• Sim Elliott

Birds, Butterflies and Wild Flowers. The Devil's Dyke. 04.06.22

I visited the Devil's Dyke on Saturday 4th June 2022 in the morning. I caught the 77 Brighton and Hove bus at 9.52 (runs every 45 minutes) from Churchill Square, Brighton, and returned on the 13.30 from Devil's Dyke. Typically on Saturdays I go out for whole day nature trips, but on 04.06.22 I was visiting an old fiend in the afternoon. If you want to visit the Devils Dyke by bus there are only direct buses on Saturdays and Sundays, see: 77 - Devil's Dyke-Brighton Pier | Brighton & Hove Buses. If you wanted to visit by bus in the week, you could take the 17 bus to Pycombe Garage (you have to ask the driver to set you down their specially) and walk over Newtimber Hill and Saddlescombe Farm (about a 4 mile walk), see: Saddlescombe Farm and Newtimber Hill | National Trust


As I child I grew up in the Seven Dials area of Brighton and Hove, and the Devil's Dyke was just "up the road" and my parents took me there often. When I moved back to Brighton in 1991 I have largely eschewed visiting the Devil's Dyke because of the large number of visitors; however, if you walk just a little way into the dyke you are soon on your own in beautiful downland scenery.


The legend of the origin of Devil's Dyke was known to every school child in Brighton (and was described pictorially on the pub sign of the old Dyke Tavern on Dyke Road). The legend says the devil was furious at the conversion of the people of the Weald to Christianity and decided to dig a dyke through the South Downs, so the sea could flow in and drown their villages. To make sure his efforts were not discovered until it was too late, he decided to dig it over a single night. However his work woke an old woman, who lit a candle. This then woke her cockerel, who began to crow. Seeing the light and hearing the cockerel, the devil was fooled into thinking it was dawn, rushed off with his work uncompleted and the Weald was saved. Devils Dyke (brighton-hove.gov.uk)


I did a circular walk focussing on the south-facing escarpment of the Dyke, as I know this is a good spot for Butterflies. The National Trust website has a good recommended Butterfly walk: Devil's Dyke butterfly walk | National Trust


Map:

There are lots of butterflies of note on this walk, including large populations of Adonis blue, chalkhill blue and green hairstreak and smaller populations of brown argus, dark-green fritillary and silver-spotted skipper. Also, large populations of six-spot burnet moths (day-flying) and all three species of day-flying forester moth. There are a variety of chalk grassland flowers too, including drifts of common rockrose and horseshoe vetch and frequent carline thistle, dropwort and downland orchids Devil's Dyke butterfly walk | National Trust


The butterflies I saw were Common Blues, Small Blues, Spotted Woods (in the woodland part of the reserve) Small Heaths, Small Tortoiseshells, Painted Ladies and a Silver-Y Moth. chalkhill blues, brown arguses, dark-green fritillaries and silver-spotted skippers flight period in July and August. For the dates when you are likely to see specific species, see: Butterfly Conservation - Sussex Branch (sussex-butterflies.org.uk) or see Butterflies of Sussex. A Twenty-First Century Atlas (2017) Michael Blencowe & Neil Hulme


A view of the Devil's Dyke


Wild Thyme


Silver Y Moth, hanging on in the strong wind!


Silver Y moths are migratory and visits the UK from southern Europe in the summer


Common Blue


Common Spotted Orchid


Meadow Pippit


Meadow Grasshopper


Wild Thyme


Anther Meadow Grasshopper


Carline Thistle


Meadowsweet/Dropwort


More Common Spotted Orchids


Speckled Wood


Common Blue


Male Stonechat


Common Blue


Degraded Common Blue


Bird's-Foot Trefoil


Male Stonechat


Bulbous daisies


Common Blue


Female Common Blue or Adonis Blue


Another Marsh Grasshopper


Female Common Blue or Adonis Blue


Small Blue


Possibly an Adonis Blue


Small Heath


Small Tortoiseshell


Another Small Tortoiseshell - the much darker underwings

and showings its upper wings


A faded Painted Lady


A Meadow Pipit


Another Meadow Pipit


Another Small Tortoiseshell





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