Anna guided 16 of us on superb walk with the Group this morning on the Downs above Eastbourne hoping to find Downland plants, butterflies and birds but what we found far exceeded our expectations.
From the start of the walk we were surrounded by a profusion of Downland plants with the colourful Knapweed everywhere we looked and this was often intermingled with the lovely soft seed heads of Creeping Thistle. Birds were seen feeding on the seed heads of plants and butterflies were nectaring on the flowers.
Our first birds were soon identified and it was great to get such excellent views of so many Spotted Flycatchers, Whitethroats, Willow Warblers and Goldfinches plus one Redstart and one Wheatear. Linnets were also seen and overhead two buzzards circled and then later large numbers of Herring Gulls were seen above us catching and feeding on flying insects.
Almost everywhere we walked we saw Silver Y Moths – the most I personally have ever seen on one day and we also recorded the Small Purple and Gold micro-moth (Pyrausta aurata) plus a number of other small unidentified moths. Grasshoppers and Crickets were with us throughout the walk and one Roesel’s Bush-cricket was also recorded.
There were plenty of butterflies to be seen and we recorded Small White, Small Tortoiseshell, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown (lots of them), Common Blue, Essex Skipper, Small Heath, Speckled Wood and Small Copper before finding the two species Anna wanted to show us – Silver-spotted Skipper and Wall. The Silver-spotted Skipper in particular was very obliging and everyone on the walk was able to get good views of it.
We thought things couldn’t get much better than this but the plants had other ideas and shortly after the “Silver-spotted Skipper” moment we found an amazing bank of Devil’s-bit Scabious, some still in bud but with many just coming into flower.
We then reached a relatively open area where people rested for a few minutes before continuing on to the starting point for the walk and then right at the end as we approached the parked cars two beautiful Painted Lady butterflies lingered on some Knapweed long enough for all of us to see them.
The changing vistas of Eastbourne during the walk were an added bonus for us and I would like to record my thanks to Anna for leading this walk for the Group and making the morning rather special.