Adur Levels & Estuary 2016

Adur Levels Reports 2017
23 November 2016
On a dull afternoon a Grey Heron was standing sentry in the river under the Flyover, until it was disturbed and flew off to near the Tollbridge. At low tide the Lapwings were roosting with a Little Egret feeding in the shallows, and a Redshank was easily seen foraging over the mud.

16 November 2016
At sunset a Grey Heron landed at low tide in the shallow pools under Adur Ferry Bridge for the third time I crossed in the later afternoon in a week.
15 November 2016
In the fading light of the late afternoon, a male Kestrel flew over my head on the road at the junction with the Sussex Pad. 

10 November 2016
Sheep were grazing in the mown meadows adjoining the busy main road to Steyning.
8 November 2016
With the first of the winter chill on the breeze, a few estuarine birds rested either side of Little Norfolk Bridge. On the eastern houseboat side, a handful of active Tealsand about nine resting Redshanks were seen on the mud at low tide. The water on the western Flood Arches side was merely a trickle. The half a dozen Redshanks were more active and it was unusual to see that many together.

At Old Shoreham, there were occasional gulls on the mud including a roosting Greater Black-backed Gull as well as a resting Cormorant

On passage I only noted Bristly Ox-tongue, Oxford Ragwort and Yarrow in flower

Redshank on the mud of the Flood Arches
31 October 2016
At a five o'clock sunset a Grey Heron fed at low tide in the shallow pools under Adur Ferry Bridge.

Bristly Ox-tongue
Old Shoreham

27 October 2016
There were scores of Lapwings resting on the mudflats at Old Shoreham at low tide. There were the usual gulls and these Lapwings arnd other birds were expected and regular on the River Adur in late autumn. 

25 October 2016

Old Shoreham
Estuary with Sea Blite and Sea Purslane

22 October 2016


At mid-tide  a Great Crested Grebe preening itself on the River Adur north of Adur Flyover, Old Shoreham. As I watched the darting flight of Kingfisher was spotted briefly in the near distance (neared than the grebe) before it disappeared from view.

20 October 2016

A Little Egret was feeding amongst the Sea Purslane by the houseboats on the high spring tide (seen from the new Ferry Bridge) until a Grey Heron glided down and frightened it away.
12 October 2016
I cycled north along the Downs Link Cyclepath from Old Shoreham to just south of the Cement Works. I was going to stop and turn back when I saw my first butterfly, but I did not see any and turned back when the sun went behind a black cloud. A Greenfinch was spotted feeding on blackberries. A few bumblebees visiting the few available flowers was about all there was to see although the autumn foliage each side of the cyclepath looked attractive under the weak sun. Smooth Hawk's-beard was spotted in two patches and both Hawkweed Ox-tongue, Bristly Ox-tongue were still frequent with Hoary Ragwort, Red Clover, Hardheads, a few Ox-eye Daisies and Melilot

Little Egret

A Little Egret fed on prawns and was seen from the Tollbridge, and a handful of Lapwings were seen for the first time by me this autumn. 

9 October 2016

On a varied cloudy day, the most spectacular Rainbow I had ever seen appeared over Shoreham for 18 minutes in the afternoon. It appeared as both as a double rainbow and even a treble rainbow for a very brief moment.

Little Egret

8 October 2016
I was already looking for the last butterfly of the year: a Red Admiral was seen over Riverbank by the houseboats around midday in very weak sunshine between the gaps in the clouds. Five Teal were seen feeding on the Flood Arches mud at low tide. A half a dozen or more Turnstones searched for food on the mussel beds underneath the Norfolk Bridge.

2 October 2016
A  large fish jumped out the flooded River Adur on a high spring tide just south of the Adur Flyover. It showed a large glimpse of white but despite this I think it was likely to be a Grey Mullet. There were lots of large swirls in the shallows, in the muddy gaps between the submerged Sea Purslane.

Downs Link Cyclepath
Blackberries, Haws
Rose Hips

I noted a handful of large Dark Bush Crickets and a Speckled Wood Butterfly on the verges of the the Downs Link Cyclepath by a clump of blackberries, just south of the Cement Works.
Adur Butterfly Report

30 September 2016
A Buzzard glided over the Downs Link Cyclepath between the Erringham Gap north to the Cement Works. At Old Shoreham a chirm of at least eight Goldfinches was divided into two groups. There were very few plants in flower, noting a few examples of Hoary Ragwort, Common Ragwort, Fleabane, Melilot, Bristly Ox-tongue, Prickly Sow Thistle (? ID), Perennial Sow Thistle (one clump), Common Toadflax and Hogweed.

27 September 2016
A Grey Heron fished in the middle of the River Adur on a low neap tide approaching 3:00 pm in the afternoon, after the first rightangle meander of the river north of Old Shoreham. It was not alone; a dog disturbed the hundred or so Common Gulls  and couple of Cormorants. A few Little Egrets are so regular to be hardly worth a mention nowadays. Two small chirms of Goldfinches flew around the Hawthorn and other hedgerow shrubs. These chirms comprised only a handful of birds in each (unless that were part of a larger chirm unseen). It was too cool for any butterflies.

River Adur Estuary
Sea Spurrey, Sea Blite, Cord Grass, Glasswort
Glasswort, Cord Grass, Sea Purslane, Sea Purslane

22 September 2016
At the time of the Autumn Equinox the subdued colours of autumn were evident with falling leaves exceeding fluttering butterflies of which three Red Admirals blown about on the breeze was the day total from the verges of the Downs Link Cyclepath north of Old Shoreham. Under a cloudy sky, the high equinoctial spring tide lapped against the towpath. There was very little colour or movement: the chattering House Sparrows, immigrant flocks of Starlings, a Great Tit, and a hundred strong flock of Common Gulls on the western bank of the River Adur following a tractor. A Devil's Coach Beetle, Staphylinus olens, crawled across the cyclepath near the Cement Works.

Downs Link Cyclepath

This lack of colour prompted me to have a closer look at what was around on the verges of the cyclepath and I added two previously overlooked flowering plants to my local list: two clumps of the large flowers of Perennial Sow Thistle, Sonchus arvensis, and my first identification of the Hoary Ragwort, Senecio erucifolius.
Adur Ragworts

21 September 2016
Eventually, I spotted my first Small Copper Butterfly of the year in Old Shoreham by the River Adur. Typically, it visited the small amounts of Fleabane still in flower next to the towpath north of the Tollbridge, but only for a few seconds before it disappeared. Small White Butterflies were still frequently seen in the sunshine, especially over Shoreham Beach

The small spider Tetragnatha extensa was seen underneath a Hardhead (=Lesser Knapweed) leaf.

14 September 2016
On the River Adur at Shoreham a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper (found by Richard Fairbank) was seen between the Tollbridge and Railway Viaduct in the afternoon. Also 63 Ringed Plover, 26 Dunlin and a Kingfisher on this section of the river and 2 Greenshank and 13 Sandwich Terns between the Norfolk Bridge and Adur Ferry Bridge. In Sussex the Curlew Sandpiper,Calidris ferruginea, is a Scarce (Passage Migrant).

Report by Paul James on Sussex Ornithological Society News

11 September 2016
In the autumn sunshine there were frequent butterflies and they were all Whites on the cyclepath to Upper Beeding. A school of twenty Grey Mullet of various sizes could be seen feeding in the shallows underneath the Ferry Bridge at low tide. A Common Darter (dragonfly) was spotted on the old road to Old Erringham.

2 September 2016

Welted Thistle
Carduus crispus
Upper Beeding, Cyclepath edge near the river

Rosebay Willowherb
Downs Link Cyclepath
Old Shoreham

28 August 2016


With the sun behind the Cumulus clouds most of the flutterings were falling leaves in the breeze. An Oystercatcher hammered a mussel by Ropetackle (near the Norfolk Bridge) at low tide, and a Turnstone scrambled about amongst the mussels very well camouflaged to my human eye.

25 August 2016
I was graced by a two second close look at a Kingfisher, flying over Ladywell's Stream on the opposite side of the Coombes Road to the Scout Hut. In a brilliant flash he was gone and it did not reappear over the shallow stream, that hosted Water Mint growing wild. Over the cyclepath just north of Old Shoreham, my first Southern Hawker (dragonfly) of the year, cruised by at a height of about two metres. This was quickly followed by a Common Darter.

Rosebay Willowherb
Downs Link Cyclepath
Old Shoreham

But overall there was a distinct autumn appearance to the cyclepath verges with plentiful Fleabane, a few Water Mint flowers, but most of the flowers were fading to be replaced by seeds and the browns of the new season. Sea Aster was beginning to flower on the rivermud, with the occasional tiny flowers of Sea Spurrey could be searched out for.

Butterflies were frequently seen but mostly whites of three species positively identified as the most numerous Large Whites but still plenty of Small Whites and Green-veined Whites. One unidentified vanessid flew over the Toll Bridge. There were occasional Meadow Browns around the towpath to Cuckoo's Corner, Speckled Browns where it was shady on a sunny afternoon, and three tiny Common Blues (two males, one female) on the Downs Link cylepath verges north of Erringham Gap.

22 August 2016

Down by the river at  Old Shoreham
Lesser Marsh Grasshopper, Fleabane, Teasel

11 August 2016

Silver-washed Fritillary

A large brown dragonfly patrolled the large pond at Woods Mill, Small Dole, and I think this is most likely to be a Hairy Dragonfly which appeared double the size of a Common Darter seen at the same time. In the shaded wooded area, a faded Silver-washed Fritillary and a dark Speckled Wood Butterfly settled briefly.

8 August 2016

Old Shoreham
Comma Butterfly, Hemlock Water Dropwort
Lesser Marsh Grasshopper, Goldrenrod

These Lesser Marsh Grasshoppers, Chorthippus albomarginatus. were hopping in around the Sea Purlsane on the river edge at Old Shoreham.

7 August 2016

Downs Link Cyclepath
between Erringham Gap and the Cement Works

19 July 2016

Buddleia marks the end of summer. No clouds in the sky.
Teasels and Fleabane are autumn flowers

Lucky a breeze (Force 4) was blowing as it was very warm > 26.8° C. A round trip to Annington Sewer via the Coombes Road noted House Martins in flight and a Swallow and two Kestrels hovering together over the sheep pasture near the private road to Applesham Farm, 19 Mute Swans on the River Adur at Upper Beeding near the South Downs Way Bridge as I cycled back along the Downs Link Cyclepath in the middle of the day to early afternoon. And butterflies were common for the first time this year led by 50+ Red Admirals, the same number of mixed whites, Large Whites, Green-veined Whites, Small Whites, frequent Small/Essex Skippers, frequent Meadow Browns, occasional Gatekeepers, and a few 6-spotted Burnet Moths. The hoverfly Cheilosia illustrata at Cuckoo's Corner was my first record of a species which could be easily overlooked.
Adur Hoverflies
Adur Weather
Shoreham Beach Weather Station

17 July 2016
On a very sticky humid day, I cycled on my Pashley to the Sunday morning car boot sale in Miller's Field, (north of Old Shoreham), and by road along to Erringham Gap and back along the Downs Link Cyclepath to Shoreham. A passage journey recorded Marbled Whites, Green-veined Whites, Large Whites, Small Whites, Red Admirals, Meadow Browns, Small Skippers and 6-spotted Burnet Moths.

12 July 2016
A commotion over the River Adur north of the Tollbridge attracted my attention, as the gulls nosily mobbed a Grey Heron. On a breezy cloudy day, it was inimical for even photographing wild flowers as they were constantly blown about in the late morning.

Adur Levels, Downs Link Cyclepath
Old Shoreham to Erringham Gap

Thousands of small grasshoppers were easily disturbed on the meadow-like verges of the Steyning Line Cyclepath (from Old Shoreham to just north of the Erringham Gap). A score or more of fresh  Green-veined White Butterflies were  fluttering about but the other butterflies were reluctant to take flight. A variety were seen and they were one Small Skipper, occasional Meadow Browns, a few Ringlets, at least two Red Admirals and a Marbled White. Two of the first 6-spotted Burnet Moths of the year were spotted, the first settled on a Pyramidal Orchid. More plants appeared in flower, notably a white coloured Common Centaury, Dark Mullein, Red Bartsia and the first budding Wild Basil.
Adur Butterfly List 2016

5 July 2016

Adur Levels, Downs Link Cyclepath
Old Shoreham  to Cement Works

At least a day without rain and even in the very late afternoon there was as brief spell of sunshine and the breeze had died down. The meadow-like verges of the Steyning Line Cyclepath had grown higher than normal and the Pyramidal Orchids were almost hidden amongst the long grasses, Lady's Bedstraw and other vegetation. The late sunshine cast long shadows but brought the butterflies out: one fresh Comma*, four Red Admirals, and few Large Whites, my first handful of Small Skippers of the year, at least two Marbled Whites, occasional Meadow Browns, about ten Ringlets and occasional Silver Y Moths. Other new plants in flower (from a month ago) included Greater Willowherb, Rosebay Willowherb, Tufted Vetch, Dotted Loosestrife, Lesser Burdock, Bellflower, Hardhead (=Lesser Knapweed), Meadow Buttercup and others. A Common Blue Damselfly was seen by the gate and broken stile leading to the Waterworks Road, Old Shoreham.
(* Waterworks Road.)
Adur Butterfly List 2016

5 June 2016
More butterflies appeared in the sunshine, a Peacock Butterfly on the Car Boot Sale pasture north of the Flyover (south of Old Erringham). a few Common Blues at the Old Shoreham end (south of the Flyover) of the Steyning Line Cyclepath, where my first possible Small Skipper of the year appeared as an orange flash and was gone, and a fleeting but definite view of my first Wall Brown of the year, with Large Whites and Small Whites and other unidentified brownish butterflies blown about too rapidly on the breeze. A Speckled Wood was also spotted in flight.
NB: The Small Skipper is too early? It might have been a Small Heath? (not previously seen in Old Shoreham though.)

Ox-eye Daisy
Water Dropwort
Spotted Orchids

A few Spotted Orchids were noted on the Steyning Line Cyclepath at Erringham.  Water Dropworts were flowering in umbels by the River Adur at Old Shoreham.

29 May 2016
After missing a few days with rain and thunderstorms, it was still cloudy and breezy along the Steyning Line Cyclepath on the same latitude as Old Erringham where my  first Mint Moth, Pyrausta aurata, of the year landed on an Ox-eye Daisy. A Peacock Butterfly was blown about in the breeze.

Adur Levels
Steyning Line Cyclepath
Crosswort, Yellow Flag Iris
Bird's Foot Trefoil, Lesser Stitchwort

Tiny green Meadow Grasshoppers, Chorthippus parallelus, were jumping around in the verges where Bird's Foot Trefoil and the tiny Lesser Stitchwort flowered.

8 May 2016
A Red Admiral Butterfly landed on the towpath at the western end of the Toll Bridge, Old Shoreham. Near Cuckoo's Corner on the Coombes Road I spotted (as expected) my second and third Orange Tip Butterflies of the year. There was an orange male butterfly and a white female, and a definite Green-veined Butterfly interfering with their courting over Garlic Mustard in the sunshine on the warmest day of the year. Because the butterflies were out of range and flighty and because of the busy road traffic I was unable to get a decent photograph. So I decided to cycle further north in search to Bramber in search of more butterflies.

Orange Tip Butterfly
Ladywells Stream (Drainage ditch adjoining)
Green-winged Orchid

Ladywells Stream was in flood (the high spring tide preventing discharge into the River Adur) but I was still surprised to see a 30 cm long grey fish in the stream on the east side of road, east of the small weir. This was the largest fish I've seen in that streams in the area which are even in flood are less than 60 cm in depth. The fish cruised out of sight in a second and I had only time to notice that it lacked red fins and seemed to have protuberances along its lateral line. I thought it looked like a streamlined Carp. (It might have been a resident Brown Trout? I think I favour it most likely being a Tench.) I also saw a Stickleback and a blue damselfly flew just above he slowly flowing stream. I think it was most likely to be either an Azure or a Common Blue Damselfly.

In search of more butterflies, there were occasional whites of an undetermined species (thought most likely to be Green-veined Whites) on the cycle ride along the Coombes Road to Botolphs and by cyclepath to Bramber. Ox-eye Daisies were beginning to flower, noticed first near Annington Sewer. Orchids were common over the southern (north-facing) chalk bank of Anchor Bottom, Upper Beeding. The scattered orchids were all the purple Green-winged Orchids amongst the dried out cow pats. I also spotted my first Holly Blue Butterfly of the year on the outward ride and another one over the Steyning Line Cyclepath on the way back.

Two Mute Swans fed in the small streams (I did not spot any cygnets). It was nearly a fortnight later before I spotted a Grey Heron in the photograph above. This is the pasture between Botolphs and the River Adur at the Annington Sewer end in the Ladywell complex of streams and field drainage.
Location of the Tree
OS Map Tree location

6 May 2016

On the verges of the Steyning Line cyclepath Cowslips were still flowering in abundance, especially just south of the Cement Works. 

I headed north of Coombes up the country road on an unplanned cycle ride, encouraged by the afternoon sunshine. North of Coombes village, Hawthorn was beginning to flower in the leafy hedgerows, whilst in Old Shoreham Blackthorn flowers were still on the trees joined by the fresh growth of leaves. A good condition Red Admiral Butterfly settled briefly at Botolphs, where a Moorhen fed in the middle of a stream/drainage, that hosted the Cuckoo Flower in bloom on the edge. At Annington Sewer Whirligig Beetles and Water Skaters were seen on the water surface beneath the leafy Oak Tree.

3 May 2016

Adur Levels
Comma Butterfly, Rhingia campestris, Cuckoo Flower, Peacock Butterfly
Cuckoo Flower, Blackthorn, Small White Butterfly on Three Cornered Garlic

Hawthorn was now on green leaf and Blackthorn ceased flowering at Cuckoo's Corner,  but there were still Primroses, Cowslips, Green Alkanet and Bluebells around the outskirts of Shoreham together with newly flowering Red Campion, Garlic Mustard, one clump of Cuckoo Flower (near Ladywells on the Coombes Road), and the first two Yellow Flag Iris (stream next to Ladywells) the most eye catching on a breezy day.

1 May 2016
On a breezy midday. a probable Green-veined White Butterfly flew around the Alexanders next to the tarmac cyclepath south of the Tollbridge, Old Shoreham. My first male Orange-tip Butterfly of the year was a pristine butterfly that made a fleeting visit to Three Cornered Garlic and Green Alkanet at the southern end of the Waterworks Road, where Common Vetch was spotted in flower for the first time this year, and the distinctive hoverfly Rhingia campestris visited Green Alkanet flowers.
Leucozona lucorum

Because my trip was unplanned and I only had my compact camera, I returned very late in the afternoon to try and get a decent photograph of the Orange-tip, but it did not make an appearance, only a flighty Green-veined White and occasional hoverflies of at least five species including the pretty Leucozona lucorum. On the footpath below the Butterfly Copse to the Waterworks Road, I spied a large clump of Ink Caps.
Adur Butterfly List 2016

28 April 2016
A Green-veined White Butterfly settled on a Garlic Mustard flower south of Cuckoo's Corner on the Coombes Road. A dark Peacock Butterfly rose from the vicinity of clump of White Deadnettle in a field just north of Cuckoo's Corner on a day of a cool wind chill (below 4°C) from the westerly breeze (recorded at Gale Force 7 gusting to Force 8).  More Garlic Mustard had appeared on the verges of the Coombes Road. It appeared that the stands found were flourishing, was there was less of it than I seem to recall from previous years and very little (just one plant seen) between Cuckoo's Corner north to Ladywells Penstock, where it is normally common. Cuckoo Flower (=Lady's Smock) was flowering streamside in the drainage ditch that borders the field and runs due north of Cuckoo's Corner.  Blackthorn was still in flower along the Steyning Line Cyclepath at Old Shoreham, with the green leaves and buds of Hawthorn.
24 April 2016
An Oystercatcher probed for food on the tideline of the incoming tide underneath Adur Ferry Bridge, its feathers ruffled in the breeze. 

Its neck was all black without a white collar

20 April 2016
On the Coombes Road (south of Cuckoo's Corner only), Garlic Mustard had started to flower. North of Ladywells on the same country road (on the first incline to the Applesham Farm junction), the Elm hedges were beginning in green leaf on the eastern border to the road.

14 April 2016
A long slinky Weasel was spotted on the edge of the Coombes Road verges near Ladywells. It is only for a second as it quick to to disappear amongst the long grass. This was only living thing of note on an afternoon when the Cowslips and Primroses were still in flower along the Downs Link (Steyning Line) Cyclepath but no Coltsfoot. At least two Peacock Butterflies were spotted near Cuckoo's Corner. Moorhens were seen on Lancing College Pond.

Lancing College Pond

Suckered English Elm was coming into leaf on the outskirts on verges and patches of wasteland. Leaves were not so forthcoming on mature trees. Pussy Willow catkins were still on the trees although they also littered the ground underneath the branches.

Red Deadnettle
Ground Ivy
Allium ursinum

Ramsons (also called Wild Garlic), Allium ursinum, were spotted on the muddy verge of the Coombes Road, south of Cuckoo's Corner. The Sussex Plant Atlas includes the names Ramsons and is not shown as present in the Lower Adur Valley. It is not recorded in Flora of Shoreham-by-Sea (List).


8 April 2016

Blackthorn was in full flower at Cuckoo's Corner where Hawthorn was in substantial leaf and the leaves of Blackthorn had appeared. Blackthorn flowers appear before the leaves and the Hawthorn leaves appear before the flowers.
Buff-tailed Bumblebees visited Green Alkanet at Cuckoo's Corner.

5 April 2016

Fluffy white Cumulus clouds sped across a blue sky and the sun shone briefly though the gaps. On the verges of the Steyning Line (Old Shoreham to Upper Beeding) the yellow flowers of Coltsfoot, Lesser Celandine and Cowslips were most noticeable as well as a few Bluebells and one patch of Ground Ivy. There was another Peacock Butterfly in the afternoon, bringing the day total of this colourful vanessid to at least nine. Bee-flies visited the catkins of Pussy Willow, but mostly high in the canopy.
Adur Butterfly List 2016

4 February 2016
The Short-eared Owl finally made an appearance over the saltings near New Salts Farm, swopping low over the reed beds just before sunset. This time it outshone the male Kestrel perched on some telephone wires. The owl was mobbed at time by a Herring Gull, flushing it and making the view livelier.  Its flight was in a series of glides before settling down. It may have been hunting, but this occurs mainly at night (the books say). The flooded stream that runs through the now fenced in open land hosted at least two Coots and at least two Moorhen. I think the squeal from the reed beds came from a Moorhen which occurred as the owl glided over.

20 January 2016
Between the Norfolk Bridge and Railway Viaduct at low tide, Greater Black-backed Gulls (2+), Crows (12+), Oystercatchers (6+) fed on the mussel beds, and a Redshank skirted the tideline in the fast running current by Ropetackle.

19 January 2016
On the small patch of open water by New Salts Farm (within the Shoreham boundary) a Little Grebe dived under accompanied by a Moorhen, a Coot and a pair of Mallards.

Short-eared Owl
Photograph by Paul Loader

Over the reed beds, a Kestrel hovered and descended in the hunt several times without success. At Civil Twilight his performance excelled that of a Short-eared Owl that spent half an hour perched in the reed bed with an occasional preen, before flying away and out of view as dusk (Nautical Twilight) set in and the temperature plummeted rapidly.It did not look as though it was hunting just flying away. A Water Rail squealed from amongst the reed beds (hearsay audio identification). This squeal did not seem to come from an identifiable cause.

15 January 2016
A Short-eared Owl was seen and photographed near Shoreham Airport.

Image Report by Dorian Mason
on Sussex Ornithological Society News

Extensive flooding to the north in the low lying fields around Henfield could seen from the muddy footpath north of and downhill from Beeding Hill car park.

Common Seal
Photograph by Paul Loader

I missed a Common Seal spotted and photographed in the River Adur by Sean Stones.

8 January 2016

Altogether a much brighter afternoon than two days previously, the sea was still calm as it gently lapped against the glimpses of exposed sand and finer gravel at the mid-tide mark. Brown wracks strewn across the pebbles marked the limit of the high tide. On the distant downs the clouds were dark, but over Adur Recreation Ground the late sun filtered through a break in the clouds casting golden light on a naked White Poplar amongst the evergreen trees.

White Poplar file

 Adur Levels and Estuary 2015

Adur Valley & Downs on facebook
Downs-Coastal Link Cyclepath

Adur Nature Notes 2016