Friday, 26 October 2012

Mid-October 2012

10 October 2012
I had no intention to visit Mill Hill when I left but a brief spell of sunshine and I made a detour. Buzzard soared over the southern part of Mill Hill Nature Reserve and drifted over the New Erringham pasture to the east. A cloud obscured the warm rays of the sun when I descended to the lower slopes from the southern end. After the rain of the previous few days, I was not surprised to see both the algae Nostoc Commune and the White Dapperling mushroom on the lower slopes. On the bare patch south of the Reservoir a very large mushroom rose above the dirt. I could not see a volva which ruled out Volvariella gloiocephala. I am not sure what species it is?  There were also small clumps of Stropharia coronilla (probable ID) nearby.

 Carline Thistle
 Autumn Gentian
 Unidentified Mushroom 
(without a volva)
I noted three Meadow Brown Butterflies, a Red Admiral and a Comma. The latter was disturbed when I was collecting blackberries and I did not see it until it moved after I picked the blackberry it was on. At least one Common Darter dragonfly was seen over the lower slopes.


Saturday, 14 July 2012

Cool July Day

13 July 2012
Another unseasonably cool and overcast day. Despite being not warm enough (>16.2 °C) for butterflies, I made a brief trek to the lower slopes of Mill HillConditions were worse than expected, with a Moderate Breeze Force 5, gusting to Force 7, blowing from the south-west straight on to the exposed slopes. And rain was in the air. I did manage to disturb my first Gatekeeper of the year as well as a single Meadow Brown. A pale Treble-bar Moth was disturbed as well.
Butterfly and Moth List 2012
Adur Butterflies: First Dates



After the wettest June on record continuing into July, the lower slopes were looking lusher than usual. The foliage was greener than the normal parched appearance. The leaves of Horseshoe Vetch and Salad Burnet predominated, but the chalkhill vegetation was varied. The flowers of the following were noted as being abundant on the lower slopes: Eyebright, Squinancywort, St. John's Wort, Autumnal Hawkbit, Bird's Foot Trefoil and Wild Thyme. Diminutive Self-heal flowers were particularly common on the lower slopes this year. And there will be more as some were still budding. Wild BasilStemless Thistle, Lesser Centaury and Field Scabious were noted in flower for the first time this year on the lower slopes. The green shoots of Carline Thistle was appearing above ground as there were still some of the old grey plants around from last year. Some of the yellow rosettes belonged to one of the Hawkweeds.
On the southern part of the upper part of Mill Hill, the abundant yellow Melilot was framed by the abundant purple Greater KnapweedHogweed was noted in passing as the rain spots got heavier, the large plant swaying in the gale force gustsMeadow Vetchling was noted on the eastern verge of the country road, next to the pastures of New Erringham.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Late June 2012

27 June 2012
On a humid overcast day, large swathes of Bird's Foot Trefoil were seen on the pastures and meadows below, above and on the middle slopes and upper plateau of MIll Hill. Not surprisingly there were very few butterflies although eleven Small Heaths including courting pairs on the lower slopes with a Yellow Shell Moth disturbed amongst the abundant flowering Privet, and four pyralid moths with Pyrausta nigrata and Pyrausta despicata identified.

Eyebright & Bird's Foot Trefoil                                Squinancywort     

Flowers noted for the first time this year on the lower slopes included Squinancywort and the upper slopes Musk Thistle, and in the middle area White Campion, and one the edge of the road Meadow Vetchling. Rain curtailed my visit and my trek over the middle and top part of Mill Hill was abridged.
More Flowers

Mid-June 2012

18 June 2012
CampionI made a quick sojourn to the upper part of Mill Hill north of reservoir with a brief detour to the middle slopes. In conditions too cool and breezy to be inimical for butterflies I noted three Small Tortoiseshells and a Silver Y Moth over the meadows fringing the copse at the top and a Speckled Wood under the shade of the trees. Plants coming into flower included Pyramidal Orchid, Greater Knapweed and Agrimony. The Trianglesection of the middle slopes (northern end) was swathed in the yellow of Bird's Foot Trefoil, although there was also some Horseshoe Vetch still flowering. Dogwood was also flowering. I also noted large bunches ofBladder Campion* next to the road and occasional Red Campion amongst the scrub. (ID to be checked.)Nipplewort was seen on the edge of the road.
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Campions

17 June 2012
I did my weekly butterfly transect at Mill Hill. There were no Adonis or Common Blues so I guess the recent gales had finished them off. "The Adonis have had a bad year compared to last year." I saw a Holly Blue, twoSmall Tortoiseshells, a Meadow Brown and 12 Small HeathsSmall Heaths have been showing in good numbers everywhere but Small Tortoiseshells were having a bad year nationally. It was good to see sizeable Mullein Moth caterpillars, Shargacucullia verbasci, in large numbers on three Great Mullein plants.

14 June 2012

14 June 2012
Just a footprint away, I nearly trod on an Adder on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, all coiled up basking under the clouds, before it slithered into the undergrowth before I could get my camera to focus. It was an adult grey snake with the distinctive black diamond markings and a chunky good looking specimen. Too cool (about 16 °C, Force 5) forbutterflies to be active, I nevertheless saw at least a dozen Small Heaths were lively and I recorded two Adonis Blues (one of each gender) and a male Common Blue. The damaged and old male Adonis Blue was roosting amongst some Tor Grass. The first fluttering was a Yellow Shell Moth followed by the first of a few Treble Bar Moths. A few of the small pyralid micro-moths were seen, notably Pyrausta pupuralis and Pyrausta despicata definitely identified.

Parasitic plants were also appearing, notably on Mill Hill with the first appearance of the year of a species of Broomrape (possibly Knapweed Broomrape) and the first of the prevalent Yellow Rattle on the southern (top) part of Mill Hill. The diminutive Eyebright and Wild Thyme had come into flower on the lower slopes, where Dog Violetswere still common and I saw my first Yellow Wort this year. A few small bees were seen in the flower heads of the Lesser HawkbitsGreater Knapweed was seen in flower next to the road by the bridge over the A27 to Mill Hill. (I did not visit the upper part of Mill Hill.)
Full Butterfly & Moth Report

With the Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, almost gone on Mill Hill, the large patches of yellow plants on the downs pastures and Adur Levels were Bird's Foot Trefoil. However, it was such a strange year that there were still some new buds of Horseshoe Vetch.

I started off by doing my weekly butterfly transect at Mill Hill. The results were disappointing as numbers were very low and the few Adonis Blues were weather beaten following the exceptionally heavy rainfall of the past few days. Count (previous week's numbers in brackets): Adonis Blue male 3 (15), female 5 (3), Small Heath 6 (16).

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Ground Flora with Horseshoe Vetch and Milkwort on Mill Hill

‎27 May 2012 
On a warm day, the Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, on Mill Hill was more extensive than four days previously, with thousands of fresh flowers but also a considerable number (thousands) of drooping and faded flowers.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Horseshoe Vetch

Hairy Violet

Grizzled Skipper

16 April 2012 On a Cumulus day too cool for butterflies, a visit to Mill Hill was only entertained because the forecast for later in the week was worse. On the lower slopes the first flowers of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, appeared with another prostrate downland herb Milkwort. The tiny black pollen beetles Meligethes scrambled over the flowers on the bank, especially on Horseshoe Vetch, Dandelions and on a few of the violets. Salad Burnet was just beginning to flower and their leaves were commonly seen lying prostrate on the bank. Dog Violets predominated with thousands still present. The thousands of Sweet Violets had all faded, which leaves the identity of some of the fresh violets near the bottom of the slope as a bit of a puzzle. I have tentatively identified it as a Hairy Violet. Occasionally, a skipper (butterfly) rose from the ground and fluttered rapidly to a new resting place. The only one positively identified was a fresh Grizzled Skipper. A small bee, one of the Nomada species visited a Dandelion. A few Buff-tailed Bumblebees, Bombus terrestris, were noticeable in the absence of the butterflies.

Dog Violet