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Adur Nature Notes 2004

April 2004


Reports by Andy Horton from personal observation unless otherwise indicated

Adur Levels

Stream near (west of) the Waterworks, Old Shoreham


28 April 2004
It was an extraordinary weather, a cloudless blue sky, sunny, a temperatures up to 19.6ºC, a gentle breeze, but in the far north-east there was a grey sky and distant thunder rumbled throughout the afternoon. 
There were just a handful of butterflies on the wing.
Adur Butterfly List 2004

27 April 2004
An escaped small aviary bird which turned to be a Zebra Finch landed on some weedy ground in north Lancing next to me and proceeded to peck at seeds it found there. It looked a bit dishevelled. (pic)

It was not until I almost stepped on it that the large speckled brown bird took to the air with a flurry as the heavyweight took a second to become airborne from the Creeping Thistle and Stinging Nettle in the narrow field next to stream that leads from the Steyning Road (A283) to the Waterworks. It was probably a hen Pheasant
Full Report
The streamside vegetation housed a badly injured Emperor Moth, Pavonia pavonia, which was too damaged to fly away and an Egg Yolk Fungus, Bolbitius vitellinus, that was so dried out that it had gone white as straw.

Adur Levels 2004

26 April 2004
Pyrausta nigrata (Photograph by Andy Horton, April 2004)As the first Horseshoe Vetch and Milkwort were beginning to flower on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, I observed the first skipper butterflies of the year. An amorous pair of Grizzled Skippers danced around the bramble borders, with at least one Dingy Skipper and two or more Brimstones. The day flying micromoth Pyrausta nigrata could conceivably be mistaken for the Grizzled Skipper. This moth is slightly more prevalent of the two. In the scrub in the north-west of Mill Hill there were two Speckled Wood Butterflies and a single Peacock Butterfly. On the open upper slopes there was another Brimstone and a handful of Small Tortoiseshells, orange in colour but not fresh, the orange dulled by age. In Shoreham town there were a handful of Small White Butterflies and a few Holly Blues. This gives a total of eight butterflies for the day. 
Adur Butterflies Flight Times
Adur Butterflies
UK Moths Yahoo Group
UK Leps Yahoo Group
On the upper slopes of Mill Hill the Morels were dried out and at least one of two toadstools appeared to be eaten out from the inside (they are hollow inside). 
Fungi of Shoreham
Mill Hill Nature Reserve

25 April 2004
An almost clear sky and although the highest air temperature of the year passed the magic 20 ºC mark on the coast, reaching a maximum of  20.8 ºC at 5:15 pm. The shade temperature in town at 6:15 pm measured 20.6 ºC. 

Holly Blue Butterfly on Bay (Photograph by Andy Horton)24 April 2004
A resident Holly Blue Butterfly and a passing male Orange Tip Butterfly graced my south Lancing garden (TQ 186 044).

I flushed a couple of Red Partridges hiding up in some cleared trees on New Monks Farm adjacent to the private road on the western edge of this large wasted area. The birds, which were distinctly red, flew off rapidly towards the east. 

23 April 2004
A male Orange Tip Butterfly and a Green-veined White Butterfly were seen in my Shermanbury garden. These were both first of the year. The Dripping Tap Bird (Coal Tit) is very noisy with its non-stop dripping sounds. This is not as annoying as the Rooks in the trees. A female Pheasant has a nest in a bush. I have heard scratching from the bush from where I nearly stepped on her a few days ago. The male Pheasant strolled about just outside the back patio doors.

Upper Adur East (Shermanbury Area) Nature Pages
Adur Levels 2004

Five species of butterfly have been sighted in the vicinity of in my south Lancing garden (TQ 186 044): Small White, Brimstone, Holly Blue, Peacock and Comma. This is the first time I have noted all five in the garden on the same day. This the first Comma in the Adur coastal area in 2004. 

Lancing Nature
Butterflies of Lancing

22 April 2004
There was a considerable amount of bird activity on the shingle close to the beach huts near Shoreham Beach Green. I fastened my binoculars and tried to find the birds that were well camouflaged against the pebbles. The first birds seen were a handful of Wheatears very alert and upright. There was too much human disturbance and there were two groups of much smaller birds. The first turned out to be House Sparrows but the second group were more vocal and restless. One of the birds sang from the roof of one of the beach huts and then its red speckly breasts revealed these birds as Linnets

The white water lily moved in the green water of the pond in the back garden of 40 The Drive (near Buckingham Park), (TQ  219 063), and I was astonished to see the ungainly swimming of a Smooth Newt, Triturus vulgaris, which I had never seen in the pond before. It is always a mystery how newts find their ponds: is it by chance wanderings or do they have preferences? 

Smooth Newt

There were no frog tadpoles this year so I am not sure what it will feed on. The only plants were a floating Water Soldier and Duckweed
Town & Gardens 2004
Freshwater Life of North-western Europe Smart Group

21 April 2004
Minutes before sunset about 8:00 pm, in a most extraordinary display of over a thousand birds that flew over the downs above Highdown, Southwick, in a large black flock that swirled in an undulating chain over half a mile long. It took two or three minutes for the birds to fly over in groups of about ten, each followed by a small gap at a height of about 25 metres (very rough estimate). These birds were larger than Starlings (although it was hard to judge their size) and without the white colour of seagulls. The birds flew out to sea and disappeared.

Report by Mike Burtt
Although they did not fly like Starlings, the idea of the huge flock feeding on the downs and then flying back to their roost on the West Pier, Brighton, seems the most likely explanation. 

Morel20 April 2004
It was the long probing beak on the short turf of a Rook on the top of Mill Hill that gave it away. Its grey face was apparent even before I fastened my binoculars on this solitary corvid. Only about one in a thousand large black corvids locally are Rooks, the rest are Crows with Jackdaws classed as small. 
A solitary mushroom was amongst the still short grass near a Hawthorn bush. I recognised it immediately as a Morel, Morchella esculenta, because of its unusual distinctive appearance. I had not seen one before and although an edible species, I left it in its place just south of the car park.
Adur Fungi: Fruiting Times
Fungi of Shoreham

17 April 2004
Goldfinches are not common garden visitors (at least not in some parts of Shoreham town) so a pair visiting the sunflower feeder in my south Lancing garden (TQ 186 044) at 11:35 am were worth a mention. 

Speckled Wood Butterfly16 April 2004
The first Speckled Wood Butterfly of the year was recorded on the footpath between the Lancing College entrance road going towards Hoe Cottages on the route to Lancing Clump
Adur Butterflies Flight Times
Adur Butterflies

Amongst the trees of Barton's Wood to the east of Lancing Clump one small bird of many with a black head (not covering its eye) and a grey breast was was picked out for identification: I was surprised to see a dozen or more Blackcaps in the woods near the eastern car park. 

Blackthorn was blossoming in profusion. 

15 April 2004
Three Whimbrels were seen on the River Adur near the Toll Bridge.

Whimbrel Report 2003
Adur Estuary 2004

Dog Violets on the Shoreham bank (mid-April 2004)A warmer than usual April afternoon, reached 17.6 ºC, and brought the nectar seeking insects out. A Common Lizard, Zootoca vivipara, skittered across the footpath just south-west of the bridge over the A27 on the route to Mill Hill. Dog Violets showed better on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, with Red Campion, Daffodils and Bluebells in flower above the ridge on the upper slopes. A Kestrel hovered over the ridge and it dived, wings pinned close to its body for an impressive display. Brown-tail, Euproctis chrysorrhea, Moth caterpillars clambered over a Hawthorn, and it is these caterpillars that weave the white tent or cocoon (pic). 
Mill Hill Reports 2004 (Link)
Violets of Mill Hill

14 April 2004
The first Holly Blue Butterfly of the year is seen in my south Lancing garden (TQ 186 044) at 3:50 pm.

Lancing Nature Notes
Adur Butterfly List 2004

Small White Butterflies and Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies fluttered on a sunny day with a blue sky and scarcely a wisp of cloud, the air temperature reached 19.1 ºC at 1:34 pm. These butterflies were in their ones and twos over the gardens, but were most noted down over the green open wharfage space at Fishersgate (Fishersgate Bank) opposite Shoreham Harbour Power Station.
Southwick Wildlife

13 April 2004
A small greenish-brown bird made a short flight immediately in front of me as I cycled past Widewater. It was nestled down amongst the shingle and its camouflage was not all that successful. When it scrambled to action stations it looked exhausted. This bird was most likely an immigrant Chiffchaff, but it did not call.
Adur Coastal
A Long-tailed Tit in a bright plumage flew a metre or so in front of me and then landed in a bush at the entrance of the layby near Withy Patch, Lancing. I usually think of this tiny bird as one in small flocks of a dozen or more birds in winter only as I have not seen signs of their large nests in local trees. Fifteen minutes later I spotted the silhouette of another one flying between the bushes south-east of Old Shoreham Toll Bridge
Adur Levels

12 April 2004
Steatoda sp. Spider (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)Clearing out my shed in south Lancing (TQ 186 044) produced a variety of spiders. There are over 650 different species of spider recorded in Britain. The photographed specimen was identified as a Steatoda grossa, known as the Dark Comb footed Spider or False Black Widow, but with sheer number of species of spiders, and with some of them very close to each in appearance, it is often a problem in identifying them for the generalist wildlifer. This predatory spider has an unpleasant bite
Spiders of Lancing
British Spider Thumbnails
British Spiders web page
British Wild Spider Yahoo Group
A small ladybird was black with just the two visible red spots. This seems to be the Kidney-spot Ladybird, Chilocorus renipustulatus (pic). 
Ladybird Images

11 April 2004
The hoverfly Syrphus ribesii visited my back garden in south Lancing (TQ 186 044). This is a common species. 

Hoverflies of Lancing (including a photograph)
Adur Hoverflies
Lancing Nature

9 April 2004

Photograph by Jan Hamblett

The splendidly coloured Emperor Moth, Pavonia pavonia, rested among the grasses on Mill Hill. It was discovered by Katherine Hamblett and Tacita French at the top of the lower slopes. The feeding plants for the caterpillars varies according to location: it could be Bramble, Hawthorn, Elder, Creeping Cinquefoil or a wide selection.

Report by Jan Hamblett (Lancing Nature) on UK-Leps (Yahoo Group)

8 April 2004
Although small specks through the binoculars, three Great Crested Grebes now displayed distinctive crests as they were seen resting on the calm sea off the Church of the Good Shepherd, Shoreham Beach
Marine Life (Sussex Sea Life)

5 April 2004
Dogwhelk on an Oyster (Photograph by Andy Horton)A single Butterfish, Pholis gunnellus, hid under a rock on Kingston Beach. A single dirty grey Dogwhelk, Nucella lapillus, (a predatory gastropod, snail-like, mollusc) was in the middle of laying egg capsules under another rock at mid-tide level amongst the mussel beds. This was surprising as the first recorded observation of the egg capsules on Kingston Beach. The Dogwhelks were not seen on this beach from 1971 to 2001 and the absence may be because of TBT pollution, which prevented the Dogwhelks from breeding. 
Trouble with Dogwhelks
Lancing Beach 2004
British Marine Life Study Society

3 - 4 April 2004
After two days of sunshine and temperatures up 17° C, the rain and Strong Breezes (gusting to Gale Force 8) returned.

2 April 2004
Tottington Wood south-east of Small Dole provided the first Comma Butterfly of the year, together with a couple of snakes curled up on a bank in the sun. These were not identified but thought to be Adders.

Report by Allen Pollard via the UK-Leps EForum

1 April 2004
An interesting and rather disturbing observation was discussed by four different people tonight, and this concerns the diminishing local Common Frog population in Shoreham-by-Sea. In two garden ponds in the back garden of 40 The Drive (near Buckingham Park), (TQ  219 063), in Gordon Avenue near Shoreham town, and in Adur Drive near Old Shoreham, there has been an absence of frog spawn being laid this year. In the first two cases it has been the second year in succession that no spawn has been laid, when in previous years the excessive spawn was too much for the small ponds, and in the first location over a hundred adult frogs were found on one occasion in the garden. All three ponds have been regular spawning areas for frogs for at least a decade and for over 20 years for two of them. All four observers reported dead frogs. 

Common Frog in Lancing (2004)

I thought I observed a marked absence or reduction of frog spawn on the Adur Levels last year but I did not investigate this properly. 
There are a few other reports from other parts of England saying that their frogs are absent this year. It is not enough to detect a trend. At least one pond in Shoreham has surplus frog tadpoles. 
Garden Web Page
Town & Gardens 2004
Freshwater Life of North-western Europe "Smart Group"

March 2004 Reports

Mill Hill 2004 (with new map)
History of Mill Hill
Mill Hill News Reports 2004

Chalk Downs 2004
Flora of Shoreham-by-Sea

MultiMap Aerial Photograph of the Adur Levels and Downs

Urban Wildlife Webring

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

Link to Adur Valley Nature Notes 2003Latest 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

Sussex and the Downs Smart Group  (Discussion Group)

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EMail Address for sending in wildlife reports from the lower Adur valley
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Only a selection will be included and only reports with the name of the reporter

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