top of page
  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

Box Hill - Juniper Top. Silver-Spotted Skippers & Silver-Washed Fritillaries. 08.08.22

I got to Box Hill by train; travelling from Brighton to Box Hill and Westhumble station (changing at Three Bridges and Horsham). I decided to walk the Juniper Top Walk, as I had not done it before. From Box Hill Station I walked up Box Hill via Burford Spur; the ridge of chalk grassland that leads up to the fort and visitors centre. From the visitors centre I walked the rout as on the map below (from Box Hill Juniper Top circular walk | National Trust)

Burford Spur

Chalkhill Blue on desiccated Bramble

Meadow Brown on Kanpweed

Common Blue on Knapweed

Female Chalkhill Blue on desiccated Knapweed


Silver-Spotted Skipper

Chalkhill Blue on Wild Marjoram

Burford Spur

Tattered Common Blue on Field Scabious

Chalkhill Blue of Filed Scabious

Silver-Spotted Skipper on Filed Scabious

A small butterfly with a low darting flight restricted to chalk downland in southern England. Upperwings orange with brown margins and pale orange spots. Males have a thick black line through the centre of the forewing. Underwings have silver spots.

This rare skipper is restricted to chalk downs in southern England where it can be seen darting low over short turf, stopping frequently to bask on bare ground or feed on flowers such as Dwarf Thistle. It can be distinguished by the numerous silver-white spots on the undersides of the hind wings, which can be seen quite easily when it rests with wings in a characteristic 'half-open' posture.

The Silver-spotted Skipper has declined rapidly over the last 50 years but has re-expanded partially since 1980. Silver-spotted Skipper | Butterfly Conservation (

Six-Spot Burnet Moth on Knapweed

Silver-Spotted Skipper on Hawkweed

Chalkhill Blue on Field Scabious

Silver-Spotted Skipper on Filed Scabious

Six Spotted Burnet Moths on Field Scabious

Silver-Spotted Skipper on Field Scabious

Six Spot Burnet Moths on Field Scabious

Wild Carrot, Hawkweed and Wild Scabious in flower despite drought

Silver-Spotted Skipper on Hawkweed

Silver-Spotted Skipper on Filed Scabious

Silver-Spotted Skipper on desiccated flower head

Chalkhill Blue on Wild Marjoram

Box Hill Fort

Visitors Centre

Silver-Spotted Skipper on Buddleia

Juniper Top Walk

Yew Trees

Another Yew

Gate into the lower part of the Juniper Hill walk; onto open grassland

There was very little in bloom apart from Knapweed

and Harebells (whose nectar is not accessible to butterflies

and Wild Celery (yellow)

Silver-Spotted Skipper on grass

Common Blue on Wild Marjoram

Clustered Bellflower

Silver Spotted Skipper on Field Scabious

Viper's Bugloss

Silver-Spotted Skipper on Dogwood

A Bladderwort

Silver-Spotted Skipper on Carline Thistle

Meadow Brown on Carline Thistle. The last time a was in the Surry Hills (a week ago) there were many more Meadow Thistles

The beginning of the Juniper Bottom/Happy Valley path initially though more open woodland

This Silver-washed Fritillary was flying very haphazardly and lowly, looking as if it had little energy. It landed on this piece of (fox?) poo, presumably to ingest nutrients and moisture

A Dunnock



Rosebay Willowherb

Commonly known as Fireweed in North America, it often appears after forest fires and other events which leave the earth scorched. This tendency also gave rise to the name Bombweed in the UK. London has indelible memories of the drifts of this flower in the bomb sites of the second world war. As a pioneer plant it was one of the first to colonise the scarred earth, and its vivid spires were synonymous with London's revival. As such, it was a popular choice as the County Flower of our capital. Today it mingles with buddleias and Michaelmas daisies on railway banks, old walls and waste ground. Plantlife :: Rosebay willowherb

The swooping flight of this large and graceful butterfly is one of the most beautiful sights to be found in woodland during high summer. A large fast flying butterfly, separated from other fritillaries by its pointed wings and silver streaks on the undersides which can be viewed as it stops to feed on flowers such as Bramble.

Although the butterfly is seen mostly in sunny glades and rides, it actually breeds in the shadier parts of adjacent woodland. In southern England, a small proportion of females have wings that are bronze-green, known as the form valezina.

The Silver-washed Fritillary declined during the twentieth century, especially in England and Wales, but has spread noticeably during recent decades. Widespread across southern England and Wales and more locally in northern England and Ireland. Silver-washed Fritillary | Butterfly Conservation (

Silver-washed fritillaries are found in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but are absent from Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. They live in oak woodland or woodlands with sunny rides and glades. Occasionally, the butterflies use mixed broadleaved and conifer plantations. In parts of South West England and Ireland, wooded hedgerows and sheltered lanes next to woods are used. Silver-Washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia) - Woodland Trust

The silver-washed fritillary population declined during the 20th century, but is now stable after big spikes in recent years. It is, however, still considered a species of conservation concern.

Silver-washed fritillary butterflies seem to love the colour orange. Wear some on your next woodland walk to see if you can attract them. Silver-Washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia) - Woodland Trust

Bracket Fungus

Murals in the A24 Boxhill underpass



bottom of page