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Latest Nature Notes and Index page 2002

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NATURE NOTES
2001

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Adur Valley Nature Notes  July - September 2002

* If the grid references are not given they could be found on the 
Adur Wildlife database on the Adur eForum

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

Reports by Andy Horton from personal observation unless otherwise indicated


27 September 2002
Hundreds of Swallows flew eastwards over the beach and Widewater Lagoon this morning. I couldn't say if they were circling, perhaps getting as far as Shoreham harbour and returning. Every one I saw was heading east. I would estimate numbers at between 1 and 20 per minute. They were actively feeding, some flying head high, sometimes swooping to ground level. Some passed me within a couple of feet. Small groups of Goldfinches occasionally took to the air as I passed the scrub where they gathered.


September 2002

The new rock defences on the shingle beach are erected on Widewater beach with rocks* brought in by barge across the North Sea from Norway. 

Photograph by Ray Hamblett

Five great heaps of rock looking like small volcanic islands sat on the beach the last time I looked. Each waiting to be sculpted into a new groyne structure. I stood watching the contractors as they were using a mechanical claw to set rocks into place in a mound that will become one of the new groynes.
Full Report

New Rock Sea Defences on Widewater beach (complete web page)
Shoreham beach (including Widewater beach)

25 September 2002
A bird of prey shot out rapidly from the ten metres high Hawthorn tree in our south Lancing garden. (TQ 185 046) It was in hot pursuit of a Sparrow it had singled out from a group which flew off in all directions. This raptor was probably a Kestrel that habitually chase small birds in the autumn in Shoreham town

NB: Observations in 2004 rather suggest that this is a Sparrowhawk.
 

25 September 2002
Off Lancing beach on the seaward side of Widewater, four Undulate Rays, Raja undulata, were seen in the shallow (4 metres depth) water. 

Report by Paul Parsons


Red Glasswort on the lagoon flood plain in autumn. This colour scheme may be destroyed by a seawater pipeline. (Photograph by Andy Horton)

Widewater in Autumn

A small dark bird skimmed over the sea at Kingston beach, a flash of turquoise revealing it to be a Kingfisher. An Oystercatcher probed at low water.

At 7.15 am, a large owl fly slowly overhead, over Eastbrook Road, south Portslade, East Sussex. The owl was being mobbed by a flock of starlings. It did not fly in a straight line, but followed an erratic flight path heading east.
The owl had broad wings, short tail and a short rounded bead. The wings and underside of the body appeared light and there was a dark marking on the underside of each wing, towards the wing tip. As I was only a couple of minutes from my house I was able to rush in and look through my reference books while it was still fresh in my mind. It seems to match with the Short-eared Owl, Asio flammeus, both by artwork of underside in flight and descriptive text.
I have seen various birds of prey and this was different to anything I had seen before. The image that sprang to mind was a Eagle Owl that I saw at a display.

This diurnal owl feeds mainly  on small mammals.
NB: The  Short-eared Owl has been recorded before during the winter months over the local coast, downs and Adur valley: the peak month is October with 24 records in 15 year period and 10 records for September. (Shoreham & District Ornithological Reports).
The Sussex Ornithological Society have this owl categorised as a Passage Migrant (PM), Winter Visitor (WV) that has bred, for its records in the county. 

Photograph by Ray Hamblett23 September 2002
The Autumnal Equinox breeze was from the north-east but the Comma Butterfly in Corbyn Crescent, Shoreham, was fluttering against the wind until it settled in a Privet hedge (TQ 22435 05275).
Adur Butterflies

22 September 2002
Two Thornback Rays, Raja clavata, 300 mm across the wings were seen in very shallow water (3 metres depth ) off Shoreham beach.
Also an over friendly Greater Pipefish, Syngnathus acus, which coiled around my friends neck, then swam straight into the camera, then swam up to the surface where its mouth came up out of the water!

Seas off Sussex
BMLSS Sharks and Rays

c. 21 September 2002
A young Sparrowhawk was observed hunting persistently but not very successfully on the east side of the River Adur on the old railway track between the Railway Viaduct and the Toll Bridge.

19 September 2002
A squadron of 16 Cormorants, immediately followed by another group of 17 Cormorants, followed less than a minute later by a single straggler, flew up the River Adur over the Toll Bridge. A few minutes later a further 10 Cormorants flew together in the same direction.
A very bedraggled normal livery Magpie huddled in the lower branches of the Sycamore (TQ  2112 0532) occupied two weeks ago by the albino Magpie. This bird  looked ill or beaten up. 

17 September 2002
The common Dot Moth, Melanchra persicariae, finds its way into houses at this time of the year. (TQ 22444 05295)

Slow Worms (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)

Slow Worms (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)

16 September 2002
There were large adult Slow Worms in  the grass and hiding under rocks and debris on the east side of the River Adur near the Adur Industrial Estate (TQ 209 056).


15 September 2002
Comma Butterflies are numerous around Shermanbury.

Report by Allen Pollard via the UK-Leps EForum
Scores of Red Admiral Butterflies are seen in Shoreham town. Are these migrants from the north, or butterflies blown over from France (where thousands of Red Admirals have been spotted on a southerly migration near le Haura)?

12 September 2002
The distinctive long-legged spider Tetragnatha extensa was discovered in the long grass near Widewater Lagoon on the sea side. 

Report by Ray Hamblett (Lancing Nature)
Identification by Dr Gerald Legg (Booth Museum)

11 September 2002
The tide receded beyond the pier on Worthing beach which was rather scantily inhabited by mobile fauna of interest to the rockpooler. However, of special interest was the discovery of a young Small-headed Clingfish, Apletodon dentatus, in a shallow weedy pool south of the pier. All clingfish have a pelvic (underside) find fused into a sucker, so when the cockle shell is inverted (see the photograph underneath) the tiny fish remains fastened to the shell. 
British Clingfish
Shorewatch Biological Recording

Small-headed Clingfish in Cockle shell (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)

A Clouded Yellow Butterfly, the third occasion I have seen them this year, fluttered over the Worthing promenade, finding some garden plants planted by Worthing Borough Council. 

10 September 2002
On a five hour downs walk from Worthing to Shermanbury on a bright sunny day with a good view of the Isle of Wight from Cissbury Ring, I noted that Speckled Wood Butterflies were common everywhere with a few other butterflies including a few Small Tortoiseshells and Meadow Browns, a couple of Comma Butterflies, a Gatekeeperand a single Peacock Butterfly. Common Darter Dragonflies were on the wing near Henfield and a group of at least a dozen impressive blue-black, 75 mm (3 inch) long dragonflies by the River Adur. The most likely species would seem to be the Migrant Hawker, Aeshna mixta.

Report by Allen Pollard via the UK-Leps EForum
Adur Butterflies

In the late afternoon, a Kingfisher flew straight as an arrow from the amongst the Sea Purslane at half tide towards the east bank of the Adur to the south of the Toll Bridge. It was too far away to see its bright colours.
An early morning low spring tide at Kingston beach produced a young Black Goby, a small fish that very alike the commoner Rock Goby, so alike that the first fish may be overlooked in tidal pools. A Hermit Crab shared a periwinkle shell with the commensal ragworm Neanthes fucata (=Nereis). A Heron stood by the water's edge as the tide rolled in. 

9 September 2002
"There are plenty of woods up here. I see Muntjac Deer often on the bridle path going from Frylands Lane, Wineham near Pooks Farm, to Kent Street, Wineham. In this case I came round a corner on the road to the west of that path to come
across them. the path is not far away and it wooded both sides. And I'm not
100% sure now, I only have someone elses word. I have seen them before and at
least one barked like a small dog. It was a resident of the area that told
me they were Monkjacks."
These are very shy animals, small (the size of a large dog) Asian deer that have escaped from private parks, and when a pair of these deer spotted me they  quickly ran off in different directions in panic. 

Upper Adur East (Shermanbury area) Nature Pages

8 September 2002
A Hummingbird Hawk Moth, Macroglossum stellatarum, visited my Lancing garden (TQ 185 046), nectaring on Ceratostigma plumbagnoides (Hardy
Plumbago).
Seven Wasp Spiders, Argiope bruennichi, were seen on my walk over Lancing Ring (TQ 180 065). Three specimens of the Autumn Lady's Tresses Orchid, Spiranthes spiralis,were discovered but on this relatively overcast day, there were few butterflies about, but they included a Small Copper Butterfly. A Green Bush Cricket was spotted as well. 

Earlier Mill Hill Wasp Spider Report
Lancing Nature Newsletter (September 2002)
Butterflies of Lancing

7 September 2002
The medium-sized dragonfly hawking around at just above head height in St. Michael's Churchyard, Southwick, like a small version of the Emperor Dragonfly was not identified as it would not remain still. The most likely species would seem to be the Migrant Hawker, Aeshna mixta, which has now colonised the south-east of England. 

5 September 2002
The albino (white-winged) Magpie is back again. This time I was able to place it high up in an ivy adorned Sycamore Tree (TQ  2112 0532) right at the southern end of the old railway track running southwards from Old Shoreham to where it stops abruptly at the demolished bridge. I first heard the bird from underneath the tree at 6:30 pm in the approach to the partially empty factory buildings on the Adur Metal Works industrial estate. A normal black and white livery Magpie flew up leaving a seagull-like albino Magpie perched in the tree. Its white breast was spotted with black lines. By the time I had taken out my camera the bird had hidden deeper amongst the ivy, unless it had flown to another tree and I could not place where the call came from. This particular Sycamore Tree is a veritable haven for wildlife, including a rich selection of insects and butterflies of many species.
The correct term is leucistic, unless the bird has also lost the pigment in its eyes. I have not altered the past entries because leucistic also refers to birds that have lost only part of their pigment. A few years ago a leucistic Redshank was a regular visitor to the lower Adur estuary, but this bird was not nearly so white. 
Magpies disperse to new territories at this time of the year (Chris Mead).
Previous 2001 Record
Bird Information (by Chris Mead)
British Trust for Ornithology
At low tide by the Toll Bridge a bright yellow/orange-legged juvenile Redshank probed eagerly for food, so eagerly it did not give out its alarm call and fly rapidly away. 

4 September 2002
After a dry spell, Widewater Lagoon had receded/dried out/leaked and the small separate lagoon west of the western causeway was reduced to a few puddles since 14 August 2002. A live Lagoon Cockle was found on the surface.
Widewater Salinity

29 August 2002
Alan Barrett is pretty sure that he spotted a Mink close to Wood's Mill (Sussex Wildlife Trust HQ at Small Dole). 


28 August 2002
Less than a minute after opening my front (north facing) window of my flat in Corbyn Crescent, Shoreham, (TQ 22444 05295) a good condition Peacock Butterfly flew in, the first I had seen since 1 May 2002. It was also the first ever butterfly that had entered my flat. A large female Emperor Dragonfly in Corbyn Crescent was on a passage flight. This is a late record for this magnificent insect. PS: I now think this was probably a Southern Hawker

23 August 2002
A seal, probably a Common (or Harbour) Seal, Phoca vitulina, was spotted off Lancing beach between the breakwaters at high tide by the Golden Sands Caravan Park. It was mistaken for a dog at first which is often the case. Seals are a rare sight off the mid-Sussex coast, but a few have been seen off Shoreham before. The nearest rookery is a small group of seals in Chichester harbour which are occasionally seen around Selsey (Seal Island). 

Shoreham Seal (Photograph by Paul Parsons)

The seal was also seen by Francis Garard in the same area sharing the same swimming space with her in the morning 8:40 am on 29 August 2002

Sussex Marine Life
BMLSS Seals

22 August 2002
An immigrant Clouded Yellow Butterfly fluttered in the breeze by the beach huts near Beach Green, Shoreham Beach
Adur Butterflies

Mid-Late August
A pair of Bottle-nosed Dolphins were seen by an angler and his wife porpoising on a medium tide in the entrance to Shoreham Harbour (outer Adur estuary).

Discussion with a Lancing angler on 7 October 2002


21 August 2002
"It was a huge caterpillar. At the head end were two very realistic eye markings. The body was dark chocolate brown with lighter brown rings and circles. The length was around 6 cm (2½ inches) and the girth similar to the average thumb. When disturbed it either thrashed or made S shaped movements. The tail end had a short horn. I would suggest it would be a moth caterpillar. It was found on the ground close to a massive Virginia creeper vine but numerous other plants were growing nearby."
This caterpillar was discovered in a garden in West Way, south Lancing, (TQ 198 042) on alluvial soil near the coast. 
The Elephant Hawk-moths larvae display their eye spots when threatened. As it is only these large moths (two British species) that display large eye spots this is certainly what they are.

Report by Steve Barker
A Holly Blue Butterfly fluttered by the ivy on the railway line embankment at the southern end of Ravens Road (TQ 217 053), an area of note for urban wildlife in Shoreham. 
Brimstone Moths are common and they are regularly found indoors at this time of the year.

20 August 2002
After finding the Wasp Spider, Argiope bruennichi, on Mill Hill on 18 August 2002, another one almost leapt at me down at Widewater Lagoon (TQ 2008 0415) today.
This one was close to the path across the causeway, I wasn't able to get
such a good look at it but I think it was a male, about half the size of the
Mill Hill specimen. I was distracted for a minute and when I looked back the
spider had 'legged it'.

Widewater Page (by Ray Hamblett)
 

Wasp Spider (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)18 August 2002
A Wasp Spider, Argiope bruennichi, was spotted on Mill Hill. (TQ 211 076). This a distinctive  European continental species that has been spreading in the south-east. It was probably an ovigerous female. This spider has been found in southern England since the 1990's.
Butterfly List

Ray Hamblett's Mill Hill web page (with photographs of orchids and other wild plants)

16 August 2002
Clouded Yellow (Photograph by Allen Pollard)A walk on the bridleway from the north side of Slonk Hill to Southwick Hill (TQ 225 070 - TQ 225 078) revealed the first Clouded Yellow Butterflies (8+) since 2000. They were flying around rapidly and would not settle. Unlike the Small Tortoiseshells (100+) which were everywhere settling on Ragwort and the bridleway. Most were brightly coloured, but there some faded ones as well. The Painted Ladies (30+) preferred the Greater Knapweed. Wall Browns (40+) preferred to settle on bare areas of chalk but made fleeting visits to Hardheads. Gatekeepers (25+), Small Whites (15+), Meadow Browns (15+) and at least one Red Admiral completed the butterfly list. 

I disturbed a female Sparrowhawk on a fence post, (near some bushes with many small brown birds), which glided magnificently at at a low level across the open field.
Common Darter Dragonflies, Sympetrum striolatum, flew over the latitudinal bridlepath from Mossy Bottom to Southwick Hill (west to east). 
Adur Dragonflies

15 August 2002
On a hot (25° C) and humid (82%) day, I made a quick visit to Mill Hill. On a small patch of the open (upper part of Mill Hill) meadows (TQ 212 073) the butterfly count for an area of 20 square metres was high and the following species were recorded in 15 minutes:

Chalkhill Blue (Photograph by Allen Pollard)
Chalkhill Blue  (60+)
Meadow Brown (35+)
Small Tortoiseshell  (20+)
Painted Lady (15+)
Wall Brown (one)
Skipper (one)
Common Blue (one) 
 

The Chalkhill Blue Butterflies were nectaring on Round-headed Rampion, Greater Knapweed and Hardheads. The Small Tortoiseshells were overlooked in passing, but when I stopped they appeared very colourful and frequent, feeding on the occasional Ragwort flower. 
Chalkhill Blue Butterfly on Rampion (Photograph by Andy Horton)In the scrub and longer grasses (TQ 211 076), the Gatekeeper Butterfly was surprisingly few in number and there were a handful, possibly many more Common Blues, the females with orange markings on their upper wings, feeding on grasses. Meadow Browns were everywhere. 
In the other meadows, there were additional numbers of Chalkhill Blues, Meadow Browns and Painted Ladies.
Adur Butterflies
Adonis Blues and Common Blues Identification Tips
South Downs Butterflies
Blue Butterfly Flight Times

Photograph by Andy HortonSkylarks were disturbed in the long grasses. 
A large (8 cm diameter) fungus was growing on a tree stump on the east side near the bottom of the road leading to Mill Hill.
The fungus is Polyporus squamosus, the Dryad's Saddle which commonly appears in the early summer and can reach large sizes (30 cm or more across). It grows on a variety of deciduous trees. The broad flattened 'cap' with slightly darker flattened areas or scales, the large honeycomb-like pores on the undersurface and the hard blackish stem are all characteristic.

Identification & comment by Geoffrey Kibby
British Fungi Yahoo Group

14 August 2002
Widewater Lagoon was very full of water for August which could be explained by the heavy rainfall of the last few days which caused flooding in some places. The high tide of 6.1 metres (WXTide Table) occurred at 4.27 pm BST and the air bubbles shooting up through the cracks in the alluvium floor of the lagoon began one hour before the high tide. They occurred as a steady stream of small bubbles and sometimes as large less frequent bubbles and these bubble points occurred more often in the shallow water but also could be seen at the surface in water that was two metres deep. The conjecture is that this is seawater being forced into the lagoon through the shingle bank and the bubbling only occurs on tides of over 6 metres in height.
Widewater Salinity

Tens of thousands of very small (> 15 mm) prawns collected on the lagoon edges amongst the pebbles. Bob Cranborne provided the thin mesh net and the markings on the these prawns could be seen clearly when looking down into the white bucket. They were too small for positive identification with the naked eye. There is a possibility of the Lagoon Prawn, Palaemonetes varians or perhaps the Common Prawn, Palaemon elegans. 

In the surrounds of the causeway, I suddenly spotted a Ringed Plover chick. the two parents were conspicuous, part of their distraction behaviour, and altogether a small flock of  about 15 Ringed Plovers wheeled noisily. Wheatears were flying around as well,  prior to emigration and the Mute Swan couple were accompanied by nine dirty grey cygnets. The Little Egret seems to have deserted Widewater this summer after being a regular every day visitor, if not virtually a resident during he colder months. 

A splendid large and distinctive example of a female Emperor Dragonfly buzzed overhead. (PS: This may have been a Southern Hawker.)
Adur Dragonflies

13 August 2002
Painted Lady (Photograph by Allen Pollard)A really mixed back of wildlife in the morning from an immigrant  Painted Lady Butterfly settled on a flower amongst a flutter of various smaller butterflies on Shoreham beach near the Church of the Good Shepherd, where further along towards Widewater at least a dozen Wheatears were preparing for their flight back to Africa. 

On Worthing beach several hundred Sand Gobies were present in the pools to the south of the pier which were covered on bedrock weed of sufficient variety to interest the phycologist. 
Basking on the airport road outside of Ricardo's Engineering Works, a Common Lizard did not move as I cycled past. I stopped and tickled it under the chin and then it skittered into the undergrowth.

12 August 2002
A low spring tide forecasted at 0.2 on WXTides at Kingston beach (Shoreham Harbour) receded past the tide marker for at least 20 minutes and the sand covered almost all the rocks. 
Another Sting Winkle, Ocenebra erinacea, was recorded and one orange coloured Common  Chiton, Lepidochitona cinerea. The chiton was fixed to the underside of rock at mid-tide level, amongst the loose rocks between the end of the groynes and the water line. This is the usual place where these small (16 mm) oval rock-hugging molluscs can be discovered, but they are not prevalent and can be easily overlooked. 
One of the venerids (bivalve mollusc), probably Venerupis senegalensis (=pullastra) was still alive on the surface under a rock. 
A large (20 mm) specimen of the distinctive small shrimp-like crustacean  Athanas nitescens was blue with a white stripe down its back, looking formidable like a microscopic lobster, if it was not so tiny.
Fish List for the Trip

10 August 2002
The rainfall for the day totalled 34.6 mm.
Recent Historical Records

Small Tortoiseshell (Photograph by Andy Horton)8 August 2002
On a breezy sunny and still humid day, the butterflies on the old railway track south of the old Shoreham Toll Bridge included Painted Ladies (4+) possibly blown in from France, as well as the distinctive silhouettes of the Red Admirals (4+), a particularly bright orange of the Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies (4+), with Small Whites, Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns, all just a few. 

5 August 2002
A colourful Brown Hairstreak Butterfly was seen in the fields near Shermanbury Flats (was the Grange) between Shermanbury and Partridge Green. This is eight miles due north of Shoreham-by-Sea.
Images

Report by Allen Pollard
Allen Pollard's Then & Now web pages

29-30 July 2002
Daisy Anemone (Photograph by Andy Horton)The Daisy Anemone, Cereus pedunculatus, has been discovered by Paul Parsons off the outfall pipe near Brooklands boating lake. I (Andy Horton) have discovered this sea anemone (that contains symbiotic algae) on Worthing beach on one memorable occasion, but at the moment this seems the most easterly discovery of this sea anemone on the northern English Channel coast and shallow seas. 
BMLSS Sea Anemones

29 July 2002
It is very hot and humid with  a temperature of 28.5° C was attained during the day, and even at midnight it is 21.7 ºC with a humidity of 81%.

28 July 2002
To compare the butterflies on Mill Hill with the ones seen yesterday in the Lancing Clump meadows, I made a late afternoon visit and notes that the density in a smaller area was at least twice as high but the variety of butterflies, with just one pair of eyes, was smaller. Again in order of frequency, the butterflies are listed: 

Gatekeeper Butterfly (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)Gatekeeper (200+)
Meadow Brown  (70+)
Marbled White (35+)
Small Skipper (25+)
Chalkhill Blue (15+)
Red Admiral
Large White
Small White

There were hundreds of 6-Spot Burnet Moths in the long grasses.
The blue butterflies in the medium length grasses would not settle with their wings open, on the muggy humid day, and I could not instantly confirm their identification. It is in a known Chalkhill Blue habitat and the underside has an absence of any orange so it seems that Chalkhill Blue is probable. 
Blue Butterflies (Photographs 2000)

27 July 2002
Friends of Lancing Ring have arranged for expert Brianne Reeve of the Butterfly Conservation group to lead a walk over the reserve.

Photograph by Ray Hamblett

On a hot (25° C) and muggy (humidity 86%) day, the walk produced an exceptional variety of butterflies. In order of prevalence these were:

Small Skipper
Meadow Brown
Gatekeeper
Small Copper Butterfly (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)Marbled White
Holly Blue
Common Blue
Red Admiral
Large White
Small White
Wall Brown
Speckled Wood  #
Peacock
Large Skipper
Small Copper
Chalkhill Blue  #

(# = hearsay reports)

The last two were rarities in the meadows. 
Both could have been overlooked by a single naturalist. Small red mites were present on some of the Meadow Browns.
6-Spot Burnet Moths were also common in the meadows
Butterfly Walk in August 2001
Butterflies of Lancing
Adur Butterflies
Shermanbury Butterflies
UK-LEPS Discussion Group (for Butterflies and Moths)
 


25 July 2002
The Greater Spotted Woodpecker who was on the bird feeder in my Shermanbury garden as it often is. And on the ground not far away, a parent Green Woodpecker was feeding its youngster. So I had three woodpeckers within five metres of my patio doors.


24 July 2002
Scores of Common Blue Butterflies are disturbed at 8:00 am on McIntyres Field (TQ 188 061) near Lancing Clump.

Report by Ann White
In the early evening, an Australian Black Swan, Cygnus atratus, was with about 18 Mute Swans, between the Railway Viaduct and Toll Bridge on the River Adur.
Report by Bob Whitney


19 July 2002
 An evening walk through McIntyres field and on to the chalk-pit.
The sound of a million Grasshoppers, not a single Cricket.
Small Skipper, Meadow Brown, Marbled White.
Warm sun in soft evening light, gives lift to the butterflies flight
Small Scabious and Black Knapweed,,
Pride of Sussex - the Round-headed Rampion.
Pyramid Orchid on a chalky slope
A female Stag Beetle, But no male companion.
She seemed exposed in the walkers route,
so I carefully moved her to where she was safe from any boot.

Friends of Lancing Ring

17 July 2002
A small damselfly (probably the Blue-tailed Damselfly, Ischnura elegans), landed on my Lancing garden pond (TQ 186 044) and it was immediately dragged down and killed and eaten by Common Backswimmers (Greater Water Boatman), Notonecta sp.

Report by Ray Hamblett (Lancing Nature) via the 
Freshwater Life of North-western Europe Smart Group

On a hot muggy day, it was the White Butterflies that were noticeable, but there were Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies on Adur Recreation Ground and the towpath by the airport, likely to be more than the four seen in passing. 

15 July 2002
The midday (12:35 pm) temperature was recorded at 26.2° C, the highest of the year so far. 
  
15 July 2002
An alien moth that is seen in July in Shoreham, even coming indoors, is the Brighton Wainscot Moth, Oria musculosa, a buff creamy coloured moth. I think this is most likely to be the Fen Wainscot, Arenostola phragmitidis.
At Kingston beach the brown pea-sized fry of the Lumpsucker was notable. The half a dozen Hermit Crabs occupied shells up to dogwhelk size. 
Rockpool Fish List

14 July 2002
There seems to be quite a few 22 spot Ladybird, Psyllobora vigintiduopunctata, around amongst the undergrowth everywhere. The black spots on a yellow shield are very clear and separated.
House Martins are nesting in Eastern Avenue, Shoreham, opposite the allotments, an area known for these summer immigrants. 

13 July 2002
A Hummingbird Hawk-Moth was seen in urban upper Portslade. (TQ 251 066)


11 July 2002
An Australian Black Swan, Cygnus atratus, was swimming underneath the Toll Bridge
Lancing Ring Report

9 July 2002
Lagoon Cockle (opened with flesh) by Andy Horton.Live small cockles (new recruits of a breeding population) have now been discovered at depths of 20 cm in Widewater, which was about a metre deep near the bridge. This is the Lagoon Cockle, Cerastoderma glaucum, although when the cockles are small (12 mm width) they do not have the shape of the full grown ones, so they initially looked to me like Common Cockles, Cerastoderma edule. Actually, whilst they are alive there does not seem to be an easy way to distinguish them as it is the interior groove differences that are diagnostic. The shell is thinner and the Lagoon Cockle is brittler and the live shell can be easily prised open with a fingernail which is much harder with the Common Cockle, even small ones. The Shore Crab, Carcinus maenas, would find these shells very easy to crack open.
BMLSS Cockles

The black ooze (mud substrate) also revealed Nereis (ragworms), lugworms and other assorted worms. The tiny gastropod Hydrobia was plentiful as expected. There were also a few sediment-dwelling attachment type sea anemones discovered, although these were not Edwardsia ivelli. The miniature sea anemones have been identified as a dwarf specimens of the distinctive Haliplanella lineata with orange stripes which are not found on other British sea anemones. The anemone photographed was only 2 mm in height and 3 mm in diameter and this was typical of the dozen anemones discovered in two locations each side of the bridge. 

Report by Dan Metcalfe (University of Brighton)
This alien anemone (accidentally introduced species) is a sea anemone that inhabits harbours and estuaries and occasionally lagoons where the salinity is below full strength seawater. Haliplanella lineata attains at least 20 mm high and 13 mm diameter in British specimens but in other parts of the world could be twice this size. Reproduction by longitudinal fission is habitual and frequent in this species. Blenny (Photograph by Wayne Curtis)

A Blenny (a small green or grey rockpool fish), Lipophrys pholis, was discovered by S. McKenzie in Widewater near the bridge. This fish would not be able to enter the lagoon naturally at present and would have been introduced by human activity. It was not behaving naturally, it was slightly moribund. This is because of the lowered salinity of 24 (ppt). These rockpool fish can only tolerate lowered salinities occasionally for short periods when trapped in pools at low tide. If the unfiltered pipeline is introduced, these fish will find their way into the lagoon and unless they could escape through the pipeline, they will die within a few weeks. Gobies, Pomatoschistus, is another fish genus (two common species) that would enter, but these fish have a short life less than two year span, but the first year fry, with a greater tolerance of lowered salinity (entering estuaries in the summer) would still enter the lagoon and die in the first winter. Shore Crabs have an even greater tolerance of lowered salinity, able to osmoregulate better in higher summer water temperatures, but even with this hardy crab, they would find it difficult to survive a winter unless they congregated in more saline pockets. These crabs will predate on cockles and worms in the lagoon mud. 

8 July 2002
At least one live Lagoon Cockle, Cerastoderma glaucum, is discovered in the mud samples taken from deeper water yesterday. 

Report by Dan Metcalfe (University of Brighton)


7 July 2002
The trip in the unseasonal drizzle to Widewater Lagoon, ostensibly in the search for the sea anemone Edwardsia ivelli, but actually the collection of anaerobic mud and hundreds of dead shells of the Lagoon Cockle, Cerastoderma glaucum, with just the remotest long shot that something interesting would creep out. The black mud substrate was collected at two locations one west of and one east of the bridge on the shallow edge of the deepest bits of the lagoon. After the recent rain, the lagoon was still appreciably filled and showed no signs of drying out that can occur in hot summers.

Lagoon Cockle

Ruppia, photographed out of the water on the dried out mud (by Ray Hamblett)The failure to discover even one live cockle was disappointing. Probably the collection area had actually dried out completely during a recent dry summer and the mass mortality was because of desiccation.
"As some lagoons are prone to ephemerality it is in their nature to experience wide fluctuations in populations of species.  When I have recorded Cerastoderma glaucum at sites I have almost always found many many more dead shells than living. Terry Wimbleton (Havant) of the Conchological Society has observed see-saw colonisation of suitable habitat for Cerastoderma glaucum locally (Dorset to Sussex) and was talking to me about this at a meeting recently."

Comment by Jan Light on UK Conchology
Marlin on C. glaucum
Widewater Salinity

The first green spiky shoots of Glasswort were clear in the boggy and almost dry margins. Floating on the surface the strands of the rooted plant with the scientific name of Ruppia maritima were pointed out. This is an unattractive choking style green flowering point that was present in large clumps. Despite its prominence this is the first record of it on these Nature Notes pages. 
Widewater Page
Widewater Lagoon page (by Ray Hamblett)

Small Skipper (Photograph by Allen Pollard)6 July 2002
The Small Skipper Butterflies are flying about near Shermanbury. These primitive butterflies are common enough in the summer months and have featured before in the lists of species from the chalk downs. The Essex Skipper is a very similar species with a black tip to its antennae. 

Report by Allen Pollard
Adur Valley Butterflies (Link)
UK-LEPS Discussion Group: Messages (Small and Essex Skippers)

4 July 2002
Public Exhibition of the Lancing Rocky Sea Defence Plan on the seaward side of Widewater Lagoon. The most controversial proposal seems to the the inclusion of a seawater pipeline.

Information Page
The Habitat Action Plan for Sussex on Saline Lagoons has been published by WSCC.
UK Biodiversity:  Action Plan for Saline Lagoons
Adur Biodiversity:  Notes on Action Plan

1 July 2002
Adur World Oceans Day Meeting
 


 

Latest Nature Notes and Index page 2002

ADUR NATURE NOTES  2000

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