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  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

Butterflies at Rowland Wood/Park Corner Heath butterfly reserve (Butterfly Conservation). 16.05.22

Rowland Woof/Park Corner Heath is a little way south of East Hoathly in East Sussex. It can be reached by public transport and walking. I took the 54 Bus from Eastbourne to East Hoathly, but if you don't live on the south coast you could get the bus from Uckfield. The journey time from Eastbourne to Uckfiled is about 50 mins, and the bus goes once an hour 54 Bus Route & Timetable: Uckfield - Eastbourne | Stagecoach ( I took the 12 bus from Brighton and changed buses in the centre of Eastbourne. The 12 from Brighton to Eastbourne takes between to 1houe 20 mins to 1 hour and 44 minutes depending on whether you take the 12X, 12 or 12A 12 - Eastbourne-Brighton | Brighton & Hove Buses. From east Hoathly to reach the reserve by foot you need to walk down South Street, and then turn left (south) down the A22, until you reach a right hand turn (west) into Lewes Road, where the entrance to the reserve is a about 200m from the beginning of the Lewes Road. Warning: there is no pavement on the A22, so you have to walk in the road (facing the traffic). The road is quite wide, but pay great attention to the traffic as drivers drive quite fast on this section of the A22.

East Hoathly

Like Ardingly, Chiddingly, Hellingly and East Hoathly Sussex people pronounce the last syllable lie not lee

The Village Store, the only place to buy food to take away in East Hoathly; although there is a coffee shop

The verges in East Hoathly have been left unmown, and are wild flower and bumblebee rich

Common Carder on Red Clover

East Hoathly Church

The church has a C16 Pelham tower, but was otherwise rebuilt in 1855-56, retaining only a C12 pillar-piscina. East Hoathly – Dedication unknown – Sussex Parish Churches

A hedge of wildflowers along the road to the A22

Common Carden on Borage

Buff-Tailed Bumblebee on Alcanet

There is a very good key to common bumblebees here: BumblebeeID Quick guide to the Big Six species (

I popped into Moat Wood for 20 minutes in the way to the reserve. It can be accessed from South Street, but you need to come out of the wood and walk down the A22 to get to Rowland Wood

A classic example of Sussex ancient woodland on the edge of the village of East Hoathly.

Visit in May to hear nightingales and other birds in full song. In the heart of the wood is a medieval moat after which the wood is named, and which is now a scheduled ancient monument.

The woodland floor comes alive in spring with flowering plants, many of which are closely associated with ancient woodland. These 'indicator' species include bluebell, wood anemone and common cow-wheat which is unusually prolific here.

The wood itself is mostly made up of mature oak with hornbeam, ash, birch, hazel and other broadleaved trees, as well as a small area of planted Scots pine. The rare wild service tree can also be found along the woodbank on the wood's north east boundary.

Lesser Stitchwort


Yellow Iris, around a small brook

Beetle, Agriotes genus


Scorpion fly, Panorpa communis.

"The scorpion fly is a strange-looking insect that is found in gardens and hedgerows, and along woodland edges, particularly among Stinging nettles and bramble. It has a long, beak-like projection from its head that is uses to feed. It scavenges on dead insects and frequently steals the contents of spiders' webs. It lives up to its name by sporting a scorpion-like tail, which the male uses in courtship displays. Adults usually mate at night, but mating can be a dangerous game for the male, who might easily be killed by the female. So he presents her with a nuptial gift of a dead insect or a mass of saliva to placate her - the equivalent of a box of chocolates! The resulting eggs are laid in the soil and the emerging larvae live and pupate at the soil surface."

Common Carder on Bugle

Rowland Wood and Park Corner Heath

From Butterfly Conservation Sussex website:

This reserve is part of Vert Wood and adjoins our Park Corner Heath reserve. Though mostly covered with conifers at present, it is being converted to broadleaf coppice, open woodland, heathland and bracken - habitats that are best for woodland butterflies.


The Rowland Wood reserve was purchased in 2010 to extend the small Park Corner Heath reserve which had become the only known Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary site in South East England. More habitat was urgently needed to strengthen their population and to encourage dispersal back into other areas.

This is being achieved by creating sunny, flower-rich habitats through widening rides and replacing conifer plantation with broadleaf coppice, open heathland, grassland and bracken areas. By spring 2011, the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary was already breeding in the new habitat.

The reserve was purchased thanks to a legacy from Miss P Lewis (dedicated to the memory of her parents Dudley and Lisette, who inspired her love of nature) and generous donations from BC supporters. Rowland Wood, East Sussex | Butterfly Conservation (

Sections 1-7 are criss-crossed over Rowland Wood, whilst sections 8-10 are at Park Corner Heath. ... the original reserve was added to in 2010 when we managed to acquire the additional Rowland Wood.

Section 1 stretches downhill gently away from the gate (where you can park): here the woodland thins out to the heathland area, so we often see a mixture of butterflies that like both habitats. It's a great place to see dragonflies by the way, but obviously not if they are looking for their butterfly lunches. Look for: White Admiral, Peacock, Comma, Green-veined White.

Section 2 takes a zig-zag across an open marshy area and up a warm slope, where all sorts of wildlife are competing for your attention, including slowworms, voles and dragonflies. Look for: Small and Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, Marbled White, Common Blue, Grizzled & Dingy Skippers.

Section 3 reaches across an area where we improved habitat early on during a work party, and now is also a sanctuary for toads, lizards and slowworms. Look for: Ringlet, Small Heath, Pearl & Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries.

Section 4 has both shade and sun along a couple of wide straight rides, with a mixture of low scrub, mature trees and wildflowers. Look for: Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, Skippers, Gatekeeper.

Section 5 is a big ride at the edge of the reserve, most recently cleared using heavy machinery as it was covered in dense conifer. The butterflies have already been bombing up and down this new area with great abandon, enjoying the connection from one part of the reserve to another. Look for: Silver-washed Fritillary, Meadow Browns, Red Admiral.

Section 6 starts to climb a slight hill where the ground cover keeps plenty of wildlife happy and safe, then turns left into a boggy section where the deer sometimes like to nap and scarlet elf cap fungi can emerge. ' Look for: Ringlet, White Admiral, Dark Green Fritillary.

Section 7 starts at the edge of the big pond (where toadlets cross the path in front of you, and deer hoofprints leave pointillist tributes in the muddy bank) and scoops across a plateau. This was opened up by conservation volunteers to help connect the lower and upper sections of the reserve by clearing scrub and letting the violets grow (so important for caterpillars). Look for: Wall Brown, Silver-washed Fritillary, Painted Lady, Speckled Wood.

Crossing over the dip of the ancient road at the end of Section 7, and then over the bank into

Section 8, you are now in the area known as Park Corner Heath. This area gets a good amount of attention during conservation work parties to maintain the habitat and control the bracken. There is also an ephemeral pond here, so you may or may not spot wildlife enjoying water. Look for: Green Hairstreak, Dark Green, Small & Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

Following the path past Peter's Seat to Section 9, you will wander downhill into an area where the scrub has been held at bay so that the woodland species can stretch their wings. In the springtime, this area is carpeted with anemones and bluebells. Look for: Orange-tip, Comma Purple Hairstreak and Brimstone.

Section 10 is on the main plateau area where you can find grass snakes, adders and slowworms fairly regularly. Lots of bracken to control here but leaving some clumps does allow perches for the Pearls. Look for: Pearl and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Small Copper, Brimstone. Butterfly Conservation - Sussex Branch (

Section 1

Speckled Yellow Moth

Dingy Skipper


Dingy Skipper

Painted Lady

Dingy Skipper

Pearl Bordered Fritillary

Dingy Skippers

Pearl-Bordered Fritillary

Blood-Vein Moth

Dingy Skipper

Speckled Yellow Moth

Green-Veined White

Vert Woods

Green Shield Bug

Hoverfly in Buttercup


Scarce Chaser


Park Corner Heath

Speckled Yellow Moth


Southern Wood Ant, possibly carrying egg.

Dingy Skipper


Crab spider predating a solitary bee

Eye location and antennae suggest this is a solitary bee, what looks like a proboscis may be tongue


Old and New: Bluebells finishing, Bracken starting

Painted Lady.


Common Carder and Bluebell

Scorpion fly

Brown and Green

Blue Damselfly

Heathland ponds; Park Corner Heath

Blue Damselfly

Pearl-Bordered Fritillary

Mallard and duckling, large pond in Rowland Wood



Little Grebe

One of the paths through Rowland Wood

The pond above, from another angle


Another path

Green and Brown grass, showing the location of water on the heath land

Blood Vein Moth

Bufftail Bumblebee on Buttercup

Common Blue Demoiselle


Small Heath

Pearl Banded Fritillary

Cockchafer beetle by the bus stop in East Hoathly



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