Butterflies & Birds at Hutchinson Bank, New Addington & Reigate Hill. 06.08.22
On Saturday 06.08.22 I visited two locations that were new to me. They are both areas of North Downs escarpment; and they are both know for the butterfly diversity and abundance.
In the morning I visited Hutchinson Bank, a London Wildlife Trust reserve. This dry chalk valley in New Addington is a butterfly spotter’s paradise and a great place to find orchids, rare plants, and blankets of bluebells. Hutchinson’s Bank is a steep grassland valley-side ...
Chalk grassland develops on shallow lime-rich chalky soils that are nutrient-poor and free-draining, and in London this internationally important habitat is predominantly found in the southern parts of the boroughs of Bromley, Croydon and Sutton.
This part of the North Downs was traditionally grazed by sheep until the 1950s, but changes occurred as new settlements such as New Addington and Forestdale developed. London Wildlife Trust began managing Chapel Bank in 1984 and Hutchinson’s Bank in 1987. Grazing was re-introduced to Hutchinson’s in 199: Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation; Local Nature Reserve, Metropolitan Green Belt , Hutchinson's Bank, Chapel Bank & Threecorner Grove | London Wildlife Trust (wildlondon.org.uk)
In the afternoon I visited Reigate and Colley Hills, National Trust property, see Reigate Hill and Gatton Park | National Trust in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Beauty; and, as with Hutchinson Bank part of the North Donws. Chalk grassland is a unique habitat found on thin soils over chalk rocks. It was originally created mainly by the clearance of trees and bushes 8-9,000 years ago, and kept open by grazing livestock. The combination of nutrient-poor soils and the disturbance caused by regular grazing means no single species of plant can dominate and this creates a very diverse habitat where many rare wild flowers and insects can flourish Colley-Hill-Easy-Access-trail.pdf (surreycc.gov.uk)
These two locations make an interesting and concerning contrast. In New Addington, where Hutchinson Bank Nature Reserve, 31% of the population live in social housing. (Source New Addington - UK Census Data 2011); There are 3,769 registered social housing properties in New Addington. Social Housing New Addington (uksocialhousing.com). To get to the reserve you walk from New Addington Tram station down North Downs Crescent, a road entirely of social housing, mostly still in council ownership. The average in Reigate costs £642,996. To get to Reigate and Colley Hill I walked from Reigate Station, eventually up Underhill Park Road, a road entirely of detached mansions, where the average price is £1,635,000. (source: House Prices in Reigate (rightmove.co.uk)). The UK has a very high level of income inequality compared to other developed countries. The Scale of Economic Inequality in the UK | The Equality Trust
Both locations are easy to get to by public transport. In the morning ( took the train from Brighton to East Croydon, see Trains Brighton to London Victoria | Train Tickets & Times | Southern Railway, and then the tram to New Addigton, see Trams - Transport for London (tfl.gov.uk). In the afternoon I took the train from East Croydon to Reigate; and I returned to Brighton from Reigate by taking a train from Reigate to Gatwick Airport, and changing for Brighton.
The photos in this post are in chronological order. All sections of text in italics are quotations, source given.
The only map I can find of the reserve is from the Hutchinson’s Bank and Chapel Bank Nature Reserves Management Brief 2012-17 Hutchinson’s Bank and Chapel Bank Nature Reserves Management Brief (wildlifetrusts.org) but it is a useful map
New Addington Tran Stop
The old New Addington Community Hall; there is a new one next door that opened in 2020
Animal sculptures by the tram stop;
9: You were always fascinated by the animal sculptures next to the New Addington tram stop
New Addington just seems like such an unlikely place to find a bear and a dolphin - even ones carved out of wood.
If you were very young when they were installed, chances are you convinced the statues would come alive at night when you weren't looking.
You realised you had grown up when you came back into New Addington after midnight and discovered that they had not budged an inch. 21 things only people who grew up in New Addington will understand - MyLondon
Immediately to my right is a collection of four wood sculptures of a bear, gorilla, dolphin and an eagle. There’s nothing around to explain their origins and other online commentators are also unable to find any helpful references. #36: New Addington – 10/01/2019 – The End Of The Line
The route to Hutchinson Bank
The path to the reserve - between the house and the community recycling centre
First butterfly - Speckled Wood
The path to the escarpment meadows
Conservation grazing with sheep
The meadows were parched; the draught of the last few months seems to have produced a significant reduction in insect abundance; many Butterflies are sensitive to drought see: Severe droughts could lead to widespread losses of butterflies by 2050 | UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (ceh.ac.uk)
Gatekeeper, by the far the most common species seen at Hutchinson's Bank, as with everywhere I have visited of late
A moth, probably a Mint Moth
A female Meadow Brown, the second most common butterfly I saw at Hutchinson's bank
Common Carpet Moth
Chalkhill Blue; there were a good number around.
Rosebay Willow Herb
Large White on Ragwort
Lathe White on Hemp Agrimony
Another Large White
The path with Hawthornes, which is supposed to be a good place to see Brown Hairstreaks; I didn't see any, but I probably should have waited till after lunch time, as that's when they tend to forage
Large White on Filed Scabious; I saw a large number of White settled foraging, which is unusual in my expereince.
A very tatty male Common Blue
Drone Fly (a hoverfly bee mimic) on Scabious.
A Gatekeeper - one of many
A Common Blue on Kidney Vetch
Another male Common Blue
A female Common Blue
A Large White on scabious
A Speckled Wood
A Common Blue
A Holly Blue
Volucella inanis; a hoverfly that mimics a wasp, in scabious.
Male Common Blue
Herdwick Sheep staying in the shade
A male Common Blue
A small Meadow Brown
The gully where there were man Chalkhill Blues
A Chalkhill Bliue
Female Common Blue
Brimstone on Field Scabious
Common Blue on Knapweed
Large White on wild Marjoram
Back to the Tram Stop
Reigate at Colley Hills
Reigate Fort was built in 1898 as part of the London Defence Scheme. However by 1906 the Government no longer felt that it was needed. They now had a superior navy to defend our shores. The fort was decommissioned and subsequently sold to a private owner in 1907. History of Reigate Fort at Reigate Hill and Gatton Park | National Trust
On 19th March 1945 a US B17G Flying Fortress bomber was returning from a mission. Because of dense cloud, the formation of planes split up. The plane approached Reigate Hill too low and crashed into trees at the top of the hill with the sad loss of all nine of the crew. The memorial was opened 70 years to the day after the crash. It consists of two wing tips distanced by the wingspan of that type of plane. Places of Interest - Reigate Hill (reigatesociety.org.uk)
View from Colley Hill
A mounting Robin
A Six-Spot Burnet Moth on Wild Marjoram
Veiw toward Box Hill
Goldfinches on Creeping Thistle
Silver-Spotted Skipper and Six-Spot Burnett Moth
The Inglis Monument
the Inglis Memorial was donated to the Borough of Reigate in 1909 by Lieutenant Colonel Sir Robert William Inglis, who was Chairman of the London Stock Exchange. Originally a drinking fountain for horses at the top of the main route over Reigate Hill, the spot is now popular with ramblers because of its stunning views across Surrey. Reigate and Banstead Council asked to step in and save hilltop memorial that 'looks close to collapse' - Surrey Live (getsurrey.co.uk)