Adur Levels & Estuary 2018

22 May 2018
It was very much a mixed bag after leaving the downs: around the pond in Castle Lane Park, Bramber, numerous damselflies flitted between the reeds and pondside plants. The small blue ones were difficult to get close to identify, (Azure or Common Blue?), but there were also a half a dozen or more of the unmistakable Blue-tailed Damselflies. At least two much larger dragonflies hawked amongst the reeds and the damselflies were very quick to get out of their way. They did not stop for for me to get a very clear look at them, but I saw enough to determine it could only be a Hairy Dragonfly, Brachytron pratense. After a few minutes, a shoal of small Rudd appeared, my first freshwater fish of the year. A Peacock Butterfly fluttered over my head.
At Annington Sewer, I was very surprised to spot a small brown Tench in the clear water by what looked like a sluice gate. It was identified by its fin arrangements. Another Peacock Butterfly fluttered over me.
Adur Damsels & Dragonflies 2018

17 May 2018

Hawthorn on Mill Hill and on the hedgerows of the Downs Link Cyclepath

Terry Thomas, angler

Apart from the glorious Hawthorn, there was not much to see apart from a few butterflies including a Holly Blue and probable Green-veined Whites in the breezy sunshine. On the flood sprimg tide, experienced angler Terry Thomas caiught eight juvenile Bass and a Flounder on crab bait on the main River Adur junction with Ladywell's Stream inlet.  The bites ceased after the tide turned. Over the far (east) bank a Kestrel hovered briefly.

16 May 2018

Old Erringham with Hawthorn in blossom in the foreground

Despite the dull and breezy weather, the Hawthorn bordering the Downs Link Cyclepath between Old Shoreham and Upper Beeding was blossoming spectacularly as it was on Mill Hill and in the roadside hedges and field boundaries of the patchwork landscape.

15 May 2018

Mute Swan and cygnets at Woods Mill

On the big pond, the pair of Mute Swans at Woods Mill had seven cygnets in tow. The Little Grebes had young as well, mostly in the middle amongst the lily pads. Scores of bright blue Azure Damselflies, Coenagrion puella, occasional Large Red Damselflies and frequent Beautiful Demoiselles, Calopteryx virgo, skirted the vegetation of the fish less ponds and streams of the Nature Reserve.  A female a Broad-bodied Chaser, Libellula depressa, patrolled incessantly over the still water.

Cow Parsley and Hawthorn at Upper Beeding

11 May 2018

Hawthorn

Hawthorn was making itself dominant in the landscape north of Shoreham. The bright white flowers were everywhere in the hedges of the Downs Link Cyclepath from Old Shoreham to Erringham and obviously further afield. About half the trees/shrubs seemed to be flowering, others budding and some yet to bud. There were more flowers higher up the tree out of camera reach for close-ups.

8 May 2018

Crosswort, Bugle, Red Campion
Bulbous Buttercup
Adur Levels

25 April 2018

Garlic Mustard
Cuckoo's Corner on the Coombes Road

19 April 2018
It was almost shirt-sleeves weather on the coast under a blue sky: 18.3 °C at 9:00 am but a southerly gentle breeze (Force 3) blew amongst the haze and it was down to 17.7 °C at midday in Shoreham. I cycled upcountry where it was appreciably warmer and no breeze felt.

Blackthorn

I cycled the Downs Link from Old Shoreham to Bramber Castle and for the first time I followed the roads through the outskirts of Steyning and then along flowering Blackthorn-lined paths through the fields at Wyckham crossing the still tidal River Adur at Stretham, I noted my first Swallow of the year over Greenfields. The route was boring and  bumpy with minimal ascents and descents but the loose surface with occasional hazards (bumps in the path that could derail a cyclist) that needed a proper mountain bike to deal with the ruts and loose rocks. North of Stretham, the footpath to Small Dole had a stile and a No Cycling sign, so I cycled almost to Henfield and spent too much time cycling back on the busy and dangerous A2037.

Pasture by the River Adur at Stretham

The familiar route to Bramber showed frequent butterflies: occasional Small Whites, Green-veined Whites, Brimstones, and at least one Peacock.  North of Steyning there were small Comma Butterflies and my first Speckled Wood of the year in fresh condition. At Woods Mill at least one male Orange-tip was very lively and it was fifteen minutes before it it visited a Cuckoo flower. This was my first of the year for this attractive little butterfly of the wetland margins. I also spotted my first Holly Blue of the year.
Adur Butterfly List 2018

Two Mute Swans on their nest at Woods Mill

13 April 2018

Buff-tailed Bumblebee, Syrphus hoverfly, Common Green Shield Bug
Waterworks Road

It was an overcast rather murky day, but it seemed at last spring had arrived with the Blackthorn finally in flower on the Waterworks Road, and a handful of the early bumblebees, hoverflies and bugs.
Adur Trees & Shrubs 2018

11 April 2018

Primula

Cowslips were flowering on the verges of the Downs Link Path from Old Shoreham north to the Cement Works. At the northern end I spotted the hybrid False Oxlip, Primula veris x vulgaris.

27 March 2018

Blackthorn

I went back to the Waterworks Road, to confirm the bush of the previous day was Cherry Plum, but also noted the first flowers of Blackthorn had appeared on one bush opposite on the southern side of the road by the gate.
Adur Trees

26 March 2018

At the southern footpath end of the Waterworks Road, the only flowering Cherry Plum attracted my first Peacock Butterfly of the year and like the first Comma Butterfly seen a minute afterwards were enticed out of winter hibernation by a brief spell of sunshine in the early afternoon.
Prunus Report

Oystercatchers
on the mud flats north of the Tollbridge

24 March 2018
From about 10 am to 11 am on the River Adur mud flats at low tide there was a flock of twenty Avocet between the Railway Viaduct and Tollbridge, quite unsettled and often taking to the air.

Report by Alan Kitson on SOS Sightings


21 March 2018
A distinct wind chill could still be felt under a blue sky on a short cycle ride along the Downs Link Cyclepath from Old Shoreham to the disused Cement Works at Upper Beeding. I disturbed a male Mallard on the chalk stream near the Erringham Gap. The cyclepath verges were shorn from last year but there were occasional yellow flowers:Daffodils, Coltsfoot and Lesser Celandine.

There was still standing water in the lowland meadows next to the river on the same latitude as Erringham.
The turf I stood on was waterlogged.

13 March 2018
The weather was pleasant enough to spot my first bumblebee of the year, a Buff-tailed Bumblebee visited a flower shop in Lancing.

Erringham Gap

With  the leaves yet to appear on the trees, birds like Wrens and Blue Tits were seen flying amongst the bare branches on  a cycle ride along the Downs Link path to Botolphs and back along the Coombes Road where Rooks were cawing in the tree tops south of Coombes. A pair of Mallards were seen beneath the weir at Ladywells Penstock.  There were numerous gulls on the Adur mudflats at Old Shoreham but no Lapwings at mid-tide.

Walnut tree on the Adur Levels south of Coombes
The land has been drained and is now used for growing crops rather than hay meadow or pasture

A few wild flowers were noted: Sweet Violets were seen near Withy Gap in Lancing. Lesser Celandine appeared on the grass verges in north Lancing and on the verges of the Coombes road near Coombes, where Snowdrops and Daffodils were still flowering. On the Downs Link Cyclepath south of the Cement Works, Coltsfoot flowers were just appearing.

6 March 2018

Black-headed Gulls

Positively balmy and calm compared to the snow of a few  days ago, an Oystercatcher trotted to and fro on the half tide's muddy edge by Ropetackle. It quickly flew off, but Black-headed Gulls, in summer breeding livery, continued feeding snapping at tiny prey above the mud. At Old Shoreham, the large mud flat north of the Tollbridge was exposed hosting over a hundred roosting gulls and a Redshank, but no Lapwings.

27 February 2018

Old Shoreham in the Snow

22 February 2018
Braving a north-easterly wind chill below freezing, it really wasn't worth it as under the blue sky very little moved. I disturbed a Moorhen on a flooded stream near Ladywells and spotted a Kestrel amongst the bare tree tops at Cuckoo's Corner.

15 February 2018
With squelchy mud and standing water off the Down’s Link Cyclepath in stuck to the hard surfaces on a circular unplanned cycle ride from Ropetackle to Botolphs and back along the Coombes Road in the late afternoon. Hazel catkins showed on a single tree next to the Silver Birch trees north of the Erringham Gap on the cyclepath. Otherwise there was not much colour or movement. Snowdrops showed in abundance in Botolphs churchyard and in the semi-wild near Coombes where I spotted a solitary Lesser Celandine in flower. At Botolphs I was fortunate to spot a male Kestrel in level flight at eye level for a second.
 
 

Hazel Catkins
Downs Link Cyclepath near the Erringham Gap

Hazel, Corylus avellanais a deciduous broadleaf tree native to the British Isles.
Catkin: a downy, hanging flowering spike of trees such as Willow and Hazel, pollinated by the wind.

At Old Shoreham by the Tollbridge, the Lapwing flock was in excess of a hundred with as many still roosting on the mud flats. Over north Shoreham a murmuration of a thousand plus Starlings on passage at half four was in the proportions seen over the ruins of the West Pier at Brighton.

1 February 2018

Lapwings

My first Snowdrop of the year was seen in  a Lancing garden. A flock of seventy or so Lapwings wheeled in unison over the Tollbridge at Old Shoreham before settling on the Adur estuary mud at low tide.

16 January 2018

Coombes Road

Mud and water was everywhere with the Ladywells Stream by the Scout Hut on the Coombes Road flowing strongly over the weir. A score and more of Lapwings perched on the river mud with a few Redshanks and a Cormorant fanning its wings north of the Tollbridge.

12 January 2018
At low tide on the River Adur by Ropetackle a LIttle Grebe was swept quickly down stream in the rapids, but dived into the shallow water. A single Oystercatcher patrolled the gravel tideline as the light quickly faded..
 

 Adur Levels and Estuary 2017


Adur Valley & Downs on facebook
Downs-Coastal Link Cyclepath


Adur Nature Notes (Link)                     2018