Horseshoe VetchLower Slopes of Mill Hill 2006The Shoreham Bank
The lower slopes of Mill Hill contains about 6.4 acres of open herbland, with over six acres of a continuous carpet of Horseshoe Vetch,
Hippocrepis comosa, mixed with other herbs, sedges and grasses. Its greatest claim to fame is the large number (3000+ in a good year) of Chalkhill Blue Butterflies.
Shoreham Bank with Horseshoe Vetch (not yet as extensive as 2005)
Adonis Blue Butterfly (Photograph by Katherine Hamblett, aged 10 years)

My transect route for recording butterflies is 400 metres (default half-transect) and a total of 750 metres if I return along the path (full transect). The half transect route covers 1.2 acres of the best butterfly ground.

First Draft of the Article for the Shoreham Society Newsletter
Representations to the Local Adur Plan

Adur Butterfly List 2006
Mill Hill (lower slopes) Flora Images (technical)


Some Indicator Plants of Ancient Downland
 
Horseshoe Vetch (Photograph by Andy Horton)
Autumn Gentian
Horseshoe Vetch
Common Milkwort
Dog Violet
Autumn Gentian

Other indicators on the lower slopes include Dropwort, Autumn Ladies Tresses (upper plateau), Hairy Violet, all 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, Carline Thistle, Stemless Thistle, Squinancywort, Fairy Flax, Small Scabious, Common Centaury and Wild Basil. There are other more widespread wild plants like the Mouse-eared Hawkweed, Hawkweeds, Autumnal Hawkbit, Bird's Foot Trefoil, Ground Ivy, Germander Speedwell, Field Speedwell, Sweet Violet, Self-heal and Yellow Wort as well as many others.


WILDLIFE REPORTS

 

 
 

Link to the Reports 2007

17 December 2006
 
I have identified this solitary flower as that of the Autumnal Hawkbit, Leontodon autumnalis*.The leaves were not be seen. Apart from the dead heads of Carline Thistle, this was the only flower seen on the lower slopes. There were small amounts of Nostoc Commune.

(* ID not confirmed: the other possibility is the Mouse-eared Hawkweed.)

The South Downs Joint Committee (previously the South Downs Conservation Board) have now removed the water trough buried amongst the Privet on the lower slopes and erected one on the southern area south of the reservoir. They have still left the discarded Privet over the lower slopes shading out the Horseshoe Vetch.

10 December 2006
Nostoc Commune was visible on the lower slopes of Mill Hill.

Report by Ken Bishop


21 November 2006
There was very little of interest and nothing moving on the damp and slippery slopes. A Yellow Wort was closed but still in flower. A few small patches of Nostoc Commune were visible.

16 November 2006
There were no signs of any butterflies or flying insects on the overcast afternoon, after the showers (3.81 mm of rain) in the morning. The dead and cut Privet was still lying prone on the bank. I spotted a male Kestrel resting on a Privet bush with his back to me, and below me as I walked along the ridge, and it was there for 30 seconds before he spotted me and flew off.

13 November 2006
Four Clouded Yellow Butterflies and one Red Admiral were seen on Mill Hill. One of the Clouded Yellows rested on my finger. It was rather bedraggled.

Report by Paul Lister on Sussex Butterflies


9 November 2006
Eleven Clouded Yellows, including one form helice were seen at Mill Hill in the afternoon about 3:00 pm. Despite the clear sky and fair (11.8 ºC) weather they were rather sluggish, spending most of the time on either warm scree or the wooden boards of the steps and tilting themselves perpendicular to the sun's rays.

Report by Neil Hulme on Sussex Butterflies


6 November 2006
Clouded Yellow on the lower slopes of Mill HillOn a clear day, 11 (to 13*) Clouded Yellow Butterflies were seen on Mill Hill (6 -8* on the lower slopes and one on the ridge by the Reservoir) and on Old Erringham pasture (4). One of the Clouded Yellows had white upper wings but conventional (if slightly paler) underside, and one was a faded yellow and very tatty. They were very flighty, rarely stopping for more than a few seconds at each flower, and on the lower slopes of Mill Hill they visited Devil's Bit Scabious (in hidden places I had not noticed it before), Autumnal Hawkbit and Wild Basil. On the Old Erringham pasture near the stile adjoining Mill Hill Nature Reserve, two of them were courting rising together vertically, and their preferred nectar plant was Dandelion.
(* The Clouded Yellow Butterflies were flighty, chasing each other at speeds of an estimated 10 mph and the lower figure of 11 seen means that no butterflies were counted twice. They appeared to be resident in the area, rather than just passing through. One of their caterpillar food plants, Bird's Foot Trefoil, is abundant on Mill Hill.)
Butterfly List 2006

Dog Violet1 November 2006
A chill wind from the north-west made me wish I had worn gloves. Butterflies were predictably low with just and six Clouded Yellow Butterflies recorded at the northern end of the lower slopes of Mill Hill. They were all bright yellow and this was the most seen together this year. Two were sparring or being amorous.
Butterfly List 2006
Adur Butterfly Flight Times

Two Dog Violets were seen in flower. The Privet and Bramble was still lying prone at the northern end of the slopes. The amount of scrub, especially Privet, in the central area looked a very serious incursion.
Adur Violets
 
One problematic mushroom was recorded amongst theHorseshoe Vetch  next to a Rabbit latrine. 
Report with Images

27 October 2006
A Silver Y Moth was disturbed, but there were no butterflies were recorded in the afternoon, none on the one clump of Devils' Bit Scabious. The Privet was still lying prone at the northern end of the slopes. I do not know if the stumps have been treated with glysophate or not? The scrub has increased over the last few years, especially the Privet at the southern end.
No mushrooms or fungi were spotted.

23 October 2006
As the season is almost at a close, I would have been surprised to find a multitude of butterflies. Two Meadow Browns settled on the Devil's Bit Scabious on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, and a very bright yellow Clouded Yellow Butterfly fluttered across my view as I tried to photograph the Meadow Browns. Both Meadow Browns were damaged but did not look particularly tattered or old. The Devil's Bit Scabious also attracted a Common Carder Bee (bumblebee).
 
Devil's Bit Scabious Rhingia campestris

After the rain, a couple of mushrooms and the Nostuc commune was there as expected. Again the mushrooms (illustrated above) were elusive to identify. The gills are white but similar mushrooms have been seen on the upper part of Mill Hill before. There was no sign of a ring around the stem. The cap was about the size of a commercial mushroom, an estimated 55 mm in diameter.
Entoloma bloxamii, certainly not Agrocybe dura.
BioImages image link for this species

ID by Malcolm Storey (BioImages) on the Fungi of the British Isles (Yahoo Group)
Fungi of Mill Hill

Carline Thistle was still in flower although many of the heads had ceased and gone grey. Wild Basil was in flower in small amounts. There were a handful of earlier flowering plants as well with their flowers or remnants on show, notably Greater Knapweed. At least a dozen felled Privet, still with their berries on, were cluttering up the northern part of the lower slopes.
A few small flies were noticed but no grasshoppers were seen on a rapid passage journey where I returned via the ridge. A single  hoverfly Rhingia campestris had not been recorded so late in the year.

Sheep were now grazing in the Old Erringham pasture next to the Steyning Road, that is used occasionally for car boot sales. This is next door to the field that they were grazing in on a week ago.

16 October 2006
Under a cirrus, blue, sky, one Red Admirals fluttered at low level southwards across the lower slopes and four Meadow Browns were seen on the Devil's Bit Scabious on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. The Devil's Bit Scabious had ceased flowering in the first bunch and gone to seed, so the Meadow Brown Butterflies of both sexes were on the second clump and one settled on the frequent Dog Violet and Wild Basil  leaves. Two of the Meadow Browns were intact and two of them worn and frayed at their wing edges. A handful of Privet bushes had been cut down at the northern end and left in their prone position on the bank.
Adur Butterfly & Moth List 2006
 
Meadow Browns (2) and a female Common Blue Butterfly on Devil's Bit Scabious Meadow Brown with double spicks Unidentified small mushroom

One of the small, yet to be identified mushrooms was again discovered. It measured 30 mm in height with a cap diameter of 15 mm and it is photographed above.
The best suggestion was the species Stropharia coronilla.

Suggested ID by Jean J Wuilebaut on Fungi of the British Isles (Yahoo Group)
Fungi of Mill Hill

Sheep were grazing in the Old Erringham pasture next to the Steyning Road, and the gate was open to allow them into the cut meadow immediately below Mill Hill.

12 October 2006
Under the midday sun a remarkable air temperature of 16.6 °C was attained which brought the butterflies out and prompted me to take a short and muddy walk to Mill Hill. For most of the slopes there were only four Red Admiral Butterflies all flying south, and the first of three Clouded Yellow Butterflies until the second clump (when approaching from the south) of Devil's Bit Scabious which was awash with butterflies on every flower head, with eight definite Meadow Brown Butterflies of both sexes (but mostly females) until they fluttered off and then they were difficult to count (without counting the same butterfly twice) and there could have been more, with at least three Common Blues, one male and two females. Some of the Meadow Browns were intact and some were damaged, but they did not look fresh or particularly worn, unlike the Common Blues which were all slightly frayed at the edges.
Full Butterfly Report

Apart from the expected Carline Thistle and a scattering of Autumn Hawkbits, other plants in flower were few and far between but they did include a handful of blue Common Milkworts, Wild Basil, Lesser Centaury, diminutive Hardheads and Self-heal. The remains of a Small Scabious and Dandelion were spotted near the stile to Old Erringham. The Common Milkworts may have been an unseasonal new flower rather than a diminished old flower of the other plants.
 
White Dapperling White Dapperling Nostoc Commune

One medium-to-large white mushroom seen at the southern end had a pure white cap with a diameter of 55 mm, white gills and a white 90 mm stem with a veil, and it was probably the White Dapperling, Leucoagaricus leucothites. Nostoc Commune was seen over the prostrate vegetation at the northern end.
Adur Fungi 2006
Fungi of Mill Hill

8 October 2006
On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, there were eleven Meadow Brown Butterflies all on or in the vicinity of Devil's Bit Scabious in the northern part. These were the only butterflies seen in a twenty minute passage visit on an overcast but warm (17.2 ºC) morning. At least one red Common Darter (dragonfly) landed.
 
Hairy (or Sweet) Violet
Dog Violet

A handful of both flowering Dog Violets and Hairy (or Sweet) Violets were seen in passing and their leaves and sepal colour were both clearly different. There were a few other flowers for the insects as well, including Wild Basil, Yellow Wort (a surprise flower and a flower rarely visited by insects and I do not recall a single butterfly visit to this flower), the expected Carline Thistle and Autumn Hawkbits.
Adur Violets

Agaricus sp.A handful of small mushrooms protruded above the short grass and herbs. This fungus has been identified as an Agaricus. The Privet was adorned with their black berries.
Adur Fungi 2006
Fungi of Mill Hill
Images

3 October 2006
There were at least seven Common Blue Butterflies and 18 Meadow Brown Butterflies all on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, and one Small Copper on the Devil's Bit Scabious. Only three of the Meadow Browns were males and at least one of the females, although looking fresh enough was badly damaged. All the Common Blues spotted with their wings open were the blue males, but half of them flew of too quickly to see what gender they were. They were all a bit ragged around their wing edges.
Adur Butterfly List 2006

There were not very many nectar plants remaining: Devil's Bit Scabious was the clear favourite. Autumn Gentian was seen but it not yet opened up in flower.

26 September 2006
The lower slopes of Mill Hill in the early afternoon produced frequent butterflies but slightly reduced in numbers and variety from nine days ago. Meadow Brown Butterflies (30+) led the way and most, but not all, were females. They were counted, but there were so many on the Devil's Bit Scabious that I lost count in the confusion. There was a mixture of male and female Common Blues (10+) and again they were difficult to count because nearly all of them were on or around the Devil's Bit Scabious. A Small Copper Butterfly settled on the Devil's Bit Scabious. A Large White Butterfly and another Meadow Brown was spotted near the stile.
 
Common Blue (female) on the lower slopes of Mill Hill
The female Common Blue showing the unusual crescent shape spot on the fore underwing
A harvestman crawled over the the leaves of Horseshoe Vetch
This is probably the species Phalangium opilio
The unusual blue variety of the female Common Blue Butterfly which occurs at the beginning and end of their season
The female Common Blue Butterfly (in the middle image) showing the unusual crescent shape spot on the fore underwing

There did not seem to be the numbers of Autumn Hawkbit of my last visit and I did not make a note of any, although there were a few scattered Wild Basil still just about flowering and I spotted one autumn Dog Violet.  A harvestman crawled over the the leaves of Horseshoe Vetch. This is probably the species Phalangium opilio.

Harvestman ID suggestion by by Peter Harvey on the British Spiders (Yahoo Group)
Adur Violets
Adur Spiders

17 September 2006
As the wild flowers were generally dying out everywhere, I decided to make a note of where the diminished numbers of butterflies were seen and what nectar plants if any they were using.
 
Small Copper Meadow Brown female Common Blue Butterfly (female) on Devil's Bit Scabious

The lower slopes of Mill Hill are one of the only places worth visiting for butterflies in the middle to late September. The numbers were less than earlier in the month. 25 Meadow Browns were counted scattered evenly over the slopes, visiting the common Autumn Hawkbit, Leontodon autumnalis, one making a a visit to the occasional Wild Basil. Then on the northern part butterflies were all over the place settling on Devil's Bit Scabious. There was at least a further dozen bringing a total of 40+ Meadow Browns on the lower slopes. Generally, the females (about half of them) were to be found on the short grass, possibly looking for somewhere to lay their eggs. Adonis Blues were still around, but only nine of them were seen and these were old. The Devil's Bit Scabious was also attractive to Small Heath Butterflies (11) , Common Blues (18) and one attractive Small Copper. Small Heaths were more widespread, but the Common Blues were concentrated at the northern end. There was at least one bright blue male that looked fresh. The female Common Blues (over half of them and mostly worn and tattered) seemed to be looking for somewhere to lay their eggs but there was so many leaves of Horseshoe Vetch that they did not seem to settle on any Bird's Foot Trefoil (their larval food plant). Most of them were brown all over with the orange fringe spots, but one had lots of bright blue on her upper wing

11 September 2006
It was sunny so I walked over the lower slopes. Immediately, I saw a Clouded Yellow Butterfly (one of five) and a Small Heath Butterfly (one of ten). Adonis Blue Butterflies (20) were still flying and mating. There was only only a pair of Chalkhill Blues which have disappeared rapidly this year. There were a handful of Common Blues and frequent Meadow Browns in the in the one acre half-transect. Treble-bar Moths (25+) were frequently disturbed.

6 September 2006
On a sunny day after a gale, I did not know what to expect. There were still 36 Adonis Blues including ten females, some of the these butterflies were worn, but about a third of them were fresh and undamaged. Many females may have been overlooked. Meadow Browns were the most numerous and I estimate at least fifty on the lower slopes, but other butterflies were few and far between, an occasional Common Blue and a confirmed Brown Argus, and only a pair of Chalkhill Blues and one Comma. There were no Small Heath Butterflies seen on the lower slopes but three were seen on the upper part of Mill Hill. Treble-bar Moths were disturbed easily, about twenty were seen and there were probably many more. I was not looking at the plants, but I noticed that Carline Thistle was attractive to the butterflies, and that Stemless Thistle was still in flower, and there was more Devil's Bit Scabious noticed.
Butterfly Report

30 August 2006
Overcast and breezy and in the afternoon, I would not expect many butterflies, but there were frequent Meadow Browns, 15 Adonis Blues, 7 Chalkhill Blues, 5 Small Heaths, one Brown Argus, at least two Common Blues on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. Many of the Adonis Blues were already showing signs of wear at the edges and there did not appear to be any fresh males. No females were spotted on a casual ramble. Devil's Bit Scabious was beginning to flower. There were two clumps of Devil's Bit Scabious, with one clump intertwined with Squinancywort. A small pyralid moth Pyrausta aurata, a Carpet Moth and half a dozen Treble-bar Moths were spotted easily.

27 August 2006
Adonis BluesAdonis Blues (110) were mating on the lower slopes of Mill Hill on a breezy midday. The count was 110 (about 13 females seen). This was the most I have ever counted on Mill Hill. The Adonis Blues were evenly spread over the lower slopes and I would estimate their numbers on Mill Hill at 350+. All the females were mating or heavily courting (about to mate). Chalkhill Blues were still frequently seen and the figure of 20 (may have been 30) may be under their numbers as I lost count of them. Meadow Browns (50+) were still very frequent, but Small Heath Butterflies (5) were only occasionally seen, with one Wall Brown* that did not settle for confirmation over the lower slopes. A small pyralid moth Pyrausta aurata # and a larger Treble-bar Moth were spotted without looking for them. (*I now think this was possibly a Meadow Brown?)  (# This could be Pyrausta purpuralis.)
Butterfly Report

20 August 2006
With the weather forecast predicting rain for the next week, I ventured up the downs even though the conditions (20.2 ºC at 11:00 am, 83% humidity, Wind Force 4 falling to Force 3, direction southerly at Azimuth 158º) were far from ideal for butterflies.
Predictably most of the butterflies were hiding and the numbers on Mill Hill actually seen were down from the last visit. The walk did not involve stopping and the count on the lower slopes was Chalkhill Blues (29) and Adonis Blues (43). The Chalkhill Blues were thought to be undercounted as many of them were not disturbed from hiding and a only half the butterflies may have been counted. A further three Adonis Blues fluttered over the Old Erringham pasture near the stile. A pristine Wall Brown was chased and identified at the southern end and a definite Small Heath Butterfly visited a Stemless Thistle in front of me half way along the half-transect. Meadow Browns (75) were widespread with an estimated 50 seen spread evenly over the lower slopes.
Full Butterfly Report for the Day

17 August 2006
Adonis Blue on Carline ThistleUnder a cloudy sky with spots of rain, the half transect count (1.2 acres) on the lower slopes of Mill Hill produced an equal count of 57+ worn Chalkhill Blues and 57+ pristine male second brood Adonis Blue Butterflies, all fluttering around with about twenty Common Blues. At times it was not easy to count and separate the species. The Adonis and Chalkhill Blues were counted, but the plus signs are included because if there as any doubt if it was an Adonis or a Common Blue it was put down as a Common Blue, and with Chalkhill Blues, possible duplicates were excluded and females are likely to have been overlooked. The Adonis Blues were in a bright pristine condition but many of them already showed nicks out of their hind wings. This is the largest count for the second brood Adonis and nearly (or possibly) the largest seen on Mill Hill in one day. Alas, the Adonis Blues, although widespread, were not evenly distributed over Mill Hill, with a concentration at the northern end of the lower slopes. Not more than a wild guess, rather than an estimate of these bright blue butterflies on Mill Hill may be not much more than 100, but possibly up to 200 (this is the peak day total rather than the overall numbers which will be higher).
 
Male Adonis Blue on Carline Thistle

The Meadow Browns were at about 60 butterflies on the lower slopes. There was one Large White Butterfly in the distance, plus one each of a Clouded Yellow, seen visiting a diminutive Hardhead, and a definite Small Heath, the latter two both on the Old Erringham pasture near the stile. A Treble-bar Moth was seen near the Tor Grass and decrepid Perforate St John's Wort as before. A Silver Y Moth was noted in the Old Erringham pasture, but the moths were frequently overlooked.
Butterfly Report

6 August 2006
The count of Chalkhill Blues on the lower slopes was 108 (half transect) with four Common Blues. There was not an even distribution, with more Chalkhill Blues on the southern part of the lower slopes than expected. Females were only seen at about 5%. Stemless Thistle was visited by Chalkhill Blues and Meadow Browns. On the first Carline Thistle spotted, there were three Chalkhill Blues.
Adur Butterfly List 2006

4 August 2006
Chalkhill Blues (129) on Mill Hill only (Mill Hill estimates at 450 on the hill). The half transect count was exactly 100 of both sexes in about 20 minutes. This puts the Chalkhill Blues past their peak early this year. Female Chalkhill Blues were at 20% on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. Common Blues were counted at 31. Gatekeepers outnumbered the Meadow Browns by a short percentage and were both frequently seen on a cloudy day.  A Treble-bar Moth was noted in an identical place amongst the Tor Grass as five days earlier. The yellow flowers of Great Mullein were just beginning to show.
Butterfly Report

Click links to a Chalkhill Blue in habitat image30 July 2006
Chalkhill Blue Butterflies showed just an average year on Mill Hill with just 151 recorded on the lower slopes in the sunshine, which equates with an estimated day record on the wing of about 650 on Mill Hill. This was disappointing compared to 2003. Stemless Thistle was the most often used nectar plant, as well as Wild Basil, and Round-headed Rampion was also seen used on one occasion. Females were at 5% or less only and probably under-recorded. Other butterflies included Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, Small Whites (possibly &/or Green-veined), Red Admirals, Small/Essex Skippers, Marbled Whites (9+), and just the one confirmed Small Heath.
Butterfly Report
 
diminutive Scabious Dodder

Carline Thistle was about to burst into life on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, with Dodder recorded for the first time on Perforate St John's Wort. Diminutive (50 mm high) Scabious was noted as usual. I assume that this is the Small Scabious, but there were no leaves seen and I do not know to confirm this.
Scabious Seed Heads Comparison Image

23 July 2006
At least, in the late morning it was a bit cooler (after the thunderstorms of 22 July 2006) mostly overcast at 24.1 ºC from 11:00 am,  and tolerable for watching butterflies. I spent 20 minutes on the lower slopes and noted the following species:

Male Chalkhill Blue ButterflyChalkhill Blue  136 = common
Large White = occasional
Gatekeeper E 30 =  frequent
Meadow Brown 18  = frequent
Small Skipper = occasional
Marbled White 10 =  occasional

The Chalkhill Blues were spread evenly over the area beneath the path and they seemed to be widespread above the path as well. the 136 were recorded in the half transect area of about an acre and I would estimate the total to be be at least 550 butterflies. The females were probably missed.

Butterfly Report

Six-spot Burnet Moths were occasionally seen and occasionally overlooked, and the same applies to the a occasional Silver Y Moth. Two of the pyralid micro-moths Pyrausta nigrata were noted on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, but many more have been overlooked.

Stemless Thistle was noted as very frequent and Round-headed Rampion. Vervain always seems to grow near the path and some large clumps were noted near the steps leading down to the slopes at the southern end.

17 July 2006
It was simply too warm and I gave up recording butterflies after about 12 minutes and returned by the ridge path, now overgrown. The frequencies are from the 12 minutes on the lower slopes only.

Large White = occasional
Gatekeeper  =  frequent
Meadow Brown = occasional
Small Skipper = occasional
Chalkhill Blue  19 =  frequent
Marbled White 16 =  frequent

Butterfly Report

There was a large brownish damselfly, almost the same colour as a female Common Darter, but it landed for a couple seconds only with folded closed wings, so it must be a damsel.

It was the warmest morning of the year so far as the air temperature measured 29.6 ºC at 11:39 am. Later, in the afternoon,  the temperature exceed 30 ºC

11 July 2006
From either side of the steps leading down to the lower slopes from the south, I disturbed three young Wrensthat flew to and fro across the path before disappearing into the dense scrub.
 
Pyralid moth; Pyrausta nigrata Chalkhill Blue visiting a Stemless Thistle Gatekeeper Marbled White

Marbled White Butterflies appeared almost immediately followed by four Chalkhill Blues before their season had started. They seem to be much paler than the later emergers and I have noticed this before. Gatekeepers were frequent, the most prevalent butterfly a shade ahead of the Small Skippers with the occasional Meadow Brown and Red Admiral. Most smaller moths went unnoted although the first of the second brood Pyrausta nigrata was definitely recorded and photographed above.
Butterfly Report

Robin's Pin Cushions (a gall) were noted near the steps and the first flowers of Wild Basil, Round-headed Rampion and Stemless Thistle.

3 July 2006
A surprise very early couple of Chalkhill Blues were seen on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. In the sunshine I was unable to chase the skippers around to discover what they were. There could have been my first Small Skipper of the year (and probably were).
Marbled Whites led the way with 49 counted, with at least 36 recorded on the lower slopes. Meadow Browns were frequently seen. Other butterflies were a handful of skippers including Large Skippers, a few Small Heaths, and Gatekeepers on the scrub margins. My first Common Darter (dragonfly) of the year was seen at the northern end.
 
Meadow Brown with the Double Spick This Meadow Brown was discovered with double spicks. This could be regarded as an aberration. It is not on the Cockayne list though. 

Butterfly Report
Adur Butterfly First Flight Times

Flora was varied, with following frequent on the lower slopes: Lesser Centaury, Yellow Wort, Mouse-eared Hawkweed, Wild Thyme, Self-heal, Squinancywort, Fairy Flax, Small Scabious, and invasive Perforate St. John's Wort and much too much Privet. (Privet contains toxins that are harmful to horses and some other animals.)

23 June 2006
I traversed the half transect rather quickly and noted Common Blue Butterflies, including females and Small Heath Butterflies mostly. Lesser Centaury was seen in flower. Grasshoppers could be heard quickly almost everywhere, but maybe concentrated in the Tor Grass patches.
Butterfly List

20 June 2006
Horseshoe Vetch with seed podsThe first Marbled White Butterfly of the year fluttered strongly over the lower slopes of Mill Hill where the Horseshoe Vetch flowers had almost disappeared and the corkscrew-like seed pods could be discovered if searched amongst the emerging herbs and new flowers. The largest yellow patches on Mill Hill were now Bird's Foot TrefoilButterflies were frequent (about 40), but not common. The most prevalent on the lower slopes were Common Blues (10) and Small Heath Butterflies (15). Two pairs of Small Heaths were courting. The frequent small moths were not identified, and there was at least one larger Treble Bar Moth. Squinancywort was in flower and a handful of diminutive Pyramidal Orchids were seen in the short grass and herbs.
(NB: Some of the Common Blue females could be mistaken for Small Blues by the inexperienced. Small Blues are absent from the lower slopes of Mill Hill, but will occasionally be seen in the Mill Hill Cutting.)
Butterfly Report & List
Adur Butterfly First Flight Times

15 June 2006
Dropwort (a chalkhill plant) bursting into flower on Mill HillAbout half of the 25 Adonis Blue Butterflies on Mill Hill showed signs of raggedness and age, whereas the 8 Common Blues appeared fresher. Some of the Adonis females were coloured a dark brownish navy blue which is how they appeared to the naked eye. I saw my first Meadow Brown Butterfly of the year on the lower slopes, where I was surprised at a spotting a late Grizzled Skipper (absolutely definite) and I had a better look at a Large Skipper that did not settle. There were 12 Small Heath Butterflies counted on the half transect. Grasshoppers were stridulating and a Common Field Grasshopper, Chorthippus brunneus, was identified. There seemed to be more Thyme than previous years. The Thyme was visited by butterflies, notably the single Painted Lady of the day on the Old Erringham pasture (north-west of Mill Hill Nature Reserve).
Full Butterfly Report

11 June 2006
As on the lower slopes of Mill Hill the massive yellow covering of Horseshoe Vetch has now disappeared and the long grasses in the pasture of Old Erringham has also obscured the field of Bulbous Buttercups, but many of the other wild plants are now flowering, including Dropwort and Bird's Foot Trefoil.
 
Adonis Blue (male) Horseshoe Vetch The Horseshoe Vetch quickly fades

The lower slopes butterfly count was as follows in a heatwave:
 
Adonis Blues 36 definite, most (all except about 4 seen) of them males
Undetermined blue species 8 were not definites, at least one was possibly a Common Blue
Small Heath 7 on the lower slopes

Grasshoppers were heard in one patch for the first time this year.
Adur Grasshoppers

Butterfly Report (all sites)

4 June 2006
A quarter transect stroll in the late morning sunshine saw the signs of diminishing Horseshoe Vetch on the lower slopes to something like 70% of the peak and 36 Adonis Blue Butterflies, all male and fresh, and at least one each of Small Heath, Grizzled Skipper (two definites), Dingy Skipper, Brimstone and Large White with one large vanessid-sized unidentified dark or brown butterfly. There were four more Adonis Blue Butterflies near the stile to Old Erringham, two on the Mill Hill side and two just inside the pasture.
Dropwort budsYellow Wort leaves had pushed up but were not flowering yet, with the first signs of Dropwort, Hairy Violet in flower and the beginnings of Wild Thyme, more in the Old Erringham pasture than on the Shoreham Bank. Mouse-eared Hawkweed was lost amongst the Horseshoe Vetch on the lower slopes but they were common in the pasture as well where the flowers were clearly seen and matched up to their leaves.

2 June 2006
The Horseshoe Vetch is now just past its best on the the lower slopes of Mill Hill. I took some measurements and my estimate of the number of Horseshoe Vetch flower heads (each with seven or eight flowers) is 25 million. In the patches which were covered by flowers there were about 500 flower heads every square metre. However, it was only about 30% of the main Horseshoe Vetch area that was actually covered in the yellow flowers and some parts of the slopes did not have any Horseshoe Vetch at all.
 

Adonis Blue
Small Heath with Horseshoe Vetch

The butterfly count on a hazy slight overcast afternoon was a paltry eight male Adonis Blues and just a single Small Heath on a passage visit. A Yellow Shell Moth flew into the Privet.
Adur Moths

Wild Thyme was just beginning to show amongst the Bulbous Buttercups in the Old Erringham pasture near the stile to Mill Hill Nature Reserve.

29 May 2006
Bulbous Buttercup (note the sepals)A passage journey (I did not pause to look for butterflies) along the path through the lower slopes of Mill Hill disturbed just two male Adonis Blues and a female on its own and one Dusky Skipper. In the Old Erringham pastures of confirmed Bulbous Buttercups there was another male Adonis Blue and a Wall Brown visited a Bulbous Buttercup near the stile to Mill Hill Nature Reserve.

Bulbous Buttercups on the Old Erringham pastureThe Old Erringham pastures were examined for their flora. It was quite different from Mill Hill with a higher proportion of grasses, but with a selection of herbs (excluding grasses), especially noting that the dramatic explosion of Bulbous Buttercups, with the blue Milkwort doing very well, and both Horseshoe Vetch and Bird's Foot Trefoil noted in small amounts.
Images
Adur Buttercups

28 May 2006
Adonis Blue Butterflieswere mating on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, with three mating embraces seen and at least another thirteen of these unattached bright blue butterflies flying around. After the rain of the gales of the last few days, butterflies were sparse for the time of the year, the only others on the lower slopes of Mill Hill were five Dingy Skippers. Moths noted were two Pyrausta nigrata and a Yellow Shell Moth that flew into the Privet.
Butterfly Report (all sites)
 
Bulbous Buttercups in the rear and Horseshoe Vetch in the foreground Horseshoe Vetch Adonis Blues

The Horseshoe Vetch was prevalent on the lower slopes, at about 70% of its luxuriance. Some flowers had not yet opened and it has appeared at the northern end which it usually does first and has not yet covering much of the steeper banks, which are always at least a week later. Over a dozen Honey Bees were attracted to the Horseshoe Vetch. The Horseshoe Vetch was flowering late compared to 2004 and 2005. There were scores, over a hundred of the Hawkbits* in flower. (*These could be Dandelions with hidden leaves? Might be Hawkweeds as well.)
 
Salad Burnet and other herbs
Most of the Horseshoe Vetch flowers are blooming and others have scarcely burst from their pods yet. Salad Burnet and other herbs
NB: the leaves can be mistaken for Burnet Saxifrage by the unwary.
Cuckoo Spit is produced out of the anus of the immature stages of sap-sucking insects known as froghoppers.
Cuckoo Spit Page
A mushroom with a cap diameter of 28 mm and a height of about 35 mm grew amongst the herbs of the lower slopes of Mill Hill.

This fungus has been seen before.

Adur Fungi 2006

Image right:  Horseshoe Vetch

26 May 2006
From the Coastal Link Cyclepath on the Adur Levels (600 metres away) it looked like the Horseshoe Vetch was growing in profusion, but at least one week off its peak. The Bulbous Buttercups in the pasture south-east of Old Erringham Farm were flowering in a greater yellow expanse which is unusual as they usually less showy than the Horseshoe Vetch on the Shoreham Bank.

15 May 2006
Butterflies were slow to appear. The lower slopes of Mill Hill produced 15 Dingy Skippers, just the one confirmed Grizzled Skipper and three Small Heath Butterflies in the hazy sunshine (19.8 ºC) over a quarter of the transect covering about two-thirds of an acre. An Orange-tip and a Large White fluttered by. Pyrausta nigrata moths were particularly noticeable as I tried to find Grizzled Skippers. There were most likely more of the latter skipper, but I failed to note them. The Adonis Blue failed to appear. A Silver Y Moth flew into the Privet. The Grizzled Skipper was noted visiting Milkwort. A few Dog Violets were still in flower but they were already overtaken by Milkwort.
Full Butterfly Report
 
Small Heath
A species of Click Beetle (Elateridae). 
The underneath picture is the insect inverted. 
ID by Bill Grange
Cowslips on the Shoreham Bank
Dog Violet on the Shoreham Bank
Small Heath Butterfly

Adur Beetles

14 May 2006
At 10:00 am the resident Kestrel hovered in the overcast sky before the start of the Butterfly Walk on the lower slopes of Mill Hill which produced just two Small Heath Butterflies and a handful of small Pyrausta nigrata moths. The Horseshoe Vetch was just beginning, only about 5% of its full splendour.
 
Rhogogaster sawfly
Bird's-foot Trefoil
Horseshoe Vetch
Sedge

The sun struggled to come out in the afternoon and I recorded my first male Adonis Blue Butterfly of the year on the Shoreham Bank with 13 Dingy Skippers, five Grizzled Skippers and three Small Heath Butterflies. At least one Bird's Foot Trefoil was noted in flower next to the winding path. A small Rhogogaster sawfly was seen. Three Jackdaws were feeding amongst the Horseshoe Vetch.
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Butterfly First Flight Times
Adur Sawflies

10 May 2006
A quick visit in the sunshine and the Horseshoe Vetch had increased to hundreds of plants, but it is nowhere near its brilliance and could not be seen from the Steyning Road. Dingy Skippers were mating. There were about a dozen individuals compared to only one Grizzled Skipper, one Peacock Butterfly and one Brimstone Butterfly seen.
 
Dingy Skippers mating

I spotted the leaves of Marjoram next to the path; a herb I had not noted before on the bank. Mostly, there were new growths of Perforate St. John's Wort though.

Butterfly Report and List
Adur Skippers Page

7 May 2006
 
Pyrausta nigrata on Horseshoe Vetch Pancalia micro-moth on a Daisy

The sun was out but it was mild (under 20º C) in the afternoon. The number of small moths were notable with both Pyrausta nigrata and Pancalia being common (over 100 each). Five each of Dingy Skippers and Grizzled Skippers were recorded with a Peacock Butterfly and a Large White Butterfly.
Butterfly Report
 

4 May 2006
On the second warmest day of the year as the temperature attained 21.6 ºC at 1:13 pm, I was greeted by a fast flying butterflyI could not identify before I descended the steps down to the lower slopes. Horseshoe Vetch was still not in profusion, the hundreds of flowers exceeded in numbers by Dog Violets.
 
Grizzled Skippers were mating in a small depression on the lower slopes of Mill Hill

The first butterfly identified was a Brimstone and there were about five of these big yellow butterflies. A pair of courting Dingy Skippers came next and at least four were seen. They made at least two visits to the scattered Horseshoe Vetch in the minute the first pair  were in view. Grizzled Skippers visited a Dog Violet followed by a Milkwort. Two were later filmed mating in the shelter of one of the small depression caused by rabbits or uprooted shrubs. Altogether at least eight were positively seen, including another pair with the male chasing the female through the herbs. One Green-veined White Butterfly flew over and settled long enough for identification. Lastly, at least one and probably four Peacock Butterflies were spotted, but only one settled on the bare earth path.
Butterfly List

1 May 2006
May came in with a shower. On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the first Milkwort was seen in flower and the exiguous beginnings of the Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, with visiting pollen beetles which were also present on nearby Hawkbits (or Dandelions?). Dog Violets were still abundant and at the northern end dimunitive Ground Ivy was noted.
 
Note the small Pollen beetles on the Horseshoe Vetch

Rhingia hoverflyA single first Grizzled Skipper was recorded, the first of the year, with frequent (10+) small moths Pyrausta nigrata, seen for the first time this year, visiting Hawkbits. A probable Dingy Skipper was spotted briefly. Pancalia micro-moths were seen and were probably frequent to common, but because these are very small and hidden, their numbers could not even be guessed at. Hoverflies occured including Rhingia campestris and about a dozen were noted, and others included Syrphus. Small bees visited the Hawkbits (or Dandelions?) and there were scores of these and I think the species is Lasioglossum calceatum. A Bee-fly settled briefly on the blue anorak I was wearing. From its brown colour I am assuming this was the species Bombylius majorThe dangly St. Marks Fly, Bibio, was only around one of the long grass and ruderal plant patches.

26 April 2006
With the sun out so were the butterflies but only a large handful on Mill Hill. The lower slopes immediately showed a Small White followed by two Brimstone Butterflies, one Comma and another pair of Peacock Butterflies. At the northern end I spotted my first Dingy Skipper of the year that briefly sparred with a Peacock and the size difference was most noticeable. The Dingy Skipper is the first of I have heard of anywhere this year. A few Sweet Violets were discovered amongst the thousands of Dog Violets. A Pancalia micro-moth was noted.
Adur Butterfly List 2006
Adur Butterfly First Flight Times

24 April 2006
It was hazy and misty in the late afternoon. Thousands of Dog Violets had now replaced the Sweet Violets, where the first of the micro-moths Pancalia were seen amongst the exiguous leaves of the violets on the bank. These Dog Violets were every bit as bright as the Sweet Violets, but the distinctive white spur is easily seen. Blackthorn (=Sloethorn) was flowering in the central area of the scrub/hedgerow seperating the bank from the hay meadow below and to the west.
 
Dog Violet Spot the micro-moth amongst the ground herbs Small unidentified mushroom Small unidentified mushroom

The small brown mushrooms with a white stem had appeared again. I have still not identified this species which is of irregular occurence after rain.
The best suggestion was the species Stropharia coronilla.

Suggested ID by Jean J Wuilebaut on Fungi of the British Isles (Yahoo Group)
Adur Fungi 2006
 
Andrena fulva (Photograph by Ray Hamblett) 19 April 2006
This attractive bee seen on the lower slopes (southern end) of Mill Hill was the first time the Tawny Mining Bee, Andrena fulva, has been recorded on these Nature Notes pages. It is a female. The species is common and widespread. 

Report and Photograph by Ray Hamblett (Lancing Nature)
on the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society (Yahoo Group)


ID by Nicolas J. Vereecken on the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society (Yahoo Group) 

18 April 2006
Amongst the plants noted first in flower today were Dog Violets and Cowslips on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. An orange, faded slightly to beige, Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly flew strongly. One of the remaining Sweet Violets attracted a Peacock Butterfly.
 
9 April 2006
There were no butterflies to be seen at all on a quick passage walk of 15 minutes. The only thing of note was one of small Lasioglossum bees on a solitary Dandelion.

6 April 2006
At last the first butterflies on the lower slopes of Mill Hill an orange butterfly that rose from the path and flew off so quickly, I was not able to confirm which species it was. I saw it twice more and I thought it was a Small Tortoiseshell (now recognised as the first of the year). It would not settle and could not be confirmed as the first (it could have been a Comma?). Then my eyes were drawn to the fluttering on another butterfly which was an unmistakeable Peacock Butterfly nectaring on the thousands of Sweet Violets. At least two were seen and possibly more. Then a Comma Butterfly was spotted also choosing the Sweet Violets.

28 March 2006
No butterflies seen on Mill Hill. About one in a thousand of the Sweet Violets were white in colour. About 20 of the white ones were actually seen on the lower slopes in the Force 5 breeze gusting to Gale Force 7. I thought I saw and heard a ChiffChaff in a Hawthorn just up from the winding path.

22 March 2006
Hundreds of Sweet Violets were in flower over the lower slopes of Mill Hill. These had their usual exiguous leaves and some were pale violet and a handful had white flowers.
Adur Violets

10 February 2006
Nothing to report in the way of wildlife. The short grass (it seems to have grown in the winter months?) seems to be obscuring most of the Horseshoe Vetch leaves at present. There were some straw-like tufts of the dead stems of grasses visible as well. There seems to be more Dogwood (incursive undesirable scrub) than seen previously. The temporary metal barrier has been reinstated and the cattle cannot get on to Mill Hill by the stile (in the north-west). The cattle are now on the meadow to the north-west of Mill Hill grazing the rough grass after harvest. Sheep are on the flood plain pasture to the west. All these lands are the private agricultural fields of Old Erringham.

1 February 2006
The cattle have been removed from the "lambing field" or intermittent pasture to the south-east of Old Erringham Farm and will not now venture on to Mill Hill. This is probably because the grass on the land has now been grazed to its optimum and is best left for the spring growth. This pasture is of no butterfly value although the fringes may contain the occasional wild flower. Bulbous Buttercups are common in spring.
January Cattle Report

30 January 2006
There are cattle all over Mill Hill from Old Erringham Farm enriching the low nutrient hillsides with their dung and threatening the flora (Horseshoe Vetch) and the internationally important population of Chalkhill Blue Butterflies. It looks like the fence was broken down deliberately, probably at the instigation of the South Downs Conservation Board on public land given to the people of Shoreham. There is also the danger or erosion, breaking up the steps under the hooves of the cattle and reduction of the amenity value of the downs. They were timid cattle and they were shooed of the vulnerable lower slopes by the public.

Carline Thistle13 January 2006
My first visit of the year to the southern area and lower slopes of Mill Hill failed to find anything remotely newsworthy. The lower slopes looked more grassy than normal after the rain and there was still discarded chopped down Privet laying about. Three or four Rabbits were seen out in the open using the discarded Privet as shelter. The remains of Carline Thistle were showing.



Lower Slopes (Shoreham Bank) 2005

Mill Hill 2006

Link to the Adur Nature Notes 2006 web pages
 

Technical Flora Images Mill Hill Lower Slopes