Saturday, 5 June 2010

Mill Hill tour and Stanmer survey

Brianne Reeve of the Shoreham District  Ornithological Society gave a guided tour of the Mill Hill Nature reserve in the morning. She was very knowledgeable and gave the group a very informative account of the birds, plants and butterflies we encountered. 
Two buzzards were soaring overhead and heard the male Chiff Chaff call and the female answer. Also a Chetti’s Warbler called from the far side of the meadow at the foot of the hill. 
 Fairy Toadflax
Bastard Toadflax
Bastard Toadflax is so small that to view with a magnifying lens you have to get close!
Speckled Wood
The group
Plenty of Dog Rose in flower on the hill
We learnt that Yellow Rattle controls coarse grasses and now know what fumitory, Milkwort, Dropwort, Fairy Toadflax and Bastard Toadflax look like.
There were many Common Blues on the hill, some mating.
 At one point another male tried to get in on the action!

There were also Adonis Blues. Two Dingy Skippers were courting for at least five minutes, fluttering in the air together just above the ground.
A leaf beetle, Cryptocephalus aureolus, buried itself in this flower

Caterpillar of  The Lackey moth  Malacosoma neustria
I then went on to Stanmer Park to join a species survey. As I have no special expertise in any field outside butterflies I joined two expert entomologists, Peter and Graham. Pickings were sparse, no doubt due to the artificial habitat, but some interesting finds were made. 
My main contribution apart from some common ladybird species (Two Spot, Harlequin) was finding a Black Headed Cardinal Beetle above, a magnificent creature 2 cms long. Apparently this is a nationally rare species, though common in Sussex.

The following images show a female Common Blue that landed on a meadow of Cow Parsely, grass  and buttercup in the woodland

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