Adur Levels & Estuary    2010

Adur Levels and Estuary 2011

Birds seen from a Shoreham-by-Sea Houseboat 2010 (by Jessica Aidley) on flickr

8 December 2010
A couple of Little Grebes were seen diving under a mid-tide River Adur just north of the Toll Bridge, Old Shoreham.
3 December 2010 
River Adur (opposite Shoreham Airport)

2 November 2010
North of the A27 Flyover between the bridge and Cuckoo's Corner over a hundred Common Gulls congregated on the Adur mud flats at low tide in the afternoon. This happens every year. Occasional Lapwings had settled on the mud bank north of the Toll Bridge, Old Shoreham.

1 November 2010
At least twenty Black-backed Gulls were amongst the mixed gulls on the mud flats at low tide on the River Adur opposite Shoreham Airport.

7 October 2010
On a high spring tide a flock of twenty plus Turnstones all landed on a small cruiser in the middle of the River Adur on the wide expanse between the Norfolk Bridge and the Footbridge. In the afternoon on a receding tide four hours later a flock of Lapwings flew over the mud flats adjacent to Shoreham Airport, waiting to land.

28 September 2010
Around 1:00 pm the high tide lapped against the wharfage (land now converted to offices) at Surry Public Hard, scores of young first year Sand Smelt swam in the surface waters, with small shoals of first year Bass swimming beside them. After a few minutes three adult Grey Mullet arrived and cruised in the murky shallows.
British Marine Life Study Society
9 September 2010
The 6.9 metre equinoctial spring tide at 12:35 pm lapped against the riverbank at Old Shoreham which had the result of compelling the three species of grasshoppers that normally occupy the high tide strandline and Orache zone into a thin line of vegetation between the River Adur and the cyclepath and hundreds of them could easily be disturbed. Most were Field Grasshopper, Chorthippus brunneus, followed by a few Meadow Grasshoppers, Chorthippus parallelus.

Photograph: I think this is the nymph of a species of bush cricket called a Short-winged Conehead, Conocephalus dorsalis

The long antennae equals bush cricket. 

There were hardly any butterflies on the Waterworks Road, but I noted a Peacock Butterfly which looked dark brown in rapid flight and I did not identify it until it settled. 

6 September 2010
A couple of plants of Sea Aster were noted with their lilac petals of the rayed versions on the Adur mudflats to the west end of the main houseboat moorings. Sea Asters, Aster tripolium, exist as rayed and rayless varieties but only the former have long blue or white florets. The rayless form is yellow with just disc florets.
5 September 2010
At first I dismissed this wader as a Redshank, but then I had a closer look and its breast was much paler than a Redshank and it did not have the coloured, yellow for a juvenile legs, and red shank for the adults. It was seen on the riverbank at mid-tide between Cuckoo's Corner and the Cement Works. I have identified this bird as  Greenshank, Tringa nebularia

The Sussex Birds status of the Greenshank is of a fairly common passage migrant and scarce winter visitor. 

31 August 2010
Teneral Common Darters (dragonfly) appeared with half a dozen seen over the footpath section of the Waterworks Road, Old Shoreham. The white rump of a disappearing bird on the Ladywells Stream (section seen from Cuckoo's Corner) was a Moorhen.

28 August 2010
A handful of Swallows were noted flying low over Shoreham Airport and the Adur estuary prior to emigration. It is strange how few House Martins I have seen this year with more Swallows when it is usually vice-versa.

27 August 2010
The Chiff-chaff is a common bird but not often seen in gardens and in the winter it is likely to migrate to warmer climates. The bird  in the photograph on the right was flying around the Elderberries on the north edge of Adur Recreation Ground which may be a prelude to migration. It did not call so it could have actually been the near identical Willow Warbler.

16 August 2010
A Wheatear flew over the Sea Purslane at high tide on the Airport side of the River Adur.

12 August 2010
The first Garden Orb Spider, Araneus diadematus, seen spinning its web amongst the berried Brambles on the Coastal-Downs Link Cyclepath, Old Shoreham.

25 July 2010
A clump of Marjoram on the Coastal-Downs Link Cyclepath between the first layby and Old Shoreham (going south) hosted a female Gatekeeper appreciably larger than her three male attendants and a Brown Argus, with a Meadow Brown visiting the clump occasionally. Large Whites fluttered by, a Green-veined White landed on a Fleabane, and at least one Red Admiral landed on the bone dry path. Goldfinches visited the Teasels.
Adur Butterfly List 2010
Adur Teasels

20 July 2010
In the evening I cycled along the Coombes Road to Streamside for the official opening of the Viridor Bridge. Water Skaters were frequently seen on the surface of Ladywell's Stream. On my return after 8:00 pm a Grey Heron flew overhead and a Southern Hawker (dragonfly) was seen flying under the canopy of leaves.

10 July 2010
At Shermanbury the freshwater reaches of the western River Adur are more like a large slow flowing stream, with plenty of vegetation including yellow Water Lilies. Shoals of Rudd with reddish fins could be seen in the surface waters with much smaller silvery fish fry.

By far the most impressive sight was the appearance of frequent attractive male Banded Demoiselles which were everywhere and numbered in excess of thirty in a small area of river near the road bridge. A large brown dragonfly cruised repeatedly over the river, and it was much too large to be a Common Darter (comparable in size to a Broad-bodied Chaser but a different shape). My inclination was to think it was Hairy Dragonfly, but its identity awaits confirmation. Several Blue-tipped Damselflies flitted over the river. A few Large Skippers flitted around the riverside vegetation. I think there was Purple Loosestrife growing on the far northern bank, but I could get close enough to be sure.
Adur Dragonflies 2010

9 July 2010
A spectacular male Banded Demoiselle (a damselfly), Calopteryx splendens, an Azure Damselfly, and a Small Red Damselfly all flew over the Annington Sewer near the Oak Tree.

Banded Demoiselle
Banded Demoiselle
Water Skater

High over the canopy of trees near Annington Sewer, a small unidentified dark moth or butterfly flew clearly in the late afternoon. I wondered if this could have been a Purple Hairstreak not recorded before on these Nature Notes pages?
On Annington Sewer itself, there were a pair of Mute Swans with six cygnets. The water surface was continually rippled by Whirligig Beetles and Water Skaters were evident on the surface of the stream.
I chased a male Broad-bodied Chaser on my bicycle down the towpath south of the South Downs Way Bridge over the River Adur. Large Skippers were notable with at least five clearly identified along the Coastal-Downs Link Cyclepath.
Adur Skippers
Adur Damsels & Dragonflies 2010

8 July 2010
A female Sparrowhawk flew up into the trees (I saw its underside) by the Streamside Hut near the Ladywell's Stream on the Coombes Road. Azure Damselflies were mating above the small weir on the stream with two  dragonflies flying and not settling. They seemed too small to be Broad-bodied Chasers compared to the two males seen over the Lancing Ring dewpond puddle. A Blue-tailed Damselfly was seen resting on vegetation by the Ladywell's Stream.

Ladywell's Stream
Comma Butterfly on Buddleia

Earlier in the morning, two Comma Butterflies, frequent Meadow Browns, including mating pairs, three possible Wall Browns, one Gatekeeper, frequent Large Whites and at least two Small Tortoiseshell, and an unidentified skipper, were all seen along the towpath on a visit to the Streamside Hut (Farrows Barn) near Ladywell's Stream on the Coombes Road where a Red Admiral was spotted.
Full Butterfly & Moth Report

4 July 2010
Like a falling leaf a Swallow-tailed Moth, Ourapteryx sambucaria, dropped out of the tree canopy on to the meadow on the verges of the Coastal-Downs Link Cyclepath midway between Old Shoreham and the Cement Works at Upper Beeding. Nine species of butterfly were seen on the Adur Levels during the morning including frequent Ringlet Butterflies, three Wall Browns, three Comma Butterflies and one Small Skipper. My trip was curtailed quickly because of excessive bicycle traffic.
Butterfly & Moth Report

Meadow Vetchling
Swallow-tailed Moth

Meadow Vetchling was abundant on the north-eastern boundary of the level pasture north of the Waterworks and Miller's Stream, Old Shoreham (the field of the car boot sales in summer, west of the hay meadow west of Mill Hill).
Chicory was noted in flower for the first time this year on the meadow-like verges of the Steyning Road south of Shoreham Cement Works (opposite the first layby from Shoreham). There were the first signs of Mugwort beside the Coastal-Downs Link Cyclepath. The naturalised Dotted Loosestrife formed a large clump alongside the cyclepath fifty metres or so north of the Toll Bridge, Old Shoreham.
Wild Flower Report (with images)

3 July 2010
A Small Skipper stayed still enough for a photograph by the Steyning Road (footpath entrance) in Old Shoreham and a fresh Comma Butterfly fluttered along the Waterworks Road.
Adur Skippers
Small Skipper
 Parasitic Wasp (not a Tenthredo sawfly?)

2 July 2010
A dead Mole lay on the eastern towpath of the River Adur (between Old Shoreham and the Cement Works), where three strong flying Marbled White Butterflies were seen amongst the long grasses, and three of the first Small Skippers of 2010 visited the clumps of Tufted Vetch.
Gatekeeper Butterflies were seen frequently along the Coastal-Downs Link Cyclepath by the Cement Works at Upper Beeding where in the tall meadow verges of Hardheads and Melilot, a few Ringlet Butterflies were seen; both species for the first time this year. A first of the year Southern Hawker (dragonfly) cruised amongst the first flowering Buddleia in the same area. The same area hosted frequent Meadow Browns and one distinctive Cinnabar Moth that fluttered rapidly through the tall herbs making photography almost impossible.
Adur Butterflies: First Dates
Adur Skippers
Adur Bees & Wasps

Six-spotted Burnet Moth Cocoon
Six-spotted Burnet Moth
Hoary Cress
Tufted Vetch

At Old Shoreham, one Six-spotted Burnet Moth was seen to have recently emerged from its cocoon on a Yarrow on the cyclepath south of the the old Toll Bridge.
Butterfly & Moth Report

On the towpath immediately north of the Toll Bridge, Old Shoreham, there were swathes of the diminutive Hoary Cress, now identified for the first time. On the towpath to Beeding Cement Works large patches of Tufted Vetch were a bright bit of colour amongst the long grasses and attracted a few butterflies. The tiny Sea Spurrey was frequently seen in flower and this has not been noted before this year, as was the first record of the tall Bristly Ox-tongue.
Wild Flower Report

Wild Carrot1 July 2010
A Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly rose from the towpath adjacent to Shoreham Airport and another one landed on the bare wooden flooring on the old Toll Bridge. About half a dozen Six-spotted Burnet Moths flew on both sides of the River Adur.
On the Coastal-Downs Link Cyclepath south of the Toll Bridge, the first minute red flowers amongst the white flowering heads of Wild Carrot were spotted. Everlasting Pea was still flowering profusely and the heads of Teasel were common.
Adur Teasels

26 June 2010

Butterflies on a warm (>20.6 °C) day were a few bright Small Tortoiseshells and Meadow Browns on the towpath south of Cuckoo's Corner, plus at least one worn Red Admiral at Cuckoo's Corner and few Large Whites in the field to the north-west. This was on only a brief cycle ride to the outskirts.

25 June 2010
The first Narrow-bordered Five-spotted Burnet Moth, Zygaena lonicerae subsp. latomarginata, of the year was spotted on a Creeping Thistle flower on the short path through the broken gate between the Coastal-Downs Link Cyclepath and the towpath on the bend of the River Adur. On a hurried cycle ride in the heat of midday along the cyclepath north of Old Shoreham Rosebay Willowherb and Lesser Burdock were seen on the verges just about in flower for the first time this year, and south of the Toll Bridge, a single Great Mullein was seen just flowering and a patch of flowering Lady's Bedstraw. Hemp Agrimony was budding.

Meadow Brown
on Hardhead
Dotted Loosestrife
Viper's Bugloss
Five-spot Burnet Moth
 Great Mullein

Flora and Fauna alongside the Coastal-Downs Link Cyclepath

Rosebay Willowherb is an alien that spread rapidly along the route of the railway lines like this disused one to Steyning.A unfamiliar yellow plant was discovered on the verges about 200 metres north of the Toll Bridge. This is a garden escape, the Dotted Loosestrife, Lysimachia punctata.

24 May 2010
A surprising and unusual observation was the silvery rear and tail of a slender freshwater fish in Annington Sewer, north of Botolphs. The fish (I only see its rear under the weed) was estimated to be about 75 mm long. It hid in the weed near the water surface and did not appear to be a bottom dweller. I think it was almost certainly a Rudd.

23 April 2010
Far from a glut of butterflies, the urban areas had none seen at all, but on the outskirts of town in the early afternoon sun a steady stream appeared on the Waterworks Road: occasional Green-veined Whites and Peacocks, one Holly Blue, one Speckled Wood, one or two yellow Brimstones and a few male Orange-tips. The Blackthorn come be seen in flower next to the green leaves of the Hawthorn, south-east of the Toll Bridge, Old Shoreham.
Full Butterfly Report

21 April 2010
A yellow Brimstone Butterfly flying past St. Nicolas Church, Old Shoreham, was the first of the day, in the sunshine when I had appointments that preventing me visiting the downs. I spent about ten minutes at the nearby Waterworks Road which immediately hosted my second male Orange-tip of the year, followed by three of the inevitable Peacocks, one of them now looking more than a little worn, my first Green-veined White Butterfly flying strongly over the Maple Spinney but visiting a ground level Dandelion for positive identification, with a Speckled Wood or two, another yellow Brimstone and three Comma Butterflies. The Butterfly Copse (named for the stepped part of the footpath that used to be a shaded by Ivy and Buddleia) attracted at least one more Peacock and a Small Tortoiseshell. A Small White fluttered over the grassy riverbank north of Ropetackle.
Miller's Stream
Large Red Damselfly

Another Peacock Butterfly and a Large Red Damselfly were seen on Spring Dyke, north of Old Shoreham. Blackthorn could be observed in flower at a distance on Mill Hill, with patches in the wayward hedge at the bottom (west) of Mill Hill, a small amount in the scrub in the north-west and small amounts near the ridge in the woodland on the southern banks adjoining the Waterworks Road.
Adur Butterfly List 2010
Adur Damselflies 2010

19 April 2010
Just a single male Orange-tip Butterfly (the first of the year) fluttered over the verge just north of where the Ladywells Stream flows under the Coombes Road, north of Cuckoo's Corner. Its food plant, Garlic Mustard was not yet flowering, but two Red Campion flowers had just about opened. The only other butterfly seen on the day was a Large White further south along the Coombes Road. A Large Red Damselfly was seen near Ladywells Stream as well as an Andrena bee.
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

17 April 2010
A simple detour to the Waterworks Road for a comparison was interesting because both Small Whites and Large Whites were present in small numbers (two and three) and occasionally they settled on the Dandelions and the differences between the species and between the genders could be discerned. The size differences were clear. Two yellow Brimstone Butterflies sparred with the Large Whites.

Small White (male)
Large White (female)
Large White (male)

Activities of both Wrens and Blue Tits were very evident and I surmised that these were parents birds with young, and the half a dozen or so Peacock Butterflies occasionally had large bits out of their wings. One or two Comma Butterflies settled.
Adur Butterfly List 2010

A Red-breasted Merganser drifted under the Toll Bridge with the incoming tide.

Bird Report by June Brown

13 April 2010
The first Speckled Wood Butterfly of the year settled with its wings closed on a dead branch on the verges of the Waterworks Road, with frequent Peacock Butterflies, occasional Comma Butterflies, a few languid flying Large Whites and at least one yellow Brimstone Butterfly.
Adur Butterflies: First Dates

9 April 2010
Peacock Butterflies were frequently seen in the sunshine on the Adur Levels, about 16 in an hour including a pair photographed copulating on Spring Dyke, north of Old Shoreham.

Other butterfly species seen in two hours including two yellow Brimstone Butterflies (one over the Waterworks Road and another near Botolphs), a Small White over the shaded part of the path from Botolphs to the River Adur, and two worn orangey-brown Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies west of the South Downs Way Bridge. The first Bee-flies of the year were seen near where Cowslips were in flower on the Downs-Coastal Link Cyclepath.
Adur Butterfly List 2010
Adur Flies
8 April 2010
In the Butterfly Copse, (the Waterworks Road), my first damselfly of the year was spotted amongst the Alexanders. I think this is most likely to be the Azure Damselfly, Coenagrion puella. However, it is surprisingly early for this species.  Grid ref:  TQ 209 062

Near the Ladywell's Stream (Coombes Road) a Small White Butterfly fluttered along the stream edge, its behaviour making me think it could be another species. 

Full Butterfly Report and Images

6 April 2010
Yellow was the colour of the day as the belated spring showed signs of eventually blooming in the weak sunshine. On the still sodden verges, Lesser Celandines were finally opening up, with Primroses on the side of the road by Botolphs, more Daffodilson verges everywhere and Coltsfoot appeared in flower on the Downs-Coastal Link Cyclepath. Ground Ivy was prevalent and there were still rain-battered Sweet Violets around. A patch of first Common Mouse-ear was spotted on a Coombes roadside verge and Field Speedwell noted for the first time this year.
Report with Images

23 March 2010
There were hundreds of Common Gulls with a lesser number Black-headed Gulls, Great Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls on the Adur estuary at low tide and on the larger open low-lying pastures.

18 March 2010


The first Coltsfoot appeared in flower in three large patches on the Downs-Coastal Link Cyclepath. It must have been flowering for a few days. A solitary Germander Speedwell (pic) flower was seen and a few Daffodils.

14 March 2010
About 300 gulls settled on the damp pastures below (to the west of) Mill Hill. From previous records these are most likely to be Common Gulls.

2 March 2010

 Cyclepath midway between Old Shoreham and the Cement Works
 Sodden land adjacent to the South Downs-Coastal Link Cyclepath

After the rain and snow of the first two months of the year, the Adur Levels were sodden.

24 - 25 February 2010

At low tide the usual congregation of gulls and waders were present on the of the River Adur estuary south of the Toll Bridge, notably scores of  Great Black-backed Gulls and Lapwings, with a Cormorant high on a pole. The photograph on the right (above) shows the gulls settling on the flooded New Monks Farm (private land) at the northern end just west of Withy Gap.

5 February 2010
A hundred plus flock of gulls congregated on the sodden pastures below (to the west) of Mill Hill. The closest ones were Black-headed Gulls with red legs, but the species in the main bulk were not discerned.

9 January 2010
Further snow fell in the morning. Some of this snow could be seen in a powdery layer on the mud flats at low tide. Twenty or so Dunlins were foraging much nearer the shore than usual with a few Ringed Plovers amongst the rocks and debris on the mud flats just north of the Railway Viaduct.

Dunlins and Ringed Plover
A dozen Lapwings were also noted roosting nearer the shore than usual, with a Redshank on the tideline.

7 January 2010
Rabbits spent a long time in the open fields on the levels east of Lancing College, grazing on the snow covered pastures. It seemed as though they were forced to search for food in the open where they would be more vulnerable to predators.

Lancing College Farm Pond
SE of the Toll Bridge
Reed Bunting
Lancing College Pond

Birds foraged in the open amongst the bare twigs and the snow; about half a dozen Reed Buntings  were particularly noticeable on the tideline of the River Adur estuary south of the Toll Bridge, with Meadow Pipits, and a dozen more Reed Buntings on the frozen pond by the road to Lancing College. One of two Little Grebes dived the water under at low tide in the River Adur north of the Toll Bridge. At Cuckoo's Corner there were the usual Chaffinches and Blue Tits and one Song Thrush and one Dunnock were noted.
Full Weather Report

2 January 2010
At midday there was still frost on the leaves and ground in the shade. My first plant in flower for 2010 was a very sorry looking overwintering Sow Thistle on the Downs-Coastal Cyclepath between Ropetackle and Old Shoreham. A Little Grebe dived under at high tide in the River Adur south of the Cuckoo's Corner inlet.

Cuckoo's Corner Reports
Adur Levels 2009

Location Images:

Link to the Adur 2010 Nature Notes pages

tal Cyclepath between Ropetackle and Old Shoreham. A Little Grebe dived under at high tide in the River Adur south of the Cuckoo's Corner inlet.

Cuckoo's Corner Reports
Adur Levels 2009

Location Images:

Link to the Adur 2010 Nature Notes pages