Mill Hill

/ in Field Trips by Marek

Setting a moth trap at your home location encourages moths to visit but only the ones that live in and around your environment.

There are many more which you can only record if you go to where they live, this being local locations or some distance away.

Also recording moths or butterflies in the field is a completely different skill regarding photography and can at times be rather taxing as once they are on the wing they tend not to stay in the same place for very long.

Our first field trip aimed at recording day flying moths and butterflies was to Mill Hill nature reserve mentioned in the introduction to my Blog.

Mill Hill is a maintained chalk grassland habitat necessary for the survival of several rare moths and butterflies, the Adonis Blue being a prime example.

Located at Shoreham-by-Sea just off the A27 it provides two car parks and easy access so is visited by many people.

Armed with my trusty Canon PowerShot SX210 IS I set off with my wife to try my hand at taking some pictures of hopefully the Adonis Blue and any other butterfly or moth I could find.

We parked at the lower car park and headed immediately for the lower slopes where we knew would be the best place to find our quarry.

As we headed down the steps to the lower slopes we could see that several other enthusiasts had already arrived.

The difference was though that they were armed with photographic equipment that reminded me of a visit I had years ago to Jodrell Bank.

Suffice to say that they were ensconced at various locations on the lower slopes in a somewhat static position.

Undeterred we continued our quest tracking butterflies until they decided to stop when we would attempt to get close enough to get some decent pictures which with grim determination we managed to do.

After an hour or so of walking up and down the slopes we began to tire so headed for the steps that lead to the upper slopes to continue our excursion back to the car.

On the upper slopes we found what appeared to be a completely different world from where we had just been in relation to habitat and species.

Being reinvigorated by what we saw we decided to spend another hour or so as not to miss any records which may not be about on our next visit.

Fatigue eventually caught up with us and we decided to amble back to the car and head home to sort through the hundreds of pictures we had taken in the hope that we had some good shots.

It was rather windy on our walk back but out of the corner of my eye I spotted the best find of the day struggling to retain its position on the trunk of a small tree.

Because of the wind we had to wait for a brief lull to get a clear shot which fortunately we were able to do eventually.

Oak Eggar moth on a tree trunk taking flight
The answer is blowin' in the wind

All in all, our first field trip I am glad to say was a success and we have enjoyed many return visits.

In fact, two days prior to writing this post we paid a visit to see what was going on and although we did not see any moths or butterflies we did see signs that spring has finally arrived.

A Sweet Violet flower
Sweeter than all the roses

But even with the wealth of wildlife at Mill Hill we would need to go farther afield if we wanted to record some other rare species with our first being the subject of my next post entitled the Lulworth Skipper.