Adur Levels & Estuary 2015

Adur Levels Reports 2017

Adur Levels and Estuary 2016

26 December 2015
Thousands of gulls peeled over Shoreham as the spring tide ebbed at dusk on a grey day. But what gulls were they? I think they must have been mostly Common Gulls seen as silhouettes in the fading light? An expected Little Egret fed in the shallow pools by Ropetackle and an Oystercatcher flew from exposed mussel bed to mussel bed. North of the Flyover, a Little Grebe dived under in the very shallow water of the estuarine river.

4 November 2015
On a murky afternoon, with rain interspersed with small showers, there was little moving and no colour or anything to see apart from seven Oystercatchers on the mud at low tide by the Riverside Industrial Centre (north of Ropetackle).

28 October 2015
A colourful flash of a Kingfisher was seen on the opposite bank of the River Adur at Upper Beeding where the old railway bridge used to span the river.

25 October 2015

At low tide level in the middle of the day, an Oystercatcher probed in the mud and hammered hidden molluscs on the Flood Arches of the River Adur (by Little Norfolk Bridge). Expert birdwatchers will note the very broad white neck band, or collar, of this bird. Three Redshanks scoured the tideline and two Teals took to the thin stream of water.

19 October 2015

At mid-tide level in the middle of the day, a Grey Heron most of the short time played at statues. not perturbed by helicopters, small aircraft, trains or passing cyclists with cameras, twenty metres north of the Railway Viaduct, A Redshank on the tide edge was equally inactive when observed at the same time from the eastern bank of the River Adur.

18 October 2015

Turnstones & an Oystercatcher

It was pleasant at low tide down by the River Adur opposite Ropetackle: a Little Egret was successfully fishing in the shallow pools each side of the Railway Viaduct, Turnstones were actively feeding next to the exposed mussel beds, where two Oystercatchers were preening. One Turnstone was observed pulling a worm out of the mud.

11 October 2015
A passage journey along the Steyning Line Cyclepath via the Flyover Boot Sale produced occasional Small White Butterflies, occasional Red Admirals, a Large White and a Speckled Wood in the shade of a Betula Birch. The sun came out so I made a small detour to Shoreham Cement Works where more Red Admirals visited Ivy and a fresh female Adonis Blue landed on some short grass and a Comma Butterfly fluttered nearby. A Brimstone Butterfly was spotted over the cyclepath in Upper Beeding (by the Cement Works) on the return journey.

10 October 2015
The juvenile Great Crested Grebe was again spotted on the flooded neap tide River Adur by the Riverside Business Centre (between the Railway Viaduct and the Tollbridge).

8 October 2015


On the low neap tide in the afternoon the mussel beds were exposed under the Railway Viaduct and a couple of Little Egrets and a Cormorant were feeding in the shallow water. Further upstream a Redshank searched in the muddy flow and Lapwings rested and squabbled on the exposed mud banks as the tide came in. For a second a Wheatear rested on some chestnut fencing on the river edge of Adur Recreation Ground. A Red Admiral Butterfly fluttered northward upriver.

30 September 2015
A Curlew waded along the River Adur near the Tollbridge opposite Shoreham Airport.

Image Report by Paul Loader
27 September 2015

Great Crested Grebe

Another first for me, a Great Crested Grebe was spotted on the flooded spring tide River Adur by the Riverside Business Centre (between the Railway Viaduct and the Tollbridge). It was difficult to photograph because it spent more than half the time diving underwater. The black and grey plumage means this is a juvenile diving bird.

20 September 2015
In late afternoon an unmistakable Tern dived suddenly on to the surface of the River Adur opposite Ropetackle in the long shadows of the late sunny afternoon.
13 September 2015
A single Oystercatcher was probing on the low tide line by Ropetackle and trying to feed on mussels with a stabbing motion with its sharp beak and powerful neck muscles.

13 September 2015
Field near Miller's Stream, Steyning Road, Old Shoreham.

Nymph of a species of bush cricket called a Short-winged Conehead, Conocephalus dorsalis

10 September 2015
A Grey Heron stood sentry at low tide in the River Adur north of the Railway Viaduct in the late afternoon, passed by two Little Egrets searching in the shallow pools. A Southern Hawker (dragonfly) flew over.  There were several hundred Starlings in amongst the Buddleia bushes on the verges of the cyclepath in Old Shoreham south of the Tollbridge.

7 September 2015

Musk Mallow
Adonis Blue
Green-veined White

A Red Admiral fluttered across a road in Shoreham. On a cycle ride to Upper Beeding, I was able to confirm frequent white butterflies, including occasional Large Whites and Small Whites, at least six Green-veined Whites, a surprise and unmistakable male Adonis Blue and two Speckled Woods. Two Southern Hawkers (dragonfly) patrolled over the cyclepath. On a cloudy day generally the butterflies had to be disturbed. I noticed a Swallow flying over the semi-derelict Riverside Business Centre (north of Ropetackle) prior to emigration.
Adur Butterfly List 2015

30 August 2015

Sea Purslane

9 August 2015
A Southern Hawker (dragonfly) flew over the car boot sale in the field north of the Flyover.

Meadow Brown on Greater Burdock
Scaeva species of hoverfly

Images from Steyning Down
(Rifle Range Conservation Pasture and Ash and Blackthorn wood)

On a cycle ride to Steyning and back on a sunny day, ten butterfly species was par rather than noteworthy: Gatekeepers (50+), Meadow Browns (50+), Small Whites, Large Whites, Green-veined Whites, two Red Admirals, a few Peacocks, a few Speckled Woods in the shade, a few Holly Blues in the hedgerows, and two worn Comma Butterflies. I made a detour to Anchor Bottom and added a worn Painted Lady, a few Common Blues and three sightings of Clouded Yellows and although it could have been the same one I think it was three different butterflies. Last but not least a female Chalkhill Blue turned up as I was leaving by the gate at the bottom, chased by four males.
There were no Brown Hairstreaks seen at Steyning. On a Marjoram clump (same one as before) to the west of Steyning there were twenty Gatekeepers. My estimate of the height of the Blackthorn at Steyning was five metres high with the Ash towering above.
There were 36 Mute Swans seen on the River Adur, 15 were by the Cement Works and 21 on the river by the Airport.

29 July 2015
The large bird of prey circling over the Downs Link Cyclepath where it passes Old Erringham had a very light underwing, but still thought to be a Buzzard, which are almost regular in the last few years. Its silhouette was clear when it was seen against the clear sky rather than the blanket of black clouds.

There were 27 Mute Swans on the River Adur. 19 were by the Cement Works and there could have been more around the corner. My first Large Skipper of the year was seen by a verge by (south of) the Cement Works.
Butterfly Report

28 July 2015

Sea Purslane, Sea Aster, Glasswort

During the spring the Lapwings leave the Adur estuary to breed inland. The first of the returning winter residents was seen feeding at low tide to the east of the Flood Arches.

25 July 2015

Cyclepath, Old Shoreham

23 July 2015
In the Butterfly Meadow, west Steyning, I had never seen so many butterflies on a single patch of Marjoram before. They were divided into Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns in about equal numbers at twenty each with one Ringlet and a Small Skipper.

On a cycle ride to Steyning and back, I recorded thirteen butterfly species. Buddleia and Hemp Agrimony, (favourite butterfly nectar sources), were flowering abundantly on the verges of the Downs Link Cyclepath to Steyning and back. But the Buddleia was more a home to Starlings and House Sparrows and it was not visited by many butterflies. There was variety on the verges but scores rather than large numbers of butterflies. A magnificent female Sparrowhawk was seen near Bramber Castle.
Butterfly Report

28 June 2015
The languid fluttering of my first three Ringlet Butterflies of the year was confirmed by a photograph on the verges of the Steyning Line Cyclepath in the meadow-like verges south of the Cement Works. They were accompanied by at least one Meadow Brown Butterfly and at least one Burnet Companion Moth. The cyclepath verges were dominated by Ox-eye Daisies, but I noted clumps of Pyramidal Orchids, the Viper's Bugloss at its best, the first of the Rosebay Willlowherb, and the small flowers of Lesser Centaury.

On an overcast warm (Humidex 20.9° C, Air Temp 17.2° C) it actually began to rain in Upper Beeding and on the Annington Levels where a handful of Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies settled on the new towpath (north of the South Downs Way Bridge, running alongside the western bank avoiding Botolphs) and other footpaths. A Large White Butterfly was noted in Shoreham. I also noted a few skippers, thought to be Small Skippers. These were again first of the year sightings, but by then it was raining steadily and on the three occasions they were seen they disappeared amongst the long grass very rapidly.

21 June 2015

Steyning Line Cyclepath & Anchor Bottom
Rough Hawkbit, Pyramidal Orchid, Dove's Foot Cranesbill, Field Bindweed
Lesser Centaury, Yellow Wort, Fragrant Orchid, Purple Toadflax

On a breezy overcast day I cycled from the Fly-over Boot Sale to Anchor Bottom and back along the Steyning Line Cyclepath. The only butterfly seen was a Speckled Wood in the shade at Upper Beeding. A few Yellow Wort were seen in flower before noon. Pyramidal Orchid were not yet in full splendour.
Adur Orchids

15 June 2015

Rough Hawkbit
Yellow Rattle
Nettle-tap Moth

Adur Levels
Vetchling, Sainfoin, Dogwood, Pyramidal Orchid
Viper's Bugloss, Ox-eye Daisy
Common Mallow, Sainfoin, Ox-eye Daisy, Rough Hawkbit

An escapee Diamond Dove, Geopelia cuneata, was spotted on the Steyning Line Cyclepath between Old Shoreham and the A27 Adur Flyover. This semi-domesticated Australian bird was certainly an aviary escapee. Nevertheless it was an attractive ground feeding bird that was slow to take flight.

26 May 2015
Two Red Kites were seen together over Cuckoo's Corner, near Lancing College in the morning.

Report by Bridget James on Sussex Ornithological Society News

25 May 2015
Only a Rudd seen in a stream that runs by Steyning High Street (near the Castle Inn) was remotely newsworthy on a humid overcast day. Yellow Flag Iris was seen in flower at Annington Sewer.

12 May 2015

Steyning Line Cyclepath
Old Shoreham to Botolphs (and Anchor Bottom)

A cycle ride to Botolphs and back along and back along the Downs Link Cyclepath on a breezy overcast afternoon rewarded me with my first close-up Holly Blue Butterfly in flight this year, followed by an unexpected first Painted Lady just north of the Old Erringham layby. Hawthorn and Wayfaring Tree were flowering in the hedgerow that lined the route. The verges will beginning to show a bit of colour, with remains of the Cowslips joined by carpets of Germander Speedwell, Ground Ivy and Crosswort, clumps of Common Vetch, Bluebells, Bulbous Buttercups, Horsetail and Bugle, occasional Bird's Foot Trefoil, Ox-eye Daisy, Mouse-ear, Mouse-eared Hawkweeds and Dandelions, with lots of green leaves. As the afternoon wore on, the sun came out producing long shadows and encouraging my first Orange Tips of the year to show. Unusually, I found two white female butterflies before the bright orange on two males confirmed my identification. Cuckoo Flower was seen by a stream near Botolphs.

There were fifteen adult Mute Swans on the River Adur at Upper Beeding (by Dacre Gardens).

8 May 2015

Cuckoo's Corner

19 April 2015

Two Small White Butterflies and a Peacock Butterfly were spotted over the western towpath north of the Flyover. A pair of Kestrels hovered high in the sky over the field south-west of Cuckoo' Corner as a Moorhen swam under cover. Ladywell's Stream weir next to the scout's hut was flooded with the outfall blocked by the high spring tide. Further north up the Coombes Road in the vicinity of Applesham, the first Garlic Mustard of the year was flowering next to the country road. Even further north in the canopy of trees I spotted a Little Egret which disappeared in the dense tree tops as the Rooks cawed. Blackthorn was flowering over a widespread area. On the cyclepath verges south of the Cement Works, Cowslips were flourishing.

17 April 2015
The distinctive hoverfly Rhingia campestris was seen visiting Green Alkanet on the Waterworks Road for the first time this year.

8 April 2015

Blackthorn was in full flower at Cuckoo's Corner where the first Hawthorn appeared in leaf. Rooks cawed in the tree tops.

7 April 2015

Blackthorn was flowering next to the Steyning Road in Old Shoreham.
A Small White Butterfly briefly showed.
Adur Butterfly List 2015

25 March 2015

The first Cowslips appeared in flower on the verges of the cyclepath north of Old Shoreham together with one clump of Primroses, white Sweet Violets, Ground Ivy, Dandelions and Lesser Celandine.

22 March 2015
Pussy Willow catkins were seen next to the cyclepath in Old Shoreham.

11 March 2015
At low tide at Toll Bridge, Old Shoreham, late this afternoon, before sunset, there were no Lapwings on the exposed mud. Have they all flown inland for breeding?

14 February 2015
I made a brief visit to the estuary in the morning when the tide was lower and there were hundreds of Lapwings, Greater Black-backed Gulls, as well as the usual gulls and waders. Then it began to rain.

11 - 12 February 2015

Dunlins, Ringed Plovers, Teals, Turnstones, Redshank

Other birds seen on and over the still (like a mill pond) estuary over the two days were hundreds of Common Gulls, and frequent Black-headed Gulls, Herring Gulls, as well as Cormorants, a Kingfisher, Crows and Little Grebes. I visited when most of the mud was covered but there was a margin for the small waders.

27 January 2015

Little Grebe

A Little Grebe dived under the River Adur by Little Norfolk Bridge in mid-stream (branch to the Flood Arches) by the houseboats on a high spring tide. A pair of Teals cruised on the surface. A Kingfisher was spotted from the same spot by the bridge flying into the trees on the river bank to the west of the flooded river.

10 January 2015


A gale was blowing from the south as at least four Oystercatchers fed on or around the mussels on the beds south of the Railway Viaduct on an incoming tide. A Greater Black-backed Gull had discovered a a very long skeleton.

Greater Black-backed Gull

9 January 2015
A Common Seal was spotted on the bank of the River Adur still there now between the A27 Flyover and the Toll Bridge.

Report by Matt Sparkes
on Wildlife of Lancing facebook
Adur Levels and Estuary 2014

Adur Valley & Downs on facebook
Downs-Coastal Link Cyclepath

Adur Nature Notes 2015