Horseshoe VetchLower Slopes of Mill Hill 2007The Shoreham Bank
The lower slopes of Mill Hill contains about 6.4 acres of open herbland (original chalkhill, pre-grazing ecology*), 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.  (* Chalkhill herbs develop before grass on chalk.)
Shoreham Bank with Horseshoe Vetch (not yet as extensive as 2005) Chalkhill Blue Butterfly

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)

Local Nature Reserve Designation

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, Rough Hawkbits, Autumnal Hawkbit, Creeping Cinquefoil, Bird's Foot Trefoil, Ground Ivy, Germander Speedwell, Field Speedwell, Scarlet Pimpernel, Sweet Violet, Self-heal and Yellow Wort as well as many others.
Wild Flora and Fauna on Chalk  flickr




Lower Slopes (Shoreham Bank) 2008

14 December 2007
A Yellowhammer landed on a Privet perch and then flew up the slopes to a Hawthorn. There was at least a handful of attempts by Rabbits to start burrows on the lower slopes, especially at the northern end. At the moment their attempts are not much more than a depression in the shallow soil.

3 December 2007
After the gales and the rain of the preceding day, a passage walk over the lower slopes revealed nothing of interest, although the Carline Thistle were still showing their heads and all of them seen had silvery leaves. Violet leaves were noted. The Horseshoe Vetch leaves were visible as well.

19 November 2007
At least one Carline Thistles had green leaves, but in most of them on the lower slopes the leaves were silvery. A Small Scabious was in flower on the Old Erringham pasture.

15 November 2007
A Kestrel took flight from the lower slopes and there were five Partridges that trotted over the Old Erringham pasture.

6 November 2007
A Meadow Brown Butterfly fluttering around the green herbs over the northern part of the lower slopes of Mill Hill was the first ever of this species recorded locally in the month of November. This is the sixth species of butterfly recorded in this month. I think it was a male, but I did not get a closer look because I was buzzed by the first wasp.
About a minute later the faster wing beats of a Silver Y Moth were spotted. One Common Darter (dragonfly) was noted. A male Kestrel glided from one Hawthorn bush to another. Violet leaves were noted as very common all over the slopes.
Adur Butterfly Flight Times

4 November 2007
A few Marmalade Flies Episyrphus balteatus, visited Great Mullein flowers on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. One of the Carline Thistles had green leaves, but in most of them the leaves were silvery.

Adur Hoverflies
1 November 2007
Autumnal Hawkbit, Leontodon autumnalis, on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. The leaf shape denotes a Hawkbit and the species is assumed from the time of the year. Carline Thistle was still in flower, although it it is not easy to be sure with this plant. 

Violet leaves were noted as very common amongst the leaves of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa

There were no butterflies on Mill Hill in the weak sunshine. I did not notice any dragonflies either. 

Partridges at Old Erringham29 October 2007
Scarcely anything moved part from five Partridges that took flight from the Old Erringham pasture a few birds in the bushes and soaring gulls, and there was precious little colour apart of the red berries of Dog Rose and a few Common Darters (dragonfly) rising. A flock of Sheep grazed on the meadow below (west of) Mill Hill. A quick trip to Mill Hill and a return via the Pixie Path failed to yield a single butterfly.

20 October 2007
A few Common Darters (dragonfly) were spotted leaving a perch on the lower slopes, but not a single butterfly.

18 October 2007
On Mill Hill I saw just the two butterflies on a pleasant afternoon; a Peacock Butterfly on Autumnal Hawkbit by the steps leading down to the lower slopes and a male Common Blue visiting Autumnal Hawkbit at the northern end of the lower slopes. Common Darters (dragonfly) were frequently seen.

12 October 2007
The lower slopes of Mill Hill produced another one of the small orange or brown butterfly or moths, three Meadow Browns of both sexes, and a few Common Darters (dragonfly).

11 October 2007
The lower slopes of Mill Hill hosted a handful of Meadow Browns of both sexes. There was a surprise bright yellow Brimstone Butterfly on the edge* of the lower slopes by the path. (*By the scrub in the north-west but fluttering over the lower slopes where it was seen from.)  Flowers included a Yellow Wort.
Full Butterfly List

7 October 2007
As a fret rolled across the Adur valley, a slightly misty lower slopes of Mill Hill showed a few Large White Butterflies, one male Meadow Brown and an Adonis Blue. There was another one of the small orange or brown butterfly or moths that flew up and away from amongst the Hawthorn and Dog Rose on the western side of the steps leading down to the the lower slopes of Mill Hill. A few Common Darters (dragonfly) left the ground as I walked by.

3 October 2007
A covey of five Partridges whirred from the lower slopes of Mill Hill. There was one fresh Meadow Brown Butterfly seen and Speckled Wood Butterfly by the steps down to the lower slopes from the south. A Yellowhammer flew across the Old Erringham pasture with its characteristic dipping flight. Flowers noted included Wild Basil, Common Centaury, Autumnal Hawkbit, Stemless Thistle, diminutive Hardheads, Devil's Bit Scabious and one Dog Violet.

30 September 2007
Meadow Brown male on Greater Knapweed on the lower slopes of Mill HillThree more of the small orange or brown butterfly or moths, and they looked much like moths, flew up and too quickly away from amongst the Brambles on the western side of the steps leading down to the the lower slopes of Mill Hill. The lower slopes still had at least six Meadow Brown Butterflies and one Peacock Butterfly. There may have been at least as many more Meadow Browns on the Devil's Bit Scabious but after being actively buzzed around my head by a Common Wasp, I made a run for it. A few Common Darters (dragonfly) darted around.
Full Butterfly List

25 September 2007
On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, there were just one male Adonis Blue Butterfly, 17 Meadow Brown Butterflies, one Large White, two tatty female Common Blues and a Treble-bar Moth. The first Common Wasp made an ominous advance so I retreated.
Full Butterfly List

21 September 2007
The lower slopes were breezy with frequent (12+) Meadow Browns, two Large Whites, one Wall Browns, one Small Heath and one female Common Blue. The latter crawled over some Horseshoe Vetch leaves which made me think it should have been a female Adonis Blue until I had a closer look. There were occasional Common Darters (dragonfly). Plants in flower noticed were Hardheads, Stemless Thistle, Carline Thistle, Devil's Bit Scabious and Autumnal Hawkbit.
One dying and a few dead Rabbits were seen on Mill Hill, and this trend has occurred on the last few visits. The expected cause of death was the rabbit virus Myxomatosis.
Butterfly Report

16 September 2007
At the northern end of the lower slopes of Mill Hill, near the Devil's Bit Scabious, I was attacked by a swarm of twenty or so Common Wasps and despite making a run for it, I was stung at least six times mainly on my scalp and the stings could be felt four hours afterwards. It felt like a very strong nettle sting with a mild location specific headache after six hours had elapsed. Pin-prick sting marks were discovered later.
There were just three male Adonis Blue Butterflies and 30 Meadow Brown Butterflies noted, but I made my exit from the downs earlier than I normally would under an overcast sky. At least half of the Meadow Browns visited the Devil's Bit Scabious.
Adur Wasps & Bees
Butterfly Report

12 September 2007
Not in the mood for counting butterflies, but there were 13 Adonis Blues (including 3 females) on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, with seven Common Blues, five Small Heath Butterflies, an estimated 50+ Meadow Browns, occasional Large Whites and one  Speckled Wood in the Hawthorn. About 25 of the Meadow Browns were on and around the Devil's Bit Scabious at the northern end of the lower slopes.
Full Butterfly List

9 September 2007
A Kestrel hid in the bush that straddles the path just after the steps down to the lower slopes. I was able to get within 12 metres of it before it flew off. The hawk was looking in the opposite direction to my approach.
The first Adonis Blues were seen on the steps down to the lower slopes with a total of 35 (32 males 3 females) with two of the males seen on the upper plateau, 2 female Common Blues, 5 Small Heath Butterflies, 5 Chalkhill Blues, frequent Meadow Browns, occasional Large Whites, including some very large butterflies, and occasional Small Whites. The nectar plants for the butterflies in order of preference were Stemless Thistle, Devil's Bit Scabious (especially for Meadow Browns) and Autumnal Hawkbit (for Small Heaths).
Full Butterfly Report

7 September 2007
Adonis Blue amongst the vegetationImmediately I descended down the steps to the lower slopes, a Common Lizard, Zootoca vivipara, skittered from the white chalk path to under the Brambles. This was rare sight on the bank, although they were known to occur there.
The count of Adonis Blues was 19 (14 males and 5 females), 11 Common Blues (1 female), frequent Meadow Browns, just three Small Heath Butterflies, and one or two Chalkhill Blues (the male may have tried to mate with a female Chalkhill or perhaps an Adonis by mistake?) and one Clouded Yellow Butterfly. The small pyralid moth Pyrausta nigrata was occasionally seen, as well as a few Treble-bar Moths. One of the female Adonis Blues crawled over the Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, looking for a place to lay its eggs.
Adur Lizards
Full Butterfly Report

4 September 2007
On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, male Adonis Blues were immediately seen amongst the dewy grass by the steps and later all over the Horseshoe Vetch. The count was 36 (33 males and 3 females) in the acre transect area. A third of them had tatty wing edges. The same area produced 30 Meadow Browns with a further 21 were seen on other parts of Mill Hill giving a total of 51. Eight Small Heath Butterflies were seen on the lower slopes with a further two on the upper part of Mill Hill. And one Large White Butterfly settled on Hawthorn on the lower slopes.
Chalkhill Blue on the pasture at Old Erringham Adonis Blue on the Shoreham Bank (south) Meadow Brown on Devil's Bit Scabious

Just a single male Chalkhill Blue Butterfly fluttered around Old Erringham pasture near the gate to the Mill Hill Nature Reserve.
Full Butterfly Report

27 August 2007
The count of Adonis Blues in the acre transect of the lower slopes of Mill Hill was 44 (28 males, 16 females) with another one by the gate to the Old Erringham pasture. Chalkhill Blues on Mill Hill were just five, including one female, with one male Common Blues, four Small Heaths, one Clouded Yellow, frequent Meadow Browns and a few Large Whites. On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the small pyralid moth Pyrausta nigrata was again frequent enough to be overlooked.
Butterfly Report

26 August 2007
I spent an hour on the lower slopes of Mill Hill at midday in pursuit of Adonis Blues. As well as seeing my first ever Clouded Yellow, I also saw about 5 to 10 Common Blues amongst the 30 Adonis Blues (beneath the footpath).

Report by Bryan H (Middx) on UK Butterflies (Sightings)

Adonis Blues mating (second brood)25 August 2007
The lower slopes of Mill Hill were bathed in weak sunshine, which resulted in a few more butterflies in flight including frequent Meadow Browns, four Chalkhill Blues (including one female), 48 second brood Adonis Blues (including five females, four in mating pairs), 7 Small Heath Butterflies, a few distinctive Large Whites and frequent small pyralid moths Pyrausta nigrata.
Butterfly Report

24 August 2007
The highlight on an inclement day was an dark olive-green Grass Snake slithering down the lower slopes of Mill Hill.
Still overcast, but better than the last 12 days of inclement weather: butterflies were frequent but much less than in previous years. The blue butterflies were not generally in flight, but on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, I disturbed two Chalkhill Blues (one male and one female) and 14 Adonis Blues (13 males and one pristine female) as well as 22 Meadow Browns, a Large White Butterfly and at least four Small Heath Butterflies. One ragged male Adonis Blue was joined by another on a Carline Thistle. On the lower slopes, very faded versions of the small pyralid moth Pyrausta nigrata were frequently seen with over twenty recorded before I stopped counting. Round-headed Rampion was seen in flower on the lower slopes. As I left by the ridge route, I disturbed a Yellowhammer, which flew over the lower slopes with its characteristic dipping flight to the scrub/hedgerow at the bottom of the slopes.
Butterfly Report

12 August 2007
By the time I reached Mill Hill it was breezy and cool approaching midday. Frequent butterflies of both Chalkhill Blues and Meadow Browns were searching for females on the lower slopes and these were well hidden and the only ones seen were disturbed. The male Chalkhill Blues did not seem to having much success finding them either. A few Chalkhill Blues visited Carline Thistle flowers.
Lower Slopes
Scrub + Ridge
Total (all sites)
Chalkhill Blue
43 (M 34 F 9)
Adonis Blue
Small Heath
Meadow Brown
Common Blue
Pyrausta purpuralis moth

After about 25 minutes it began to rain.
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Pyralids

9 August 2007
Carline ThistleThere was one male Chalkhill Blue Butterfly on the Mill Hill Cutting south, a mere 17 males on a rushed visit to the lower slopes of Mill Hill, and a further seven males as I returned by the most direct route by the ridge. Four Adonis Blues and a female Common Blue were seen on the lower slopes where the one pair of the frequent 12+ Meadow Browns were seen mating. The larger female Meadow Browns were most noticeable resting, and seeming to be ready for the males which did not seem to be present in their usual numbers. Carline Thistle was beginning to flower.
Full Butterfly Report

5 August 2007
On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the Chalkhill Blue Butterfly count was the highest this year (but still about half the numbers in an average year) where 92 males and 4 brown females were noted in the acre transect area. This figure only represents an estimated 275 Chalkhill Blue Butterflies on the hill, which is a very poor total. The frequent (over a dozen) visits of the male Chalkhill Blues to pale brown (probably beech) leaves was noticeable and may demonstrate the use of colour cues in the initial search for a brown female. The visit was fleeting, the landing male immediately realising its mistake. 11 male Adonis Blues were seen clearly and one female Common Blue, with about 6 Meadow Browns and one Large White Butterfly.
Full Butterfly Report

3 August 2007
The lower slopes of Mill Hill were again disappointing. The tally of Chalkhill Blues in the transect acre was 49 (43 males and 6 females), but it looked like fresh males had appeared. There were three definite male Adonis Blues and occasional Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers. A Hairy Violet was seen in flower.
Full Butterfly Report

1 August 2007
Chalkhill Blues at the beginning of the month were recorded on the lower slopes of Mill Hill at the lowest number this century with just 61 (59 males and 2 females) in the transect acre counted. There was the large Adonis Blue seen again and again it flew off rapidly. There were occasional Gatekeepers and a few Meadow Browns. The green leaves of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa were the dominant flora on the lower slopes.
Full Butterfly Report

30 July 2007
It was still some way from peak emergence for the Chalkhill Blues with 73 (72 males, 1 female) seen on the 1.2 acre transect route on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. There was the large Adonis Blue seen again as it flew off rapidly. This was only positively identified later as the first Adonis Blue seen in July. Gatekeepers were present everywhere and I would estimate about twenty seen on the lower slopes. Meadow Browns were frequent as well, about half the number seen of the Gatekeepers. Large Whites and Small Whites were occasionally seen. One large creamy white-green butterfly on the lower slopes of Mill Hill turned out to be a Brimstone Butterfly.
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Butterfly Flight Times

29 July 2007
The Chalkhill Blues had still not emerged in numbers on Mill Hill as only 32 were seen including the first mating pair of the year and this was the only female. It was overcast and the butterflies were not in flight and had to be disturbed which would reduce the numbers seen. Occasional Gatekeepers and Meadow Brown Butterflies and a few Large White Butterflies, Yellow Shell Moths and at least one Treble-bar Moth was recorded over the lower slopes of Mill Hill.
Chalkhill Blues mating Autumn Gentian
 A Kestrel landed at the southern end of the lower slopes. It appeared to be searching for small insect prey.

The first Autumn Gentian was spotted in flower. Noctoc Commune was seen.
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Moths

26 July 2007
The major emergence of Chalkhill Blues still has not occurred on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, as I only recorded 19 males under an partially overcast sky, with a Red Admiral on the steps at the southern end, and a few Gatekeepers andMeadow Browns. The bright blue butterfly appeared again and I got a look at its underside and it looked like a second brood Adonis Blue. This first Adonis Blue Butterfly seen in July was later confirmed by a photograph.
As the winding path enters the scrub to the north of the lower slopes a Peacock Butterfly appeared followed by a Wall Butterfly and another Gatekeeper.
A Hairy Violet was seen in flower.
Adur Butterfly Flight Times
Adur Butterfly Flight Times
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Violets

25 July 2007
On a breezy and completely overcast day, the Chalkhill Blues remained completely hidden on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, and only when I nearly stepped on them did they take to flight, so only six males were seen taking off from the abundant Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa. There were a few Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns and two Treble-bar Moths.
For some unfathomable reason, the South Downs Conservation Board rangers had bared some earth at the southern end of the lower slopes. Predictably, it had been colonised by ruderal plants including Great Mullein and Ragwort, now in flower.
In the scrub in the north-west of Mill Hill there were a few more Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns and a Red Admiral. A Wall Brown Butterfly settled on the chalk path near the gate to Old Erringham. I returned by the quickest route along the ridge.
Full Butterfly Report

24 July 2007
Wayfaring TreeOn the lower slopes of Mill Hill the count of Chalkhill Blues in the one acre transect was 32, (31 males and one female). In addition there was a very bright blue butterfly. This first Adonis Blue Butterfly seen in July was later confirmed by a photograph. Gatekeepers were frequent, Meadow Browns occasional, two Peacock Butterflies and a Large White. (This number of Chalkhill Blues would be equivalent to a total of some 100 Chalkhill Blues of the whole of the Shoreham Bank recorded by Bryan H on 21 July 2007.) Just north of the path that winds its way through the lower slopes, there were large patches of Eyebrightwhich seemed to be new this year. The Wayfaring Tree was showing its red berries by the path. The first signs of Carline Thistle appeared. At the northern end of the lower slopes, there were large patches of Wild Basil and Perforate St. John's Wort intermingled.
Full Butterfly Report

21 July 2007
When the sun came out there were an estimated 100 Chalkhill Blues (including two females); 80 Gatekeepers; 10 Meadow Browns; 3 Wall (well-spaced sightings); 2 Peacock; one Comma; one Red Admiral and one Small White, all on lower slopes of Mill Hill.

Report by Bryan H (Middx) on UK Butterflies (Sightings)
Full Butterfly Report

19 July 2007
As the sun came out so did the butterflies with 35 Chalkhill Blues on Mill Hill, all but one on the lower slopes, and the first brown  female of 2007. There were few other butterflies a handful of Marbled Whites and occasional Gatekeepers, plus a few Meadow Browns as I looked for Small Heaths, but I did not see any. At least one Large White fluttered around.
Amongst the abundant leaves of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, there were plentiful flowers of Fairy Flax and Squinancywort. Stemless Thistle was now showing. In the Old Erringham pasture Round-headed Rampion was most noticeable near the gate.
Male Chalkhill Blue Female Chalkhill Blue

Two birdwatchers suggested the from the bushes on the western side were probably made by a Lesser Whitethroat, but the they sounded more like Magpies to me.
Full Butterfly List

15 July 2007
Strangely, Marbled White Butterflies with about eight seen showed before the first of the Chalkhill Blues under-recorded at sixteen. In the sunshine, at a distance I actually got them mixed up at first, so the number are best approximations. The only other butterflies on the lower slopes were the occasional Gatekeepers, and a few Small Skippers, a Large White and flying in the scrub to the north, a Brimstone Butterfly.
Full Butterfly Report

8 July 2007
The first Chalkhill Blue Butterfly of the year was seen on the lower slopes of Mill Hill on a cloudy day. Other butterflies on the lower slopes were a few Marbled Whites and a few Gatekeepers. Eyebright was noted in profusion, some in the shade of the Privet.
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

4 July 2007
Self-healOn another breezy (Force 6) overcast day when butterflies were generally not flying,  Mill Hill was disappointing with only two more Gatekeeper Butterflies over the lower slopes. Self-heal, Squinancywort, Mouse-eared Hawkweed, Wild Thyme, Yellow Wort, Common Centaury, Perforate St. John's Wort, Wild Basil, Fairy Flax, and Cleavers (Goosefoot) were the most noticeable herbs in flower being blown about in the breeze. The first Stemless Thistle was noted in flower.

20 June 2007
The lower slopes of Mill Hill recorded a few Small Heath Butterflies and two male Common Blues in addition to ten of the Marbled Whites. The herb covering was good and the amount of Horseshoe Vetch leaves was very noticeable and the dominant flora (ahead of grass) in the prime one acre area walked. I only discovered one Horseshoe Vetch flower. Flowering herbs included hundreds of clumps of Wild Thyme, Bird's Foot Trefoil, Milkworts, Fairy Flax and Dog Violets. The Thyme was very common. Other herbs in flower were the first Self-heal, Squinancywort, Common Centaury, Common Mouse-ear and Dropwort. Two Robin's Pin Cushions (a gall) were noted in passing.
Full Butterfly Report

17 June 2007
The lower slopes of Mill Hill were not particularly productive for butterflies although 9 Marbled Whites was above average for this short sward area with 8 Small Heath Butterflies, at least one confirmed intact male Adonis Blue and a male and female Common Blue and two Pyrausta purpuralis moths around the edge of the largest Tor Grass patch. This was the first positive record for this small pyralid moth. My passage was swift on an overcast day and I would have missed many butterflies. In the small area of scrub between the lower slopes and the gate to Old Erringham, I added one Meadow Brown, one Red Admiral and another Marbled White that seemed to have just emerged from the long grass on Nature Reserve side of the gate to Old Erringham with 3 Silver Y Moths seen in this small area.
Adur Butterfly & Moth List

A couple of birdwatchers had identified Lesser Whitethroats in the mixed scrub (not the Hawthorn) at the northern end of the lower slopes bordering the hay meadow. I thought I heard a strange rattle and squeak sound at the southern end which could have been this bird. (On sight I do not differentiate the two Whitethroats species which are seen occasionally on the outskirts of Shoreham and will occur much more frequently than they are seen as they tend to hide in bushes.) The Sussex Ornithological Society records the bird as a common (over a 1000 breeding pairs in Sussex) Passage Migrant and Summer Visitor. The Common Whitethroat is commoner of the two British breeding species.

Wild plants recorded included clumps of Self-heal which is one of the few small herbs that will establish in bare earth on the bank and still hundreds of Dog Violets, but Dropwort was not noticed.

10 June 2007
On the lower slopes of Mill Hill Local Nature Reserve the first brood of Adonis Blue Butterflies were almost finished and some of the males had tatty upper wing rims and with an influx of Common Blue Butterflies the identification could be tricky. In the one acre transect there were about seven of each species (4 males and 3 females each).
Female blue just seen closed and probably an Adonis ? Common Blue female

My first Marbled White Butterfly of the year fluttered across the lower slopes. There were about ten Small Heath Butterflies to be seen. Dog Violets were still common with hundreds of clumps and so was the small flower called the Fairy Flax.
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

5 June 2007
My afternoon's tally of butterflies in the early June lull period consisted of the usual fare on the lower slopes of Mill Hill with 28 Adonis Blues (18 males, 10 females), and 14 Small Heath Butterflies. A few of the larger moths seen included my first Mother Shipton Moth of the year, a Burnet Companion Moth and a Yellow Shell Moth. The first two were pretty.
The Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, had nearly finished flowering and the bank looked greener than normal.
Privet Incursions on the Shoreham Bank Dog Violets

Surprisingly, a fresh crop of hundreds of Dog Violets had appeared. There were the first signs of Dropwort, the first Thyme noted,  and at least one Pyramidal Orchid. A Robin's Pin Cushion (a gall) was seen.

On the minus side, the flowering Privet was threatening to take over. These incursions need to be dealt with urgently (later this year, before the berries) by professionals.

2 June 2007
Mill Hill Nature Reserve produced 25+ male Adonis Blues, 14 Small Heath, 3 male Common Blue, 1 Red Admiral, 1 Peacock. Peacock Butterfly larvae were seen on Stinging Nettles. The female blues about equal to males (I am not sure what this means in the context of the report?). One Speckled Yellow Moth was noted.

Report by Caroline, Miles & Ed Clarke and Stan Hayward-Williams on  Sussex Butterflies

25 May 2007
Just over fifty Adonis Blue Butterflies fluttered around in the late afternoon sunshine on Mill Hill. That was 37 males and 16 females in an acre on the lower slopes. There were seven Small Heath Butterflies and a Grizzled Skipper. There was also another Hairy Violet in flower.
This straggling plant was spotted at the northern end of the lower slopes. However, it was growing from where some Privet had been removed and where the conservation workers had been.
This is the White Bryony, Bryonia cretica.  Or is it Bryonia dioica
This plant is poisonous, especially the berries.

22 May 2007
The Adonis Blues were flying around in the sunshine as expected with 37 males and 4 females seen (23 males and 2 females in the one acre transect). A flirting pair of Brimstone Butterflies were seen over the bottom scrub, two Small Heath Butterflies, just one Dingy Skipper, one Grizzled Skipper, one female Common Blue (which was more of a greyish colour) a few Burnet Companion Moths and a few bees that went unrecognised, one a dark red colour. A large dragonfly patrolled the bottom scrub. I could not see what species, but it was not a Broad-bodied Chaser and it was probably a Hairy Dragonfly, Brachytron pratense, and its appearance fitted.
Full Butterfly Report

Flora Notes:
The Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, was fading: the peak must have occurred during the gales at the beginning of May. Silverweed (although the leaves were dark green) was noticed next to the path.
A few Hawkbits* were in flower and these had dandelion-type leaves (but not the bracts of dandelions) and I will have to discover what species these are?
(* Possibilities:  Rough Hawkbit Leontodon hispidus, or Lesser Hawkbit, Leontodon saxatilis).


A few clumps of bright blue-violet Hairy Violets, Viola hirta,were recognised in flower on the steep (45°) slopes near the rabbit warrens at the top of the steep part of the lower slopes (NW of the Reservoir) of Mill Hill on land of about an acre that is exiguous in Horseshoe Vetch, disturbed and deeper soil and many more Violet leaves, all small, but the largest nearer the entrance to the burrows. On the main part of the lower slopes I spotted my first Hairy Violet and later I spotted just the one Dog Violet in flower, identified by its pointed sepals, but it had a white and lilac spur. It was also possible it had hairy leaves, but it was possible that the hairy leaf belonged to another plant? This oddity is illustrated in the photograph on the right.
Adur Violet Report

20 May 2007
A mild day and the breeze had died down so the downs were amicable for butterflies, if far from ideal. Adonis Blue Butterflies were mating on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. The count in one acre was 31 males and 13  females. I recorded by first Common Blue Butterfly if the year which was a faded and slightly battered female visiting Horseshoe Vetch. There was a Yellow Shell Moth on the lower slopes of Mill Hill where just the one Dingy Skipper was noted, another Burnet Companion Moth and a large white butterfly which was probably a late female Brimstone Butterfly (although it could have been a Large White Butterfly).
Tor Grass and Horseshoe Vetch Adonis Blues

The Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, seemed to be past its peak already and at the northern end of the lower slopes the coverage was appreciably less than the previous years this century. A few ragged Dog Violets were seen in flower, noticed instantly by their white spurs. Wild Thyme was noted on the Old Erringham pasture. I did not note it on Mill Hill, but I was not looking for it and I made a rather hurried walk not stopping to look at the flowers closely. Wild Thyme is one of the herbs that survives grazing and may even flourish in low intensity pasture.
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Butterfly Report

16 May 2007
Female Adonis BlueAfter nine days of gales and showers, the sun made a feeble show. The flowers of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, were the poorest showing this century, but this is not necessarily bad because the amount of green leaves was more (except at the northern end where the conservation workers had been working). The lower slopes of Mill Hillhad a 60% coverage of Horseshoe Vetch in the best acre of herbland. Both male and female Adonis Blues were amongst the Horseshoe Vetch and they made short flights when disturbed. The acre count was 39 with about 36% (14) females which is a high proportion, especially as they were not seen mating. The females were pristine and had probably just emerged. Just three Dingy Skippers were noted and a Burnet Companion Moth. There were three probable female Brimstone Butterflies and a Red Admiral seen in twenty minutes.  There were frequent Honey Bees and small bumblebees probably workers of the Common Carder Bee Bombus pascuorum, (but they could have been a close species) and at least one QueenRed-tailed Bumblebee, Bombus lapidarius. A tiny green grasshopper was seen. The male Kestrel flew amongst the scrub at the bottom.
Adur Butterfly List
 Shoreham Bank
The Horseshoe Vetch seems less in 
flower than at the end of May 2006
Aquilegia vulgaris
Columbine, Aquilegia vulgaris

There was also a Columbine, Aquilegia vulgaris in flower on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. It emerged from a patch of Horseshoe Vetch. This is probably not a natural occurence, but an escaped garden seed had taken root.

13 May 2007
Some warm late afternoon sunshine (on a generally overcast day) prompted us to take the dog for a walk on Mill Hill at Shoreham. Several Adonis Blues were showing well along the bottom path but the only other butterflies encountered were a single Dingy Skipper and a female Brimstone.

Report by Paul & Bridget James on Sussex Butterflies

6 May 2007
Small Heath ButterflyA mixed flock of about seven Crows and Jackdawsseemed to be feeding near the Tor Grass and mixed vegetation patches. On an overcast day with a south-westerly blowing about 23 mph (Force 5) in the late morning with the air temperature measured at 14.8 ºC at 11:34 am, I was not surprised that the only butterflies I actually disturbed in twenty minutes were two Small Heaths and one Treble-bar Moth. The Small Heaths were seen to shelter amongst the scrub including the Privet. In their short hurried flights buffeted by the breeze, they went straight for the nearest shelter.
Adur Butterfly List 2007

2 May 2007
Buffeted by a Strong Breeze (>Force 6) in the sunshine, it seemed that despite the warm weather (20.6 ºC at 1:00 pm) the butterflies were lying low and there were only occasional Burnet Companion Moths, Dingy Skippers, Grizzled Skippers and the pyralid moth Pyrausta nigrata with just about ten of each seen on the lower slopes of Mill Hill in thirty minutes. The Adonis Blues were now starting with seven seen, one Holly Blue, a few Peacock Butterflies were still in flight, at least one Red Admiral, one male Brimstone Butterfly, one Large White and I disturbed a resting Clouded Yellow.
More Horseshoe Vetch,Hippocrepis comosa, was seen in flower. Dog Violets were mainly finished but a few were seen. Bulbous Buttercups covered the Old Erringham pasture.
Butterfly Report

It is unclear what is happening with the Privet removal on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. Although cut back it is returning much more vigorously than before. This is a very serious incursion which unless dealt with properly will destroy the land it covers of Horseshoe Vetch and eliminate the butterflies. If left completely unchecked the butterflies will be destroyed in more like 5 years than the 15 years I originally anticipated.
My suggestion is that it is not being spot treated with glysophate after being cut down in an attempt to kill the shrub, and all the pruning and cutting down is doing is encouraging its growth? Treating the stumps attempts to kill the bush without uprooting and causing damage to the ground flora. Spraying the leaves with herbicide is contra-indicated because the spray kills the Horseshoe Vetch the removal of the Privet is trying to protect. (Warning: the SDCB have plans to spray the land with herbicide and this may already have been done in parts.)
Livestock cannot be used to remove Privet because all parts of the plant are poisonous.

Management Plan Links:

CABE Space guide on writing Management Plans
National Nature Reserve Management Plan Guide

Local Nature Reserve Designation
Local Nature Reserves Guidance by English Nature (now Natural England) (*.PDF file)

Comparative Plant Ecology (book)

29 April 2007
At Mill Hill 20+ Dingy Skippers, 6 Grizzled Skippers, 5 Adonis Blues, 2 Clouded Yellows, Peacock, Holly Blue and Small Heath. Seven species.

Report by Ian Barnard on Sussex Butterflies

My tally for the lower slopes of Mill Hill only was 32+ Dingy Skippers (over two acres instead of the usual one), 8+ Grizzled Skippers (difficult to find at first), 14 Burnet Companion Moths (easy to mistake for the skippers), about a dozen of the small moths Pyrausta nigrata, another pyralid moth Scoparia pyralella, one Peacock Butterfly, three Brimstone Butterflies, one or two Clouded Yellows, at least one male Adonis Blue, a Large White, and a Speckled Wood in the scrub to the north. Aided my the eyes of Jim Steedman we both spotted the first local report of a Brown Argus for this year. Aided again by the eyes this time of Lawrie Keen who was first to spot an Orange Tip over the western scrub, and he has also the first to see the Small Heath Butterfly in the Old Erringham pasture near the gate.
The wild plant Salad Burnet was recorded next to the path down to the lower slopes. My first juvenile grasshopper was also spotted amongst the herbs. It was the Meadow Grasshopper, Chorthippus parallelus. Two Common Lizards skittered into hiding. Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, was still at least two weeks from its peak in flower and could be said not to have started properly yet.
Eleven species of butterflies and skippers.

Butterfly Report
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Adur Butterfly Flight Times (New File)
Adur Moths
Adur Pyralids

28 April 2007
Mill Hill in slightly breezy but warm sunny weather. A minimum of 20 Dingy Skippers and 10 Grizzled Skippers. Also 2 Clouded Yellows, 2 Holly Blues, 3 Peacocks, 2 Commas , 8 Brimstones, 4 Green Veined Whites, Small White, 2 male Adonis Blues, 1 Green Hairstreak, 4 Small Heath and a Speckled Wood.
Thirteen species.

Report by Tom Ottley on Sussex Butterflies

This list includes the first definite Green Hairstreak report since a probable on 15 May 2003 and brings the Shoreham species list up to 32.

27 April 2007
Dingy SkipperFortunately, the unwanted cattle have not yet wandered down to the lower slopes of Mill Hill. It was exceptionally quiet. However, this applied to the butterflies as well and I only recorded eleven Dingy Skippers, two Brimstone Butterflies (one male and one female) and the welcome appearance of two (or three) bright Clouded Yellows. No Grizzled Skippers were noticed, but I did not look very hard and I expect they were still present. More flowers of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa had appeared and there were now over a thousand in flower, but a mere fraction of their peak. A did not make a species note of the small moths flitting about. A very small spider had caught a Lacewing in its web, but I could not note its identity and the Lacewing was able to break free.
Butterfly Report

24 April 2007
Sensationally, I disturbed the largest Grass Snake, Natrix natrix, I had ever seen basking on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. I got a good look at the coiled up reptile before it slithered off rapidly into the scrub on the western side. I would estimate its length at well over one metre long and it circumference of its body in its thickest place at 6+ cm. It appeared to be paler than normal for the two seconds I got a good look and I would describe the colour as fawn rather than green. I have downsized the original size estimate but it was still twice the size of the usual Grass Snakes seen. Its coil diameter was about 50 cm which indicates a length of 1.5 metres which seems right.
Milkwort lies prostrate amongst the leaves of Horseshoe Vetch Milkworts (with the leaves if you look closely)
Common Milkwort
Polygala vulgaris

Milkwort Comparisons (from Shoreham)

Leaves observation:
No apparent rosette. Leaves nearer the flower are longer and thinner and broader near the base. This indicates the Common Milkwort rather than the Chalk Milkwort, Polygala calcarea. The Chalk Milkwort is the opposite to this, with broader leaves near the flower. From most general ID flower books, but NOT from experience.

Burnet Companion (Photograph by Paul Lister)On to Mill Hill where the lower slopes abounded with skippers, with about 15 Grizzled Skippers and 40 Dingy Skippers seen in the acre transect area. Brimstone Butterflies were courting: there were about eight of them seen and some would have been missed. My first ever and unmistakable Adonis Blue for April and the first of the year showed early on and it was not pristine. At least one Peacock Butterfly was seen on the bank. Paul Lister, who was searching for butterflies, spotted a Clouded Yellow, but I missed it and the Small Heath of a few days before was not seen. Paul Lister also recorded a Ruby Tiger Moth, Phragmatobia fuliginosa. Treble-bar Moths, Aplocera sp. were seen and one Pyrausta nigrata, but there would probably have been a few more.
Images from Mill Hill (by Paul Lister)

The Horseshoe Vetch had increased in flower but it was still relatively sparse on the bank, although thousands of flowers could be seen in an acre.  There were several hundreds of Common Milkwort in flower. The first leaves of Yellow Wort and Perforate St. John's Wort were seen.
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Adur Butterfly Flight Times (New File)
Adur Moths

22 April 2007
A bright flash of yellow and the Clouded Yellow Butterfly that fluttered over thelower slopes of Mill Hill was the first I had seen this year and very first recorded on these Nature Notes for the month of April.

Skippers were all over the Shoreham Bank. The count did not record as many as there appeared with 7+ Grizzled Skippers and 16+ Dingy Skippers in the transect acre. Around the western border scrub white female Brimstone Butterflies were looking for Alder Buckthorn to lay their eggs and there were at least five seen together at one time, and the bright yellow males also flew steadily past and I estimate the total numbers of both sexes were about a dozen. A male Orange Tip Butterfly was also seen fluttering past. Small fawn moths flitted unidentified amongst the herbs. A pair of Burnet Companion Moths, Euclidia glyphica, were seen courting or sparring and a few Treble-bar Moths, Aplocera sp. were seen.
Young growths of Hawthorn was spotted in alarmingly large amounts amongst the leaves of Horseshoe Vetch in the central area of the lower slopes of Mill Hill. My first Red-tailed Bumblebee, Bombus lapidarius, was seen, much later than usual this year.
Butterfly Report
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Adur Butterfly Flight Times (New File)
Adur Bumblebees

15 April 2007
Nine species of butterfly were seen during the morning on Mill Hill including the first Small Heath Butterfly and my first two Dingy Skippers of the year. Over twenty Grizzled Skippers were seen and some were mating in the short herbland amongst the beginnings of Horseshoe Vetch. I only visited the lower slopes where one Holly Blue, one Brimstone Butterfly, one Peacock Butterfly, one Small White and frequent pyralid moths Pyrausta nigrata were spotted in the sunshine. The butterflies were visiting Dog Violets and many of the Grizzled Skippers were seen on this small plant. A Large White Butterfly was seen near the gate leading to Old Erringham Farm.
Butterfly Report
Dandelion species Pyrausta nigrata

Both moths (far right): Pyrausta nigrata
Adur Pyralids

Brown female Spring (Hairy-footed) Flower Bees buzzed noisily in the sunshine. I only saw one, but others were reported.

Other butterfly watchers reported other species of butterfly and bees on the slopes.

Adur Skippers
Adur Moths
Adur Bees

14 April 2007
At Mill Hill in the early afternoon on the lower slopes I saw at least ten Grizzled Skippers also two Dingy Skippers (first of the year). Plenty of Peacocks and Brimstones, also four Small Whites, one Comma and one Small Tortoiseshell.

Report by Ian Barnard on Sussex Butterflies
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

13 April 2007
The first Horseshoe Vetch and Milkwort appeared on the lower slopes of Mill Hill with a handful of each seen. The black pollen beetles were already on the Horseshoe Vetch. Frequent Dandelion species appeared as well.
Crane-fly with Horseshoe Vetch The Dandelion was growing out of a mat of herbs and grass so it looked as though it did not have any leaves. 
Dandelion Enquiries

I wanted to check out the butterfly of yesterday in case it was a Wall Brown: it was not in the same place. On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the butterflies were exiguous around midday with a Grizzled Skipper by the Privet and a bright coloured Small Tortoiseshell visited a Dandelion species. Pancalia micro-moths were seen for the first time this year on the on the lower slopes of Mill Hill with a handful spotted but there were likely to be many more unseen because of their very small size. More than one Crane-fly, Tipula species, was seen and I expect I missed a lot more.
Butterfly Report
Adur Moths
Adur Flies 2007

12 April 2007
A pair of Grizzled Skippers courted over the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the first of this butterfly I had seen this year.  I also disturbed faded Speckled Wood Butterfly* on path down to the lower slopes, one Brimstone Butterfly, about five Peacock Butterflies.
(*This butterfly was also seen in the general area where Wall Browns have been seen before but not Speckled Woods. The glimpse was fleeting as the butterfly rose from the path leading down to the lower slopes of Mill Hill, but I immediately penned this one in my mind as a Speckled Wood.)
Butterfly Report
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

Dog Violets9 April 2007
Dog Violets were now in ascendancy with thousands on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, but white Sweet Violets were still very frequent. Butterflies were one Comma, four bright yellow Brimstones and two Peacocks. Two of the small day time pyralid mothsPyrausta nigrata were seen flitting between the clumps of violets.
Adur Moths

2 April 2007
Dog Violets on the lower slopes of Mill Hill were seen in flower for the first time this year. The thousands of violets over Mill Hill were a mixture of Sweet Violets and Dog Violets. Butterflies were one Comma, four bright yellow Brimstones and a Small Tortoiseshell.

28 March 2007
Amongst the Sweet Violets on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, I chanced upon seven Peacock Butterflies, and one of them flew out of a rabbit hole.
Butterfly Report
This hawkweed* was single flowering on the edge of the path in the Hawthorn copse bit a few metres to the north of where the lower slopes turn into dense scrubland. Several stems grew out from the rosette of smooth (not hairy or serrated) leaves. *These are always difficult to identify and this one has not been confirmed..

21 March 2007
There were thousands of battered Sweet Violets on the lower slopes with white specimens which were in a better condition. They were visited by tiny black flies. One diminutive Dandelion was seen. An interesting orangey Andrena bee entered a small hole in a small earth bank. It did not come out of the hole so I could not identify what species of bee it was. A queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee buzzed around.
Adur Violets
Adur Bees & Wasps
Sweet Violet in flower with the first leaves of Horseshoe Vetch visible in the background. These evergreen leaves do not appear prominent until April or May. Some early vegetative growths hide the leaves early in the season.

Basking on Footpath 3138 (as it winds its way through Mill Hill amongst the first bit of Hawthorn scrub to the north of the lower slopes) I clearly saw my first Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly of the year. It was an orange variety which I think are local broods. It was closed at first and then opened one wing and flew off quickly. I saw and heard a pair of Long-tailed Tits amongst the Hawthorn in this area.
Adur Butterfly List 2007
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

9 March 2007
There were scores of Sweet Violets scattered thinly over the lower slopes but nothing else of note on the first available day when the path down to the lower slopes had not been too muddy to use.

2 March 2007
It had been too muddy to visit until this date. It is not a time of interest and apart from a few Sweet Violets, there was nothing in flower on the lower slopes. The leaves of the Horseshoe Vetch were not very prominent (contrasted to the end of January). The chopped down Privet had been burned on site. (I am not sure that the stumps were treated with glysophate to kill the shrub.)
24 January 2007
South-east England woke after an overnight flurry of snow and the lower slopes of Mill Hill were covered in a layer estimated about 20 mm. The steps down to the lower slopes were too slippery and hazardous to negotiate even in boots (I fell over trying!).
Ground flora: 15 January 2007
15 January 2007
The Rabbits had attempted to dig burrows but had been unsuccessful leaving small piles of brown earth. Some of this activity could have been the work of Moles. The discarded Privet still lay over the northern end of the lower slopes of Mill Hill, shading out the Horseshoe Vetch. The Horseshoe Vetch leaves could be seen clearly all over the Shoreham Bank.
Adur Moths

Lower Slopes (Shoreham Bank) 2006

Mill Hill 2007

Link to the Adur Nature Notes 2007 web pages

Technical Flora Images Mill Hill Lower Slopes