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Flora & Fauna

The rare chalk grassland of the Eastbourne Downland is home to a rich variety of plants, insects and birds. If you are interested in the wildlife of the Eastbourne Downland then join the Downland Ranger for one of his Guided Walks.

Flowers include hairy violet, cowslip, bulbous buttercup, milkwort, birdsfoot trefoil, kidney vetch and horshoe vetch in Spring. In Summer flowers include knapweed, yellow wort, centuary, wild carrot, squinancy wort, wild thyme, marjoram and round-headed rampion. Downland orchids include fragrant and common spotted orchids and the particularly rare early purple, early spider and frog orchids.

Wild flowers abound on the chalk grassland - click for full size image (173KB)


Spring migrant birds include Common Scoter, Whimbrel, Sandwich, Common and Arctic Terns and Bar Tailed Godwits, all flying up the Channel to return to summer breeding grounds. Meadow Pipits, Finches, Goldcrests and Firecrests can be seen amongst the gorse. Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers arrive in March/April with Whitethroats, Blackcaps, Redstarts, Spotted Flycatchers and Whinchats arriving later in May. Nightingales sing day and night from the undergrowth and Linnets and Yellowhammers are common.

The cliff provides an important nesting site for Herring Gulls and Fulmars as well as Jackdaws, Stock Doves and Kestrels. The Peregrine Falcon has also returned during the last decade. Autumn migrants are also numerous thanks to a plentiful supply of elderberries and blackberries to feed upon. Lesser Whitethroats, Garden Warblers, Wheatears, Thrushes, Fieldfares and Redwings are common visitors.

The Winter is fairly quiet but the occasional Merlin or Hen Harrier can be seen swooping over the fields.

The chalk grassland provides an important habitat for butterflies. Migrants include red admirals, painted ladies and the striking clouded yellow. The downland also has resident colonies of butterflies, attracted by foodplants which cannot grow in any other type of soil. These include the adonis blue, the chalkhill blue and the common blue. Attracted by the coastal habitat are distinctive dark green fritillaries and marbled whites.

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