• Sim Elliott

A Late Afternoon Afternoon Walk around The Coombe & Chalkpits of Malling Down LNR. 20.05.22

Updated: May 21

I took the 28 bus to Lewes, getting off at Lewes Waitrose, and walked into the reserve via Wheatsheaf Gardens (reserve not signposted) off the A26 (Malling Street)


For the first part of my late afternoon walk I walked up “The Coombe”, the steep dry valley that runs into the Down, a typical chalkland feature. It is a great place for butterflies, but there were few presenting themselves today because of the high winds. I walked up a different path, up to “the Snout”, the bit of land between the higher part of the Coombe where the valley bifurcates. Below the snout on this path is a small patch of boggy land (perhaps from a downland spring) where there were some interesting damselflies. The slopes of the Snout were covered in yellow Horseshoe Vetch and Birds-foot Trefoil and would have been full of butterflies and wild bees on a less windy day. There were quite a few Jackdaws foraging on the ground for soil invertebrates. Jackdaws nest in cavities in cliffs and there are many sheltered chalk cliffs in the area. I saw two Painted Ladies quite far apart; although when I inspected the photos it may be the same individual; some Speckled Woods, some Carpet Moths, and a few blues (of some species being blown past – not photographs) and two species of Damselflies (species to be confirmed). I also saw a pair of pheasants.


Painted Lady (bottom of the Coombe)


The Coombe


The Coombe - the Snout at the end, to the right (east)


Horseshoe Vetch and Bird's-Foot Trefoil with pheasant


Possibly "Variable Damselfly" (will confirm)


Carpet Moth


Red Campion


Horseshoe Vetch


Horseshoe Vetch and Bird's-Foot Trefoil


Jackdaw


another (or the same individual), top of the Coombe


The Coombe


Ribwort Plantain


Speckled Wood


Black Stone Flower, a lichen, Parmontrema perlatum



Male Azure Blue Damselfly


A


A dew pond at the top of Malling Down


Herb Robert, appears to like sparse conditions of the chalk pits


River Ouse back ground, chalk it foreground


I spent some time in the old chalk pits and lime kilns. The chalk pits are known for their mosses and liverworts (Bryophytes) and orchids (although there did not appear to be any orchids in flower today). It was very windy so there were very few birds or flying insects visible. The shape of the former pits, still visible, but grown over by grasses, flowering plants and bryophytes, gives the landscape an architectural and quite monument feel.



Chalk pit landscapes


In my late afternoon stroll around Malling Down Nature Reserve I spent some time in the old chalk pits and lime kilns. The chalk pits are known for their mosses and liverworts (Bryophytes) and orchids (although there did not appear to be any orchids in flower today). It was very windy so there were very few birds or flying insects visible. The shape of the former pits, still visible, but grown over by grasses, flowering plants and bryophytes, gives the landscape an architectural and quite monument feel.





Carline thistle (gone over)





On the way back, from the top of the Down I took this photograph of Lewes Castl.


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