to News Reports 2005
of Widewater Lagoon Nature Reserve
is undertaken by the Widewater Management Committee who meant to discuss
aspects relating to the operation of the pipeline and other environmental
issues. The full minutes of the meeting held in the afternoon will be available
on a web page later for public scrutiny. The operational committee consists
of representatives from West Sussex County Council Rural Strategy Unit
(the Chairman is Neil Mitchell), Lancing Parish Council (principal land
owners), Friends of Widewater Lagoon (FOWL, representing the interest of
local resident groups), Shoreham & District Ornithological Society
and Adur Valley Biodiversity Network.
the noisy earth moving diggers, rusty pipelines etc., the foreshore looked
more like a building site for the rock sea defences.
new barge load of syenite (Larvikite)
rock sea defences have arrived from Norway and are being arranged on the
shore by Widewater Lagoon.
beach has been fenced off to prevent public access.
to News 2003
to Widewater Reports 2005
Swans seemed to be in a querulous mood,
one adult intimidating and attempting to frighten off another. The Redshank
and Little Egret
were also vocal. There were two large ducks
on the island. They looked distinctly marked and tame, but I do not recall
seeing them before.
old dessicated mushroom (photographed on the right) found on an old wooden
groyne on the shingle part of Shoreham Beach near the kiosk at the eastern
end of Widewater Lagoon car park was possibly a species of Agrocybe.
It was incongruous on the beach, but it looked like a common species on
a poor condition, so I did not stop to examine it closely.
Swan cygnets seen near the bridge had
nearly lost of their brown feathers and were virtually all white, the remaining
dark feathers were on their back.
unidentified wader was seen in the shallows just to the east of the footbridge
over Widewater Lagoon. I really did not get a chance to get a look in the
poor light, but it was about the size of a Grey
Plover, but it had a slightly longer black
(or dark) beak, and it was in water deep enough to obscure its legs, picking
up visible mouthfuls of mud in its beak, quite unlike the behaviour of
the common wading birds seen around.
Egret, Black-headed Gull and Turnstone on Widewater
Collins on 4
reflection, I think this is more likely to have been a Turnstone
than anything else, the deeper water hiding its orange legs, and its beak
looking longer than it was.
been reported feeding on Widewater, undoubtably encouraged because of the
low water levels because of the lack of rain. The Sanderlings
pitter-patter over the beach sand on a low spring tide, but on the neaps
and at high tide, I am not sure where they go?
Egrets were feeding in the shallows. The
low level of the lagoon, measuring only about 1 metre 35 cm on the gauge,
may have been favourable to them (although four Little
Egrets have been seen before when the lagoon
was in flood). There was a Redshank
present as well on the spit at the eastern end, and this bird has been
seen before at all states of flood of the lagoon.
on the Widewater flood plain that had turned spectacularly red in the last
two years, still remains largely green this year. Although the reason could
be the elevated lagoon water level because of the new pipeline from the
sea, this is not proven or even likely to be the cause. The weather is
just as likely to be the reason. Last year the reds were dramatic on the
Adur estuary as well, but this year they were
were two chirms of Goldfinches
by the scrub next to Widewater of eight
and five birds respectively. A Cormorant
was diving in the lagoon and a Little Egret
fishing in the shallows, as usual.
the weather changes the birds are on the move. Two chirms of Goldfinches
arrived One flock over the wild wasteland area between Widewater
Lagoon and the beach huts and the sea, numbered at least 16 finches but
in the second group over Lancing Beach Green there were only eight birds.
There were a handful of pipits, looking more like Rock
Pipits than the commoner Meadow
couple of Mute Swans
appeared to be having a bit of a barney in the shallows of Widewater Lagoon
at the eastern end.
may have been a quarrel with intruders. This years' cygnets are still greyish
salinity readings taken by West Sussex County
Council Rural Strategy Unit with the electronic
meter measured 34.7‰
which is full strength seawater. This matched my hydrometer readings from
previous years since the pipeline has been installed.
Strong Breeze (Force 6) and showers were from
the south and south-east.
have been seen again in Widewater Lagoon. An adult 3-spined
Stickleback swam in open water under the
bridge, between the fronds of Enteromorpha
green seaweeds and the straggly Ruppia
have not been seen regularly for about two years. The
depth of water in the lagoon measured 1 metre 42 cm on the gauge.
pale blueish looking dragonfly flew by too
quickly to be identified. It could have been a Southern
Wagtail was a surprise and colourful visitor
to the western end of Widewater Lagoon. This migrant bird is seen on passage
through Shoreham and Lancing and there has been one report of a bird staying
around for a few days.
immigrant Clouded Yellow Butterfly
fluttering over Widewater Lagoon, south Lancing, was a surprise.
depth gauge by the bridge read 1 metre 55 cm.
Lagoon was at a high water level after the spring tides. John
Knight (West Sussex CC) will be photographing
the height as part of the monitoring of the water levels of the lagoon.
If the level gets too high, it hampers the ability of wading birds to feed.
everywhere are on the move, with flocks of Starlings
of over one hundred over the Hasler Estate (north of Widewater) and three
flying around Widewater car park east, before embarking on their long migration
are two groups of Mute Swans
on Widewater Lagoon, one with six cygnets and the other group with either
six or seven cygnets. The Cladophora
fluffy seaweed, also known as Blanketweed
now visible in the lagoon, with Ulva
(green algae) and Ruppia
(flowering plant). The small fish amongst the straggly Ruppia
were Common Gobies,
minitus, and not Sticklebacks.
There were several insects on the surface of the saline lagoon, which I
have not identified at the time of writing. No prawns were seen.
had found it worthwhile to visit the lagoon.
sambucaria, was a surprise and colourful
observation at the western end of Widewater Lagoon. This spectacular moth
may be regarded as nothing special by moth enthusiasts, but to the ordinary
nature spotter it is an unusual and usually unrecognised insect when first
seen. This is the first report on these Nature
Notes pages of a nocturnal native moth with a short flying time in
by David Wood
Egrets all actively feeding in the shallows
of Widewater Lagoon was an unprecedented number as there is usually only
one, and rarely more than three.
Egret feeding in the shallow separate
lagoon to the west of Widewater (joined up when the lagoon is in flood)
was larger than the usual birds, with a long white crest and without a
blue of the Viper's Bugloss
was looking particuarly impressive this year on the flood plain of the
lagoon. It was accompanied in flower by Yellow-horned
Poppy and Opium
Swan family with their seven cygnets swam
amongst where the straggly weed Ruppia was seen again in
the shallow parts of the lagoon near the submerged Tamarisk north
of the bridge near the multiple islands. The Ruppia seeds may have been
introduced by birds.
foot long (30 cm) pencil thin snake with a forked tongue was reported from
a garden on the edge of Widewater Lagoon. It was an Atlantic
Eel, Anguilla anguilla.
Heron was fishing east of the bridge over
Widewater Lagoon. It took off in two short flights, on the second occasion
mobbed by a Lesser Black-backed Gull.
Herons used to
be regular visitors to the lagoon but they have not been seen by me for
several months. The Little Egret
was present as usual. The water level has risen with the latest spring
tides. (The pipeline is open.)
the pipeline still being open the level is down to 39 mm leaving muddy
margins and the bar near the island exposed. A black and white dog disturbed
a pair of Ringed Plovers
which may be nesting on the Thrift
covered flood plain.
||There are now seven cygnets,
the offspring of the parent Mute Swans that nested on Widewater
were at least two Little Egrets
feeding on the lagoon margins, but in the shallow water, there was not
the thousands of prawns normally seen, just a score or so were visible.
Near the pipeline inlet a dozen
microps, could be seen darting to and fro over the silt.
bloom of plankton, probably Phaeocystis
pouchetti, has turned the River
Adur almost orange and considerably reduced visibility in the enriched
sea. The colonies of this flagellate organism Phaeocystis can
be seen in the water at over 1 mm long and plankton will be continuous
for miles of sea water. The sea is then by various local terms like Slobweed
or Baccy Water because of its appearance. When the plankton dies it can
create hypoxic conditions and generally the inshore fauna is diminished
in quantity and variety.
pipeline is on a setting that is not letting
in much water so the plankton bloom is less likely to pollute the lagoon.
This is fortunate*
the plankton bloom is excessive and it would have caused an unsightly mess
(the remains of the dying plankton looks like sewage) in the lagoon.
possibility of plankton blooms in May and June was included in my first
and second reports (before the bloom
Final Report (Second Draft)
year ago a large expanse of the Widewater flood plain
was bare gravel because it all had been churned over to construct the new
was expected to be swift and one year later the shingle is covered by the
blue-violet of Ivy leaved Toadflax,
with splatterings of other ground-hugging plants like Scarlet
Pimpernel, small patches of Stonewort,
clumps of Sea Campion,
one or two Bird's Foot Trefoil,
and a few small Sea Kale plants. Sea
Thrift produced the usual attractive sweeps
over the gravel, but none of this had actually sprouted forth from the
disturbed ground. A Ringed Plover
was well camouflaged against the shingle and plants.
were thousands of small prawns, probably Palaemon
elegans but there were still no 3-spined
Sticklebacks, Gasterosteus aculeatus,
to be seen. There was one new very small fish species though: the Common
microps, which was to be expected* with the new pipeline and might
have even have occurred before. (* It is found in Hove Lagoon.) A handful
were seen, but there are probably hundreds.
the Widewater Lagoon Management Committee meeting, I compiled an article
on part of the ecology of Widewater Lagoon relating to salinity,
concluding that the seawater pipeline intake would confer advantages to
the biodiversity of the lagoon during the summer months but would show
little or no benefits during the winter and none around the time of the
equinoctial spring tides.
Is Widewater Lagoon turning into a Seawater Inlet?
spring tides had raised the water level in Widewater Lagoon to 65 mm.
Campion (illustrated above) was in flower
on the lagoon flood plain.
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,
it did not call.
chirm of Goldfinches
flying from the vegetation between the beach huts and the lagoon numbered
about 16 birds, which is a larger flock than normal for March.
the ridge of the shingle by the beach huts a female
Redstart stood out where I would expect
to see a Ringed Plover.
A pair of Ringed Plovers
were together on gravel by the pipeline outlet into the lagoon with a feeding
Egret. Another Little
Egret stood statuesque like a Heron
in the mist, just to the west of the bridge, (where the gardens were before
World War II).
been seen on the beach in the last few days.
Wheatear reports, including the beach next to Widewater
will come as no surprise to rockpoolers that
marine life is coming in through the pipeline from the sea to Widewater
Lagoon, the first spores of seaweeds growing on the rocks, was a brown
species prevalent in Shoreham harbour. It is
not the most attractive of algae and it readily breaks off into loose tufts.
I think this group of brown seaweeds is Maiden's
sp. and similar species which are difficult
for non-specialists to identify to species level. This seaweed
may be able to tolerate salinity lower than full strength seawater as it
will sometimes be found in tidal pools. Some of the small
prawns were getting tangled up with small
tufts of this seaweed and swimming in a jerky peculiar manner.
lagoon now appears to be full strength seawater at a salinity
of 35‰ (ppt). Widewater Lagoon may now no
longer be regarded as brackish but more like a fully saline seawater inlet
like the canal section of Shoreham harbour. The
water cannot flow out by a direct route but the lagoon bottom is porous
or has holes where the water runs out rapidly when in flood.
amount of suspended sediment in the seawater coming through the pipe and
being deposited in the lagoon near the outlet is less than I expected.
Grebes (Dabchicks) were on Widewater Lagoon.
the prefabricated huts on Golden Sands Caravan Park, near Widewater
Lagoon, Lancing, a female Black Redstart
was recognised. This bird was not been recorded before on these Nature
Notes pages and has probably been overlooked as the bird is plain in colour.
This bird is usually a fairly common Winter
UP TO 2003
Address for sending in wildlife reports from the lower Adur valley
a selection will be included and only reports with the name of the reporter
over 40 mm of rain the previous day and over night, the water level of
Widewater Lagoon on the gauge by the bridge is 1 metre 66 cm, the highest
level recorded in 2003.
area between the lagoon and the beach is particularly good for small birds
(not so many in the last couple of years)
in autumn prior to migration)
in autumn prior to migration)
Action Plan for Sussex on Saline Lagoons has been published by WSCC.
Plan for Saline Lagoons
Biodiversity: Notes on Action Plan
Saline Lagoons: Links for more Information