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Latest Nature Notes and Index page 2002

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Photograph by Andy Horton

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

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

Reports by Andy Horton from personal observation unless otherwise indicated

31 December 2002
Six Little Dabchicks (=Little Grebes) are spotted repeatedly diving beneath the flooded Widewater Lagoon
Report by Peter Talbot-Elsden
There is a complete absence of gulls on the playing fields and parks of Shoreham in contrast to five days before

27 December 2002
Straight as an arrow, the Kingfisher flew the the length of the stream by Adur Metal Works, just over over a metre above the surface of the contaminated water, the turquoise showing for the complete length of the sudden flight under the doctored branches of surviving Monterey Cypresses (TQ 210 053).
The Little Egret on the adjacent mud flats looked to be very slender and to have a much finer beak than normal. Maybe, it was a juvenile bird probing in the shallows at half tide. 

26 December 2002
On the edge of Widewater Lagoon, a Kestrel took a Goldfinch in mid-flight, hard enough to down the bird before finally capturing it.

Black-headed Gull on the Widewater footbridge (Photograph by Andy Horton)Hundreds of gulls filled the air and covered the sodden school playing fields and green grass of the parks, totalling thousands. It seems that there are more than usual at this time of the year: Black-headed Gulls, with striking red legs (probably a different population than  the summer resident gulls) make up the bulk of the influx, but there were scores, totalling hundreds of Herring Gulls, both mature and immature. Many of the gulls were "paddling" for worms.  The mud flats at half tide opposite the airport were denuded of gulls and six Grey Plovers were the largest birds, feeding at the water's edge on a breezy overcast day. 

25 December 2002
The Sparrowhawk returned to my Eastbrook Road, south Portslade, East Sussex, garden on Christmas morning. The large rose in the right hand corner at the back of the garden are a meeting point for sparrows entering ours and two other adjacent gardens. The sparrows rushed to the centre of the bushes and the Sparrowhawk swooped down and landed on the bird table. It then flew around the rose bush and forced its way through the branches taking a sparrow with it. As we have now been feeding the birds at this point, more birds were present than the last time. 

Male Sparrowhawk (Photographs by Steve Huddlestone)
The Sparrowhawk hooded its prey on the ground behind the buddleia and after a few minutes it started to pluck the sparrow. About half an hour later, when we were ready to leave I checked the hawk and it was still busy eating. I was just about to leave when I saw a large cat drop from the wall onto the Sparrowhawk, unfortunately most of the scene was hidden behind the buddleia but flapping of wings and flashes of white fur were visible. After what was probably only a few seconds the hawk broke free and managed to clear the garden wall, the cat sniffed around where the hawk was and did not find the sparrow so the hawk must have managed to take it with it.
Full Report
Other Sparrowhawk Reports

23 December 2002
Six Brent Geese were feeding on the flooded airfield. Five of them had dark breasts, and a sixth one was lighter in colour. The sky was black with hundreds of Lapwings

December 2002
There have been repeated reports of a Grey Heron by the roundabout underneath the flyover north of Old Shoreham, and even on one occasion of the bird landing on the concrete slipways leading to the main A27 trunk road. 

Report by Helen Swyer and others

22 December 2002
A brisk walk around Brooklands Lake, east Worthing, produced a single sighting of a Grey Wagtail as well as the usual collection of Pochard, Coots, Moorhen and Mallard Ducks.

Report by Jan Hamblett via the Adur Valley EForum

20 December 2002
Cycling east over the Toll Bridge I turned south at the downslink junction. At this point a pedestrian 50 metres in front of me flushed out a bird which flew up the path towards me in a low swooping fashion. Having time to focus my eyes as it flew past following the path northwards I recognised it to be a Kingfisher. The vivid turquoise shine on it's back as it travelled north was a glimmer of brightness on an otherwise overcast day. Continuing southward along the track nest to the river I spotted solitary diving duck. Further down in the shallows a Little Egret was fishing, it allowed me to come quite close to it but to my chagrin I did not have a camera with me.
Next stop was Widewater Lagoon, leaving the A259 coast road I crossed the footbridge over the lagoon to see another Little Egret fishing but this one was more timid and I could not get close. 
A quick look over at the rock groynes I spied an Oystercatcher perched on the boulders. On an unusually deserted promenade I flushed out a group of charming Goldfinches and some very raucous Sparrows.

Report by Jan Hamblett via the Adur Valley EForum
The Kingfisher was also spotted by Helen Swyer, who followed it as it came to rest on the remains of the rotting boat on the east side of the river. 

With the Adur on a high spring tide as still as a mill pond, a Red-breasted Merganser dived beneath the milky waters just south of the Toll Bridge. 
As it was high tide the hundreds of Lapwings were on the airport grass. 
I noted that the half a dozen  Meadow Pipits on the cycle path and airport showed their tail underwing as a very distinctive bright white in contrast to their rich chocolate brown speckled breasts. 
NB: So different (thrush-like) were these pipits from the local pipits in the fields, e.g. on New Monk's Farm, and so pronounced were the white outer tail weathers in contrast to the dark other feathers, that I do not think that these are local pipits but migrant birds moving south. My favourite choice is a Meadow Pipit that has recently moulted. Meadow Pipits are reported to undergo a partial moult in the first three months of the year. Some books make a distinction based on colour and the darkest birds are known as whistleri and are meant to be found in Ireland and western Scotland. These may be known as thereas in earlier books and these are the darkest of the Meadow Pipits. The thereas plumage distinction is now thought not to be distinct enough to warrant separation. 
Ref:  British Larks, Pipits and Wagtails (by Eric Simms NN 1992).

On the edge of Widewater, a Feral Pigeon probed. This "townie" is locally uncommon (except for Southwick Square), no longer even found regularly at the railway stations in the Adur urban district. On the sparsely vegetated artificial island of Widewater Lagoon, a Great Black-backed Gull was doing its best to further denude the vegetation with a large (rabbit-sized) clump of greenery in its beak, with which it flew off. 
The Tamarisk provided shelter for a small chirm of a half dozen Goldfinches
Pied Wagtails were common in the town on the roads and on the shingle beach.

16 December 2002
It was a eerily still and quiet on a misty Lancing Clump in the late afternoon, Ash and Beech had a wintery look festooned with glossy green Ivy, Hedera helix, and twining Old Man's Beard, Clematis vitalba, with the fungi disintegrating and being resorbed into the woodland soil beneath the leaf litter.
On the way out past the dewpond (TQ 181 065), a flash of yellow and green tail feathers caught my eye. As the large Jackdaw sized bird flew towards the pond I could make out its appearance as a Green Woodpecker. Two species of woodpecker, Green, Picus viridis, and  Spotted, Dendrocopus sp., are known on the clump but not frequently seen.
Three Long-tailed Tits are exploring the large eight metre high Hawthorn Tree at the bottom of my back garden, in south Lancing (TQ 186 044).

Friends of Lancing Ring

14 December 2002
The first visit of a Pied Wagtail, Motacilla alba yarrelli, to my back garden, in south Lancing (TQ 186 044), to feed on the ground. This bird is common on the residential roads and green open spaces but rarely ventures into the relatively confined spaces of garden territory. It was a very damp and murky day but at 8° C it was a bit warmer than the last couple of near freezing days. 

At 1:30 pm a farmer and his dog flushed four Snipe from the rushes on the west bank of the stream that runs from the New Salts Farm Road railway bridge to the dog kennels (TQ 205 048). The birds headed north over the airport. This long beaked bird is now mainly a winter visitor only.

12 December 2002
A flick of the white, or grey, outer tail feathers as I think it was a Meadow Pipit that flew between the beach huts to the new rock groynes on the shingle beach at Lancing (TQ 204 042) adjacent to the east end of the flooded Widewater Lagoon. My identification was based mainly on the repeated call as it flew away. Could it have been a Water Pipit? or a Rock Pipit?
Trouble with Pipits Identification
Rock and Water Pipits (Identification Hints)
Rock & Water Pipits Messages

10 December 2002

Hedgehog (Photograph by Jan Hamblett)

Hedgehog in our South Lancing garden
(TQ 186 044)
Photograph by Jan Hamblett

In the near freezing (3° C) temperatures and with bitter chill breeze (Force 4, wind chill -1° C) from the north-east, a Hedgehog was still out and about and made a visit to the wildlife pond in our south Lancing garden. (TQ 186 044)

Shoreham Beach Weather
UK Wildlife Gardening Yahoo Group

6 December 2002
A black sea bird was resting on the sea off the beach adjacent to Widewater Lagoon. In the swell it was being carried into about 20 metres from the shingle beach on a high spring tide. It was almost certainly an injured Razorbill

2 December 2002
The Long tailed Tits, Aegithalos caudatus, have returned as winter visitors to my Shermanbury garden.

Upper Adur East (Shermanbury area) Nature Pages
South Downs Way (by Allen Pollard)

30 November 2002
The albino/leucistic (white-winged) Magpie is seen again. This time I saw it very clearly in the small trees bordering the Adur estuary between the Norfolk Bridge and the houseboats (TQ 210 047), opposite (east side of) Adur Recreation Ground. 
Previous Report
A Black Redstart is playing on the new syenite rock sea defences erected/deposited on the beach side of Widewater near the beach huts.
Rock Sea Defences 2002
Lancing Wildlife & History Discussion Group

26 November 2002
On the small area of exposed mudflats (TQ 2105 0530) just north of the Railway Viaduct spanning the Adur at Shoreham, about 250 Lapwing roosted with three more energetic Grey Plover probing the mud, as the light faded and the tide began to fall. 

25 November 2002
The Peregrine Falcon is perched half way up the Shoreham Harbour Power station chimney (TQ 246 048) late this afternoon. It seems to be permanently residing there, at least during the winter, although it may have been disturbed by recent repair work. It has not been seen feeding near the harbour, although there is a confirmed report of a falcon feeding on pigeons of the West Pier, Brighton, and another recent report of a Peregrine feeding on Southwick Hill.
A local resident said that a nest box had been installed on both the new and old (demolished) power station chimneys.
South Coast Power Ltd confirmed that a nesting box had been installed and that a pair of Peregrine Falcons had successfully reared two female chicks which eventually flew off earlier in the year. 
Nest Box Link

Report by Peter Talbot-Elsden

24 November 2002
The usual Coot (44) and Moorhen (6) on Brooklands Boating Lake, east Worthing, were joined by 16 Pochard and one Shelduck. On the adjacent pitch & putt course, a dozen Brent Geese were chased off by dogs, the geese flying east.

Up the Coombes Road from Lancing College to Steyning this morning, I was shocked to see masses of thick hedgerows and trees being ripped out both along the roadside and around the adjacent fields. A stretch of at least 300 metres from Passies Pond to St. Botolphs Church are in the process of being bulldozed along with most of the willows around Passies Pond, what a sad sight..... and a right mess!

Both Reports by Bob Kent (Lancing)

23 November 2002
A quick view of a Willow Tit, Parus montanus, (ID was probably wrong?) fluttering above the bushes on the northern margins of New Monks Farm, east Lancing, near the weighbridge, (TQ 192 057), to the west of Withy Patch, was my first recorded sighting of this bird that I am unfamiliar with. The call was very clear (second voice on the file)  and different from the similar Marsh Tit. The black tuft at the rear of the black cap  was noticeable (but not diagnostic as it also present also in the Marsh Tit and to a certain extent in the Great Tit as well). However, the Shoreham & District Ornithological Society booklet describes the Willow Tit as the rarest of the titmice in the local area, but there is no longer any doubt about my identification of my fleeting observation as I cycled past. This bird is in rapid decline in most habitats since the 1970s. This titmouse favours swampy wooded areas like the stroud south of Withy Patch, where it can find and improve its favourite nest sites of holes in rotten trees. 
UK Wildlife Discussion
Willow Tit Register
Sussex Ornithological Society Titmice
BTO Status
Birdguides Information Page

We had a Sparrowhawk in our south Portslade (Eastbrook Road) garden. I first spotted it on the post of the bird table which had blown over. It then flew onto the wall, so it was in clear view.  The hawk was after the sparrows which had taken cover deep in the rambling rose. It made several attempts to get at the sparrows, which managed to keep out of the bird of prey's reach and not break cover.
Full Report

17 November 2002
Pochards were seen on Brooklands Boating Lake, east Worthing. 

Report by Jan Hamblett
An adult winter Great Northern Diver was seen at the eastern end of Shoreham Harbour at 3:00 pm.
Report by Michael Rossor via Sussex Ornithological Society News

16 November 2002
Near the Information Kiosk by Widewater Lagoon, two uncommon Sussex birds made a brief visit: a single Black Redstart and a couple of Stonechats. It is interesting how the Widewater provides a temporary haven for a large variety of the less familiar birds. The identity of these birds were confirmed by Sussex Ornithological Society observers. 

Report by Jan Hamblett
Lancing Nature Newsletter (November 2002)

14 November 2002
An extra Little Egret was seen on the margins of Widewater Lagoon. Not so little either, these two birds appeared as white herons at first and the appearance of their size is dependent on their behaviour, skulking around the margins makes them appear smaller. One bird seemed to have such pronounced rings on its legs it appeared like it was in plaster. 

Then a hailstone broke out on this squally day where a brief gale blew up and in minutes the wind had reduced to a breeze. An example of the variation is shown on the graph. 

Shoreham Beach Weather
Beaufort Scale

11 November 2002
The Little Egret is back feeding on in and around Widewater Lagoon after a break for the summer months.
Egret Information Update

10 November 2002
In the garden of 40 The Drive (near Buckingham Park), Shoreham-by-Sea, (TQ  219 063) at least eight Blackbirds (seven male) were in the garden at one time as the rain fell steadily down. The attraction was the bright red berries of the small Holly Tree, on which the Blackbirds were obviously feeding, the bright red berries distinctive in their yellow bills. the Blackbirds were coming and going and there were more than eight birds in total taking advantage of this food resource and having a look at the small garden pond and bird bath. A Wren flew out of the Holly Tree as well. 
Shoreham Town & Gardens Wildlife page

Lancing Clump was shrouded in a light mist, rain fell in intermittent bursts; the woodland floor covered with fallen leaves, the trees almost bare after the battering of recent gales. The atmosphere was heavy and sombre, the weight of the woodland canopy all around the feet, ready to begin the process of replenishing the soil. The recycling of dead timber was in evidence with the fruiting of several clumps of fungi, including the Jews Ear and the Shaggy and Golden Pholiotas.
Full Report and Photographs

Photograph by Ray Hamblett

This mystery mushroom is Mycena inclina with a slender stem dark red-brown at the base, white above and with a pleasant soapy or sweet smell.
ID by Geoffrey Kibby, Senior Editor, Field Mycology
GB Checklist of Fungal Names

9 November 2002
A Grey Heron was perched on the second groyne on Kingston Beach as the tide came in this morning. A Kestrel hovered over Middle Road Playing Fields, Shoreham. 

7 November 2002
A Red-breasted Merganser dived under the water for its diet of small fish between the Toll Bridge and Railway Viaduct on the Adur estuary.

Report by Jan Hamblett

Photograph for identification by Andy Horton

Near the Old Fort (TQ 233 045), Shoreham beach, on the strandline to the west of the harbour pier, five Turnstones in black (actually dark brown) with grey-white breasts and distinctive red legs and large feet, were foraging amongst the accumulated seaweed and occasional dead Dogfish, seashells, broken fishing pots and single dried out Mermaid's Purse (Thornback Ray). The Turnstones could be seen very clearly and closer than other waders, confident of their own camouflage which was not nearly as efficient as that of the Ringed Plover or Pied Wagtail, the commoner birds of the shingle beach and strandline in the colder months. Then to my surprise I disturbed a Red Admiral Butterfly amongst the seaweed. The anglers were catching Whiting, Flounders and small Bass from the harbour arm. 

5 November 2002
Late Butterfly
A fresh looking Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly was disturbed from under a clump of Honeysuckle as I mowed the lawn of a garden close to the Saltings roundabout on the A259, south Lancing on the border with Shoreham-by-Sea. 

 Lancing Beach

Collecting a few rocks for aquarium props in fading light, a moonless evening under torchlight, there were dozens of Squat Lobsters, Galathea squamifera, and at least one red-eyed Velvet Swimming Crab, Necora puber. I thought that I picked up two, but the following day, I noticed that the crab had pale blue eyes and this I now think may be a different crab altogether, Liocarcinus arcuatus, the Arch-fronted Swimming Crab which I have never discovered before, nor have I heard reported before from the shore. The identity of this crab has been confirmed by Dr. Reindert Nijland.

Photograph by Ray Hamblett

This small crab (carapace width 25 mm) had a heavy carpus on both chelae, a rough carapace in chocolate brown, swimming legs that were pointed, slower moving than Necora, with also are pronounced creamy white underside, and at dusk that was only its fractionally different movement that made it stand out from the Shore Crab. There were no "teeth" between the eyes, and the carapace was in a straight line between the eyes, with red antennae and antennules. 
BMLSS Intertidal Crabs
Marine Life News

4 November 2002
A late Red Admiral Butterfly flutters by Eastern Avenue railway crossing gates in Shoreham town. Mallards are notable in their scores on the River Adur estuary and Widewater Lagoon. There was also a report of Mallards on a stubble field near Mill Hill. A Grey Heron was probing for small fish in the pools at low tide to the west of the Footbridge. 

Rockpooling under Worthing Pier
It is getting dark as the tide reached its lowest point. Amongst the Squat Lobsters, Galathea squamifera, and the usual fauna, of special note was a couple of first year red-brown Ballan Wrasse, Labrus bergylta, the first from this beach and only one was captured (the other one got away in the murk) and when I delved around in the bucket at home a Small-headed Clingfish, Apletodon dentatus, stuck to my hand. Red Ballan Wrasse are not common on Sussex shores: I have only caught one before. Young 5-Bearded Rockling were present, at least a dozen, plus an adult Blenny that was left in-situ. 
British Marine Life Study Society

3 November 2002
Below Henfield on the same Downs Link track and a troupe of Long-tailed Tits again only two metres away. I walked to Chanctonbury Ring then south nearly to Cissbury ring then back along Monarch's way. Between Cissbury and joining the South Downs Way above Steyning and about 16 metres away there were another couple of Roe Deer. This time they did not run away but watched me walk by. On the way down and just north of Steyning I spotted a late dragonfly. It flew away too fast but I'm guessing it was a darter of some description.

Tiny Shore Crab (photograph by Ray Hamblett)The mudflats north of the Toll Bridge are dotted with Lapwings, poised with heads into the breeze (hundreds at this time of the year and throughout winter at low tide). Katherine Hamblett (8) wondered what might be under the rocks in the soft wet silt, it soon became clear that almost every rock has at least one small Shore Crab hiding beneath it. Lifting items of driftwood and other flotsam above the tideline in the hope of discovering Slow Worms, yielded nothing more than hundreds of spring-loaded Sandhoppers which scatter and vanish as the security of their hideout is breached.

2 November 2002
The capture on rod and line by Peter Weight (Lancing) of a Boar Fish, Capros aper, from Hove beach is the very first record of this fish caught from the shore off Sussex. The books say that this fish lives in depths of over 100 metres and there are no seas of this depth on the English side of the English Channel

Boar Fish (Photograph by Andy Horton)

This pretty little red and silver rhomboidal fish about 55 mm long, excluding its caudal fin, large eye and large protractile mouth, with a spiky first dorsal and vibrating second dorsal and second anal fins (vibrating like the dorsal fin of a pipefish). Although this fish is rarely caught, it is abundant in deepish water (on the edge of the continental shelf in the western approaches of the English Channel) and it is just that normal fishing methods do not capture this small fish. All  records and especially all live records from the shore or on dives, and all Sussex records are newsworthy. 
This fish is thriving in the BMLSS private aquarium (Shoreham-by-Sea). This fish is rarely on display in British Public Aquaria and the only known display of this fish was for several years at Mevagissey Harbour Aquarium
Previous Sussex Record of a Boar Fish
Previous Report from the Channel Islands
BMLSS Boar Fish

2 November 2002
As I walked down the old railway track below Partridge Green a couple of small Roe Deer were feeding. This was the first time I have seen deer on the track. (This is the Downs Link). Below Henfield on the same track a Goldcrest about eye height sat in a branch about 2 metres away. I stopped and watched and the smallest British bird just hopped from branch to branch.

Upper Adur East (Shermanbury area) Nature Pages

31 October 2002
The sudden flight of a "little brown bird" with a glimpse of the white outer tail feathers but in an unusual place on Lancing beach (flying from Beach Green to the shingle banks) (TQ 185 037) where the bird perched on a wooden sea defence structure above high tide level and I could see the full brown speckled colour of this bird, which is rarely possibly in the meadows. It looked larger than a sparrow. It was probably a Meadow Pipit. (The other uncommon winter visitor pipit on this coast is the Scandinavian Rock Pipit, noticeable as a Rock Pipit because of its grey outer tail feathers. It could have been a Water Pipit.)
Chirms of 20+ Goldfinches flew around their usual bushes between Widewater Lagoon and the sea, and in adjoining bushes, the House Sparrows made a cacophonic racket as a Kestrel flew overhead. 
December 2002 Pipit Report

27 October 2002
Moderate Gale Force 7 winds (36 mph at 10:26 am) gusting to Storm Force 10 (64 mph at 6:36 am), but not accompanied by heavy rain, blow the trees about. By midday the wind had reduced to a Fresh Breeze Force 5 (24 mph). Even so, in the early afternoon, the branches of the large trees in Buckingham Park were waving about, indicative of Force 6. 

Shoreham Beach Weather
Beaufort Scale
Weather Links

24 October 2002
In recent days I have seen a party of about six Long tailed Tits, Aegithalos caudatus, a pair of Blue Tits, a Great Tit in my south Lancing garden. Today a Blackcap, Sylvia atricapilla, was seen and probably confirms identity of a sound heard about a week ago, which when described to an expert, it was suggested as being from a distressed Blackcap.
The ripe fruit on the 10 metres high Hawthorn Tree is one of the attractions for some of the birds, others like the peanuts hanging from a garden Crab Apple Tree. An occasional butterfly passes without pause, today a Red Admiral went by heading east. (TQ 186 044)

UK Wildlife Gardening Yahoo Group
Lancing Nature Nature News (October 2002)

22 October 2002
A Speckled Wood Butterfly in good condition was in my Shermanbury garden. Also the Greater Spotted Woodpecker is still making visits to the bird feeder although the red head has turned to black and his frontage looks a little dirty.

Report by Allen Pollard
2001 Woodpecker Report with photograph

20 October 2002
A Kestrel was seen flying over the gardens at the rear of my house in south Lancing about first floor height. It was lazily pursuing birds which were mostly Starlings, all of which became very agitated and flew in the opposite direction. (TQ 186 044)

19 October 2002
Six Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies were seen between Beeding Hill and Truleigh Hill.

Report by Allen Pollard via the UK-Leps EForum
A chirm of over 30 Goldfinches flocked near the Church of Good Shepherd on Shoreham beach. A Speckled Wood Butterfly, faded but mostly intact, fluttered around in Lancing town centre by the pet shop. On the airport side of the A27 opposite the Sussex Pad, a distinctive black-blue banded dragonfly hawked about five metres over the roadside bushes. This was a Migrant Hawker, Aeshna mixta.
Adur Dragonflies
2001 Report

18 October 2002
Adur World Oceans Day meeting

Clubs and societies are invited to hold an evening Adur World Oceans Day event.

11 October 2002
A Robin singing from the top of a Hawthorn Bush, on a warm afternoon that felt like spring, if it was not for the red berries. Also on the cycle path from Old Shoreham to the disused cement works at Beeding, a Pheasant crossed my path.
Adur Levels
Early in the morning a couple of Butterfish hid under rocks on the estuarine part of Kingston beach.

9 October 2002
There was a mallard-sized duck on Kingston Buci beach (entrance to Shoreham harbour by the lighthouse) at midday, a couple of hours before the high 6.7 metre spring tide (i.e. very high water). I did not have my bins and the duck was silhouetted. I had it penned as an Eider or a Scoter from a distance of about 200 metres. It was just resting on the flat sea.
The SOS consider Eiders Ducks and Scoters to be Winter Visitors (WV) &/or Passage Migrants (PM), of scarce occurrence except for Common Scoters, which are fairly common. (Small flocks of Common Scoters have been observed resting on the sea from Southwick beach in January.)
However, on 7 October 2002  a female Velvet Scoter was seen on her own five metres offshore near Shoreham Power Station at 1:06 pm.

Adur Valley Wildlife Internet Resources

7 October 2002
As the high tide reached it's peak at around 12:15 pm the percolation effect could clearly be seen at the western end of the Lagoon. As the rising tide pushes it's way through from the seaward side, trapped air is expelled. In many places the along the southern edge of the lagoon air bubbles rapidly rose to the surface as if the water was boiling. In at least two places, seawater springs emerged from the lagoon edge. Black and green algal growth clustered around the slow trickle.
On the adjacent beach, as the sun shone warmly, the sea was flat enough to skim pebbles on the surface. The fear of a low pressure weather system corresponding with an unusual high tide did not materialise.

Widewater Lagoon, showing bubbles and the footbridge (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)

A Comma Butterfly patrolled the sheltered leeward side of the bank while at the top of the bank a Clouded Yellow Butterfly took advantage of the clusters of Michaelmas Asters which also attracted bees to one of the seasons last nectar sources.

Widewater Page (by Ray Hamblett
Widewater Images for September 2002 (by Ray Hamblett)
Adur Butterflies

After a month of minimal rain and with Indian Summer summer preceding some of the highest and lowest equinoctial spring tides for over 20 years, I visited Widewater Lagoon, 1½ hours after the midday high spring tide of 6.8 metres. The bubbles of percolating seawater had ceased by then and the only water commotion was caused by a small flock of Ringed Plover. There was a band of about 40 cm of wet mud (west of the bridge) where it looked as though the water had recently receded. The lagoon level was higher than that of a month ago, as the separate westerly lagoon was a continuous sheet of water, but still scarcely more than a large puddle. There were thousands of small prawns in the lagoon. 
Widewater Salinity

Little Cuttlefish, Sepiola (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)6 October 2002
Approaching midnight, 11:00 pm, an urban Fox trotted across Ham Road in the centre of Shoreham and into the grounds of the Old Schoolhouse.

With Indian Summer summer preceding some of the highest and lowest equinoctial spring tides for over 20 years was too good a rockpooling chance to miss as low tide receded to Chart Datum about 6:00 pm, just before an attractive red sunset.

Diogenes (Photograph by Paul Parsons)

The low tide on Lancing beach revealed shallow pools and rocks covered in weed, but it was the push-net in shallow water that provided the most interesting discoveries including an attractive Little Cuttlefish, Sepiola, that squirted five dollops of ink in the temporary aquarium, and my very first discovery of the South-claw Hermit Crab, Diogenes pugilator, on the Sussex coast. 
Full Report

The blue butterfly season is over but this morning there were about ten Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies and an immigrant Clouded Yellow up Mill Hill, where a Wasp Spider, Argiope bruennichi, was discovered near its previous location. 

Ray Hamblett's Mill Hill web page (with photographs of spiders and orchids and other wild plants)

6 October 2002
A blue butterfly fluttering around the Ivy behind Lancing Library was probably a third brood Holly Blue Butterfly.

Lancing Nature Nature News (October 2002)

5 October 2002
Down the beach this morning to check the sea state for diving when I noticed I was being watched by a seal, bobbing in front of me. I first saw it in the surge five metres from the shore, in front of the new sea defence works, east of the Widewater Lagoon

Shoreham Seal (Photograph by Paul Parsons)

A fisherman in a boat must have just passed the seal moments before I had arrived, maybe he gave the seal some titbits?
It was a Harbour (Common) Seal, Phoca vitulina, as I have photographed Grey Seals many times and this seal is different.

Previous Seal Report 2002
Seas off Sussex
Grey Seal Report 1996

4 October 2002
Although reported before, today was the first time time I had seen a Little Egret on Kingston beach, wading about in a shallow pool on the low neaps, before flying eastwards to sandy part of the shore. The Little Egret was preening and it was not seen to attempt to feed. Under the rocks there were numerous (50+) young Rock Gobies, about 650 mm long, which would provide a tasty snack for the long beak of the Egret, as well as thousands of very small prawns in the shallow pools. 

On the waterline an Oystercatcher probed, and the bright orange legs of a junior Redshank contrasted with the dark red legs of the Black-headed Gulls.  A Cormorant fanned its wings and there were at least a couple of Great Black-backed Gulls, but I would be surprised if they weren't present. 

3 October 2002
Warm sunshine brought out he best of the vivid colour of male Clouded Yellow Butterfly, Colias croceus, on vegetated shingle at Shoreham Beach (TQ 210 044) and another at the derelict Ropetackle site (TQ 212 052). And a Common Darter Dragonfly, Sympetrum striolatum, Common Lizard and Slow Worms were seen basking amongst flotsam on the banks of the River Adur (TQ 208 058).

Adur Butterflies

The Hedgehog has returned to my front garden in Corbyn Crescent, Shoreham. 
(TQ 224 053).

A large jellyfish at least one metre in diameter was spotted in the River Adur underneath the footbridge at 10:00 am moving seawards, swimming actively with the ebbing neap tide. It had a milky white bell with a salmon-pink petticoat and frilly white tentacles. This is probably the Barrel Jellyfish, Rhizostoma octopus.

Report by Hayley Packer

The common Garden Orb Spider, Araneus diadematus, are spinning numerous and extensive webs and it would seem that the few remaining butterflies would find it it hard not to blunder into these traps, but there are a few Large Whites and Red Admirals flying strongly around in Shorehamtown and Shoreham beach

The conkers on the Horse Chestnut Tree are attracting the kids, as they successfully throw branches up the tree to dislodge the conker nuts from the tree on the south side of the road opposite Lancing Manor. 

Latest Nature Notes and Index page 2002


Mill Hill, north of Shoreham

Adur Valley
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