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Adur Valley Wildlife
Nature Notes 2001
Autumn: October - December
Shoreham-by-Sea & the Lower Adur Valley

* If the grid references are not given they could be found on the 
Adur Wildlife database on the Adur eForum


Great Spotted Woodpecker (Photograph by Allen Pollard)

30 December 2001
A Great Spotted Woodpecker visited the feeder in my Shermanbury garden.

Report by Allen Pollard


25-30 December 2001
From the telescope lens of Stanley Allen whom I met by chance in the shelter of a Beach Hut, warmed by bright sunshine on the beach behind Widewater Lagoon.
Large numbers of Razorbills have been seen offshore over the Christmas
period, up to 2500 according to Stanley Allen. He told me that high numbers have been reported all along the Sussex coast.
Great Crested Grebe and Red-throated Diver were also seen recently.

Report by Ray Hamblett
Sussex Ornithological News

29 December 2001
Snow falls before dawn and a thin layer of snow covers the pavements and from my window the downs can be seen in the murky distance covered in a sheet of white. By late afternoon all the snow in the town and by the coast had disappeared. 

The River Adur at Shermanbury with a light layer of snow
Photograph by Allen Pollard

26 December 2001
A large number of Dabs, Limanda limanda,  were caught by Jeff, an angler off Shoreham Harbour Arm, a least 10 over 30 cm long were taken home as large enough to make a decent meal. This flatfish are caught until February inshore off Sussex. Smaller fish were also caught. 
Sussex Marine Life

A Red Fox, a vixen, is spotted regularly foraging around the litter bins at Shoreham Community centre, Pond Road. 

19 December 2001
The Pied Wagtails are back flitting around the back streets of Shoreham for the winter. They seem a bit late this year. One or twos had been seen in the preceding weeks and there were hundreds in the countryside.

18 December 2001
A few (at least three) Great Tits were seen in the conifer tree, Monterey Pine, next to the twitten to the east of the Health Centre in Pond Road, Shoreham, just north of St. Mary de Haura churchyard. This bird is a tricky identification from a fleeting glance as they can be mistaken for the locally rare Coal Tits. The identification was made because of their size, appearing bulkier than the Blue Tit. These tits have frequently been seen before in churchyards and on the Adur Levels (cycle route from Old Shoreham to Bramber). 

16 December 2001
A cold dry breeze and temperatures just above freezing and all the leaves already stripped from the deciduous trees enabled a Jay to be noticed in the large back garden adjoining the south-west corner of Buckingham Park, Shoreham. Unless you are fortunate enough to have a large garden with an Oak  tree, this colourful member of the crow family, Corvidae, is unusual in Shoreham. My attention was drawn by commotion this bird caused amongst the three perching Wood Pigeons.

10 December 2001
A very late and battered Red Admiral Butterfly settled on a Hebe shrub in my Lancing garden  (TQ 185 046).

Report by Ray Hamblett
Butterflies of Lancing

8 December 2001
A very small falcon flew rapidly parallel with the footbridge the full 150 metres width of the River Adur into the evergreen shrubbery by the bungalows at the south end.  It was probably a first year Kestrel. It appeared much smaller and drabber than the normal handsome tiercel, possibly a tiercelet. 

5 December 2001
Two deer, probably Roe Deer, are seen for the first time in Ricardo's Test Field (TQ 201 062) next to the A27 trunk road and east of the Sussex Pad. 

Report by Anne White
Peregrine Falcon is spotted again (first report on these pages) roosting on Southwick Power Station in Shoreham harbour.
Report by Tony Wilson

4 December 2001
Like an arrow a Grey Heron squawked continuously as it flew upriver over the footbridge crossing the Adur between Coronation Green and Shoreham beach. The Heron's bulk was smaller than the accompanying juvenile Herring Gulls, but when approached the roosting area for 40 Greater Black-backed Gulls, hundreds of Black-headed Gulls, and a small flock of 40 Lapwings plus other estuarine birds, its appearance caused hundreds of birds to take to the air. Rafts of Mallards numbered over 45 in one group, a larger number than normally seen on the River Adur estuary

3 December 2001
The woodland floor of Lancing Ring is carpeted with fallen leaves under the Beech trees in this area giving a patchwork of autumnal colours from yellow to brown. Under the Ash trees elsewhere the leaf litter is far less colourful. It has become quite muddy in places as walkers have trod the well used paths. The dewpond looks calm, it's aquatic plants looking yellowed as winter approaches.

Description by Ray Hamblett

29 November 2001
A Full Moon is at 8:51 GMT, the second Full Moon in the month is known as a Blue Moon.

29 November 2001
A couple of the large white ducks, with a bright orange band around their long necks, were Shelducks, which appeared a large duck when they waddled around much larger than the convoy of Mallards, but when on the surface water of Widewater Lagoon the Shelducks appeared smaller. Shelducks are the largest of the British ducks and they feed on molluscs and crabs which are not to be found in any quantities in Widewater Lagoon.

27 November 2001
A very late brown-looking  Red Admiral Butterfly is seen fluttering around Shermanbury.

Report by Allen Pollard

25 November 2001
A seal was seen off Brighton beach, Sussex in the English Channel. This is outside the normal range of all species of pinnipeds. It was swimming between Brighton's two piers heading east to west. The seal swam at the surface and dived on occasions and appeared to be in good health. They have been seen as occasional vagrants before, notably off Shoreham a few miles to the west.

Report by Stephen Savage
Sussex Regional Co-ordinator for the Sea Watch Foundation
BMLSS Seal Page
Seal Conservation Society
Sussex Marine Life

23 November 2001
There are still butterflies around, probably a Red Admiral one seen in Shoreham and one in Portslade by Allen Pollard, although the butterflies appeared brown. Gary Lane also saw one flying around the railway embankment in Lancing. 

Photograph by Paul Parsons18 November 2001
Triggerfish, Balistes capriscus, in fine condition were discovered inhabiting part of the undersea chalk cliff face known as the Worthing Lumps, about 3 miles off the Sussex coast. About 15 adult fish were found, most of them inhabiting the rock crannies in the clear cold (12° C) water, but one fish ventured out into the open. Divers rarely have the opportunity to observe Triggerfish in the winter because of the inclement weather restricts the diving opportunities. 
Excellent photographs and Triggerfish information page (link)

Report by Paul Parsons
Rockpooling under Worthing Pier

14 November 2001
A Green Woodpecker is spotted up a Beech tree on Lancing Ring near the Dewpond. This attractive bird can be found in country gardens and occasionally in large town gardens in the Adur district, notably St. Michael's vicarage in Southwick and at Shermanbury.

Report by Ray Hamblett

Green Woodpecker at Shermanbury (Photograph by Allen Pollard)

November 2001
Green & Great Spotted Woodpeckers seen and heard around Lancing Clump. Yellowhammers and Stonechats present on the western hillside. Long-tailed Tits and a single Goldfinch were seen on the south meadow. Skylarks were spotted and heard particularly towards Steep Down and the Trig point. 
Red Admiral Butterflies flew strongly on sunny days.

Report by Veronica Altringham

13 November 2001
A due north (boreal) wind brought a chill to the air. On the Kingston beach the low spring is recorded at 0.7 metres but it receded almost to Chart Datum. On the Sussex coast, the mobile shore fauna almost completely disappears in after the first spring tides in October with hardly a straggler prawn or Shore Crab left behind.
Under rocks there were some very small (to 12 mm) juvenile Rock Gobies, and a couple of Netted Dogwhelk shells appearing empty but discovered to be occupied by tiny Common Hermit Crabs. The small crustacean Athanas nitescens was common (50+) under one small boulder. 
Full Report

Goldfinch at the feeder in a Lancing garden (Photograph by Jan Hamblett)12 November 2001
In my Lancing garden the Starling population seems to be increasing noticeable since the weather took a chill. Their chit-chat whistles and calls from their perches in the Hawthorn trees are only drowned by the sound of somebody cutting paving bricks a few doors away !.
A pair of Blackbirds occasionally visit as does a Song Thrush which is always a welcome sight. A Robin can seen regularly amongst the shrubbery. 
The Sparrows and Greenfinches now have to compete with the Starlings for a position at the hanging feeders. 
Full Report

Report by Ray Hamblett

10 November 2001
The chill of the last two days finally brought an end to the above average temperatures of October. However, a Red Admiral Butterfly fluttered across my south Lancing garden. 

Report by Ray Hamblett
5 November 2001
A Red Admiral Butterfly fluttered strongly over my front garden in Corbyn Crescent, Shoreham (TQ 224 053), the first of this species I had recorded in this residential street. 
November 2001 Butterflies (All of Britain)

3 November 2001
A late Red Admiral Butterfly flew up from the shrubbery around Glynebourne Court opposite the Civic Centre near the centre of Shoreham. Most, but not all,  of these butterfly reports are in the town so they may be hibernating insects being disturbed and this is what Allen Pollard thought this was the case of a Peacock Butterfly and two Red Admirals at Shermanbury
Adur Butterflies
Young Goldfinches were frequently seen, notably on Middle Road Recreation Ground, Shoreham.

2 November 2001
A bright still sunny day with the Shoreham waterfront buildings casting reflections into the midday spring high tide with Mute Swan cygnets, now the full adult size, on both the River Adur estuary near the footbridge and on Widewater Lagoon.
Red Admiral Butterflies were frequent (30+), singly everywhere where there was vegetation and over the shingle beach, Adur levels and the river. All the butterflies were flying strongly and in good condition. 
The most interesting insect around was a small darter dragonfly with a salmon-pink abdomen, which was almost certainly the Common Darter Dragonfly, Sympetrum striolatum. On the Adur levels (TQ 209 068) they were mating over the duckweed stream and they were frequently seen (25+) on the flood plain and on the towpath by the Airport. The abdomen appeared slightly bent when this dragonfly settled. 
Dragonfly Flight Times

Pretty young Goldfinches were in the bushes on the railway track south of Old Shoreham. Kestrel (Photograph by Andy Horton)A male Kestrel perched on the wooden stork sculpture. My distinct impression was the small size of this falcon compared to the female. It left its perch to dive amongst the grasses and then quickly returned to its look-out post. 

1 November 2001
A solitary House Martin flew north over Lancing Beach Green in the late afternoon. This bird was bit late on its migration to Africa, but stragglers are not particularly unusual.
A Full Moon at 5.43 am

October 2001
It was the warmest October on record, although there was no days of really fine sunny weather after a poor summer. 

31 October 2001
I do not know if this will be the last butterfly of 2001, but a strong flying good condition Red Admiral fluttered around the tree and shrubbery in the Somerfield Supermarket forecourt, in the central town part of Shoreham-by-sea. Red Admirals were reported from Lancing and Shermanbury, and a darter dragonfly was also reported from the latter northern part of the Adur valley by Allen Pollard.
Adur Butterflies
Adur Wildlife Gallery

30 October 2001
Fungus, possibly Volvariella speciosa, hidden amongst the grasses (Photograph by Andy Horton)Amongst the moist grasses of the Adur levels, west of the Waterworks (TQ 209 068), the large white mushrooms with a long white stalk appear to be Volvariella speciosa. The appearance of the cap varies in colour from off-white in the parasol-shaped specimens to a dirtier white almost brown in the larger specimens which were flat, and in the older-looking specimens the cap was upturned to form a shallow cup. The underside and gills vary from a light straw colour the dark brown of a commercial mushroom. The cap of the largest of seven specimens in a square metre was at least 150 mm in diameter. 
British Fungi Discussion Forum

On the east riverbank south of Old Shoreham, a Black-headed Gull repeatedly mobbed the resident Kestrel with a lot of cawing. The Kestrel, a smaller male with its pale bluish underside of the wings, noticeable even at 50 metres distant, could soar out of the way with ease. There were hundreds of gulls on mud flats between the Railway Viaduct and the Toll Bridge.

25 October 2001
The equinoctial neap tides show a small range receding to 2.3 metres above Chart Datum but only rising at 1:00 pm (BST) to 4.4 metres, compared to equinoctial spring tides with a range up to 7 metres.

18 October 2001
Flocks of Pied Wagtails return to the shrubbery at the foot of Mill Hill, wagtailing around in the upper branches of small trees. 
The small copse in the bit to the south-east of McIntyres Field, Lancing, was cleared of a few trees and in this area a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew between the remaining branches, landing to peck at the tree with sharp drumming knocks.
Pholiota squarrosa on Lancing Clump (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)On Lancing Clump, one rotten tree log was covered in the Shaggy Pholiota squarrosa fungus.
On a warm (17° C) day, chirms of pretty Goldfinches added flashes of colour to the vegetation between the Widewater Lagoon and the sea
With the high tide lapping against the bank a pair of Mute Swans with three now almost full size cygnets visited the estuary in the centre of Shoreham cruising around the southern end of the footbridge.

19 October 2001
A Red Fox was spotted sitting on the wall outside the Bridge Hotel near the Norfolk Bridge, Shoreham, at the east end of the busy High Street in the early evening. 

Report by Kevin
17 October 2001
On a low spring tide, Kingston beach was still heavily silted near low water mark. All the pools were almost devoid of mobile life except for a large 14 cm adult Corkwing Wrasse near the tide marker at Chart Datum.

10 October 2001
The albino (white-winged) Magpie has returned to the area of the old railway line between Old Shoreham and Ropetackle (TQ 211 052). I had seen on a couple of occasions in the last two years, but the view was from underneath and so fleeting that by the following day doubts had crept in and I removed the entry from the Nature Notes page. This time I could see clearly the white upper wings and the whole bird was whiter than a seagull with just a few black patches. It also perched briefly before being disturbed by a Magpie with the normal black wings.

On the mud flats I was fortunate enough to see a Little Egret actually catch a fish, probably a first year Bass which it had trouble in swallowing and tossed it around trying to get the small fish into its mouth. A Kestrel hovered over the margins between the land and estuary.
Red Admiral Butterflies numbered 50 or more on the path and surrounds.

8 October 2001
In my Lancing front garden a Painted Lady Butterfly is making the most of today's sunny weather, nectaring on Michaelmas daisies.

Report by Ray Hamblett
Lancing Ring (October Image Gallery by Ray Hamblett)

Another Grass Snake slid rapidly away on the gravel path adjacent to the petrol pump storage area on the east riverbank near Adur Metalworks (TQ 211 052). This time there was farther for the snake to travel before it reached any sort of cover and I could see its darker triangular head off the ground, the first time I had seen this in a Grass Snake. This one was smaller than the last, olive-green with black markings, less than a metre long, as it slithered through the short grass and disappeared. There was still no fresh water obviously nearby. I have not seen any frogs in the area.
Previous Snake Report

There must still be fish in the river on this fine afternoon as there was a Little Egret (pic) and at least 12 Cormorants diving under the water or fanning their wings on the rising river near the Toll Bridge, Old Shoreham. Lapwings (50+) plus gulls and Dunlins were as usual.

Red Admiral (Photograph by Andy Horton)
Red Admiral Butterflies (75+) were everywhere on the unofficial countryside, near ivy bushes, and on waste ground. A solitary Comma on the uphill path from the Waterworks Road was the deep orange variety, these colours may be indicative of the second brood. Twittering Greenfinches in the ivy disturbed flights of Red Admirals. There were no White Butterflies on the wing. 
Adur Butterfly Image Portfolio (Smart Groups)

Near the Waterworks itself, not one but two Roe Deer jumped out from the undergrowth (TQ 209 068). The dragonflies were absent but there were small butterflies on the wing. When one settled on a grass, it was clearly identified as the Small Copper. Small Tortoiseshell caterpillars still covered a few nettle plants (see the earlier record). 
Previous Deer Report

Amongst the Hawthorn bushes, scores of an unseen bird were making a tremendous amount of song. They were probably House Sparrows

7-8 October 2001
Exceptionally bad weather with squalls of heavy rain.

5 October 2001
The conkers on the Horse Chestnut Tree are just about ready for the kids.

The high tides and rain had filled Widewater Lagoon which looked spectacularly red with the red variety of Glasswort in abundance, part submerged and partly still exposed west of the bridge. At the eastern end a Little Egret fished in the shallows, probably for the 3-spined Stickleback

Butterflies at Shermanbury as well as the plentiful Red Admirals, there was one Speckled Wood and a Painted Lady

4 October 2001
A Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly in immaculate condition (pic) was seen on the Adur Levels near where the caterpillars were discovered (see below). 

Photograph by Andy HortonHeron

Muted colours of the River Adur north of Old Shoreham
on an autumn equinoctial low spring tide, 2001

3 October 2001
With the sunshine pleasant after a a few rain storms and near gales, there were Red Admiral Butterflies on the ivy bushes, notably on the old railway track between Old Shoreham and Ropetackle.
On the Adur Levels next to the Steyning Road (TQ 208 068) there were scores (20+) of medium-sized blue-patterned dragonflies hawking between the reeds and waterside vegetation by the stream. It was difficult to get close enough to identify these colourful insects, but they were smaller than the Emperor Dragonfly, Anax imperator, (which may have been mistaken for these in the past). They remained at two metres above the stream for most of the time, but they were rapid flyers and chased each other over the reeds on occasions. However, they did not appear to be strongly territorial and the chases were for mating purposes. Some of them, if not all, had an abdomen tinged with brown. The thorax was brown and not marked with green. My identification of these is the Migrant Hawker, Aeshna mixta.
There were other (12+) smaller brown-red dragonflies around as well, possibly Common Darters, Sympetrum striolatum, but they seemed smaller.
Biology of the Migrant Hawker
Adur Dragonflies & Damselflies
British Dragonfly Society Species Checklist
UK-Dragonflies Discussion Group
UK Dragonflies Messages on flight times
Dragonflies of the Hampshire & Surrey Borders
Dragonfly Flight Times (First Seen)
Freshwater Life of North-western Europe Smart Group

About a hundred black caterpillars covered the leaves of a couple of low growing Stinging Nettle plants (TQ 209 068). These are the caterpillars of the Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly. There are the beginnings of a silk web over the top of the nettle leaves.
What is the Caterpillar web page
Small Tortoiseshell Caterpillar (pic)
Life Cycle of a Butterfly (Caterpillar stage)
Comma Butterfly (Photograph by Allen Pollard of Shermanbury)
At Shermanbury, Allen Pollard reported a Comma Butterfly.

2 October 2001
Red Admiral Butterflies are still around, Dave Mason saw one in Ship Street, Shoreham town centre, despite the near gales and Allen Pollard reported these attractive butterflies at Shermanbury some 14 miles up the Adur, north of Old Shoreham. He also reported that Red Admirals were numerous on the old railway line path between Henfield and Partridge Green where at least one Speckled Wood Butterfly was seen.
Allen Pollard's Then & Now web pages
Butterfly Guide Index
Adur Butterflies
UK-Leps eForum (Lepidoptera)


Mill Hill, north of Shoreham

Adur Valley
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