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 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
Bugle, Red Campion
25 April 2018
Cuckoo's Corner on the Coombes Road
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.
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
familiar route to Bramber showed frequent butterflies:
occasional Small Whites, Green-veined Whites,
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
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
Bumblebee, Syrphus hoverfly, Common
Green Shield Bug
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,
Adur Trees & Shrubs 2018
11 April 2018
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
back to the Waterworks Road,
to confirm the bush of the previous day was Cherry
Plum, but also noted the first flowers
had appeared on one bush opposite on the southern side of the road by the
26 March 2018
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
Butterfly seen a minute afterwards were
enticed out of winter hibernation by a brief spell of sunshine in the early
on the mud flats north of the Tollbridge
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.
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.
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.
The weather was pleasant enough to spot my first bumblebee of the year, a Buff-tailed Bumblebee visited a flower shop in Lancing.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Downs Link Cyclepath near the Erringham Gap
avellana, is 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
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
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.
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..