Seasonal highlights at Saddlescombe Farm

A green hairstreak

With each changing month comes the promise of new plants and animals to Saddlescombe. At the beginning and end of the year, when it's too cold for many of our visiting species, you can always spot a resident bird of prey or even a woodpecker, but come the warmer months you'll find a bounty of colour and activity awaiting your visit.

Monthly guide

January

If winter ever arrives this month you should look out for our cold-loving residents - waxwings, redwings and fieldfares. They will be seen feeding on hawthorn berries all over Newtimber Hill.

February

Things are gearing up for spring but it's still quiet on the hill. Don't worry though, look above you and you're almost guaranteed to see our resident birds of prey, the red kites, peregrine and kestrel.

The peregrine falcon, Britain's fastest bird
Peregrine falcons are often seen around Culver cliffs

March

Time for the mad march hare; you might get a glimpse of this shy creature during its mating season. Go to the top of the hill, in the open grassland, and you may be lucky to spot a pair of ears poking out of the grass.

April

Newtimber Holt - a truly ancient wood - hosts some of the best bluebell displays on the central South Downs.

Slindon Bluebells
Bluebells in Nore Wood

May

A great time for spring butterflies, particularly the Brighton blues. The Adonis blue and the quintessential downland butterfly can be seen on the west-facing slopes of Newtimber Hill.

June

Pyramidal, fragrant, common spotted - these delightful orchids can be seen in profusion, particularly on the grassy slopes facing north west, near to Saddlescombe.

Can you spot any?
A Butterfly at Portstewart Strand

July

This month sees Newtimber grasslands at their most colourful. Blues, pinks, yellows, whites and reds - every hue is covered. Look out for the Sussex speciality flower - the round-headed rampion. It's simply beautiful.

August

The west-facing slopes come alive with over 20 species of butterfly on the wing. The silver spotted skipper, once a rare little butterfly, can now be seen in profusion on the west-facing slopes. Its characteristic skipping from flower to flower is unmistakable.

A delicate silver spotted skipper butterfly suns itself on a leaf
A delicate and rare silver spotted skipper butterfly suns itself on a leaf

September

Bluebells have the fame, but equally spectacular is the autumn flowering of the devil's-bit scabious. Some years it's simply breath-taking. You can't miss it as it's everywhere.

October

Newtimber's ancient woodland hosts hundreds of different fungi, from the miniscule parachute mushrooms to the huge and deadly (for trees) Ganoderma. On the open grassland look for fairy rings and the elusive, brightly coloured waxcap mushrooms that bring a second summer to the hill.

Eyecatching waxcaps bring a flash of autumn colour
Red and yellow waxcap fungus stand out against green grass

November

Go for an early morning walk when the dew is rising and witness the spectacle of thousands of cobwebs carpeting the downs.

December

The green woodpecker is a common sight on the downs but never fails to delight. You will either see it sticking its beak into the mounds of anthills that pepper the hill or flying off into the woods with its characteristic glide.

Wildlife

Butterflies

Newtimber is a haven for butterflies with over 30 species found between April and September. Downland specialities include the Adonis blue, chalkhill blue and silver spotted skipper.

An Adonis blue butterfly suns itself on a blade of grass
An beautiful Adonis blue butterfly suns itself on a blade of grass

Wildflowers

Take a walk around Newtimber between May and September and you'll discover why it's considered one of the top downland sites in the country.

Birds

Different seasons bring different birds but the residents include the kestrel, buzzard, green woodpecker, rooks and other corvids including jackdaws and jays.

A female Kestrel perches on a tree branch
Female Kestrel

Mammals

Deer, foxes, stoats, weasels, badgers and bats can be seen on the hills around Saddlescombe.

Fungi

Newtimber Holt has hundreds of different species - from minute parachute mushrooms to the giant and deadly (for trees) Ganoderma. The grassland holds an equal, but more elusive, allure with the beautifully coloured waxcaps.

Find out more about our fungal forays

Insects

Newtimber's chalk grassland flowers provide a great bounty for the thousands of different insects that thrive here in summer. Look out for the bloody-nosed and cardinal beetles and the brightly coloured day flying moths. 

Cardinal Beetle
Cardinal Beetle