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NATURE NOTES
2001
BEWARE OF THE WEEVER FISH ! (Venomous Dorsal Spines)
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 (by Ray Hamblett)

 
 
 
 
 

 

* 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

Widewater Lagoon (30 September 2003)30 September 2003
It is surprising how full Widewater Lagoon can look after just a small rise because of the percolation and sea rushing through the inlet. The water spreads out over the flat flood plain, submerging most of the Glasswort

Over the gravel near the seawater inlet to Widewater a Clouded Yellow Butterfly flew in the moderate north westerly breeze on a sunny 16.2 ºC (max) afternoon. Red Admiral Butterflies were flying strongly in the moderate breeze as well as at least one Painted Lady Butterfly in south Lancing. 

29 September 2003
A large healthy Fox ran boldly down Dolphin Road, Shoreham, on the houses side of the fence that borders the railway track that runs parallel with the road at 9:30 pm in the evening. It then trotted into a garden at about 20-22 Dolphin Road, in the Corbyn Crescent area where I live. On the moonless light the Fox appeared a dusky grey. There are no rabbits around but there is probably a large population of mice as I have seen then running across the road. Foxes have occasionally been seen on the railway track and there is the Municipal Dump in their territory. The Foxes have been here for years, but I not seen them near the houses before. 

The Hummingbird Hawk Moth, Macroglossum stellatarum, is still around in my Old Shoreham garden. 

Moth Report by Mike Burtt
Previous Report

Andy Horton appeared on BBC Southern Counties Radio to discuss the marine life of Sussex and the work of the British Marine Life Study Society.

28 September 2003
A Comma Butterfly visited my south Lancing garden, feeding on Verbena bonariensis.


26 September 2003
The inlet pipe to Widewater Lagoon has not been detrimental to the autumn Glasswort, Salicornia, as if anything the splendid and unusual scarlet fringe to the lagoon is even more dramatic than usual. 

Red Glasswort  by the Inlet Pipe

Under Worthing Pier on the low equinoctial spring tide the fauna was not exceptional but there was plenty of interest, including a red Dahlia Anemone, Urticina felina, over a hundred Snakelocks Anemones, Anemonia viridis, Beadlet Anemones, Actinia equina, and one surprise was a particularly strongly patterned Daisy Anemone, Cereus pedunculatus, a rare occurrence on the shore in Sussex. There were six species of Brachyuran crabs including at least three large Velvet Swimming Crabs, two of them with a major claw missing. Star Ascidian (a sea-squirt) was noticeable on rocks and groynes.
Full Report

The small pamphlet "Flora of Shoreham-by-Sea" by Betty Bishop, second revised edition 2003 was published today. The price for the 28 page booklet with a complete list of all the 673 wild flowers of the area is expected to be about £1.50 to cover the costs of production. 

24 September 2003
Still the summer lingers on, but the temperature of 17.1 ºC on a sunny day falls below 20 ºC, as expected in the final quarter of the year. 
Fresh Wall Brown Butterflies some put in an appearance on the path down to the lower slopes of Mill Hill. The small moth-like brown flying insects were discovered to be small female Common Blue Butterflies and there were larger male Common Blues as well. One Small Heath settled with its wings closed and then a handful of Meadow Brown Butterflies were identified. By the stile that leads on to the overgrazed land, three Clouded Yellow Butterflies danced around each other, and I was pleased to see a large party of ramblers on this footpath which is so often blocked by cows.
Full Report
On Lancing beach and in Lancing town there was at least one Painted Lady Butterfly in each area. 

22 September 2003
The long dry spell is nearly over with 3.05 mm of rain in the early evening, after a warm afternoon with the temperature reaching 22.6 ºC. 

21 September 2003
The evening Shoreham temperature is 19.3 ºC, and the humidity is 90%. This is more like a tropical rain forest (temperature about 25 ºC, humidity 82%).

20 September 2003
A quick walk around the "Butterfly Trail" at Lancing Clump and meadows produced two Wall Brown Butterflies, one feeding on the late Greater Knapweed flowers, with two Speckled Wood Butterflies in the shade, and four or more Common Blue Butterflies. Common Darter Dragonflies, Sympetrum striolatum, were around and at least four were spotted.

Lancing Nature Slide Show Pages (by Ray Hamblett)

19 September 2003
I dived Shoreham beach by the Church of the Good Shepherd in the early evening and saw Cuttlefish of all sizes, Sepiola atlantica and some young squids possibly Loligo vulgaris

Tub Gurnard (Photograph by Paul Parsons)

Tub Gurnard, Chelidonichthys lucerna
Photograph by Paul Parsons

There were also shoals of Sand Smelt, and other fish: Tub Gurnard, Undulate Ray, Plaice and Sole, Bass and gobies!

Report by Paul Parsons
British Marine Life Study Society

c. 17 September 2003
A specimen of the nudibranch Thecacera pennigera is observed on the Brooklands sea outfall pipe, on the Lancing/Worthing border, West Sussex. This small sea slug is probably overlooked and of a sporadic occurrence rather than uncommon, but this is the first record I have for the local coast, and I have never seen one on the shore, where it would be notable. The pipe also provides a home for the sea anemone Diadumene cincta

Report by David Cropp via Paul Parsons
BMLSS Nudibranchia
The Sea off Sussex

As the red sky appeared at dusk in the west; there a few vapour trails but there was not a single cloud in the sky as the temperature reached 22.9 ºC in the late afternoon with excessive humidity up to 83%. 


This insect appears to be the Speckled Bush Cricket, Leptophyes punctatissima, found in my front garden in Corbyn Crescent, Shoreham (TQ 224 053).
 

The flightless cricket hopped very slowly along the concrete path when poked, but mostly it crawled slowly around. It is undoubtably a very common species. 
UK Grasshoppers & Crickets
Orthoptera: List of British Species
Shoreham Town & Gardens

Merlin, Falco columbarius, was seen on Mill Hill. The smallest bird of prey is classified as "scarce" and a Winter Visitor and Passage Migrant in Sussex. 
SOS Birds of Prey

It is at this time of year that the bird watchers are on the look out for migrant birds passing through Sussex on their long journeys to warmer climates.

16 September 2003
My first Migrant Hawker Dragonfly, Aeshna mixta, of the year is seen through binoculars, hawking to and fro and never settling over the stream by the Steyning Road (TQ 209 068), just north of the A27 Flyover. It had a dark blue thorax and a brown head. 
Full Report (including Butterflies)
 

14 September 2003
Off Worthing, on a shallow water dive site known as the Worthing Lumps, a small school of Rock Cooks (Small-mouth Wrasse),Centrolabrus exoletus, were seen shyly swimming by the rock face, quite unlike the bolder Corkwing, Symphodus melops (=Crenilabrus), and Goldsinny Wrasse, Centrolabrus rupestris

Rock Cooks (Photograph by Paul Parsons)

Rock Cooks (Small-mouth Wrasse), Centrolabrus exoletus
Photograph by Paul Parsons

These inconspicuous wrasse have not been recorded off the Sussex coast before and the books state that is fish is only known from the southern and western coasts of Britain. They may have been overlooked, but they are certainly not a common occurrence. There have been no records of juvenile fish in Sussex rock pools, where the Corkwing first year fish are very common and Ballan Wrasse, Labrus bergylta,  juveniles occasionally discovered. 

BMLSS Wrasse
BMLSS News 2003

A deer jumped and trotted around a field near Applesham Farm on the downs on the west side of the River Adur, near Applesham Farm, (a private road leads to the farm on the downs, on the Coombes road leading to Botolphs, between Cuckoo's Corner and Coombes).

Report by Mick Bowen


On a walk through the overgrown Mash Barn Lane, Lancing (leading to New Monks Farm, Lancing), (from its entrance on the housing estate bearing it's name), we were almost immediately struck by the profusion of butterflies. On a fallen Ivy festooned tree, seven Red Admirals were nectaring on the flowers. As we proceeded through the lane at least three Speckled Wood Butterflies fluttered in the dappled shade under the Elm trees.


A mating pair, the dark blue male Emperor Dragonfly in tandem with the emerald green female, was a magnificent sight as they flew rapidly up the lower slopes of Mill Hill and quickly disappeared. The scores of House Martins all seemed to be flying from west and east up from the Adur valley on to the downs to the north of Shoreham. 
Full Report (including Butterflies)

On New Monks Farm, Lancing, the pretty little Stonechat, chatted from the top of one of thousands of thistles, its beak opening on its black head, with its attractive pinkish-brown breast and white neck indicating the male. There was a handful of these sparrow-sized birds seen in the tall metre-high vegetation. Both Emperor Dragonflies and Common Darter Dragonflies were on the wing near the damp stroud next to Withy Patch.
Adur Levels

13 September 2003
A Speckled Wood Butterfly fluttered around in the shade of the mixed woodland twitten between Buckingham Park and Ravensbourne Road (TQ 219 062). It persistently returned to a Nettle leaf next to the fence, but it would not stay still because it is continually disturbed by the shadows of passing people on a pleasant 21.3 ºC sunny day. This is the first September record of this butterfly on these Nature Notes pages.
Shoreham Town & Gardens
Adur Butterflies
Adur Butterflies Flight Times
Butterfly List 2003

12 September 2003
An adult Roe Deer literally jumped out of the tall thistles its reddish-brown hide (summer coat) seen very clearly and this was a much larger deer than I had seen before at relatively close quarters, probably up to a metre in height (about 75 cm to the shoulders), and there was extensive rustling nearer the Hawthorn and caught a glimpse of another deer. The deer did not appear to have antlers but the deer was away in scarcely more than a second and it was difficult to be sure. This narrow field next to the stream by the Steyning Road (TQ 209 068) has been known as a place where these deer could rest usually undisturbed in the late afternoon.
On the South Downs Link cyclepath just north of the A27 Flyover, a Wall Brown Butterfly settled
Adur Levels Report

8 September 2003
In a warm 23° C gentle breeze from the south-east it felt like a summer afternoon, but I could tell it was autumn approaching because of the hundred plus Lapwings on the mud south of the Old Shoreham Toll Bridge on the ebbing neap tide. Lapwings spend the winter in and around the lower estuary before flying inland to breed in the spring. 

Small Copper Butterfly (Photograph by Andy Horton)Two pretty Small Copper Butterflies were seen on a rough thistle-covered field (TQ 209 068) on the Adur levels
Full Report

And at least three (probably many more) small Shore Crabs on Kingston Beach were parasitised by the barnacle Sacculina carcini. (pic) The parasite looks like a yellow blob in the place under the abdominal flap where the eggs would be carried.

Much to my surprise a Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly was resting/sleeping/hibernating on the wall above my computer desk this morning, in Corbyn Crescent, Shoreham (TQ 224 053).
Shoreham Town & Gardens

7 September 2003
In the grounds of Lancing College, in front of what used to be Burwell's Farm is a small pond (TQ 197 063) that hosts a wide variety of wildlife. We were treated to a glimpse of a Kingfisher as it darted from a branch of an Willow Tree into more secluded cover. The stream-fed pond was very low and covered in vegetation after the long dry summer.
At the disused chalkpit near Lancing Clump, the rare Autumn Ladies Tresses Orchid, Spiranthes spiralis, (pic), was in full flower in the same spot where I had previously seen it.

Full Report
Lancing Nature Gallery (by Ray Hamblett)
Lancing Ring Wildlife

Just one female blue butterfly was spotted briefly on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. It had a plain chocolate brown upper wing, but I still cannot be sure if it was an Adonis Blue or a Chalkhill Blue, despite managing a photograph.
Image and Full Report
 

3 September 2003
large whale skull was landed at Shoreham (Monteum's Wharf, River Adur) by fisherman Nick Brown from a small (under 10 metres length) trawler fishing three miles off Brighton Marina, Sussex.

Further Details and Photographs

The whale skull was eventually identified as that of the Fin Whale, Balaenoptera physalis. 

Report by Dr Gerald Legg (Booth Museum)


One attractive Small Copper Butterfly (pic) was seen on brambles near entrance of the riding stables in Freshbrook Road, Lancing. Records of this butterfly are quite few and far between in the Adur area, but it seems that that can turn up almost anywhere. (The nearest previous location was on New Monks Farm earlier this year.)

Adur Butterflies
Adur Butterflies Flight Times

The large and magnificent Emperor Dragonflies were on the wing over Shoreham Beach, in Shoreham town and over the Cokeham Reed Beds and streams (north of Brooklands). 
Adur Dragonflies

2 September 2003
Large White Butterflies (50+) were common on the Sea Kale on the shingle beach from Shoreham to Lancing.
Large White Video Brief (click on this text)
In the entrance to Shoreham Harbour the incessant chattering of five young Terns was interrupted by the vertical dive and a plop as the young sea birds hit the water after young fish, and on more than one occasion they were seen to be successful with a small fish in their mouths. As the sea lapped against the sandy shore on Kingston Beach the Little Egret was seen to be successful stabbing at prawns on the low spring tide
 

31 August 2003

Grass Snake (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)

A Grass Snake, Natrix natrix, was found trapped in nylon netting on Lancing Manor Allotment and was freed from its accidental entrapment.


An adult Velvet Swimming Crab, Necora puber, was discovered under Worthing Pier as the spring tide receded in the early morning. Notable fish included large (100+) shoals of Sand Gobies and a juvenile Tompot Blenny. There was also an unusual discovery of a double-headed Beadlet Anemone, Actinia equina.
Worthing Pier 2003 List & Images
Intertidal Crabs (Sussex)

30 August 2003
On the Saturday of Shoreham Air Show, Mill Hill was closed to cars so the parched lower slopes were almost empty. The first blue was the bright blue of the Common Blue Butterfly, but the Adonis Blues soon appeared and the final count was 25. It was easy to get the species mixed up as the female blues that had orange spots on the upper hindwing (click on this text for the photograph) were Chalkhill Blues. There was at least two Chalkhill Blues in pristine condition, but all three species of blues were about in the same numbers, but Common Blues and Chalkhill Blues were mostly (all but one specimen) worn and battered, with one third females
One puzzle was a brown butterfly that looked exactly like a good condition Brown Argus. There was no hint of white roundels on the upper wing and was just like the specimen seen and photographed on 23 July 2003  with orange spots neatly arranged on both the upper wings. There just a hint of blue colour, if anything less than shown in the photograph. (Alas this butterfly flew off when disturbed by what looked like a female Chalkhill Blue.) A Clouded Yellow Butterfly flew from north to south late in the afternoon.
Full Report

A single Wheatear was on the railings parallel (same latitude) to Carrots's Cafe between the road and Southwick beach. It was a good view of the white rear and pale pinkish breast. The bird looked plump and well fed enough for the long journey back to Africa.
Adur Coastal Zone page
There was small (12+) shoal of second year Bass and a dozen or so Moon Jellyfish to be seen from Shoreham Harbour lock gates.

29 August 2003
A Green Woodpecker was on the grass in the grounds of Shoreham College, Kingston Buci, and it flew up into the Evergreen Oak near the entrance at the northern end of the playing fields. This attractive bird is one that appreciates large gardens and disappears with the increased urbanisation. 
Shoreham Town & Gardens

28 August 2003
The first rain since 11 August 2003 (when 5.84 mm was recorded) wets the ground. From 4:45 am to 5:30 am, 6.09 mm fell, which was more than the total rainfall for this August so far. By 9:00 am, the rainfall had reached 8.45 mm. A further 4 mm fell between 12: 30 pm and 1:00 pm, representing a sudden deluge.

Exceptional Rainfall (Recent History)

27 August 2003
Brooklands Boating Lake (see the entry below) could not be hypertrophic (overnutrified, cf. eutrophic) because in the upper stream reaches a shoal of about 30 Rudd could be seen in the clear slightly cloudy water, with broken bits of algae, but no aquatic plants, although there was some marginal waterside vegetation. These silvery fish were attractive with their bright red fins. 

The Stream feeding Brooklands

There were the usual plentiful 50+ Coots on the main body of the lake, but I only spotted one Moorhen in the upper reaches.

Astronomy
Mars comes closer to the Earth at 34,646,418 miles at 10:51 am than for any time since 56,617 BC. It rose in the Sussex night sky about 9:00 pm and could be seen low in the south reaching its highest point at 1:00 am.
Guardian Report

24 August 2003
A flock of about one hundred Goldfinches filled the sky around New Salts Farm, Lancing, (south of Shoreham Airport) late this morning.


22 August 2003
There are scores, probably hundreds, of large grey moths around in the undergrowth. At least some of these are the Silver Y Moth, Autographa gamma.

Adonis Blue20 August 2003
After the exceptionally hot spell, there was a slight autumnal feel to the air.
The second brood Adonis Blue Butterflies are now out and flying around in their brilliant blue on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. One even ventured up amongst the the brambles and long grasses immediately south of the reservoir on the upper slopes.  The count was 25+ (all males) and I was careful to avoid counting the same butterfly twice and to exclude the Common Blue Butterflies in the total. The Small Heath Butterflies exceeded a hundred mostly on the lower slopes, but also extending on to the ridge in the only area explored south of the reservoir
Full Report
Butterfly List 2003

19 August 2003
There were over a hundred birds on Brooklands Boating Lake (see the entry below) and the Coots, Mallards and Black-headed Gulls all appeared to be in fine fettle. A dozen Martins were swooping around the island.  These martins appeared very brown and they were probably Sand Martins? (They were too far away to be absolutely sure.)

17 August 2003
The Common Carder Bee, Bombus pascuorum, was discovered in a Shoreham town garden. 
Full Report

15 August 2003
I arranged to meet Andy Gattiker of the South Downs Conservation Board (SDCB) on Mill Hill. The SDCB were attempting a public consultation to justify their management decision to introduce a winter grazing of Limousin/Angus cross cattle (standard beef cattle) on Mill Hill. The grassland was very parched with few butterflies in flight. 
Full Report including Butterflies

14 August 2003
Coot on Brooklands LakeThe Shoreham Herald reports that Brooklands Boating Lake is again closed because of the mysterious deaths of both resident and visiting birds including six Mute Swan cygnets, two Coots, nine ducks and one gull. The cause is till unknown.  A toxic blue-green algae and botulism have been suspected as well as polluted silt in the lagoon. The smelly problem occurs in late summer when the temperatures are at their warmest.  The water in Brooklands is mostly fresh stream-fed water, and is shallow without any appreciable water plants.
Blue-Green Algae Toxicity in Waterfowl
The blue-green algal toxins can be harmful to humans and pets, and can be transmitted by pet dogs. Death in waterfowl can be rapid with the species of algae that produce neurotoxins (including anatoxins). There are various different blooms of algae, all of which are encouraged by eutrophic water conditions. 
Botulism has also be found to be the cause of fatal disease in ducks in British town parks. 
Archives: Sewage Pollution (Brooklands)
Archives: Pollution Scare (Brooklands)

13 August 2003
The seawater is flooding into Widewater Lagoon through the new pipe inlet on the high (over 6 metre) spring tides. It will be interesting to observe the effect of the artificially raised water level on the colour and prevalency of the saltmarsh plant Glasswort, Salicornia. The lagoon is at winter flood levels, at least equal to the highest level known for Widewater in winter. 

12 August 2003
A count of eleven Little Egrets on the River Adur by Shoreham Airport between 8:20 pm and 8:50 pm must be a new record. One or two is usual, four exceptional, but only seven of the birds were in view at the same time. 

Report by Richard Fairbank (Shoreham Beach) on the Sussex Birds Yahoo Group
Adur Estuary

10 August 2003
The air temperature in the shade did not quite make to hot today, the warmest attained was 29.9° C at 3:30 pm before the clouds came over and at just before 4:00 pm in a temperature of 27.5° C, it started raining. This was the first rain of August. It lasted for a few minutes and then it stopped. The humidity was 3:30 pm was 53%. The Heat Index was calculated at 31.4° C (greater than the local hottest day). The night temperature was warm falling only to 24.8° C at midnight.

Record British temperatures at 38.1° C

8 August 2003
A woman brought in a Death's Head Hawk Moth caterpillar to Wood's Mill (Small Dole), found in her garden at Lancing, a pretty amazing beast all in all. It was found in a Jasmine bush. This is a rare occurrence for the caterpillar to be found in Britain.

Report from Mike Russell at Woods Mill (Sussex Wildlife Trust)
via Sussex Ornithological Society News


Death's Head Moth from Dorset (Photograph by Ivan)

Death's Head Moth from Dorset 
Photograph by Ivan

NB: The Death's Head Hawk-moths have been discovered before as immigrants (hearsay reports) but not during the period of these Nature Notes (since 1997). 
Death's Head Hawk-moth Caterpillar Images

7 August 2003
My south Lancing garden (TQ 186 044) was awash with Silver 'Y' Moths this evening at around sunset. There were about 30 or more in the garden.
On the Hardy Plumbago I caught sight of a Hummingbird Hawk Moth, Macroglossum stellatarum, my first this year.


My first Clouded Yellow Butterflies seen on Mill Hill this year, flew strongly over the lower slopes. There were at least three, possibly five of these bright yellow immigrant butterflies.
Full Report
Adur Butterflies Slide Show

6 August 2003
I was buzzed repeatedly by a magnificent Emperor Dragonfly in the butterfly copse (TQ 209 063) near the Waterworks Road. This predator looked capable of tackling the butterflies that visited the Buddleia.
Reports of Dragonfly Predation on Butterflies (UK Dragonflies)
Adur Dragonflies
Adur Dragonfly Flight Times

The pretty little day-flying pyralid moth known as Pyrausta aurata, were attracted to their caterpillar food plant Water Mint in Ray Hamblett's south Lancing garden. 

The overnight air temperature only fell to 23.7° C at 6:30 am so this was an exceptionally warm night with the temperature at midnight of 24.8° C, rising to 25.4° C at 2:30 am. The humidity rose and at 8:30 am it was 70% producing a faint mist. This mist seemed to keep the temperature down to a maximum 26.8º C throughout the day. The Heat Index was calculated at 28.5° C.
Heat & Humidity Index
Heat Index Calculator

5 August 2003
It was the hottest day of the new millennium when the air temperature reached 30.6° C (87.1°  F) at 5:54 pm with a gentle breeze from the east. Humidity fell to 39% so it was quite pleasant outside. I measured an air temperature in the shade of 30.5° C at 6:45 pm in Shoreham town (the Shoreham beach temperature was 30.4° C at this time). The Heat Index was calculated at 30.2° C.

Local Climatology

Not surprising with the warm weather, many people who are not at work and children on holiday made their way to the beach where the estimated sea temperature was 19° C, possibly rising to 21° C inshore over sand. Weever Fish are around and there were several reports of people being stung by this fish that lives in the sand with its venomous black dorsal fin sticking above the surface on which the bather may have the misfortune to step on. 

After being sting by large Weevers the pain is described as excruciating for the first two hours after which it subsides and rarely causes permanent injury. The pain can be relieved by immersing the foot in hot water at 40° C. This fish is common on sandy coasts all around Britain. 

Report by Jamie Hailstone (Shoreham Herald) with commentary by Andy Horton.
Beware of the Weever Fish
Sussex Marine Life Reports

4 August 2003
Widewater Lagoon is being maintained at a winter high level by allowing seawater in through the inlet pipe, maintaining a salinity of full strength seawater. A handful of Common Blue Butterflies fluttered over the shingle, the reduced overflow of the flood plain because of the raised level, and an Emperor Dragonfly flew at about six metres above the surface. 
Widewater Salinity

3 August 2003
Guided Butterfly Walk
Friends of Lancing Ring  arranged for expert Brianne Reeve of the Butterfly Conservation group to lead a walk over the Lancing Ring Nature Reserve.
Ten different butterflies were seen before we left the car park.

Butterflies (in this case a Meadow Brown) were attracted to the Hemp AgrimonyThere was a screech and a magnificent view of a Sparrowhawk flying overhead, being mobbed by a Crow, the pale blue-grey body of the raptor distinguished against the cloudless sky. The first butterfly to make an appearance was a Green-veined White, and then there was a steady variety noted by a dozen or more immigrant Clouded Yellows, a large handful of Chalkhill Blues, far outnumbered by Common Blues, and the hard to spot Wall Browns. More eyes are better than a single pair, and I might overlooked nearly a hundred Swifts high in the sky. There was sharp call and a Green Woodpecker flew over at lower end of the meadows, leaving the clump across the meadows to the back garden of a house backing on to the Nature Reserve.

Eighteen species of butterfly were seen on the one and half walk around the meadows. The last one of the list was a Peacock Butterfly as we departed. This total of eighteen was the most species I have seen in one day. 
Full Report 2003
2002 Walk Report
Adur Butterflies

In the horse's field under the A27 flyover (west side of the Steyning road, south of the large roundabout) north of Old Shoreham, one hundred Black-headed Gulls congregated. This may be the advanced sortie after the annual explosion of flying ants. There were 25 large Herring Gulls padding about on the Lancing Manor lawns as well.

In an Old Shoreham garden (Frampton's Court) a strange moth with two pairs of dragonfly-type wings flew rapidly from one plant to another, never settling, very fascinating as it rapidly dipped its proboscis into each flower before buzzing off to another nectar source. This was the Hummingbird Hawk Moth, Macroglossum stellatarum, an occasional immigrant. 

Moth Report by Mike Burtt
Images of the Hummingbird Hawk Moth (External Web Site)

2 August 2003
Scores of Large White Butterflies have emerged on in the urban Shoreham area and on Shoreham beach, and as well as most of the usual butterflies of the last week, a Brimstone settled on a Buddleia flower in the butterfly copse (TQ 209 063) near the Waterworks Road. The steep west-facing parched slopes of Mill Hill were alive with Chalkhill Blues. In one standing viewpoint, at least 30, often more, butterflies could be seen in a two metre radius of the static position. Fourteen butterfly species were seen in the bright sunshine with the glare on the digital camera screen and the long shadows not inimical to photography. All the butterflies were flighty and would not settle. 
White Butterflies

31 July 2003
Painted Lady on BuddleiaThere were 67 Mute Swans and one Australian Black Swan on the river at low tide south of the Toll Bridge and visible from the riverbank by Adur Metal Works. Four of the Mute Swans could be seen by Adur Recreation Ground under the Railway Viaduct.

First impressions seemed to indicate an even greater influx of Painted Lady Butterflies than yesterday as a half a dozen danced around one Buddleia bush on the cyclepath south of the Toll Bridge. The predominant breezes were averaged from 225° azimuth (SSW).  I did not explore further, but there were the reddish Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies, one Large Skipper, Large Whites and the usual Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns
The butterfly copse (TQ 209 063) near the Waterworks Road added Red Admirals, a Comma, a Peacock Butterfly, and the first settled Holly Blue of the second brood this year. The path to Mill Hill added a Small White and another Large  Skipper.
The A27 embankment south-east of the Mill Hill bridge produced a dozen Common Blues, including females, and one male Chalkhill Blue. Then after 45 minutes, it began to rain.
That was thirteen species of butterfly on a small detour.

Chalkhill Blues (Photograph by Andy Horton)30 July 2003
On an overcast, cool, with brief sunny spells, light rain at times, it would be thought of as unpromising day for butterflies. However, the whole of the lower slopes of Mill Hill were alive with the amorous flutterings of an estimated 2,000 + Chalkhill Blue Butterflies reaching densities of three every square metre (two males and one female) on plenty of occasions. The lower slopes cover nearly five acres of ground so the estimate is a conservative one. This year, the numbers must approach the historic records of thousands of Chalkhill Blues reported in the past. 
Altogether on Mill Hill and its approaches there were seventeen different species of butterflies, a new record in one day for me. An unusual second brood Dingy Skipper was recorded on the lower slopes. This butterfly was clearly viewed and there was no possibility of a mistake.

Common Blue (Photograph by Andy Horton)The prevalence of immigrant of brightly coloured Painted Lady Butterflies (40+) on the footpath through the Lancing Ring meadows with the new reddish Small Tortoiseshells (25+) leaves me to speculate that the Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies were immigrants as well, although north of The Street, Old Shoreham, a normal orange livery specimen was noted. Casual visitors to the approaches of Mill Hill and visitors to Lancing Ring should not mistake the hundred plus Common Blue Butterflies for Chalkhill Blues. Common Blue Butterflies (100+) were found mostly to the south of the A27. 
Butterfly List (Species Recorded)
Blue Butterflies of Shoreham
Adur Butterflies

Chalkhill and Common Blue Butterflies (Photograph by Andy Horton)28 July 2003
On the town side of the bridge leading to Mill Hill that transverses the main A27 road, on the east there is a small Hawthorn copse (at the top of Chanctonbury drive, north side) leading to the grasses of the trunk road steep bank. In this small garden sized plot of long grasses and scrub, two species of blue butterfly congregated sometimes fighting over the same grass head. On this cool, overcast and windy day, the commonest Common Blue Butterfly (20+) seemed very small compared to at least one, probably three or four of the larger Chalkhill Blue, together with Meadow Browns (6+) and Gatekeepers (3+).  I originally thought that Brown Argus Butterflies were present but the distinctive brown-blue-brown colour is now probably the female Common Blue Butterfly as closer examination of the photographs seemed to indicate the latter butterfly. 
Fourteen different species of butterfly were seen on Mill Hill. 
Identification Notes about the Brown Argus

Mill Hill proper added extra species in Red Admirals (2+), Painted Ladies (5+), Wall Browns (6+), Small Heaths (4+), a Marbled White, a Holly Blue (by the garden hedge just north of the bridge), a least two of the reddish Small Tortoiseshells and more Chalkhill Blues (40+).
Approaches to Mill Hill Report
Butterfly List (Full Report)
Blue Butterflies of Shoreham
Adur Butterflies

27 July 2003
There were 500+ Meadow Brown Butterflies seen with thirteen or fourteen other butterfly species including three Clouded Yellows and a handful of Chalkhill Blues seen on the southern meadows of Lancing Clump. A Wall Brown Butterfly showed an unusual faded colour. The majority of the butterflies were seen in my first walk between 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm. Long-winged Conehead Crickets were also seen. A tatty male Chalkhill Blue was photographed.
Full Report
Full Report with supplement
Friends of Lancing Ring


Small TortoiseshellThe fresh crop of Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies have appeared are exceptionally reddish in colour. Hundreds of Hoverflies, Episyrphus balteatus, make their annual appearance. With their maroon head a wasp-like abdomen it is easy to understand why they are christened the Marmalade Fly.
Adur Hoverflies

24 July 2003
The bright yellow with an unmistakable lining of black was immediately recognised as the first immigrant Clouded Yellow Butterfly of the year in the lower meadows of Lancing Clump. It was flying around energetically. The day was noted for large numbers of Red Admiral Butterflies (50+) and many of these may have been immigrants as well. Two more butterflies not recorded with the fifteen species yesterday were a single Peacock Butterfly feeding on Teasel by the Waterworks Road, Old Shoreham and the resident Comma Butterfly in the nearby copse (TQ 209 063) with a Holly Blue. The magnificent sight of the green thorax and dark blue body (abdomen) of the male Emperor Dragonfly was something to behold. Several of them frequented the Waterworks Road. A bright red male Common Darter was over the thistle-covered field by the Steyning Road (TQ 209 068)
The Teasel on the cycle path from Shoreham to Upper Beeding attracted three chirms of Goldfinches of about a dozen birds each, a colourful sight on a breezy day. 
Thirteen species of butterflies were seen and had I visited Mill Hill, I would have broken my record for species of butterflies on a single day. It seems that Small White Butterflies were not to be seen. 
Butterfly List

Brown Argus (Photograph by Andy Horton)23 July 2003
A Brown Argus Butterfly was a surprise discovery on the Slonk Hill A27 southern embankment (TQ 228 067). This is a small butterfly and despite its brown colour, when flying it looks dark blue. 
It is the first record of a Brown Argus on these Nature Notes pages.
Accompanying butterflies included Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, Red Admirals, Large Whites, one Speckled Wood, Large Skippers and a few Chalkhill Blues.
The bank contains a few clumps of Horseshoe Vetch, the food plant of the Chalkhill Blue caterpillars. A dozen female (or juvenile) Common Darter Dragonflies in an orange-brown livery were amongst taller vegetation. The grasshopper on the bank was grey-brown without a clear glimpse of green.
A Holly Blue Butterfly was seen at the top of Buckingham Park.
About fifty Common Blue Butterflies roosted on a small clump of Cocksfoot in the north-west corner of the horse's field at the top of the Street, Old Shoreham, by the footpath to Mill Hill.
Later in the afternoon the day's tally of butterflies was increased to fifteen with the additional sightings of Marbled Whites, Painted Ladies, Wall Browns, Small Heaths and just one Small Tortoiseshell.
Adur Butterflies
A male worker of Vestal Cuckoo Bumblebee, Bombus (Psithyrus) vestalis, nectared on a Scabious.


21 July 2003
Marbled White Butterfly  (Photograph by Andy Horton)Fifteen different species of butterflies in a single day is a new record for me and included 200+ Chalkhill Blues on the lower slopes of Mill Hill

Chalkhill Blue (200+)
Meadow Brown (100+)
Gatekeeper (90+)
Large Skipper (15+)
Common Blue (10+)
Red Admiral (4+)
Large White (3+)
Female Chalkhill BluePainted Lady (2+)
Wall Brown (2)
Marbled White (2+)
Small Heath (1+)
Small White (1+)
Small Skipper (1+)
Speckled Wood (1)
Comma (1) 
Brown Argus (1) REJECTED

Butterfly List

20 July 2003
Midday
Female Chalkhill BlueOver 300 Chalkhill Blue Butterflies were observed fluttering around and copulating on the lower slopes of Mill Hill and they were to be seen on the sunny day at a conservative  average of one butterfly every two square metres. At this prevalence, I got the impression that I was constantly about to step on one. My estimate for the number of Chalkhill Blues on Mill Hill was 1,200.
Butterfly Transect Method
Butterfly List (Full Report)
Early Evening Supplementary Report
Adur Butterflies

Hawk-moth Caterpillar (Photograph by Pete Weaver)19 July 2003
We've just discovered a large caterpillarin our east Shoreham garden. It was about 5 - 6 cm long, grey with a 5 mm blue horn or spike on its back at the rear. Its fairly smooth and looks like a slug with legs.
Ray Hamblett has identified the larva as that of the Lime Hawk-moth, Mimas tiliae.
The photograph was enhanced by Andy Horton so I do not know if the colours are true? 

Report and photograph by Pete Weaver on the Adur Valley EForum
UK Moths
 

Chalkhill Blue Butterflies on the Waterworks Road, Old Shoreham numbered at least five males and they could be seen immediately, on the margins amongst the ferns, just north of where the road passed under the A27 Flyover.

At least one, almost certainly more, Wall Brown Butterflies were seen amongst vegetation including Fleabane on the cyclepath on the east side of the River Adur from Old Shoreham northwards. 
Butterfly List

18 July 2003
There are loads (probably over a thousand) of Moon Jellyfish, Aurelia aurita, in Shoreham harbour, with the four pink rings (the gonads) visible in many specimens. 


The combination of the high tides and the new inlet pipe have resulted in Widewater Lagoon being in flood comparable to winter. The flood plain wild flowers (weeds) are  under threat from the saline conditions, possibly including the Sea Heath, Frankenia laevis.

17 July 2003
The humidity peaking at 92% is a high figure, possibly a record new millennium figure for the summer months as the dawn temperature drops to 18.2 ºC with a drizzle and overcast sky. This weather could be described as "muggy". The indoor temperature in my office remains at an unpleasant 30 ºC.

15 July 2003
St. Swithun's Day

A record temperature for the new millennium on Shoreham beach, 28.6 ºC was reached by 10.28 am. Just after 4:00 pm 28.7 ºC was attained and this exceeds any other shade air temperature since the records began at the start of 2000. 
My low accuracy mercury thermometer measured at outside shade temperature near Shoreham town at 5:45 pm at 28.0 ºC compared to the recorded Shoreham beach figure of 28.5 ºC.

Long-legged Spider Crabs14 July 2003
The appearance of four large Long-legged Spider Crabs on Kingston Beach was unexpected, although they have been caught in July before. The largest specimen measured 18 mm from the rear of the carapace to the eyes but the spread of legs and claws was 100 mm. Two Moon Jellyfish, Aurelia aurita, were seen.

Shoreham Beach Weather provided by Softwair Publishing14 July 2003
There was not a single cloud in the bright blue sky, not the faintest white wisp in the late afternoon. At 5:00 pm the shade temperature was recorded at 28.4 ºC, with a gentle breeze from the north-east, veering south-east after 10:00 am, it is the warmest day of the year, and the warmest day recorded by the since 29 July 2002 when 28.5 ºC was recorded, the highest this millennium since the local records began. In the hours before dawn it falls to a pleasant 18.8° C. The temperature at midnight beginning the day was 20.1 ºC. The temperature indoors at my home office rose to 31 ºC and remained at that temperature into the night. The closing midnight shade temperature was 23.3 ºC. In 1990, a temperature of 37.1ºC was recorded in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. 

14 July 2003
Time and heat (28.4 ºC) allowed just a brief detour down the Old Shoreham Waterworks Road, where the butterflies in order of appearing were a Large Skipper, a darker oil painting-style Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly, a brown coloured Comma that settled on my bicycle, followed by about dozen Large Whites, with probably some Small Whites as well, up to a score of mostly male Meadow Browns, and at least one Gatekeeper.  A Chalkhill Blue was confirmed on a thistle amongst the nettles nearer the Waterworks house where the stream running alongside the road had dried up. A handful of very blue Common Blue Butterflies, just one Red Admiral in the copse (TQ 209 063) leading to The Street, a handful of Small Skippers and one bright Painted Lady completed a surprisingly high tally in just half an hour on the edge of town. 
Total = 12 species
Tortoiseshell Colour Liveries
The Chalkhill Blue on the Old Shoreham Waterworks Road was a notable sighting. This is the first one this millennium on this rarely visited private road. In the 1970s the grass was mown and this was a notable area for Chalkhill Blues with hundreds (up to 250) frequently seen on the short grass, which was not a huge nettle patch as it is now.
Butterfly Report
Adur Butterfly List (from 14 July 2003) not recorded on Nature Notes

Chalkhill Blue on the Waterworks Road (Photograph by Andy Horton)11 July 2003
On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, at least fifty Chalkhill Blue Butterflies were flying about and not settling for long. Only a handful were on the middle and upper slopes. The Stemless Thistle was in flower, that prickly rosette that is a characteristic and slightly uncomfortable feature of the chalk sward. In the middle of the day the miniature Eyebrights show best and are ideally viewed through a magnifying glass. Pyramid Orchids were frequently seen in the central area known as the Triangle.
Eyebright (Photograph  by Andy Horton)Full Report
Adur Butterflies
On a sunny day the temperature peaked at 26.6° C.
Down on the Adur Levels, in the thistle jungle between the Steyning Road and the Waterworks (TQ 209 068) a bright red male Common Darter Dragonfly in breeding livery was impressive. A Moorhen clattered up the stream and the incongruous sight was a Great Spotted Woodpecker overhead, flying for the nearest tree. 

10 July 2003
On New Monk's Farm, Lancing there were  over a hundred Small Skippers seen, with some Large Skippers. plus a handful of Meadow Brown Butterflies and just a single Small Copper Butterfly.

The ecology of Widewater Lagoon seems to be changing. One filamentous green weed, probably Cladophora is missing and the large shoals of 3-spined Sticklebacks, Gasterosteus aculeatus, which were one of the most obvious and easily recognised feature of Widewater for the last fifty years or  more, are no longer to be seen and seem to have been replaced by small prawns. In the last week, several huge metre long Eels, Anguilla anguilla, were seen in the small pool near the input pipe thrashing about in the muddy shallows. The width of the bodies were larger than could be grabbed in one hand.

Widewater Report by Russell (Lancing)


The resident Little Egret was repeatedly feeding in the shallows, but I attempted to but I could not identify what it was feeding on. There was not an abundance of prawns in its feeding area. 
A Common Blue Butterfly fluttered around the bushes by the riverbank where the main drag of houseboats are. (This butterfly behaved like and was originally thought to be a Holly Blue, but it was probably too early for the second brood.)

9 July 2003
Night Dive
Fifty young Cuttlefish, Sepia officinalis, merged from their black egg cases in shallow water by the Brooklands outfall pipe. A large Little Cuttlefish, Sepiola atlantica, was feeding on a worm and then a beautiful Squid danced in front of my torch. There were many Eels and Bass amongst an amazing variety of juvenile fish: Bib (Pouting), Plaice, Sole, and Pollack. 

Report by Paul Parsons

5 July 2003
Evening
We dived off of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Shoreham Beach, in an area we are familiar with. There were areas that appeared like the chalk bedrock was exposed under the sand but on closer inspection was white sand? The Ragworm casts were an unusual marbled mixture of colours. The reef there was particularly stony last October 2002, but now we only see a few pebbles. The "weed" growth is still in the same area.

We saw two Common Eels but they were buried in the sand with just their heads sticking out. I have never seen this behaviour before. Whilst photographing the EelsI discovered that the sand was in fact a soft black mud which you could push your whole hand into, easily up to my wrist. The Eels were up to a metre in length. 

We saw only two young Undulate Rays. We also saw a juvenile Lumpsucker 10 mm long. with some Plaice, Sole, female Corkwing Wrasse, and a beautiful shoal of silvery herring or sprats (40 mm long ). My buddy helped a baby Cuttlefish escape from its small black egg.

Three species of sea anemone were spotted: many Sagartia troglodytes, Dahlia Anemones (10) and two Snakelocks Anemones. At a depth of four metres, the sandy areas within the weed had many exposed Sand Mason worms but the sand appeared as if it had been "brushed" all in the same direction. There were Edible Crabs and large Shore Crabs, and a display of the attractive Peacock Worms, but on the whole the reef was fairly lifeless compared to other dive sites off the Sussex coast.

Report by Paul Parsons
Common Darter (Photograph by Andy Horton)
 

Afternoon
My first (female) Common Darter, Sympetrum striolatum, of the year, displayed on the vegetation next to the stream (TQ 209 068) on the Adur flood plain north of Old Shoreham. This species is possibly the commonest and most widespread of the British dragonflies.
 
 

Green-veined White Butterflies (Photograph by Andy Horton)

Just one white butterfly made an immediate appearance. The black markings especially on the edge of the wings were particularly marked on this butterfly which made me think it was a Large White Butterfly, but subsequent observation of Large Whites have now made me identify this butterfly as the Green-veined White.
Full Report

Morning
There are a lot of small black insects around, especially the flies by Widewater Lagoon. Over Lancing town centre near the railway station, at least three Swifts, screeched and swooped low over the rooftops. Swifts could also be found over Hamme Road Allotments, Shoreham-by-Sea.

Comma Butterfly (Photograph by Andy Horton)3 July 2003
On a humid and overcast day, in the Butterfly Copse, (TQ 209 063), where the footpath leaves the Waterworks Road for Mill Hill, there was just one Comma Butterfly. I disturbed my first Emperor Dragonfly of the year, distinguished by its large size. Mill Hill produced Marbled White (20+) and Meadow Brown Butterflies (20+), plus the first Gatekeepers.
Adur Butterflies

1 July 2003
The Environmental Agency opened up the four inch slats and three workers (in two vehicles) supervised the input of seawater into Widewater Lagoon on the high spring tide. Despite this topping up the lagoon, the water level was still fractionally down compared to 11 June 2003
Looking down into the internal weir (Photograph by Andy Horton)
The specific gravity was measured (and double-checked) and the salinity calculated at 35 (ppt), which is full strength seawater. This compares to a salinity of 24 (ppt) in July 2002. A combination of the input of full strength seawater and the evaporation during the exceptionally hot spell this spring is likely to be the reason. If the fresh seawater is introduced throughout the summer at the current rate, the lagoon will become too hypersaline and be unable to support aquatic life.

Widewater Salinity Records 2002-3
Widewater Flood Plain

Viper's Bugloss and Opium Poppies
on the Widewater Flood Plain

Notes:

Wind Direction (degrees azimuth) 
The value    0° means North.
The value   90° means East.
The value 180° means South.
The value 270° means West.
 

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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