• Sim Elliott

Friston Forest, Friston Gallops and Lullington Heath. Butterflies. 18.09.22

As on Monday the weather forecast was for extremely hot weather, I decided to make a nature journey that was mostly in the woods; to enjoy the shade. I took the 12 bus from Brighton and got off at Gayles Farm, from where I walked through the forest to Butchershole Bottom/Friston Gallops. Butchershole Bottom is rectangular island of unimproved chalk grassland, locked after as wild flower meadows by Forest Enterprises, surrounded by the trees of the forest. After walking around Friston Gallops, I walked north through the trees of Friston Forest until the land changes to the chalk heath landscape of Lullington Heath. After a short time on Lulllington Heath, I returned south into Friston Forest and walked a mostly different route through the forest via the village of West Dean (entirely in the forest), back to the Seven Sisters Country Park Visitors Centre, from where I took the 12 back to Brighton


Friston Forest is within the South Downs National Park between Lulington Heath National Nature Reserve and Seven Sisters Country Park. It is the largest area of recently established forest in South East England.


This expansive beech woodland makes a perfect family day out for those who love exploring the countryside. Friston Forest | Forestry England


.... open-structured woodland fell into serious decline with a fall in demand for coppice products and a surge in demand for close-grown, straight trunks. Added to this was the exclusion of grazing stock from plantation woodland. As the economic value of such estates was recognised, commercial organisations began to plant extensive tracts of former downland in Sussex. In 1908, the newly founded Eastbourne Waterworks Company (later South East Water) bought the downland on which Friston Forest now stands and created adits beneath the valley to collect water for the new development of Eastbourne. Planting of the Forest to protect Eastbourne’s water supply was started in 1926 by the Forestry Commission who leased it from Eastbourne Waterworks Company on a 200-year lease. The intention was to establish a beech forest with conifers as protection. The conifers, which grow much faster than the harder beechwood, were successively cut down and sold for pulp as the beech flourished. The Forest is now almost pure beech with patches of pine and sycamore. By the middle of this century, the Forest is expected to be one of the largest beech woodlands in the country, covering some 1,500 acres and containing over four million trees. However, with its shallow root system, beech is one of the trees predicted to be most vulnerable to rising temperatures in an age of climate change. In order for the forest to continue providing a habitat for birds, butterflies, rare plant life, wildflowers, orchids and many types of fungi, it is important that open spaces are maintained. Wildwood and Friston Forest - Cuckmere Valley Parish :Cuckmere Valley Parish (litlington-cuckmere.com)


Friston Gallops at Butchershole Bottom,

Large open Downland area, surrounded by woodland. Mainly managed by Forest Enterprise.

Key species Adonis Blue, Chalkhill Blue, Marbled White. Good populations of Common Blue, Small Copper, some Dark Green Fritillary. Silver-washed Fritillary and White Admiral in the adjoining Friston Forest.

Other common species The open Downland area has a huge population of common butterfly species, and wild flowers, including Pyramidal and Common Spotted Orchid. Butterfly Conservation - Sussex Branch - PAGE TITLE (sussex-butterflies.org.uk)



Lullington Heath


National Nature Reserve (Natural England); one of the best examples of "chalk heathland" in the UK, due to geological weirdness: acid soil over alkaline chalk, supporting plants loving both acid and alkaline conditions. ... on a few places, such as at Lullington Heath, wind-blown soils called ‘loess’ have been deposited on top of the chalk. This is thought to have been laid down during the last ice age. It often supports rare habitat types such as chalk ‘heath’, which are nationally important" (South Downs National Park Authority (2011) Special Qualities of the South Downs National Park). chapter02 (southdowns.gov.uk)


Lullington Heath doesn't feel like anywhere else in Sussex. I only stayed there for a little while today as it was very hot; and I spent most of the morning under the tress of Friston Forest. I could hear the Gorse's seed pods popping open in the heat (click on video in photos below to hear the gorse popping). '


For more information on Lullington Heath see Friston Forest, Friston Gallops and Lullington Heath. Butterflies & Birds. 14.06.22 (simelliott.net)


Friston Forest - walking to Friston Gallops


Meadow Brown

Meadow Brown


Speckled Wood



Meadow Brown


Comma


Peacock


Green-Veined White


Friston Gallops


Chalkhill Blue


Gatekeeper on Ragwort


Chalkhill Blue on Ragwort


Gatekeepers


Marbled White in Knapweed head


Marbled White on Field Scabious


Chalkhill Blue

... getting nutrients from poo!


Another Chalkhill Blue


Small Skipper (?) on Horseshoe Vetch (?)


Chalkhill Blue


Chalkhill Blues on Knapweed


Meadow Brown on Hawkbit


Chalkhill Blue


Female Marbled White


Path through Friston Forest from Friston Gallops to Lullington Heath


Lace Border moth


White Admiral


Blackbird



Gatekeeper


Great aka Hairy Willowherb; the most common plant along the rides through the forest; but I saw few butterflies nectaring on it.


Gatekeeper


Speckled Wood' Speckled Woods often sit on paths for a while It is a common and widespread butterfly of woodland edges and rides, where it flies in the dappled sunlight, and can also be seen in hedgerows and gardens. Adults feed on honeydew, while the caterpillars feed on a variety of grasses, including false broom and cock's-foot. Speckled wood | Cumbria Wildlife Trust


Red Admiral


Painted Lady


Comma


Another Comma


Ringlet


Another Comma


Another Ringlet


Ringlet


Meadow Brown


Buff-tailed Bumblebee of Field Scabious


Another Comma


Brimstone


Brimstone


Brimstone on Hawkbit

The wider context of the above Brimstone


Comma


Small White


Red Admiral


Gatekeeper


Chalkhill Blue


Small Skipper (?)


Scarlet Tiger Moth


Chaffinch


Lullington Heath National Nature Reserve


Common Field Grasshopper (?)


Meadow Grasshopper (?)


Comma


Greater Burdock


Dropwort and Harkweed


Heather



Centaury and Hawkbit


Buzzard


Bell Heather


Gorse

Gorse


Listen to the sound of the Gorse seed heads popping gin the heat


Dusky Sallow moth



Six-Spot Burnet Moth on Viper's Bugloss


Six-Spot Burnet Moth on Centaury


Brimstone on Wild Basil



Brimstone on Wild Basil


Viper's Bugloss and Yellow Ragwort


Peacock on Ragwort


Chalkhill Blue on Bramble


Small Skipper on Viper's Bugloss


Chalkhill Blue


Small White?


Gatekeeper


Chalkhill Blue


The paths back from Lullington Heath to West Dean


The Littlington White Horse seen from Charleston Bottom


Meadow Brown


Charleston Bottom, unimproved chalkland within Friston Forest


Comma


Another Comma


Large White


Large Whites



West Dean church


Gatekeeper on Spear Thistle






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