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  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

Wild Plants, Insects and Birds. Birling Gap, Beachy Head and Lullington Heath NNR. 09.06.22

I visited the Downs to the west of Birling Gap, and the east, specifically the area around Horseshoe Plantation, and north of Shooter Bottom, because they are identified in The Butterflies of Sussex: A Twenty-first Century Atlas, as good places to see Butterflies. I decided on the day to walk onto Lullington Heath, Lullington Heath is also known for its butterflies, but it is best known as a unique habitat: The 62 hectare Reserve is nationally important and was established in 1955 to conserve one of the largest areas of chalk heath remaining in Britain. Chalk heath only occurs where, by the remotest of chances, acid soils have been deposited on the alkaline chalk, allowing acid loving plants to grow together with these of the chalk. Lullington Heath National Nature Reserve; Nature walks - NE362 (

I caught the 12 bus to East Dean Pond Today and then I walked through Crowlink, Birling Gap, Horseshoe Plantation to the Beachy Head Hotel (for cheap lunch). Then I walked via East Dean and Jevington to Lullington Heath Natural Nature Reserve. From the Lullington Heath Nature Reserve I walked into Littlington and back to Exeat (Seven Sisters Country Park Centre), and caught the 12 back to Brighton

East Dean Pond

The Walk from East Dean Pond via Crowlink to the coast at Gap Bottom (Seven Sisters Cliffs)

A Whitethroat singing

Rabbits in Gap Bottom

Gap Bottom


A rather tatty Red Admiral in Crowlink

A Rabbit


The grass is greener on the other side of the fence

A Blue Tit bathing in the Gap Bottom dew ponds

Same Blue Tot after bath!

Dunnick on a fence post round the dew pond

An Azure Damselfly

A Pond Snail

The dew pond

Another Azure Damselfly


A Small Heath Butterfly - the most common butterfly I saw on the walk

A lamb on the wrong side of the electric fence

Looking up Gap Bottom

Flagstaff Brow to Birling Gap

A Jackdaw on the edge of the cliffs (Jackdaws nest on cliffs)

A bad photo of a Small Tortoiseshell

A female Stonechat (Stonechats were the most frequent bird I saw on the day),

The Stonechat above flying off

A fledgling Stonechat

A male Stonechat

The Belle Tout Lighthouse and Birling Gap

A ,ale Linnet; I saw many Linnets along the coast, in small flocks (2-8 birds)

The Bell Tout Lighthouse and Baily's Hill

A Small Heath Butterfly

Viper's Bugloss

Probably a Peacock Butterfly

Viper's Bugloss

A Common Blue (possibly an Adonis Blue) on Bird's-Foot Trefoil

Another Small Heath

A Common Blue

Birling Gap to Horseshoe Plantation (below the Belle Tout Lighthouse)

Sheep amongst Viper's Bugloss

Along the path below the cliffs from Birling Gap to Horseshoe Plantation, there were many pairs of Stonechats, calling to each other with their clashing stone call.

A Goldfinch

A Linnet

A male Stonechat

A Stonechat flying off

A Common Blue

A Common Blue on Bird's-Foot Trefoil

A Small White on bramble, fringe of Horseshoe Plantation

A Speckled Wood, one of many on the edges of the Horseshoe Plantation

A Burnet Companion Moth

A Speckled Wood showing its underwings

Buff-tailed Bumblebee on Yellow Rattle

A Painted Lady

A View from the East side of the Horseshoe Plantation to the Belle Tout Lighthouse

Scarlet Pimpernell

Small Heath next to Yellow Rattle

A Pied Wagtail


Small Heath on Oyeye Daisy, Shooters Bottom

The Daisies and Red Clover of Shooters Bottom

Shooters Bottom and the Belle Tout Lighthouse

Bullock Down

Walking south to north toward East Dean

A male stonechat

A juvenile Stonechat?

Another Stonechat

Viper's Bugloss

A Linnet

Buff-tailed Bumblebee on Viper's Bugloss

A Common Blue

A Red-tailed Bumblebee of Yellow Rattle

A Male Linnet

A Buff-tailed Bumblebee on Yellow Rattle

A Common Carder on Viper's Bugloss

A Silver-Y Moth

A Dog Rose

Another Male Stonechat








Viper's Bugloss, Oxeye Daisy, Dandelion, Buttercups, Shootters Bottom

Speckled Wood

Small Tortoiseshell

Silver-Y Moth



Shooters Bottom to Lullington Heath, via Bulling Dean, Bullock Down, Kiln Combe, Bramble Bottom, Crapham Hill, Eastbourne Downs Golf Course, South Down Way, Borne Hill, and Jevington

Shooters Bottom to Bullock Down

Common Toadflax - Frost Hill

Looking back to Belle Tout

Mignonette - Frost Hill

Speckled Wood - copse at Long Down

Highland cattle - Long Down

Small Tortoiseshell

Ringwood Bottom, recently shorn sheep.


Bramble Bottom


Small Heath