Butterfly Walk and Picnic

Despite early rain fifteen people turned out for our annual butterfly walk and picnic and we were rewarded by the clouds clearing and even a bit of sunshine. Starting out from the Scout hut we walked up through woodland to Hogtrough where the path opened out to the area of long grass grazed over winter by the sheep. The flowers were stunning, knapweeds, carrot, vetches and lots of yellow rattle and plenty of Marbled white butterflies, meadow browns, small skippers and ringlets. We found the papery empty chrysalis cases of Six spot burnet moths attached to grass stems with the adult moths nearby, their wings showing bright petrol black with rich red spots. Further up the valley where the grass is shorter we saw Chalkhill blue butterflies though the breeze meant that there were’nt too many of them flying. There were large bue patches of Roundheaded rampion, also known as Pride of Sussex, and many other colourful flowers, Pink centaury, Eyebrights, Birdsfoot trefoil and Creeping thyme, the last of which was moulded closely over the many ant hills. We also found lots of Bastard Toadflax which is a nationally rare plant which is parasitic on the roots of other chalk loving plants. It is’nt very eyecatching but the name alone is satisfying. We sat amidst the flowery turf to have our picnic and toasted 21 years of Friends of Bevendean Down. The group was formed when the area was threatened with being built on and we are very lucky still to have two of the founding members very active in the group with all their knowledge and experience.

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