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  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

Mill Hill NR and Anchor Bottom (Beeding Hill). A profusion of Marbled White Butterflies. 20.06.22

I took the 2 bus from my home to Shoreham. I walked up the Adur and then up the footpath to Mill Hill that crosses on the road bridge the A27 Shoreham bypass. I then walked from Mill Hill to Beeding along the Mill Hill road, and walked down Anchor Bottom, and out through the gate to the Shoreham to Steyning Road, where I caught the 2 back from Dacre Gardens to Brighton.

On the path up to the Mill Hill road bridge I saw Holly Blues and a few Red Admirals, on the path to Mill Hill from the north side of the rad bridge I saw lots of Red Admirals. On the slopes of Mill Hill I saw 100s of Marbled White Butterflies, some mating, presumably mostly just emerged, and many Smalls Heaths and Meadow Browns; there were also a few Common Blues. Along the road to Beeding Hill I saw Corn Bunting and Skylarks. At Anchor Bottom I saw some Common Blues and some Blue Adonis.

When I last visited these two sites a month ago, 28.05.22, see Butterflies. Mill Hill NR, Anchor Bottom NR & Many Adonis Blues, Cissbury NR, 28.05.22 ( it was a different story. The Marbles Whites had not yet emerged at Mill Hill, and I saw lots more Common Blues; and Anchor Bottom I saw 100s of Adonis Blues, that had just emerged.

Adur Estuary

Great Black-Backed Gulls sunning themselves.

Sparrow Fledgling

Path to Mill Hill (south of A27 Shoreham bypass)

Pyramid Orchids

Meadow Brown

Holly Blue

Path to Mill Hill (north of A27 Shoreham bypass)

Along the Privet Hedges there were about 40 Red Admirals nectaring on Privet blossom

Privet Blossom

Mill Hill

Small Elephant Hawk Moth

I missed this beautiful moth at first as I walked past it thinking it was a flower, then I walked back to check and saw what it was. And after a busy night of feeding, moths can rest during the day among their caterpillars’ favourite food plants without fear of standing out – happily they blend in nicely with the bright pink flowers of willowherbs and fuschias. Elephant Hawk-moth: Caterpillar and Lifecycle - Woodland Trust

Marbled Whites

There was a profusion of Marbled Whites; mostly in flight. I saw ca 200, of those I saw only two females. Perhaps Marbled White females are polyandrous and less numerous than males. Green Veined Butterflies are polyandrous, and this improved genetic fitness, but so far I have found no research on polyandry in Marbled Whites. I saw a lot of male Marbled Whites flying round Small Heaths and then flying off; I wondered if they initially thought they were female Marbled Whites, as female Marbles Whites have a more brown underwing ("should've gone to Specsavers").

Presumably there is plenty of Red Fescue and Sheep's Fescue grass on Mill Hill for Marbled Whites caterpillars to nibble on there; hence the large number of Marbled Whites

The marbled white is a distinctive, medium-sized, white butterfly, with black-chequered markings. Adults are on the wing in the summer, from June to August. Strong colonies can be found on warm, species-rich chalk and limestone grasslands, but woodland rides, railways cuttings and road verges are also frequented. The adults can often be seen feeding on purple flowers, such as field scabious, common knapweed and wild marjoram. The caterpillars feed on a variety of grasses, but red fescue is especially important. Marbled white | The Wildlife Trusts

A male-female pair of Marbled Whites on Greater Knapweed

Another pair mating; female has the more brown underwing

Small Heaths

Plants and Views of Mill Hill

Common Gant Mustard/Turnip Weed (?)

The steep short grass downland of the lower part of Mill Hill, was called the "Shoreham Bank" by Victorian lepidopterists. In a few weeks it will become the home of the Famous "Chalkhill Blue"[;] lower steep slopes covered with authentic original short sward chalkhill herbland, dominated by Horseshoe Vetch, and providing habitat for thousands [of butterflies] Mill Hill Nature Reserve, Old Shoreham, West Sussex (


Bristly Oxtongue

Views form Mill Hill

Shoreham from Mill Hill

Lancing College form Mill Hill

Road to Anchor Bottom

Corn Bunting

Skylark on dung heap!

A Small Tortoishell

Anchor Bottom


Adonis Blue - underwing

wings open

Female Common Blue

Common Blue or Adonis Blue


Bramber from Beeding Hill

Wild Plants (Anchor Bottom)

Horseshoe Vetch (the favourite plant of Adonis Blues)

Common Spotted Orchid

Pyramid Orchid

Wild Thyme

Rest Harrow



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