Shoreham-by-Sea Homepage
Link to Adur Nature Notes 2000
Link to the Adur Valley web page
Adur Wildlife
Adur Valley
Main Links
British Marine Life Study Society
Hulkesmouth Publishing Company
 Ralph Hollins 
 Nature Pages
Havant Nature Notes
 Strandline Quiz
 Seashore Quiz
 Adur Monthly
 News Bulletin
 Sussex Ornithological
 Society News and Reports
 Seaquest SW (Cornwall
 Wildlife Trust web pages)
 BMLSS Birds Page
 Sussex Wildlife Web Sites

 Coastal Fringe
 Chalk Downs
 Intertidal (Seashore)
 River Adur Estuary
 River Adur 
 Sea (off Sussex)
 Town & Gardens
 Widewater Lagoon



Adur Valley Wildlife

Nature Notes 1999:
Shoreham-by-Sea & the Lower Adur Valley

December 1999
Flashes of yellow on the underside of the wing revealed the identity of the Grey Wagtail that flitted across a garden pond north of the Meads (Overmead), just outside the centre of Shoreham. This bird is an unusual migrant from northern climes, although a few breed in the Adur valley.

Report by Jenny Byrne

22 December 1999
Winter Solstice
The last Full Moon of the 20th century is much brighter than normal and can be seen clearly before dusk.
NASA News Item

18 December 1999
A thin layer of snow fell on Mill Hill and the downs above Shoreham. This event is unusual before Christmas, occurring about once a decade. Freezing temperatures throughout the following day. The snow quickly cleared to be replaced by a morning layer of frost on 20 December 1999. A night temperature of  minus 5° C was forecasted on the coast at Shoreham-by-Sea.

16 December 1999
Lapwings were scattered all over Shoreham Airfield, hundreds of them evenly spaced, each occupying an area of slightly less than a tennis court. There were slightly more than usual and it was low tide in the river where small waders have arrived in hundreds from colder climates. Redshanks with their bright red legs (no juveniles with yellow legs were noted) were the most noticeable with their sentinel alarms calls, but there were lots of much smaller birds, most of them were Ringed Plover. The resident Ringed Plover seem to occupy the shingle, where amongst the scorched appearance remnants of the Dock and pebbles they are confident of their camouflage and perched on a shingle outcrop and even on the seaweed littered strandline, they can be just about be discerned. The finches seem to be absent from the bushes around Widewater, which was unusual. An arrow- formation (wedge?) of 24 Cormorants heading north over the Toll Bridge in the late afternoon, was immediately followed by another formation of at least 50 Cormorants, and there was a continual procession of stragglers. It is probably not unusual, but it was the first times I had seen a formation in excess of 23 birds on the Adur.
Fish-eating Birds (more)

13 December 1999
A meeting at Adur Civic Centre, Shoreham-by-Sea,  was held to outline the idea of a Vegetated Shingle Nature Reserve on Shoreham Beach. The turnout was 56 interested people. The questionnaire returned a 78% census in favour of the concept. The public included many beach hut owners. 

Neil Mitchell (WSCC), Steve Berry (English Nature), Steve Gilbert (RSPB), Jeremy Sergeant (Adur DC Leisure) were represented on the panel, chaired by Geoff Howitt (Adur DC, Chair, Labour, St. Mary's ward, Shoreham-by-Sea).
Co-ordinator:Hayley Tuppenny.
The photographic display by David Wood consisted of a large selection of shingle plants on Shoreham Beach. The bird pictures were by Stanley Allen

Photograph:  Childing Pink (by Andy Horton)

Vegetated Shingle Nature Reserve Web Site
Shoreham Beach (Shingle Plants)

29 November 1999
An influx of a dozen immature Herring Gulls make their presence clear, by squawking etc. in Shoreham Town Centre. A couple of adults also accompanied the colony (throng?). Unlike the more prevalent Black-backed Gulls, which are not seen in the centre of town, Herring Gulls are bolder in the presence of humans, scavenging on edible rubbish. 
Hundreds of Black-headed Gulls invaded Buckingham Park after a night of strong winds, gusting to gale-force. The grass was very damp and there would be plenty of worms. 
Pied Wagtails, noticeable throughout the year also increase in numbers in the winter, through a migration from the north. They flit over the streets, often in pairs, with their characteristic low level (below car height) dipping flight, their long tail wagging up and down giving them the local name of Dishwasher

27 November 1999
Storms batter the coast over the weekend.

Waves batter the western outer pier at Shoreham Harbour

Photograph by David Wood (Shoreham Beach),
Click on the picture for a larger image.

22 November 1999
Mussels on Southwick Beach have been pronounced unfit for human consumption (nobody was daft enough to eat them) because of contamination by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from the old coal gas works (probably), closed over 20 years ago. I would not be surprised if they tested for toluene, they would discover this cancer-inducing agent as well. 

21 November 1999
Regular all-season rockpoolers will realise that on the Sussex coast the mobile inhabitants of the shore, small fish, crabs, prawns etc. move offshore into deeper water. Usually, the is movement is very sudden, on the last low spring in September there will still be abundant shore life, but by the first low spring tide of October, all the life will have disappeared and there will be nothing at all of note under the rocks. The sudden onset of cold weather is probably the reason.
So it was after some bitter chill winds, that I trudged down to Kingston beach, to collect a few mussels, and apart from the 30 plus Black-headed Gulls and four Oystercatchers scavenging on the edge of the calm sea, I not expected anything of note. 
However, beneath the rocks strewn amongst the mussel beds, first year Blennies, only 15 - 20 mm, and similarly-sized Rock Gobies sheltered beneath the flint cobble-sized rocks.

Photograph by Andy Horton

Blenny with a Limpet & Acorn Barnacles

Not in itself particularly unusual for this beach, but together with small Hermit Crabs, in Netted Dogwhelk shells, and small Hairy Crabs, and the first Dogwhelk I had seen since 1982, the cumulative effect was a bit of surprise of the frequency of life on the beach. Oysters, cockles, carpet shells, Grey Topshells accompanied the abundant mussels and winkles. Limpets were common. Some of the chalk had broken up and a few empty shells of the Piddock, Barnea candida, lay scattered around.
Kingston Beach page (link)

20 November 1999
With a sharp north-easterly, the wind chill felt near freezing. Black-headed Gulls are omnipresent throughout the year on the River Adur mud and on the Middle Road playing fields, where one out of 20 gulls was the less commonly seen, and slightly larger, Common Gull. Black-headed Gulls have red-orange legs and the Common Gulls have grey-green legs. 

18 November 1999
A Whooper Swan has been reported from the Adur Valley. 
(Ralph Hollins Nature Pages)

4 November 1999
Cormorants, a Little Egret and a Red-breasted Merganser, are all three fish-eating birds that could be seen in the River Adur opposite Ropetackle in the afternoon when the tide was low. 

Photograph  by Andy Horton

The Little Egret foraged in the shallow pools between the mussel beds with a solitary Redshank. The Cormorants were fishing, but the Red-breasted Merganser disdained such activity, and just stood at the edge ot the tidal stream and watched the river flow by. 
Link to Egrets at Thorney Island
On Kingston Beach, a single Oystercatcher probed on the edge of the mussels beds, for worms etc. 
On Brooklands Boating Lake a Little Grebe (Dabchick) was seen swimming and diving under the water. (June Brown).

2 November 1999
On a clear day, with the sun low in the sky it was quite murky even at 3.30 pm over the exposed mussel beds adjacent to Ropetackle, between the Norfolk Bridge and the Railway Viaduct. Midway between a high neap tide of 5 metres and the maximum ebb of the day, there was still enough water in the River Adur for the regular populations of Cormorants to dive under for fish. One was feeding in the fast running stream under the Norfolk Bridge. These birds are a common sight in ones or twos throughout the year, and are too familiar to warrant more than one mention on this page. They are the most interesting of the residents, fanning their wings and diving for supper. Eels are often a noticeable prey as the wriggly fish often entangles around the beak of the bird.  Diving amongst the pleasure boat mooring chains, I was treated to sight of a Red-breasted Merganser also making repeated dives. Just like the Cormorant the dives were often extended and it would surface metres away from the dive point, moving further away from my position. This bird is an irregular visitor during the winter. It had not seen this punk-haired bird  (sawbill diver) for at least 5 years. A couple of these birds occasionally spend a few days on Widewater Lagoon feeding on the Sticklebacks

The Sussex Conservation Board are planning an Internet "Virtual Information Centre" to provide additional information about the South Downs (Julian Grey). 

29 October 1999
I counted over 50 adult Great Black-backed Gulls, with a handful of full-sized juveniles all perched on top of the blue roof of the disused prefabricated warehouse and factory of Sussex Polythene, Brighton Road, Shoreham-by-Sea. This property is adjacent to Monteum Ltd, where the Shoreham trawlers and fishing boats berth. Great Black-backed Gulls are common in the town from autumn to spring, commoner than the noisy squawking Herring Gull. In nearby Brighton, Hove and Worthing, the Herring Gull is far the commoner of the large gulls.

26 October 1999
Hoping for a better view of the Kingfisher of yesterday and/or to catch the Little Egret on film when there was more light around noon, I was to be disappointed as the tide came up to its maximum of 6.7 metres and, of course, high tide was about an hour later. Even the towpath had nearly broken off - (the banks are friable white chalk on the east side north of the railway viaduct) - and washed into the Adur. 

25 October 1999
A flash of the iridescent turquoise and gold against the dull mud flats north of the Railway Bridge over the River Adur attracted my eye. It was a couple of hours after the highest equinoctial tide, so the water was still mostly in flood, and the Kingfisher,  perched but for a brief moment on a protrusion above the surface of the river. 
This tidal stretch that up to and well beyond the wooden Toll Bridge is a fully saline part of the estuary and there were still plenty of small Bass in the river.
It looked like a young bird, probably searching for new territory. It is in autumn that the occasional Kingfisher can be seen in the lower reaches. 

I was about to move on to see if I could catch a glimpse of the Kingfisher upriver, when I noticed the first mud flats appearing as the tide rapidly receded. Gulls, Black-headed and immature Great Black-backed Gulls, were already settling down, and amongst the whites and greys, one bird stood out because of its activity. Even without binoculars, I could see clearly the fishing behaviour of the Little Egret. Unlike the Heron which perches actually in the water, the Little Egret stood on the mud and stretched out its long neck to capture a first year Bass. At least one fish, it needed to adjust in its beak before swallowing. 


As the mud appeared the Lapwings settled in flocks of hundreds and the squawk of the Redshank, foraging even nearer the bank acted as sentinel. Upriver between the Toll Bridge and the Flyover, another Little Egret was on the look out for fish and a large Cormorant almost invisible against the steep marsh clay bank dived into the river on its quest for fish. Mallards rested on the mud outcrop, shared with assorted gulls,  in the middle of the Adur adjacent to Ricardo Engineering, just north of the Toll Bridge.
Little Egrets (more)

24 October 1999
Gale Force 8 winds, gusting to Storm Force 10, and rain coupled with spring equinoctial tides batter the south coast at the weekend. In Shoreham and Lancing where all the properties built too near the sea were removed during World War II, there was little damage.

Spear-leaved Orache

The shingle on the beach was hurled around by the power of the waves, burying the Spear-leaved Orache, Atriplex hastata, the ground-hugging plant nearest to the sea. (David Wood). 

The Labour party announce at the Bournemouth Conference that the South Downs are to become a National Park.  All the Councils in Sussex except proposers Brighton Council are opposed. The FOE are actively in favour and groups like the National Trust and the Society of Sussex Downsmen have expressed their support. The Sussex Conservation Board, which would be replaced, are opposed. A few working environmentalists I have met said that it would not make much difference, except that:
1)  planning applications on the Downs would be more difficult.
2)  more money would be available for conservation projects etc.

21 October 1999
Small flocks of Goldfinches and Greenfinches brings a glimpse of colour as they flit around the banks between Widewater Lagoon and the sea. There were probably Chaffinches as well. The salt spray results in an unusual collection of wild plants that attract these birds, that can be seen throughout the year. 
Shingle Plants
Birds of the Shingle

29 September 1999
The second half of September was particularly wet with heavy rain almost every day and night in the last 2 weeks.
Local Climate Details

2 September 1999
Indian Summer
Heat wave with temperatures measured at 24° C maximum. Later in the afternoon the temperature fell to 20° C. The mist and the ameliorating effects of a sea breeze made the temperatures on the coast much lower than inland temperatures forecasted at 28° C. Exceptionally humid.

31 August 1999
Another humid heat wave, but it was cool enough to be pleasant at 8.30 am at the lowest point of the spring tide. At Kingston Beach on the lowest ebb, the sea was lapping against the tide marker at Chart Datum. It was as still as a mill pond. The seagulls, mainly the Black-headed Gull (with red legs, the heads are mostly white), Larus ridibundus, were resting on the sea and flying around and squawking. The numbers and the abundance was unusual so there had to be a reason. Terns were diving into the sea, so there must be shoals of small fish. 

About 1 metre above Chart Datum, Kingston Beach

An hour later when there was enough water to peer into the clear water from the mussel-strewn concrete blocks at Kingston. I could see most of the shoals were Bass, about 40 mm long, but varying from 20 mm to 60 mm in the hundreds of shoals of several hundred to a thousand fish in each. The Adur is a nursery river for Bass, but I had never seen so many before (regular observation since 1979).

25 August 1999

Three Little Egrets, their distinctive all white colouring stood out from the greenery (Glasswort) and they were right in the middle of the Adur mudflats (between the footbridge and the Norfolk Bridge), sometimes hidden in the dips of the channels. The tide was low in the mid-afternoon. In addition 7 Grey Herons were perched as still as statues. All the birds were too far away for photographs even with a 500 mm mirror lens. The light was poor in the middle of a thunderstorm and a downpour. 
There has been abundance of small Grey Mullet in the river this year, which would be fed on by the Herons.

22 August 1999
David Roberts (Shoreham Beach) reported a Little Egret, Egretta egretta,  from the mudflats near the houseboats. It was on the remaining mud at about the maximum low neap tide (minimum range, high tide 4.7 metres) at 3.00 pm BST. 
(Little Egrets were first recorded on the River Adur in 1993 and 1994)

11 August 1999
Partial Eclipse at Shoreham-by-Sea, figures (unofficial):

 9.30 am  40000 Lux
10.00  45000  ¤ 
10.38  35000
10.48  32000
10.54  30000
11.02  21000  ¤
11.07  13000
11.09  11000  ¤
11.10  10000
11.13   5000
11.16   4000  ¤ 
11.25   6000
The difference between 40000 Lux and 5000 Lux is about 4 aperture stops on a camera settings. There was still enough light to take a photograph, like an overcast day, like a prelude to a thunderstorm.
The times of the maximum coverage where confirmed by visual observation of the eclipse through the mylar spectacles.
On a clear day, the temperature in the sun varied from 25° C to 18°C at the maximum amount of the eclipse. The lower temperature equalled the shade temperature.

Report by  Andy Horton

Nature Photography (including LUX/EV readings conversion)
Best Solar Eclipse Photographs (from Cornwall)

July 1999
Verdant Mud 1999
In the prolonged hot and dry spell for the complete month of July, the mud flats on the part of the River Adur that runs through the centre of Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, turned green with a rapid spread of the salt tolerant green plant known as the Common Glasswort, Salicornia europea. This plant is collected for food when it is known as Marsh Samphire, and is meant to be a poor man's asparagus.
More Information

6 July 1999
Empty shells on the small Piddock, Barnea candida, were scattered over a small (1 sq. metre) are of exposed chalk bedrock between the mussel beds on Kingston Beach

Barnea candida

A few days earlier the weather had been inclement with gale force winds.
Report Card  from Kingston Beach
Mollusc Page (BMLSS)

May 1999 
Moon Jellyfish, Aurelia aurita, swarmed in thousands in Shoreham Harbour, Sussex. This jellyfish is common and widespread throughout the oceans of the world and is common all around the coast of Britain. It would not deserve a special comment if they had been recorded regularly at this location before - they had been for about 4 years, but not in such numbers. 

The largest specimens reached 25 cm in diameter. In some specimens the four rounded pinkish masses, which are the gonads, could be seen. An occasional specimen had 6 rings.
Jellyfish Notes (BMLSS)

27 May 1999
Marion Wood (BMLSS) spotted a pod of about 6 Dolphins 100 metres off Shoreham Beach, Sussex, in the early evening with at least three jumping out of the water at one time. They swam very quickly east towards Brighton.
Charlie Hubbard also spotted a pod of dolphins bow-riding the fishery protection vessel "Watchful".

Bottle-nosed Dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, have been identified in Chichester Harbour, West Sussex. 
Cetacean Page (BMLSS)
Sussex Cetaceans

1 February 1999
A 3 metres* long female Mako Shark, Isurus oxyrinchus, (the consensus now seems that it is a Porbeagle) was caught three miles off Brighton by cod fishermen and brought into Monteum Fish Market at nearby Shoreham-by-Sea. The shark weighed 172 kg (378 lb). The largest shark normally caught in Sussex seas is the Tope, Galeorhinus galeus, and then only occasionally. Rarely Porbeagle Sharks, Lamna nasus, have even been caught, but this is my first report of a Mako. Reported in the Shoreham Herald.
[* One report said 2.2 metres, excluding the tail fin?]
Shark Page
Letter to Shoreham Herald

PS: On further examination the shark looks like a Porbeagle. Andy Horton  11/2/99.
Further investigation underway.

Shark teeth

The consensus now seems that it is a Porbeagle. Doug Herdson, Marcus Goodsir, Pål Enger, Philip Vas, Steve Barker & others. 16/2/99.

Capt. Tom's Guide to the Differences between the Porbeagle & Mako Shark

 7 September 1998
There was a diesel oil spillage of 400,000 litres (400 tonnes) in Shoreham Harbour, Sussex, (east end of the Canal) from a bungled burglary. The environmental damage is expected to be small as most of the oil was prevented from entering the canal part of the harbour, connected to the sea.

September 1998
Widewater Lagoon has been treated to a visit by the Australian Black Swan, Cygnus atratus, which must be living in a semi-wild state, as it is not part of the British avian fauna. It is about half the size of the familiar white Mute Swan, Cygnus olor. This swan lives on the Swiss Cottage lake in Shoreham-by-Sea. 

16 August 1998
A pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, were spotted by the Shoreham lifeboat crew from their boat while out on an exercise. Three days later, they were observed from the shingle beach, swimming about 50 metres offshore, near Hove lagoon, Sussex (near Shoreham Harbour).  All species of dolphins are rarely seen off Sussex and there were no reports from 1997. The heatwave from 7 August continues and the temperatures have reached 28° C every day for nearly two weeks on the Sussex coast. 
Cetacean Page

August 1998
An Electric Ray, Torpedo nobiliana, was caught with some difficulty, because the  powerful electric shocks transmitted up the line, by angler Steve Alnutt off Shoreham Beach, Sussex. It weighed 8 kg (18 lb) and was returned alive. 
Large Bass continue to be caught from the shore and piers at Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex. The latest weighed 6.35 kg (14 lb).

August 1998
Cycling along the Coombes Road from Cuckoo's Corner to the Sussex Pad on a warm summer afternoon I surprised a Mink hauling a Crow into the hedges near the Ricardo Test Track. 

7 February 1998
Mackerel, Scomber scombrus, are being caught in commercial numbers off Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex. These fish are normally caught only in summer. Sussex fishermen believe that the warm water is the reason for their occurrence, although in the coldest month of the year the sea temperature was measured at 7° C which is about normal for February. 

  Report by Peter Talbot-Elsden

31 January 1998: 
A Ring-billed Gull, Larus delawarensis.  was observed by Andy Horton (it was pointed out to him) through a powerful telescope, at Widewater Lagoon near Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex just after midday standing on a pole in the brackish shallows. This particular bird was in adult plumage and distinguished by a prominent black tip to its beak on the left side, and a lesser smudge on the right beak. The legs of this bird were a bright yellow. The black beak markings of the juveniles are not included in most popular books with the notable exception of the Reader's Digest Nature Lovers guide. The clearly viewed markings on the right hand side of this bird were consistent with the Common Gull and not the ringed bill of the rare American vagrant: the The American bird has a Herring Gull-like thicker bill. This vagrant bird has been reported on six  occasions from Sussex during the 1980's. 
Identification Information
NB: I am not so sure now. I am prepared to accept it was a Ring-billed Gull. I have just discovered a photograph that looks a bit like the gull on Widewater.

7-10 January 1998
A Grey Phalarope, Phalaropus fulicarius, is a wader that spent most of its life out at sea. The occurrence of one of these birds at Shoreham Airport attracted bird watchers to the western arm of Shoreham Harbour pier where it was seen again on the 10th. 

26 May 1997
Two Red Kites were seen over the River Adur at Shoreham.

July 1996
A Grey Seal, Halichoerus grypus, hauled up on the footbridge supports in Shoreham-by-Sea town centre in Sussex in July 1996. It was well off its beaten track where Common Seals, Phoca vitulina, are vagrants and Grey Seals unheard of. 
Seals Page

Photograph by Steve Savage (Portslade)

31 May 1996
A rabid Dauberton's Bat was taken by Sheila Wright to the Bat Conservation premises in Shoreham, after being discovered in Newhaven.
Hansard Question and Answer

Chart Datum: lowest astronomical point of the tide at which the tidal and depth measurements are made, but not the heights on the land.

Ordnance Datum

Indian Summer:  period of dry, unseasonably warm weather in late October or November in the central and eastern United States. The term originated in New England and probably arose from the Indians' practice of gathering winter stores at this time. (from Ency. Britannica)

Adur Valley
Main Links
Top of the Page