ADUR NATURE NOTES 2009
Lower Adur Valley, West Sussex
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If you find one or more dead swans, ducks or geese, more than three dead birds of the same species - or more than five dead birds of different species, in the same place, you should contact the Defra helpline on 08459 33 55 77. 


 
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Reports by Andy Horton from personal observation unless otherwise indicated
Clicking on the new thumbnail-style images will reveal a larger photograph

2009 Regional


Adur Coastal & Marine
Adur Estuary & Levels
Mill Hill & the Downs
Urban Reports

LOCAL NATURE RESERVES


A Nature Reserve is defined in Section 15 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, as land managed for the purpose:
(a) of providing, under suitable conditions and control, special opportunities for the study of, and research into, matters relating to the flora and fauna of Great Britain and the physical conditions in which they live, and for the study of geological and physiographical features of special interest in the area; or
(b) of preserving flora, fauna, or geological or physiographical features of special interest in the area; or for both these purposes.

 
MILL HILL
LANCING RING
SHOREHAM BEACH

EVENTS

7 January 2009
Wildlife of the South Downs
A presentation and discussion
Illustrated talk by Andy Horton

Explore the south downs above the Adur Valley through the eyes of wildlife writer and photographer Andy Horton, a native Shoreham resident. The chalk downs are noted for their flowering herbs and the famous butterfly sites at Anchor Bottom and Mill Hill.

Venue:  Beeding and Bramber Village Hall which is in Upper Beeding High Street.


WILDLIFE REPORTS
 

9 November 2009
As expected it was almost a complete miss for butterflies on Mill Hill, but in the north-west corner of Mill Hill Nature Reserve I almost stumbled over a Clouded Yellow Butterfly which fluttered on to the Old Erringham pasture and when I almost trod on it it flew over the Hawthorn scrub in the direction of the lower slopes of Mill Hill. It was only positive butterfly sighting of the day and the last butterfly of the year.
Adur Butterfly List 2009

2 November 2009
When the sun emerged from from behind the frequent clouds a Peacock Butterfly emerged from hibernation by the Ivy on the edge of the Pixie Path, looking slightly tatty. Four Common Blue Butterflies were seen at the northern end of the lower slopes of  Mill Hill; both these records were the first for the month of November. There was also a probable Large White in Shoreham town which would also be a first for the month. 
 

On Mill Hill, two Clouded Yellows courted and then mated and this was also the first time that this has been seen locally. Over the Waterworks Road a large female Sparrowhawk swooped between the trees and it may have after the frequent Wood Pigeons
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Butterfly Flight Times

26 October 2009
I thought I was going to draw a complete blank on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, when a pure white black lined Clouded Yellow fluttered rapidly past. This was the first time I had seen a completely white one and I have identified this as a female Clouded Yellow var. Helice, which would be a first for Mill Hill and Shoreham. Then to my surprise a nearly new male Adonis Blue was spotted on a single Devil's Bit Scabious flower its presence preventing a female Common Blue from landing. Seven species of butterfly, including three other Clouded Yellows, were seen on an overcast day. 
Full Butterfly Report

12 October 2009
Life for the declining number of butterflies was beginning to becoming more difficult. The Ivy was still an attractant but everywhere the bushes were dominated by swarms of wasps, bees and flies with the occasional bumblebeeand the butterflies if they were able to find a perch it was an even chance that it would be right at the top of the bush. Predatory dragonflies were frequently seen, mostly Common Darters, but also at least one Southern Hawker
 

Southern Hawker
Clouded Yellow

Red Admirals were the only butterfly that were numbered in double figures with 13 or 14. Twelve butterfly species were seen on the day including at least five, possibly as many as eight Clouded Yellows, one of which was seen to settle on purple nectaring flowers.  At least half of the six male Common Blues on the lower slopes of Mill Hill were in a very fresh condition. 
Full Butterfly Report

10-11 October 2009
A juvenile Common (or Harbour) Seal, Phoca vitulina, was seen swimming in the River Adur estuary by the Surry Hard, near where some of the smaller fishing boats are moored. On the second day the seal was reported by Andrew Bellamy in the river at Upper Beeding. Seals are a rare sight off the mid-Sussex coast, but a few have been seen off Shoreham Beach before. The nearest rookery is a small group of seals in Chichester Harbour which are occasionally seen around Selsey (Seal Island).

Report and video in the Shoreham Herald
BMLSS Seals
Previous Sighting in 2008

10 September 2009
An early morning low tide visit to Kingston Beach, Shoreham with Tiger Aspect Productions Ltd, to film the Blenny sequence for a TV four programme series called The Seasons with Alan Titchmarsh, recorded the expected Blennies, Lipophrys pholis, a large Rock Goby, Gobius paganellus, half a dozen large Edible Prawns, Palaemon serratus, and a notable a young green Ballan Wrasse, Labrus bergylta

25 August 2009
On a breezy day, the one acre transect on the lower slopes of Mill Hill hosted 38 Adonis Blue Butterflies with the 17 females the highest recorded count for this gender. 
Full Butterfly Report

17 August 2009
I was shocked by the unmistakable sighting of a Brown Hairstreak Butterfly* on Mill Hill south of the upper car park. It flew of rapidly and was lost to my sight in about 20 seconds, so this was my first ever glimpse of hedgerow butterfly that lays its eggs on Blackthorn (Sloe). This has increased the total species seen in Shoreham and all on Mill Hill to 33. Nineteen species of butterfly seen on the day on Mill Hill and the Adur Levels including 54 Adonis Blues.
*Later doubts have crept in about the identification of this butterfly. I did not get a good enough look to be 100% certain.
Full Butterfly Report

12 August 2009
Something made me look up towards the cloudy sky over the northern slope of Anchor Bottom: a large dark bird glided through the sky and by its broad wing shape I recognised a Buzzard. Less than a minute afterwards it was mobbed by a Crow, but it glided westwards unperturbed and then out of sight. A flock of thirty or more Rooks were seen in the same area, followed by flock of 200+ Starlings that flew up in unison as the Buzzard glided past. 

3 August 2009
The sun was out, but alas not the Chalkhill Blues in their expected numbers on Mill Hill with just 47 noted which means that the number of the Chalkhill Blues in flight on Mill Hill were probably around 150 which is a disastrously low total. 
 
This Chalkhill Blue appeared to be ill or poisoned and it could he handled. This has been seen before in previous years.

There were well over a hundred Common Blues on the meadows to the north of the northern car park on Mill Hill with frequent Painted Ladies all over the hill, about ten Peacock Butterflies, a surprise Brimstone Butterfly, and just two fresh first of the year Essex Skippers (could have been Small Skippers). The variety of butterfly species was fine with twenty species recorded which was the second best day total ever. The list included my first Small Copper of the year on Anchor Bottom.
Full Butterfly Report
List of Species
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

31 July 2009
The weak sun sun shone through the white cumulus clouds in a bright blue sky on what should have been a peak day for the Chalkhill Blue Butterflies, but only 51 were counted in in the one acre transect on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. There were probably only about a hundred Chalkhill Blues on Mill Hill. The Chalkhill Blue count was very poor as in a poor year 200 would be recorded in the transect acre and 750+ in a good year. This would compute to 500 and 3000+ on Mill Hill as a day count.

The first mating pair of Chalkhill Blues was seen on the Mill Hill Cutting 

On the plus side fresh Wall Browns put in a good show with six seen on the day and I would expect a dozen or more would have been noted if I had visited to the middle and upper parts of Mill Hill. 
Full Butterfly Report

23 July 2009
Under a cloudy sky my first female Chalkhill Blue Butterfly of the year was blown about in the breeze, with a count of 24 males in unfavourable conditions on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. The highlight of the day, as the sun and vanessid butterflies came out along the Coastal-Downs Link Cyclepath between Upper Beeding and Old Shoreham, was the first Hummingbird Hawk-moth since 2006 whirring away amongst the meadow herbs on the edge of the verges, its orange rear and vibrating wings most distinctive.
Greater Knapweed Meadow (Image)
Knapweed Studies

14 July 2009
A visit to Tottington Woods, Small Dole, with Jan Hamblett, resulted in the sightings of two butterflies not recorded personally in the Lower Adur Valley area before. 
 

Silver-washed Fritillary
Silver-washed Fritillary
White Admiral

There were frequent flights under the canopy of Oak and Willow of the large and splendid Silver-washed Fritillaries flying up to about five metres above the ground vegetation and wood piles and occasionally landing for a photograph. Two splendid White Admirals were spotted, the first one slightly worn and intact, and the one that landed in front of us was damaged with two chunks missing out of its left forewing. The first confirmed Migrant Hawker (dragonfly) of the year was seen in a woodland ride in Tottington Wood
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Butterfly Flight Times
Adur Dragonflies 2009

25 June 2009
A metre long Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus, jumped 30 cm clear of the sea in the vicinity of a fishing boat seven miles off Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex, in the early afternoon on a sunny day. It was speculated that this tunny (which is now rare in British seas) followed the large shoals of fish in, which in turn attracted the fishing vessel. "As it left the water I was able to catch sight of its gleaming multi-coloured sides of the the torpedo-shaped fish and the small pre-caudal triangular finlets appeared dark blue. Its weight was estimated to be about 12 kg."

Report by Mark Griffiths
BMLSS Tunnies

In the late afternoon, two Wall Lizards, Podarcis muralis, were seen on the flint walls of the Old Fort, Shoreham Beach. Both were green intact adults and the first one stayed around long enough for a photograph. 
Adur Lizards

Near the Old Fort, the expanse of Starry Clover, Trifolium stellatum, flowering was coming to an end. Childing Pink, Petrorhagia nanteuilii, was present in small numbers, all with single flowers in their usual place in a small patch at Silver Sands.
New Wild Flowers

22 June 2009
A cycle ride from Old Shoreham to Annington Sewer along the Coastal-Downs Link Cyclepath produced frequent butterflies including at least two of my first Ringlet Butterflies of the year and six other butterfly species.
The most interesting observations of the day occurred at Annington Sewer where a large blue dragonfly flew over the stream and it looked subtly different from a Southern Hawker and may very well have been a male Emperor Dragonfly. Unfortunately, it quickly flew out of sight. 

Its display was excelled by a pair of  Banded Demoiselles, Calopteryx splendens, that danced over the stream for a full ten minutes and probably longer. They appeared to be courting, but both of the wings had bright blue patches whereas the female has wings of metallic green. Interestingly there was a resting emerald green damselfly (illustrated above) of about the same size which may have been a female of the species.

Full Butterfly Report
Adur Dragonflies 2009
Full Dragonfly and Damselfly Report
New Wild Flowers

8 June 2009
The orchid (illustrated on the right) discovered on the Mill Hill Cutting (south-west) was a mystery. There are seven votes for the Southern Marsh Orchid, Dactylorhiza praetermissa
New Wild Flowers

7 June 2009
A female Stag Beetle, Lucanus cervus, crawled across the pavement of Buckingham Road, Shoreham, just north of the junction with Nicolson Drive. 
Adur Beetles
Male Stag Beetle 2009

26 May 2009

Painted Lady

The mass immigration of Painted Lady Butterflies was astonishing, throughout the morning over east Shoreham, Southwick and Portslade the Painted Ladies exceeded two a minute for an hour and were over one a minute the rest of the time, with large numbers (100+) in Portslade Cemetery and on the main road that traversed Hove Cemetery, the butterflies flew across the road at over 30 every minute for five minutes in passing. The conservative estimate was at least 500 seen as I cycled along the urban roads. Their estimated speed was 8 mph although some seemed to have lost their sense of steady northerly migration. Occasionally a Large White Butterfly was spotted.
Painted Lady Influx on UK Butterflies

17 May 2009
On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, was at its peak on a blustery overcast day. My first Painted Lady Butterfly of the year was recorded along with 29 Adonis Blues and eight butterfly species in total on Mill Hill and its approaches. 

Male Adonis Blue
Full Butterfly Report
Flowering Dates of Horseshoe Vetch
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

23 April 2009
 
Green Hairstreak on Horseshoe Vetch

My first ever confirmed Green Hairstreak Butterfly was discovered on Mill Hill in the central area of the lower slopes by the path. I had suspected sightings in the same area before and this butterfly had been reported by other visitors. My first Wall Brown Butterfly of 2009 was seen over the path approach to the copse from the north-west in an area this butterfly had been seen regularly in previous years. Eleven species of butterfly were seen on the day and this excluded two species that could have been expected. 
A flock of seven Swallows flew over the River Adur south of Cuckoo's Corner
Full Butterfly Report

20 April 2009
At first it looked like a discarded leather belt, but a closer look established it was a dark blue and black snake coiled up on an earth bank on the side of the bridlepath (from the Sussex pad to Lancing Ring) by a field of Cowslips west of Hoe Cottage, north Lancing next to the downs. I later confirmed the snake with back diamond-shaped markings to be an Adder (or European Viper), Vipera berus, the very first one I had seen in my life. By the time I had recognised the reptile it managed to slither into the grass and it disappeared from view. It appeared to be a juvenile, much smaller than any Grass Snakes I had seen locally. Its head was small and would only seem capable of catching and swallowing insects or young mice.

Dingy Skipper19 April 2009
A morning visit to Mill Hill on a dull day produced just a smattering of butterflies: a handful (about five) of Grizzled Skippers, my first Dingy Skipper of the year, two whites probably Small Whites, two good condition Peacock Butterflies and a Treble-bar Moth (that landed on me) on the lower slopes. The scrub produced two more whites including a Large White and three Speckled Woods.  The most representative feature of the lower slopes were the frequency (15+) of the small pyralid moth Pyrausta nigrata plus at least one Pyrausta despicata
A large Dryad's Saddle was spotted on a log by the path that runs along the south of Frampton's Field, Old Shoreham.
Dryad's Saddle Image
Adur Fungi 2009

15 April 2009
We visited Mill Hill where we met Neil Hulme and saw between 20 and 30 Grizzled Skippers and newly emerged Dingy Skippers

Report by Bob and Matt Eade on Sussex Butterflies
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Adur Skippers

Horseshoe Vetch14 April 2009
Two small day-flying in moths put in their first appearance of the year on the lower slopes of Mill Hill (Old Shoreham): these were the pyralids, three Pyrausta despicata and two Pyrausta nigrata. Two Grizzled Skippers were recorded. 
The first yellow Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, flowers appeared on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, hosting small black pollen beetles, Meligethes erichsoni.
Flowering Dates of Horseshoe Vetch

13 April 2009
In the late afternoon, my first Holly Blue Butterfly of the year was seen fluttering over a garden overlooking the Waterworks Road

7 April 2009
My first Swallow of 2009 flew over the Cuckoo's Corner inlet at 10:40 am. 

6 April 2009
Two further butterflies put in their first appearances of the year: a single Speckled Wood in the copse on top of Mill Hill, and a male Orange-tip Butterfly over the verges of Waterworks Road. Nine species of butterfly were seen, the most species in a single day so far this year. 
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

5 April 2009
There were frequent Dotted Bee-flies, Bombylius discolor,  hovering in mid-air and visiting Ground Ivy on the Coastal Link Cyclepath near the Cement Works.
Adur Dotted Bee-flies 2009
Dotted Bee-flies Information

30 March 2009
The first Grizzled Skipper of the year seen on the lower slopes of Mill Hill was a great surprise and the first one recorded in March. I also recorded my first Small Tortoiseshell of 2009 with two of them visiting the violets in the same location.

Grizzled Skipper
Seven species of butterfly were recorded in the sunshine.
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Butterfly Flight Times
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Adur Skippers

29 March 2009
An unexpected treat was three or four individual Dotted Bee-flies, Bombylius discolor, using their long feeding tubes to take nectar on a large patch of Ground Ivy, Glechoma hederacea.

Dotted Bee-fly (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)
This is a notable record of a rarely recorded fly and is probably the first for Lancing. Bombylius discolor is a declining BAP (Biodiversity Action Plan) species. In Great Britain this species is classified as Nationally Scarce UK Known Distribution (165 squares)
Adur Flies 2009
Previous Record on Mill Hill

A trampled version of the Crow Garlic or Wild Onion, Allium vineale, was seen on the Pixie Path and it is an addition to the Flora of Shoreham-by-Sea (List).

11 March 2009
My first reptile of 2009 was one of five Wall Lizards, Podarcis muralis, basking for a brief view on the south-facing flint surround wall of the Old Fort, Shoreham Beach, before skitting off into the grass growing up next to the wall. Two of the lizards were grey coloured small juveniles.

8 March 2009

Red Admiral
My first butterfly seen this year was a Red Admiral induced out of hibernation by the weak sunshine over the grass and the edges of the copse at the top of Chanctonbury Drive, south-east of the bridge over the A27 to Mill Hill
Adur Butterfly List 2009

12 February 2009
An immigrant male Merlin landed on a pylon* near the Power Station Chimney in Shoreham Harbour (by Southwick Beach) and it was quickly pounced upon by one of the resident Peregrine Falcons. "I saw one of the Peregrines hurtling towards 
the pylon with my naked eye. I looked straight back through the scope, expecting to see an almighty tussle, but incredibly the Peregrine was perched on the Merlin, the latter still struggling and flapping wings, and the Peregrine keeping balance with wings outspread. After one unsuccessful attempt at flying with its prey still putting up a fight, the Peregrine managed to subdue the Merlin and flew away further into Southwick somewhere (being lost behind the houses) still clutching the Merlin.
(*A frequent perch of one of the two resident Peregrines.) 


28 January 2009
An Iceland Gull, Larus glaucoides, was seen at 8:50 am on Southwick Beach just west of the power station. It was a large individual with a pretty large bill. It was seen again by Carat's Cafe at 10:00 am

Iceland Gull Sussex Records

7 January 2009
The air temperature recorded in Shoreham at 4:00 am at minus 6.9 °C was the lowest this millennium. 
Shoreham Weather (Met Office)
 
 

Mute Swans showing the depth of the Ice on Widewater
Photograph by David Wood
Widewater Lagoon froze over, with the ice thick enough to support the weight of a Mute Swan.
Report by Gordon Croucher (Lancing Parish Council)


6 January 2009
The air temperature recorded in Shoreham at 8:00 am at minus 5.7 °C was the lowest this millennium.
Shoreham Weather (Met Office)

1 January 2009
The first bird of the year seen was an unidentified gull, probably a Herring Gull on the roof opposite my window in Corbyn Crescent, the residential part of Shoreham-by-Sea, followed by a handful of Starlings and looking out over the back garden, a small flock of House Sparrows congregated in the high shrubbery.
 


Flora of Shoreham-by-Sea
Shoreham and District Ornithological Society
Lancing Village

Adur Valley Wildlife on Photobox

MultiMap Aerial Photograph of the Adur Levels and Downs
 

Urban Wildlife Webring


Link to the Adur Nature Notes 2007 web pages

Link to the Adur Nature Notes 2006 web pages


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Link to the Adur Nature Notes 2004 Index page


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Link to more detailed wildlife reports for January to March 2003
Link to the spring wildlife reports for 2003
Adur Valley Nature Notes  October - December 2002

Link to Adur Valley Nature Notes 2003Latest Nature Notes and Index page 2002


Adur Valley Nature Notes  January to March 2002
Adur Valley Nature Notes  April - June 2002
Adur Valley Nature Notes  July - September 2002
Adur Valley Nature Notes  October - December 2002
ADUR NATURE NOTES  2000

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