack of tall grasses meant that the Round-headed Rampion was only occasional and the nectar source, the Greater Knapweed was only in small clumps. Clustered Bellflower, Campanula glomeratum, was discovered in a small patch at the southern end of the lower slopes near where the pathwinds its way around the Wayfaring Tree.Nectar sources, except in the hedges were exiguous.
Butterfly List (Full Report)
Adur Butterflies
Chalkhill Blues Conservation Advice
Butterfly Transect Method

Moving Images (CD-ROM only)

19 July 2003
Female Chalkhill Blue

Chalkhill Blue Butterflies on the Waterworks Road, Old Shoreham numbered at least five and they could be seen immediately, on the margins amongst the ferns, just north of where the road passed under the A27 Flyover. There is a distance of 700 metres from the breeding areas (Vetch Trail) of the Chalkhill Blue with a full grown Sycamore, Hawthorn and Ash wood in the intervening space. The butterflies flew against a breeze from the south.

Stemless Thistle close-up  (Photograph by Andy Horton) Click on the image for a different photograph.11 July 2003
As I followed the path down to the lower slopes a bright yellow butterfly caught by eye. It flew on rapidly and I think it was more likely to be a slightly early resident Brimstone than an immigrant Clouded Yellow.
Chalkhill Blue on the lower slopes of Mill Hill (Photograph by Andy Horton)
Chalkhill Blue Butterflies quickly appeared and I stopped counting a fifty. They were flying about and not settling for long. The only thing interesting thing to note is I followed the lesser used lower path near the bushes and nearly half of the Chalkhill Blues were disturbed in the Bramble bushes. This directly contrary to a report I have read that Chalkhill Blues avoided flying over scrub. There must be at least a little doubt about this.
The Stemless Thistle was in flower, that prickly rosette that characteristic and slightly uncomfortable feature of the chalk sward. The Sweet Briar was noticeable in a patch of scrub in a patch in the middle.
More Images

Wild Privet in flower
24 June 2003
The Wild Privet was in flower, but there was nothing of note on the lower slopes. The herbs were still cropped very short by the Rabbits.  A regular visitor and dog walker said she had seen both a Fox and a Roe Deer in the last two days.

14 June 2003

Bird of Prey
By the stile on the border of Mill Hill public land (area overgrown with scrubbery) and the Old Erringham grazing land (TQ 207 076), a sleek slate blue-grey raptor flew in a silent gliding arc on my arrival, and then disappeared. I was looking down on the bird of prey from above, a rather unusual viewpoint and I noticed the streamlining of the tail feathers very clearly. My first thoughts were Sparrowhawk, but this bird seemed to have a different flight pattern and seemed slightly larger than the male Sparrowhawk. This bird could be the rare Hobby, Falco subbuteo. Estimates of the British summer population of this bird could be only 500 breeding pairs. (I hope that is not a Kestrel, both looking and behaving oddly!?) (2005: Later observations of an agile Sparrowhawk in this area, really points to this hawk as being favourite.)

On the Vetch Trail the absence of the vast yellow expanses of Horseshoe Vetch was my instant impression. The grasses were still the short springy turf and quickly a blue butterfly fluttered by.

The lower slopes now denuded of the rich carpets of 
Horseshoe Vetch
Viewpoint from the north
Faded Adonis Blue on one of many patches of bare earth

It was an oldish Adonis Blue Butterfly and I only counted three in an small area, compared to 20+ Small Heath Butterflies, a few Small Tortoiseshells and some Small Skippers (at least two weeks and possibly a month early: after considerable thought it is unlikely that they were misidentified). (PS: The obvious ID would be Large Skippers.)

2 June 2003
The Horseshoe Vetch flowers have diminished. I did not venture down to the lower slopes, but on the rabbit-warrened steep slopes with the springy turf, beneath the ridge, the only butterflies seen to be in flight in the early evening were a handful of orange (upper wing) Small Heath Butterflies.

Diminished appearance of the Horseshoe Vetch
Rabbit eroded steep (shorn) slopes

31 May 2003
The Adonis Blue Butterflies have disappeared from the lower slopes of Mill Hill and the vast expanse of Horseshoe Vetch has now receded.

Butterfly Report by Jan Hamblett (Lancing Nature)

26 May 2003
Female Adonis Blue Butterfly (Photograph by Andy Horton)After some rainy and dull days, the sun came out again on the Bank Holiday Monday afternoon. The Adonis Blue Butterflies were about again and I estimate that I saw about 50 of which 20 of them were the appreciably smaller brown females (they actually appeared navy blue to my eyes) but the camera showed them to be brown. There were not so many other butterflies, the meadow produced a Small Copper Butterfly almost immediately, and later at least one darker than normal Dingy Skipper settled and there were probably more of them.

A yellow flower covering of the meadows was dramatic. In the foreground on the ungrazed slopes, the dominant plant was Horseshoe Vetch, although a few Cowslips were present. However, in the far field which has been grazed heavily by both sheep and cows the dominant yellow is from the Bulbous Buttercup to the exclusion of other flowers.

Horseshoe Vetch on Mill Hill (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)
Horseshoe Vetch on Mill Hill (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)

Small Heath (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)Morning
A walk on lower slopes of Mill Hill this morning through the Horseshoe Vetch meadow brought sightings of about 30 Adonis Blue Butterflies with five Cinnabar Moths and Small Heath Butterflies with five Blue Damselflies as well.

Morning Report and Photographs by Ray Hamblett (Lancing Nature) on the Adur Valley EForum

15 May 2003
By the early evening a few rays of sunshine cast long shadows in the early evening, but 40+ Adonis Blue Butterflies were fluttering around from one Horseshoe Vetch flower to another  I have managed to spot the deep brown of a female when the butterfly briefly opened its wings. The butterfly count also included 7+ Dingy Skippers, 5+ Small Heaths, at least two Grizzled Skippers and a solitary Peacock Butterfly. I checked for Common Blues amongst the Adonis but they were definitely absent.
There was a possibility of a Green Hairstreak Butterfly, but I was not alert enough to confirm or otherwise. This butterfly flew very close to the ground as it fluttered through the greenery and then I lost it. Subsequent research into the flight patterns of this butterfly seem to indicate that this was my one and only record of this butterfly on Mill Hill (years 2000 to 2006).
Blue Butterflies (Photographs 2002-3)
Adur Butterflies
Relative Butterfly Abundance (Lower Adur Valley)
Adonis Blue Action Plan (Butterfly Conservation)
Moths and Butterflies of Europe and North Africa
14 May 2003
After spotting a break in the showers that have been on and off for the last four days, I made a quick walk over the lower slopes of Mill Hill, just to confirm that no butterflies were to be seen on an overcast day. The Horseshoe Vetch was even more luxuriant and extensive after the recent rain.

9 May 2003
On the Mill Hill lower slopes (Vetch Trail) the following butterflies were spotted in order of conspicuity:

Adonis Blue  50+ (mostly males observed)
(counted, some could have been counted twice)
Brimstone x 2
Peacock  x 2
Small Copper 4+ (my first record from Mill Hill)
Small Heath  6+
Dingy Skipper 12+
Grizzled Skipper 3+
Speckled Wood  one (in the scrub)

Small Copper (Photograph by Andy Horton)
Adonis Blues copulating (Photograph by Andy Horton)

There was just one Cinnabar Moth spotted amongst other day-flying moths, in the expanse of Horseshoe Vetch and other plants in flower including a few Cowslips and Milkwort (mostly blue, some were purple: I am not sure which species?). All the plant species are indicative of a classic chalkhill meadow. The Carline Thistle is an unusual plant of the chalk with the leaves dying in the spring.

6 May 2003
On the lower Horseshoe Vetch covered slopes visited yesterday. A few Small White Butterflies were conspicuous but it was the other butterflies that proved to be of interest.

Photographs and editing by Andy Horton (early to mid May 2003)

The footpath winds its way through the yellow Horseshoe Vetch (just beginning to flower)
Viewpoint from the south
The lower field is meadow.  The fields to the north near Old Erringham are pasture.
Put the cursor over the above image for the butterfly locations

There were many more blue butterflies around, at least 30 seen, some flirting and others chasing different species off the Horseshoe Vetch flowers. I still have these down as Adonis Blue Butterflies.
The possibility of Common Blue Butterflies as well was not ruled out, but unlikely.
Blue Butterflies Identification page

Conservative numbers of the other butterflies actually seen on the lower slopes were as follows:

Grizzled Skipper 25+
Dingy Skipper 15+
Small Heath 15+
Brimstone  one
Orange Tip   one (my first record from Mill Hill)
Wall Brown   4+ (on the paths between the scrub near the Triangle)
Cinnabar Moth  one
Pyrausta nigrata  Moth   several

Adur Butterflies

5 May 2003
I followed the Vetch Trail on the lower slopes of Mill Hill towards Old Erringham on a sunny May Bank Holiday Monday. Several acres of the steep slopes were graced by the yellow flowers of the Horseshoe Vetch (the food plant of the Chalkhill Blue and other butterflies.) Wild Privet threatens to incurse.

The vivid blue colouring of just the one Adonis Blue Butterfly was startling as it chased away a Small Heath Butterfly from the flower of a Horseshoe Vetch. The underside wing of the Adonis was heavily pigmented with brown. The Small Heaths settled with their wings closed, but it seemed that were about to open them, but they never did. The Painted Lady was a battered specimen with parts of its wing missing.

Photograph by Andy Horton
Photograph by Andy Horton
Photograph by Andy Horton
Adonis Blue
Grizzled Skipper
Cinnabar Moth
Dingy Skipper (Photograph by Andy Horton)
Underside of the blue butterflies (Photograph by Andy Horton)
Small Heath (Photograph by Andy Horton)
Dingy Skipper
Adonis Blue
Small Heath

The Dingy Skippers with at least 25 scattered over a wide area were the commonest butterflies in flight, but I saw a handful of Grizzled Skippers and the red of the single Cinnabar Moth was most striking when it fluttered around just above the rabbit-cropped plants.

There were Speckled Wood Butterflies and there was one Red Admiral that followed me in the dense scrub incline or several of them.
Adur Butterflies

 Common Milkwort
Ground Ivy
 Dog-Violet, Viola riviniana
(26 May 2003)
Campanula glomeratum
Clustered Bellflower
July 2003
Yellow-wort (July 2003)
Yellow Wort
(morning photograph)

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