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Link to Adur Valley Nature Notes 2003

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Downs north of Shoreham and the Adur Valley (map)
ADUR 
NATURE NOTES
2001
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* If the grid references are not given they could be found on the 
Adur Wildlife database on the Adur eForum



Reports by Andy Horton from personal observation unless otherwise indicated


Link to more detailed wildlife reports for January to March 2003
Adur Valley Nature Notes  October - December 2002

 
WILDLIFE REPORTS
 

28 June 2003
Three Peregrine Falcons were perching near the Shoreham Harbour Power Station on some of the high dock lamps. These three birds are thought to be the three chicks born this year and they put up an amusing display chasing each around the power station chimney (their birth place in the nest box on the south side) and dislodging each other off the available perches. 
Breeding Report 2002

In Widewater Lagoon, several large Common Eels have been seen to the east of the bridge. They could only be seen at the bottom of the lagoon from a very high vantage point on the roof of one of the houses. 

Reports by Peter Talbot-Elsden (Southwick)


Childing Pink (Photograph  by Andy Horton)
The Childing Pink, Petrorhagia nanteuilii, is in flower at Silver Sands (TQ 229 048) on Shoreham Beach. There are about fifty of these tiny easily overlooked plants, three or four with the distinctive double flowers. The first plants must have been flowering for up to a couple of weeks ago, and they are not yet in their prime. This site is one of just two remaining sites for this flower in Sussex, although they may have been planted elsewhere. 

Spotted Orchid (Photograph by Andy Horton)27 June 2003
Slonk Hill has been cut in half by the A27 by-pass as the dual carriageway truck road (constructed 1971) and the southern area of the hill is now the steep chalky embankments of the dual carriageway. 

The southern bank was adorned like a meadow with an extensive display of Spotted Orchids, Dactylorhiza fuchsii, near the footbridge to Slonk Hill Farm. The bank attracted butterflies including my first Comma Butterfly of the year, a Large White Butterfly with extensive black markings and a handful of aggressive Meadow Browns which tended to chase other butterflies away at any opportunity. 

There is a footpath through a Beech and Sycamore copse from the footbridge westwards and this can be followed for 200 metres. At the western end the embankment is overgrown with longer grasses and brambles and an occasional Pyramid Orchid, Anacamptis pyramidalis.

Ringlet Butterfly (Photograph by Andy Horton)
It was in this area I discovered my first Ringlet Butterfly on these Nature Notes pages. This butterfly persisted in basking with wings wide open and would not close them for a view of the ringlets. 
More Images

Area suggested by Jan Hamblett (Lancing Nature)


26 June 2003
Amongst the common House Sparrow flocks on the waste ground at the eastern end of the Toll Bridge, Old Shoreham, I spotted a Lesser Whitethroat*, the birds clearly distinguished by its white throat. This unpromising looking ex-railway track supports quite a variety of birds if examined over a long period, but many are passage migrants and rarely is there a large selection on just one day. There was a single Painted Lady Butterfly (brighter than the recent ones) and a couple of Red Admirals
(* It could just have likely been a Common Whitethroat, these small birds are usually hiding in a bush.)
Marbled White Butterfly that has struggled to emerge (Photograph by Andy Horton)In the Lancing Ring meadows, the Marbled White Butterflies were emerging, where 30 Small Skipper Butterflies readily settled on the Greater Knapweed.
Full Report and Pictures from the Lancing Meadows
On New Monks Farm, Lancing (west of Shoreham Airport) an out of flight season Peacock Butterfly, in good condition, settled south of the Withy Patch. 
 
 

26 June 2003
I caught a Twaite Shad, Alosa fallax, from off the beach at Brighton.

Twaite Shad from Brighton (Photograph by Gareth Stephens)

Twaite Shad (click on the image for a closer look)

"It was about 48 cm long and like an oversized herring. Its scales were very large (I kept some as they came off easily on handling).

Report by angler Gareth Stevens


The Twaite Shad is a rare endangered migratory fish rarely caught in the English Channel. It is the commoner of the two shad species found in British waters. The other species is the Allis Shad, Alosa alosa
Both the Twaite Shad and the Allis Shad are listed on Appendix II of the Bern Convention and Annexes II and V of the Habitats Directive. They are protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.
Further Information and Later Report
Sussex Sea Reports

24 June 2003
On the long grasses, Pyramid Orchids and Greater Knapweed north of the upper car park on Mill Hill, were a hundred or more chysalids of the 6-spot Burnet Moth (pic). The Marbled White Butterflies (11+) were freshly out and looked very bright. There must be females because two males were competing for the attentions of the female amongst the Cocksfoot and other grasses.
Full Report

22 June 2003
6:30 am Prolonged thunder rumbles for over 40 minutes continuously awoke me from my morning slumber. However, despite this distant thunder and lightning, and although there was some rain (6.1 mm) in Shoreham, there is no heavy deluge after the long dry spell. 

21 June 2003

Female Broad-bodied Chaser (Photograph by Allen Pollard)The first female Broad-bodied Chaser is recorded this year and the first image of the female on the Nature Notes. There were several of them just below the car park for Summer Down between Saddlescombe and Devils Dyke. 
Report and photograph by Allen Pollard via Dragonflies UK
Shermanbury (Adur Valley) Wildlife Photographs
 
19 June 2003
The field next to the stream (TQ 209 068) to the west of the Waterworks (Old Shoreham) was like a jungle with thistles and nettles. Azure Damselflies, Coenagrion puella, were common (50+) looked an extremely bright blue at times.  Some were black with just a bright blue tip on their tail and these were Blue-tailed Damselflies, Ischnura elegans, but these specimens avoided the camera. 
Images
Adur Levels

SHRIMPING FOR FOOD AND FUN

Local shrimper Peter Talbot-Elsden, from Southwick, has produced a small booklet called “Shrimping for Food and Fun” about catching the brown shrimp around the coasts of Britain. The shrimps are caught in nets and the book features the various methods, firstly the push-netting seen over the sand in shallow water in spring off Southwick, Shoreham and Lancing. The famous Morecambe Bay shrimps were originally captured by cart shanker shrimping with a horse and cart in deeper water off the Lancashire coast, later replaced by a tractor. At Formby, they experimented with amphibious vehicles after World War II. Nowadays, most commercial shrimping on the east coast around King’s Lynn trawls from small boats using a net off the stern. Shrimps are often cooked on board. 

The 28 page book contains 40 photographs of shrimping through the ages. It is available through Bookworms of Shoreham and other local booksellers at £3.50. 
The booklet is also available through the British Marine Life Study Society, but at £4 including postage and packing. 

Peter Talbot-Elsden manned the shrimp display at Adur World Oceans Day.

14 June 2003
A jellyfish with a bell diameter of 45 cm and one metre long was spotted in calm seas off Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex, at 7:00 pm. It was creamy white with a pink-blue rim so it was almost certainly the Barrel Jellyfish, Rhizostoma octopus. These large jellyfish are only occasionally encountered off the Sussex coast. 

BMLSS Jellyfish page

18 June 2003
Leafcutter Bees inhabit my Eastbrook Road, south Portslade, East Sussex, garden. They are probably the species Megachile centuncularis.
"They are fascinating to watch. Once the bee has landed on the right leaf it takes literally seconds for the bee to cut a semi-circle of leaf, rolling it beneath their legs as they go. Once the piece is free they lift off slowly and allow themselves to sink down through the bush and exit where there is a gap in the branches, and laden with its load disappear over the back wall."
Full Report

17 June 2003
A single Oystercatcher was probing for worms or molluscs at low tide by the houseboats in Shoreham. This is unusual during summer.
Adur Estuary Wildlife

15 June 2003
The hoverfly Volucella bombylans var. plumata was discovered near the copse on Mill Hill. This white-tailed hoverfly (pic) is a bumblebee mimic.

Fragrant Orchid (Photograph by Andy Horton)14 June 2003
45 Mute Swans were counted on the still tidal part of the River Adur at Upper Beeding by the disused Cement Works. At Beeding Hill, the Fragrant Orchid was in flower, and on the road verges above Anchor Bottom, there were the first observations of Meadow Brown Butterflies of 2003. And on Mill Hill, the Skippers (probably Large Skippers put in their first appearance of the year. On the lower slopes  the absence of the vast yellow expanses of Horseshoe Vetch was my instant impression. The grasses were still the short springy turf and quickly a Adonis Blue Butterfly fluttered by. It was one of three seen.
Adur Butterflies

Bird of Prey
By the stile on the border of Mill Hill public land (area overgrown with scrubbery) and the Old Erringham grazing land (TQ 207 076), a sleek slate blue-grey raptor flew in a silent gliding arc on my arrival, and then disappeared. I was looking down on the bird of prey from above, a rather unusual viewpoint and I noticed the streamlining of the tail feathers very clearly. My first thoughts were Sparrowhawk, but this bird seemed to have a different flight pattern and seemed slightly larger than the male Sparrowhawk. This bird is very likely to be the rare Hobby, Falco subbuteo. Estimates of the British summer population of this bird could be only 500 breeding pairs. The bird can hunt and catch Swallows and House Martins and will predate on flying insects. (The area in which it was seen supports large numbers of hirundines around Old Erringham Farm as well as butterflies on Mill Hill and dragonflies and damselflies on the levels.)

Female Stag Beetle (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)9 June 2003
The Stag Beetles were active at dusk flying over my south Lancing garden (TQ 186 044). One of them was chased by a Blackbird


The Beautiful Damselflies were fluttering around in my Shermanbury garden.

Report by Allen Pollard
Shermanbury (Adur Valley) Wildlife Photographs
 

Common Blue (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)
5 June 2003
A Common Blue Butterfly nectared on Bird's Foot Trefoil on the lower meadowed slopes of Lancing Clump.
 

Photograph and Report by Ray Hamblett (Lancing Nature)
 

5 June 2003
A bird hopping about on the grass at Green Court, to east of the southern "cricket pitch" end of Southwick Green, was light brown colour, with a distinctive blue and white strip on the wing. It hopped about and did not fly away.

Report by Mike Burtt
PS: I think this can only be a Jay (Andy Horton). This bird occurs in the Adur district where there are large gardens and trees. 

A Common Sandpiper was seen at Widewater.


4 June 2003
I walked from the Mill Hill upper car park along the lane and down to the stables at Old Erringham, a Little Owl was in its normal place in the small copse overlooking the stables but this time sat on a fence post right next to the road, otherwise just a single Hobby seen. A few Swifts, Swallows & House Martins were around the farm buildings and a Chiffchaff also in the copse, plus four Yellowhammers on Mill Hill. 

Report by Bob Kent (Lancing) on the Sussex Birds Yahoo Group


Small Weever fish were discovered in the shrimp net (push-net) haul in the sea off Widewater beach. Weever fish are silvery with a black venomous fin and spines. The can impart a nasty sting on the unwary and bare foot paddler over the sandy shallows.

Report by Russell
Beware of the Weever page
The Sea off Sussex

3 June 2003

The famous Boar Fish, Capros aper, died after its aquarium sprung a leak in the middle of the night. (It was caught in November 2002).

2 June 2003
Early Evening
Painted Lady (Photograph by Andy Horton)The Horseshoe Vetch flowers have diminished and the only blue butterflies to be seen were Common Blues amongst the long grasses on the middle slopes of Mill Hill. The old railway track at Old Shoreham had already shown a handful of Painted Lady Butterflies, all faded or dull, and the numbers steadily increased on the downs until I stopped counting at 50, of which only one was in a pristine colourful condition. A dozen plus Red Admirals were also recorded in the scrubbier areas.  A handful of Small Heath Butterflies were now easily recognised when a few years ago I was not so sure. They always settled with their wings closed and when open they showed a bright orange upper wing. It took Brianne Reeve to draw my attention to dozens of Common Blue Butterflies resting wings closed in a small patch of the long grass north of the car park. If the ones we saw were extrapolated over the whole area of long grasses there would have been several hundred. 

The best spectacle was left to last as a bird with a very bright yellow breast flew out of the bushes by the reservoir. It looked like an exotic bird and it must be a male  Yellowhammer, that can look as yellow as a canary during the summer.
Yellowhammer (Birdguides)

Midday to Early Afternoon
The Mute Swans on Widewater Lagoon have seven cygnets this year. 
Just a handful of Yellow-horned Poppy plants are in flower and the Tree Mallow is now more handsome at the western end of the lagoon. 
Red Admiral Butterflies and faded Painted Lady Butterflies, (feeding on Red Valerian), appeared with a breeze from the south. I only saw a couple of each in ten minutes, but they looked like immigrants and later more of both species were seen near Old Shoreham Toll Bridge.

31 May 2003
Shoreham bathed in a heat wave up to 24° C for the opening of the Adur Festival and Adur World Oceans Day 2003 on Coronation Green, Shoreham-by-Sea. About 3000 people attended the event that was steady and busy throughout. 
Exhibits included live fish and lobster in aquaria, colouring and badge-making, whales and dolphins, birds, shrimps, fish-tasting, touch-table, Shoreham shingle beach flora and undersea colour photographs and videos. 

A special thanks to all the participants, especially Len Nevell (British Marine Life Study Society) and Steve Trewhella (Marine Conservation Society). The inflated dolphin was  provided by Steve Savage (Sea Watch Foundation). 

Several groups had special exhibitions including the:

British Marine Life Study Society including Shorewatch (four exhibits)
West Sussex County Council Countryside Unit
Sea Watch Foundation (for Whales & Dolphins)
Sussex Sea Fisheries District Committee
SeaSearch(Undersea Biological Recording)
Shoreham & District Ornithological Society
Sussex Ornithological Society

Steve Trewhella manning open of the two shallow water aquaria

Adur World Oceans Day 2003
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Popular Information File on Adur World Oceans Day 2003
Acrobat Information File on Adur World Oceans Day 2003

Adur World Oceans Day 2003 Images (by Ray Hamblett)

The Adonis Blue Butterflies have disappeared from the lower slopes of Mill Hill and the vast expanse of Horseshoe Vetch has now receded. 

Butterfly Report by Jan Hamblett (Lancing Nature)
Adur Butterflies
Moths and Butterflies of Europe and North Africa

30 May 2003
A half dozen Swifts flew rapidly to and from over the Hamm Allotments, Shoreham, in the early evening.
The air temperature reached a sticky 26° C and humid 69% max. Two Swifts flew just above house top level over Corbyn Crescent in mid-morning, the first time I have noticed these fast flying birds over Shoreham town.

There seems to be a lot of Jackdaws this spring, on the downs (flocks of a dozen plus) and on houses in the town of Shoreham. 
British Trust for Ornithology web pages

29 May 2003
The air temperature reached 27° C, the highest so far this year. 

28 May 2003
An unusual dead lizard was discovered in my Shoreham beach garden, missing its tail (I fear one of my cats had had it). It didn't look like either of the two native species - the Common Lizard or the Sand Lizard. It was black with very bright green spots on and about 10 cm without the tail.  I'm fairly convinced it is a Podarcis muralis (Laurenti, 1768) the Wall Lizard

Report by Malcolm Ward
NB: Wall Lizards were released by a herpetologist on to Shoreham beach several years ago. Most lizards on Shoreham beach are the Common Lizard, Lacerata viperata
Old Fort Lizards

A single Peregrine Falcon wheeled around to the next box on the Shoreham Harbour Power Station chimney and disappeared from view. It appeared very small in the 7 x 50 binoculars. 
The Glaucous Gull (see below) was reported from the tidal pool at the western end of Adur Recreation Ground. 

27 May 2003
The Environment Agency are trying to implement measures to protect what they believe to be the only remaining Water Vole population in Sussex on New Monks Farm, Lancing. The habitat is under threat both from the airport expansion plans and legal spoil dumping on the 120 acres of unused farmland between Shoreham Airport and Lancing. 

Report by Mark Elliott (Environment Agency)


26 May 2003
After some rainy and dull days, the sun came out again on the Bank Holiday Monday afternoon. On the on the lower slopes of Mill Hill both male and female Adonis Blue Butterflies flew from one Horseshoe Vetch flower to another, and occasionally settled on some bare earth patches. At the top of the ridge a single Common Blue Butterfly stood out by its clear bright blue fringed with pure white, in the long grasses south of the reservoir. It was a small specimen about the size of an Adonis female
Full Report

Morning
A walk on lower slopes of Mill Hill this morning through the Horseshoe Vetch meadow brought sightings of about 30 Adonis Blue Butterflies with five Cinnabar Moths and Small Heath Butterflies with five blue (possibly Azure) Damselflies as well.


25 May 2003
A quick check of the gulls on the Adur opposite the airfield this evening produced a first summer Glaucous Gull loafing with about 20 other large gulls. It was present from at least 6:00 pm, but flew off south at 6:33 pm. There were about 200 large gulls roosting near the houseboats later. There seems to have been an increase of large gulls on Widewater in the last few days. A passing fishing boat became "engulfed" in gulls until it was barely visible! (The local boats are currently fishing for cuttlefish.)
Image

Earlier Report of the Glaucous Gull
Sussex Birder Web Site

Damselflies mating (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)A visit to Wood's Mill (Sussex Wildlife Trust), near Small Dole, enabled close-up views of  the Great Red Damselfly, Pyrrhosoma nymphula, and a mating pair of Azure Damselflies, Coenagrion puella.
Link to Images

Adur Damselflies & Dragonflies
 

24 May 2003
A Common Lizard skittered across the towpath the runs along the eastern boundary with the River Adur estuary.
Adur Levels
In Widewater there were thousands of ovigerous small prawns congregating by the edge of the lagoon. The prawn species has not yet been positively identified. 

23 May 2003
Sheila Wright and David (Sussex Bat Group) led the evening walk in the dark up Lancing Ring in overcast damp conditions, unfavourable for bats as their prey food of insects were not flying about. On the edge of the woodland the bat detector picked up the sound of two Pipistrelle Bats in flight. The bats emit noises from their echo location system, which cannot be heard by the human ear, but can be picked up and identified by the bat detector. These bats were seen flying across the path shortly afterwards. Later a Noctule Bat was also detected. 
UK Biodiversity Action Plan for the Pipistrelle
Bat Conservation Trust:  Bat Information
Full Report


Young Magpie (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)22 May 2003
In order to sustain themselves and their offspring, the local Magpies my south Lancing garden, (TQ 186 044), have set upon the Sparrows for diet supplements. I witnessed a Magpie disembowelling an unfortunate Sparrow. Yesterday one of the adults was tearing pieces from an unidentified small bird.


21 May 2003
hatchling Magpie has fallen or been pushed out of the nest in the Hawthorn Tree at the bottom of my south Lancing garden. (TQ 186 044). It cannot fly and is hiding from marauding cats in the undergrowth. 


Glaucous Gull (1st or 2nd summer), Larus hyperboreas, is seen again at Widewater, Lancing at 10.15 am and again at 11.30 am, when it flew towards the River Adur. The Glaucous Gull is an Arctic species and a rare visitor to southern England. It is a large species only exceeded in size by the Great Black-backed Gull, one of which has been resident at Widewater since the beginning of 2003.
Image

Report by Bernie Forbes and Russell Tofts via Sussex Ornithological Society News


17 May 2003
My first large fungi (mushroom-like) of the year are seen in short grass at the edge of heavy scrub next to the Waterworks Road (south end), Old Shoreham (TQ 207 066). The fungus is photographed below. The cap diameter was about 20 mm, but I forgot to examine the gills and stem. Emile Vandecasteele has identified this as probably Coprinus plicatilis via the Fungi British Isles Yahoo Group. This species is very common and can found on garden lawns.
Cercle mycophile du Condroz (web pages with photographs)

 
17 May 2003
Around 8:00 pm this evening I noted two dead adult Mute Swans mid river on the sand bank opposite the Ricardo factory near Shoreham Airport (just north of the Toll Bridge). 
Report by Bob Kent (Lancing) on the Sussex Birds Yahoo Group


The Living Churchyard
Wildlife Walk
St. Mary de Haura Church, Shoreham-by-Sea 10:30 am
Wildlife in the churchyard with Brianne Reeve (Birds) and Betty Bishop (Flora) Steve Davey (Lichens) and Peter Hodges (Insects). The wildlife tour was organised by Marion Standing. 

On an overcast day the rain held off for a wildlife survey of the churchyard, with its collection of park trees and common ground flora of grasses, medicks, dandelions, buttercups etc.
 

Pellitory of the Wall
Spleenwort

The Pellitory of the Wall, Parietaria diffusa, and the Spleenwort, Asplenium, grew in the cracks in the church stonework. Both these plants and inhabitants of old walls and they are rarely found elsewhere. 
Shoreham Herald Report

14 May 2003
A couple of Wheatears on Lancing Beach Green were the first I had seen this spring. The soil and gravel that had been disturbed for the pipeline at Widewater was like a bare desert between large drifts of the Sea Thrift. A pair of Ringed Plovers rose from amongst the Thrift
Images of Disturbed Land (Link)

12 May 2003
Salinity in Widewater Lagoon is recorded at a high level of 30‰. Seawater in the English Channel is about 34‰.

This is the highest recorded salinity in the last year. Is fresh seawater being allowed through the pipeline into the lagoon to maintain a high level?
Widewater Salinity Records 2002-3

11 May 2003
Brianne Reeve (Shoreham & District Ornithological Society) led the walk on Lancing Ring and meadows on behalf of the Friends of Lancing Ring. We were greeted by a screaming pair of Swifts, but otherwise it was more of an audio show, the birds calling from the bushes. An exception was a Yellowhammer on the top of a Gorse bush
Full Report

Brown-tailed Moth caterpillars (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)10 May 2003
A nest of caterpillars of the Common Lackey Moth, Malacosoma neustria, appeared on my 'John Downie' Crab Apple tree in my south Lancing garden. (TQ 186 044). About 200 or so caterpillars are protected by a spun blanket of silk. After emerging the caterpillars have climbed en-mass to high branches where they commenced feeding on the leaves. 


9 May 2003
The Gorse-lined bridleway from north Southwick (Hawkins Close) to Southwick Hill and Thundersbarrow recorded just three Wall Brown Butterflies and nothing else worth mentioning, unless you count a dozen Jackdaws on the National Trust grazed grassland. 

So uninteresting that I retraced my steps and took the path down to Mossy Bottom. My attention was drawn to a pair of birds calling stridently to all and sundry from a barbed wire fence by a Hawthorn tree at the junction with the path down to Slonk Hill (TQ 225 078)

Female Stonechat
Photograph by Richard Ford (not taken on the Sussex downs)
(click on the image for the Digital Gallery of British wildlife photographs)

The male Stonechat was particularly striking with its almost black cap, really quite a red breast and just a glimpse of white on the throat. The male frequently cocked its tail in an upright manner. The female Stonechat was a rather pale brown comparatively, perched only about two metres away on the same wire.

At Mossy Bottom I do not know if it was a Sparrowhawk or a Cuckoo which flew rapidly to the small copse in the south-west. The hovering Kestrel at New Erringham was unmistakable. 

On the Mill Hill lower slopes (Vetch Trail) the following butterflies were spotted in order of conspicuity:

Small Copper (Photograph by Andy Horton)Adonis Blue  50+ (mostly males observed)
Brimstone  x 2
Peacock  x 2
Small Copper 4+ (my first record from Mill Hill)
Small Heath  6+
Dingy Skipper 12+
Grizzled Skipper 3+
Speckled Wood  one (in the scrub)

There was just one Cinnabar Moth spotted amongst other day-flying moths, in the expanse of Horseshoe Vetch and other plants in flower including a few Cowslips and Milkwort (mostly blue, some were purple: I am not sure which species?). All the plant species are indicative of a classic chalkhill meadow. 
Full Report
Blue Butterflies (Photographs 2002-3)

Yellow Flag (Photograph by Andy Horton) in the stream running eastwards towards the Waterworkss8 May 2003
On the Adur Levels (TQ 209 068) to the west of the Waterworks (Old Shoreham) no damselflies or dragonflies appeared. There was little movement at all, the inevitable Moorhens in the reeds, a Blackbird and Meadow Pipit showed, and a handful of Wood Pigeons were disturbed. In the sheep field to the north, I spotted the white rump of a large Roe Deer as it disappeared in the eastern demarcation bushes from the Mill Hill lower meadows.

7 May 2003
A couple (not a pairing?) of extraordinary small birds (larger than a Willow Tit, smaller than a Chaffinch) flew over the Railway Viaduct over the River Adur, Shoreham in the direction of Adur Recreation Ground and Shoreham Airport. These birds were redder in the breast than Chaffinches as well, with a stripe in their tail feathers.
Their funny behaviour was the way they tried to hide in the grass on the east bank, but the grass was too short and after shuffling down for a bit, they flew off. This 'hiding in the grass behaviour' is not known to me for Chaffinches and I do not know it for any bird as I have never seen anything like this before.
The overwhelming consensus on UK Birdnet and the  Sussex Birds Yahoo Group, as well as other local reports, is that these birds are Linnets and I agree. Linnets are common on the downs in summer. 
Terrain (click on this text for an image)
 
 

Early Purple Orchids (Photograph by Andy Horton)

The Early Purple Orchids, Orchis mascula, made a fine show under the canopy of Lancing Clump. There were scarcely any butterflies in the meadows though, just a handful of Small Tortoiseshells and Speckled Browns where it was shady. 

A north facing meadow, next to the bridlepath from the road to Lancing College (just north of the Sussex Pad road) to Hoe Cottages (on the route west to Lancing Clump), was covered in flowering Cowslips (pic).

6 May 2003
Afternoon
The Holly Blue Butterflies laid their eggs in the Holly flowers in my south Lancing garden. (TQ 186 044). 


As the River Adur turns on the approach from the sea north of the A27 Flyover, the unmistakable downturned long beaks identified either a couple of Whimbrels or a pair of Curlews that seemed to be resting or feeding in the lee of the west bank at mid-tide. This was the first time I had seen these waders on the river estuary and they came as a bit of a surprise. Alas I did not have experience to differentiate the two species. It seemed that the shorter more downturned beak was nearer the Whimbrel, but I failed to observe the differences in the head markings between the two species of wading birds with downturned beaks. (However, the beak of the male Curlew is shorter than that of the female. Whimbrels have been identified from the Arun valley this month, but both species could be passage migrants.)

Orange Tip (Photograph by Andy Horton)At Cuckoo's Corner, the flash of orange and white of the male Orange Tip Butterfly was sudden and unmistakable. There were a couple of the larger all-white females as well.  From the trees on the Lancing College side of the road, a Cuckoo called just once. 
The drainage ditch running north from Cuckoo's Corner was choked with floating weeds or algae. Scores of Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies, mostly faded, fluttered over the grasses and plants by the stream's edge. 

On the Widewater flood plain, on the gravel and soil that had been lifted to install the new pipeline and then replaced, the Sea Campion was noticeably in flower. 

Morning
A pair of Speckled Wood Butterflies flirted on the Waterworks Road with a handful of Red Admirals on the footpath skirting the horse's field on the way up to Mill Hill. On the lower Horseshoe Vetch covered slopes visited yesterday, a few Small White Butterflies were conspicuous but it was the other butterflies that proved to be of interest. There were many more blue butterflies around, at least 30 seen, some flirting and others chasing different species off the Horseshoe Vetch flowers. I still have these down as Adonis Blue Butterflies. All seemed to have the definitive black marks in the white fringe of the upper wing. 
Blue Butterflies Identification page

Conservative numbers of the other butterflies actually seen on the lower slopes were as follows:

Underside of the Adonis Blue (Photograph by Andy Horton)Grizzled Skipper 25+
Dingy Skipper 15+
Small Heath 15+
Brimstone one
Orange Tip   one (my first record from Mill Hill)
Wall Brown   4+  (on the paths between the scrub near the Triangle)

Adur Butterflies
Vetch Trail Images

5 May 2003
I followed the Vetch Trail on the lower slopes of Mill Hill towards Old Erringham on a sunny May Bank Holiday Monday. Several acres of the steep slopes were graced by the yellow flowers of the Horseshoe Vetch (the food plant of the Adonis Blue and Chalkhill Blue and other butterflies.)

Horseshoe Vetch (Photographs by Andy Horton)

The vivid blue colouring of just the one Adonis Blue Butterfly was startling as it chased away a Small Heath Butterfly from the flower of a Horseshoe Vetch. The underside wing of the Adonis was heavily pigmented with brown. The Small Heaths settled with their wings closed, but it seemed that were about to open them, but they never did. The Painted Lady was a battered specimen with parts of its wing missing
 

Photograph by Andy Horton
Photograph by Andy Horton
Photograph by Andy Horton
Adonis Blue
Grizzled Skipper
Cinnabar Moth

The Dingy Skippers with at least 25 scattered over a wide area were the commonest butterflies in flight, but I saw a handful of Grizzled Skippers and the red of the single Cinnabar Moth was most striking when it fluttered around just above the rabbit-cropped plants.

There were a few Speckled Wood Butterflies and there was one Red Admiral that followed me in the dense scrub incline, or several of them.
Adur Butterflies
Vetch Trail Images
Day Flying Moths List

Trees and undergrowth have been removed to the west of Shoreham-by-Sea railway station at the south of Raven's Road, Shoreham. There are still all the larger trees left. This is a good town area for birds. 
Railtrack Policy

4 May 2003
A Large Red Damselfly, Pyrrhosoma nymphula, visited my south Lancing garden pond. (TQ 186 044). On 9 May 2003 two males were seen in Norton Tea garden in Henfield, Sussex (TQ 213 161).

Large Red Damselfly (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)
 Adur Dragonflies

3 May 2003
A dead Common Frog was discovered in my Lancing garden pond (TQ 186 044) with all the symptoms of the Red Leg Disease. The disease is now understood to be caused by a virus, probably an iridovirus belonging to the genus Ranavirus. The disease was known from Surrey in the 1970s. 
Image
Red Leg Disease Fact Sheet


29 April 2003
Green Hairstreak Butterfly was a notable observation near Pepperscombe (near where the South Downs Way passes west of Steyning).  (TQ 160 110)


A Brimstone Butterfly fluttering along the railway embankment near the Eastern Avenue railway crossing in Shoreham came as a bit of a surprise as I had not seen one for over a decade in this area. However, this was nothing compared to the shock of seeing a Yellow Wagtail almost out of my front window on the roof of my house, in Corbyn Crescent (TQ 224 053), opposite. At least, I thought it was an immigrant bird, not a Grey Wagtail, which has been recorded before in Shoreham town. The tail seemed relatively short. The bird flew suddenly from the roof to the ground and then disappeared and I could not rediscover it with my binoculars. This first hand sighting confirmed a report from a week earlier. Corbyn Crescent is poor for bird variety. 

25 April 2003
I was serenaded by a Common Whitethroat singing in the Silver Birch in my Shadwells Road, Lancing garden. It then spent 30 minutes or so in the shrubs before flying off to the north. Shadwells Road is near the 200 acres of open space known as New Monks Farm.

Report by Bob Kent (Lancing) on the Sussex Birds Yahoo Group


Now I have at last seen a falcon fly off the Shoreham Harbour Power Station, not from the chimney but from the main part of the tall building. I would not have penned it as a Peregrine and I did not have my binoculars. With my relatively inexperienced eye, I would have put it down as a Sparrowhawk and it appeared much smaller than I expected. The swoop and glide was distinctive and this was identical to the bird of prey I saw nine days ago near Mossy Bottom. On reflection, its preference for an open area was unlike that of a Sparrowhawk.
A Tern (bird species not discerned) was flying eastwards as the sea rolled in on Southwick beach. 

22 April 2003
A Jay, followed by a Jackdaw, flew into the trees on the other (east) side of the road from the dovecote on the Dovecote Estate, Downsway, Shoreham. It was a sunny day, but the downs were surprisingly devoid of butterflies, although a Speckled Wood Butterfly was seen in the copse on Mill Hill.
More Images of Mill Hill

Several Dingy Skipper Butterflies were seen on Mill Hill.

Butterfly Report by Jim Steedman


Dingy Skipper (Photograph by Andy Horton)20 April 2003
A Dingy Skipper Butterfly was seen by the side of the Industrial Estate at Golding Barn near Upper Beeding (near Steyning) in the Adur valley on a breezy overcast Easter Sunday morning. This species is not often recorded, although it it is known from Mill Hill

Report by Jim Steedman via the UK-Leps EForum


Nightingale was heard over Cokeham Reed Beds, west Lancing. (TQ 167 043).

Report by Roy Bratton via Ray Hamblett (Lancing Nature
on the Sussex Birds Yahoo Group
A single Orange Tip Butterfly and just one Speckled Wood Butterfly was seen at Wood's Mill (Sussex WWT, nr. Small Dole).


18 April 2003
Lancing Clump in the sunshine produced the following five species of butterflies:

Wild Daffodils near the Dewpond at Lancing Ring (Photograph by Andy Horton)Speckled Wood x 6
Small Tortoiseshell x 4
Comma x 1
White sp. x 3
Peacock x 4
Butterflies of Lancing

On the edge of grassland I caught sight of a Magpie trying to steal a Field Vole from the edge of a run into the scrubby hedge.

Lancing Ring Nature Reserve
Map of Lancing Ring
Lancing Ring 2003


I saw my first Orange Tip Butterfly of the year below Henfield in the Adur valley. Also a Comma Butterfly, among the normal Small Tortoiseshells and Peacock Butterflies

Report by Allen Pollard via the UK-Leps EForum
Upper Adur East (Shermanbury area) Nature Pages

17 April 2003
Lancing Beach
It was a very low spring tide and a visit to the shore not to be missed by rockpoolers. However, although most of the common crabs were present, there nothing of special note to be seen in the shallow pools and under rocks.

Worm's eggs from Lancing beach (Photograph by Andy Horton)

 The green blobs are the egg case of a worm
Phyllodoce maculata

Link to a Special Report
The red body and humming-bird flight of a burnet-style moth in Shoreham town (New Road, eastern end) was rather unusual at this time of year and it is being investigated. Photograph by Andy HortonThe best suggestion is that it could have been a Cinnabar Moth, Tyria jacobaeae, and the caterpillars of these moths are common on Ragwort, which is abundant locally in wayside spaces and unkept fields (unofficial countryside). This moth usually appears in May at the earliest.

16 April 2003
From the bare field to the south-west of Southwick Hill the melody of a Skylark filled the air for ten minutes or more without a break. It would need a directional microphone to record the songs because in the distance the hum of the traffic on the A27 could be heard as well as clattering from the dockside at Shoreham Harbour over two miles to the south. 
The small falcons are not always to separate at a distance, but the blunt-shaped head and swooping flight, landing on a fence post, together with the subdued colours (compared to a Kestrel) indicated a male Sparrowhawk at New Erringham Farm in the dip of the downs north of Shoreham.
The shirt sleeves sunny weather was unseasonal (warmest April day since 1988), recorded at 22° C in the shade and this brought the butterflies out with 50+ Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies from the bridlepath by Slonk Hill Farm northwards past New Erringham to Mill Hill, with 15+ Peacock Butterflies and to my surprise five Brimstone Butterflies on and around Mill Hill.
 

Peacock Butterfly (Photograph by Andy Horton)15 April 2003
On a pleasantly warm (18.5° C) calm day, a handful of Small White Butterflies were seen in Sompting, together with my first Holly Blue of the year. However, the 20+ Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies were the commonest on the wing in near the fields. On the levels (New Monks Farm) and paths up to Lancing Clump, Peacock Butterflies numbered at least 30, some in pristine condition, one battered with torn wings.
Wild plants in flower on Lancing Ring included Wood Anemones, Lesser Celandine and Daffodils. 
Adur Butterflies

Four immigrating Wheatears have arrived by Widewater Lagoon. 


15 April 2003
A couple of Speckled Wood Butterflies were spotted behind Steyning in the Adur valley.

Report by Allen Pollard via the UK-Leps EForum
Upper Adur East (Shermanbury area) Nature Pages

13 April 2003
On the cyclepath just north of Old Shoreham, I spotted a Brimstone Butterfly (first record on these pages from this area) and four Skylarks over the water meadows. 


11 April 2003
Just a single Small White Butterfly in Eastern Avenue, Shoreham. The annual population explosion of these butterflies has not occurred yet.

8 April 2003
In the chilly east wind, the signs of spring on the trees bring a brightness in the weak sun. On the beach between the pebbles, the wild plants push forth new shoots.
 

Sea Beet (Photograph by Andy Horton)
Sea Kale (Photograph by Andy Horton)
Sea Beet (early growths)
Sea Kale (purple hues, early growths)

Shingle Flowers of Shoreham Beach

The new pipeline from the sea to Widewater Lagoon has been landscaped and now merges into the shingle bank. After a couple of months of low rainfall, the lagoon salinity rises to a high figure of 25.5‰ (as high as any recording last year).
Widewater Salinity Records 2002-3

7 April 2003
A Pheasant poked his long head above the grass to the call in the fields next to the cycle path north of Old Shoreham. It did not fly away but crouched down so it was almost invisible.

5 April 2003
At midday we saw a large bird of prey flying east towards Lancing College. The bird was flying towards us at a height of about 100 metres. The immediate impression was of a powerful, bulky bird of prey, in size close to a female Peregrine. The bird had a relatively slow wing beat and was mainly gliding. It also appeared to preen once whilst gliding. In shape the bird resembled an over-grown Sparrowhawk.
The sun was high and it was not possible to see a great amount of plumage detail as we watched the bird for roughly 20 seconds. Through our binoculars the immediate impression was of an exceptionally light coloured bird. The only markings that were apparent were a very prominent thick black bar at the base of the underside of the tail, and a prominent black line running along the front edge of the wings from just behind the carpal join to the outer primary. The only other marking appeared to be a slight darkening towards the front of the birds belly. We could not make out any more plumage detail than that, and specifically we could not see any markings on the head, or further barring on the birds body, wings or tail. The bird was not wearing jesses which would indicate a falconer's escape.

Full Report
Honey Buzzards 2000

The first couple of Holly Blue Butterflies as well as an Orange Tip near the petanque court at Lancing Manor, and a single Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly and one Brimstone are seen in sunny Lancing. 

Butterflies of Lancing

4 April 2003
A pair of flirtatious Peacock Butterflies fluttered over my Lancing garden (TQ 186 044) on this very warm April day.


1 April 2003
A Magpie dived headlong into the perched Collared Dove, removing a beak full of feathers as it dislodged its target from the tree at the bottom of my south Lancing garden (TQ 186 044). 
In the garden pond, the clumps of Frog spawn has now all developed into a mass of wriggly tadpoles, the vast majority of which are active in the still gelatinous clump. A small number have begun to stray to other areas of the pond.

 

Latest Nature Notes and Index page 2002


Adur Valley Nature Notes  January to March 2002
Adur Valley Nature Notes  April - June 2002
Adur Valley Nature Notes  July - September 2002
Adur Valley Nature Notes  October - December 2002
ADUR NATURE NOTES  2000

Mill Hill, north of Shoreham

     
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