Beachy Head, East Sussex ***
Grid ref: TV555959
2 miles west of Eastbourne
Excellent coastal chalk downland with easy access (steep in places) and dramatic scenery – one of best places in Sussex for Silver-spotted Skipper, Dark Green Fritillary and Clouded Yellow.
Access details: Eastbourne Borough Council own 4000 hectares, of which 1200 hectares is open access downland for the public to enjoy.
Key species Silver-spotted Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Clouded Yellow, Green Hairstreak, White-letter Hairstreak, Adonis Blue, Dark Green Fritillary
Other common species Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Large Skipper, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Small Copper, Brown Argus, Common Blue, Chalkhill Blue, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Speckled Wood, Wall, Marbled White, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small Heath
Occasional species Monarch
Site description There are two key parts to Beachy Head for butterflies.
The first is the strip centred around Birling Gap. From the car park here, head west up the little lane past the bungalows ¼ mile and through a gate towards Seven Sisters. Beyond a little copse, a small area of downland opens up with Green Hairstreak, Dark Green Fritillary, Chalkhill Blue etc. Alternatively head east from Birling Gap on the inland side of the slope parallel with the road to Horseshow Plantation (TV561958). The sheltered eastern side of the plantation is fantastic for Silver-spotted Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Adonis Blue, Brown Argus, Clouded Yellow etc, with White-letter Hairstreak in the plantation itself. There is another Adonis Blue colony up over the top from the plantation in the gully that dips down west from Belle Tout lighthouse.
The second area is south east of Beachy Head itself, a steep descent onto a downland meadow where Chalkhill Blues and Dark Green Fritillaries can be plentiful.
Author Adrian Thomas
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