Wildlife seen in July at Levin Down nature reserve

, 27 July 2022
Wildlife seen in July at Levin Down nature reserve
Round-headed Rampion, Levin Down © Rob Eadie

By Volunteer Reserve Manager Rob Eadie

Although the early summer orchids are now past their best, there is still a profusion of colour on Levin Down as other chalk specialists come into flower. As I write in late July, the blues and pinks of Clustered Bellflower and Common Centaury are spread across the eastern slopes. The deep blue heads of Round-headed Rampion are also much in evidence and are a delight to see for their vivid colour, and also their rarity. Known locally as the “Pride of Sussex”, this species has its stronghold on the Sussex downs.

Clustered Bellflower at Levin Down © Rob Eadie
Clustered Bellflower at Levin Down © Rob Eadie

Many summer butterflies are on the wing over the chalk grassland, including the eye catching Chalk Hill Blue and Small Copper. These are best seen on the warm south-facing slopes, where I have also this month spotted the Clouded Yellow. The golden-orange Gatekeeper is frequent in the longer grass and other vegetation throughout the reserve - worth admiring at close range, especially when freshly emerged. Comma, Ringlet and Speckled Wood are abundant in the dappled shade of the lower paths.

Gatekeeper (male) © John Baker
Gatekeeper (male) © John Baker

There are solitary wasps patrolling the brambles for insect prey, including digger wasps, which can be seen excavating their nest holes deep into the dry chalky paths on the upper slopes.

Evidence of rose gall wasps can now be seen on the stems of wild dog rose. Known as Bedeguar galls, or Robin’s Pin Cushion galls, they are coloured brilliant red at this time of year.

Bedeguar Gall, Levin Down © Rob Eadie
Bedeguar Gall, Levin Down © Rob Eadie

A variety of colourful hoverflies are everywhere, basking on leaves and hovering in sunlight. There are robber flies too, crouching patiently and ready to pounce on their insect prey. As August approaches I will be looking out for one of Britain's largest flies, the Hornet Robberfly. One flew by me on Levin last year, clutching a large grasshopper.

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Comments

  • Judith Cair:

    Thank you very much for your report, Rob, and for all the work undertaken by the team of volunteers. It was wonderful to find clustered bellflower on the lower slopes today.

    31 Jul 2022 16:10:00