Link to Adur Valley Nature Notes 2003

 Adur Flood Plain
 Chalk Downs
 Coastal Fringe
 Intertidal (Seashore)
 River Adur Estuary
 River Adur Flood Plain
 Sea (off Sussex)
 Town & Gardens
 Widewater Lagoon
 Lancing Beach


Adur Valley Wildlife

 Shoreham Beach: Coastal Fringe

Shoreham Beach is a shingle spit about three miles long, separated from town of Shoreham-by-Sea (Sussex) by the River Adur, which been has deflected eastwards by the longshore drift over the centuries. Wood and rock groynes have been installed to stabilise the moving shingle and to minimise erosion and prevent flooding. 

From the turn of the century the creeping permanent development and re-development of the natural fringing beach at Shoreham has gradually covered the main shingle bank, leaving a narrow strip, squeezed between houses and sea. 

This flat strip of seemingly lifeless pebbles that has once more held out against a winter sea, is set to surprise and delight us, as seeds and roots of last years flowering respond to longer days, and find nourishment and moisture.   In April and early May they burst upon us with a brilliant flowering border adapted to the harsh conditions.

by David Wood (Shoreham Beach)

CormorantBirds of the Shingle

    Ringed Plover
    Black-headed Gull
    Pied Wagtail

Viper's Bugloss (blue) with Tree Mallow (Photograph by Andy Horton)
Greenfinches, Goldfinches and Linnets  arrive in large mixed flocks, Greenfinches predominating.  They find a a good supply of seed from the Sea Kale and also from the Dock that grows here.  How the finches crack open the Sea Kale seed is a bit of a mystery.

Also we do have regular visits from Wheatear, and occasionally Black Redstarts.

The Crows are a serious menace to Ringed Plover, predating eggs and chicks.  They are probably the most significant limiting factor on Ringed Plover breeding success.

by David Wood (Shoreham Beach)



24 November 2003
There were a couple of birdwatchers on the shingle beach, each with high powered scopes on rigid tripods (the stability is important even in a gentle breeze) looking out to sea. One of them reported thirty or so Guillemots and Razorbills flying past which seems what could be expected at this time of the year. 

13 November 2003
Foraging on the shingle just above the reach of the gently lapping sea, or just perched on the tideline, a small flock of twenty Turnstones between the rock groynes just east of the Church of the Good Shepherd (on Shoreham Beach), were the most I had seen in Shoreham together. 
There was still one or two isolated Thrift plants in flower by the beach huts. 

9 October 2003
A couple of Eider Ducks were seen at low tide on the sand by the outfall pipe near Brooklands Boating Lake on the Lancing/Worthing border.

Report by June Brown

7 October 2003
On the syenite rock groynes on Southwick beach, four Turnstones flew off at my approach, but I was able to get within throwing distance, their red legs and black and white wing patterns very clearly seen. 

19 September 2003
The mildly poisonous berries of the Bittersweet turn from green to red in autumn. 
Rock Samphire

2 September 2003
Large White Butterflies (50+) were common on the Sea Kale on the shingle beach from Shoreham to Lancing, and ventured into gardens to feed on Buddleia. There was a large amount of black on the upper wings of the female butterflies, that were often chased by one or more, usually two males, a distinct pitch black on the wing corners, with two large large black spots as well. 
Large White Video Brief (click on this text)
The shingle shore had lost its summer sparkle. The Yellow-horned Poppy was looking bedraggled, the yellow dull and dirty but it was about the only plant in flower. 

30 August 2003
A single Wheatear was on the railings parallel (same latitude) to Carrot's Cafe between the road and Southwick beach (on the approach from Shoreham Harbour lock gates). I managed a good naked eye view of the white rear and pale pinkish breast. The bird looked plump and well fed enough for the long journey back to Africa. 

10 July 2003
About a dozen Gatekeeper Butterflies and about the same number of Small Skippers*  blown about in the breeze, and up to a score of Cabbage Whites (species not differentiated) fluttered over the shingle vegetation near the Church of the Good Shepherd. The white butterflies will be very common for the rest of the summer around the Sea Kale. (*confirmed, although a few Large Skippers could be included.)
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.)
Adur Butterflies

28 June 2003
The Childing Pink, Petrorhagia nanteuilii, is in flower at Silver Sands (TQ 229 048) on Shoreham Beach. There are about fifty of these tiny easily overlooked plants, three or four with the distinctive double flowers. The first plants must have been flowering for up to a couple of weeks ago, and they are not yet in their prime. This site is one of just two remaining sites for this flower in Sussex (the other is a larger area at Pagham), although they may have been planted elsewhere. Kidney Vetch was also observed on the tiny patch of dunes. 

The yellow flowers are of the Silver Ragwort

20 June 2003
The Sea Thrift has faded and now it is the Viper's Bugloss that makes an extensive and brilliant blue display, complimented by the Yellow-horned Poppy, Common Mallow, and Tree Mallow.

11 June 2003
Shoreham Beach is now, arguably, at its colourful best with the Yellow-horned Poppy Common Mallow, and Viper's Bugloss enriching the colour variety.

A few butterflies fluttered around and I made a note of a Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly that settled. Buff-tailed Bumblebees harnessed the shingle flowers, the Tree Mallow in particular. 

29 May 2003
This wild Geranium plant is the same colour as the Childing Pink (not in flower yet) and also found on the Silver Sands but it is a different plant: Geranium molle with the book name of Dove's-foot Crane's-bill. This plant could outcompete the rare Childing Pink but it shows no signs of doing so quite yet.

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

Report by Malcolm Ward
NB: Wall Lizards were released by a herpetologist on to Shoreham beach several years ago. 
Old Fort Lizards

24 May 2003

Red Valarian, Shoreham Beach west (Photograph by Andy Horton)

Shoreham beach is in colourful bloom, with the naturalised alien Red Valerian particularly noticeable in contrast to the white flowers of the Sea Kale (visited by a Small White Butterfly), the pink of the Sea Thrift, the yellow of the Sow Thistle, the blue of Viper's Bugloss (only an occasional flower so far), all in contrast to the various shades of brown of the pebbles.

Tree Mallow (Photograph by Andy Horton)14 May 2003
A couple of Wheatears on Lancing Beach Green were the first I had seen this spring. 
Tree Mallow was in flower on the cyclepath to the east of the green. 

12 May 2003
There is some rather puzzling engineering work going on on the shingle foreshore at the eastern of Widewater Lagoon, which seems to also involve an offshore ship of some kind. Shingle and water is being pumped over a small section of the beach.

The photograph on the left shows what looks like mainly coloured water coming out the pipeline which is discolouring the sea, but a lesser extent than the water discharges from Shoreham harbour on to Southwick beach. 

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

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

Shingle Flowers of Shoreham Beach

19 March 2003
A steady stream of orange-tailed bumblebees were observed flying eastwards over the shingle beach to the seaward edge of Widewater Lagoon. Over a period of two hours, a bee must have passed every 30 seconds and I estimated the total numbers passing at about 136. Later in the afternoon a smaller fly-pass occurred. 

Report by Bob Kent (Lancing) via the Lancing Nature Smart Group
NB: The species was probably the Red-tailed (Jewel) Bumble Bee, Bombus lapidarius.

7 February 2003
A couple of Purple Sandpipers were on the Inner East Pier (by the Old Fort) of Shoreham Harbour, a couple of hours before high water.

Report by Chris Barfield via the Sussex Birds Yahoo Group

21 January 2003
Due southerly winds up the Gale Force 7 on this exceptionally breezy day. But the strandline showed nothing special. A dozen egg purses of the Thornback Ray (Mermaid's Purses) were washed up in the space of 25 metres on the Old Fort beach. By Ferry Road beach, Shoreham, over a dozen Cuttlefish bones lay scattered about with the flotsam in the space of 25 metres. These are Sepia officinalis as only this, the commonest of the large cuttlefish are found in Sussex seas. 
BMLSS Cuttlefish and Cuttlebones
BMLSS Beachcombing

16 January 2003
A small wren-sized bird flew just like a wren and it looked a bit like a miniature chaffinch but with a much more colourful head. It was in the greenery at the sea end of a large garden at the eastern end (TQ 186 037) of Lancing Beach Green. Alas, the sighting was very brief, but this was my first ever observation of a Goldcrest, the smallest British bird. (The bird looked to me more like a Firecrest, but this latter bird is 25 times less likely than the former.)

20 December 2002
A quick look over at the rock groynes I spied an Oystercatcher perched on the new rock boulders at Lancing, on the shore by Widewater. On an unusually deserted promenade I flushed out a group of beautiful Goldfinches and some very raucous Sparrows.

Report by Jan Hamblett via the the Adur Valley EForum

12 December 2002
A flick of the white, or grey, outer tail feathers as I think it was a Meadow Pipit that flew between the beach huts to the new rock groynes on the shingle beach at Lancing (TQ 204 042) adjacent to the east end of the flooded Widewater Lagoon. My identification was based mainly on the repeated call as it flew away. Could it have been a Water Pipit?
Trouble with Pipits Identification
Rock and Water Pipits (Identification Hints)
Rock & Water Pipits Messages

7 November 2002
Near the Old Fort (TQ 233 045), Shoreham beach, on the strandline to the west of the harbour pier, five Turnstones in black (actually dark brown) with grey-white breasts and distinctive red legs and large feet, were foraging amongst the accumulated seaweed and occasional dead Dogfish, seashells, broken fishing pots and single dried out Mermaid's Purse (Thornback Ray). 

Photograph for identification by Andy Horton

The Turnstones could be seen very clearly and closer than other waders, confident of their own camouflage which was not nearly as efficient as that of the Ringed Plover or Pied Wagtail, the commoner birds of the shingle beach and strandline in the colder months. The bill is shorter than that of the Purple Sandpiper and the underneath of the Turnstone is pure white. Then to my surprise I disturbed a Red Admiral Butterfly amongst the seaweed. The anglers were catching Whiting, Flounders and small Bass from the harbour arm.

31 October 2002
The sudden flight of a "little brown bird" with a glimpse of the white outer tail feathers but in an unusual place on Lancing beach (flying from Beach Green to the shingle banks) (TQ 185 037) where the bird perched on a wooden sea defence structure above high tide level and I could see the full brown speckled colour of this bird, which is rarely possibly in the meadows. It looked larger than a sparrow (size favours a Rock Pipit). My favourite identification is a Water Pipit, although it was probably a Meadow Pipit. (The other uncommon winter visitor pipit on this coast is the Scandinavian Rock Pipit, but this is a lighter coloured bird, noticeable as a Rock Pipit because of its grey outer tail feathers.)
Chirms of 20+ Goldfinches flew around their usual bushes between Widewater Lagoon and the sea, and in adjoining bushes, the House Sparrows made a cacophonic racket as a Kestrel flew overhead.

19 October 2002
A chirm of over 30 Goldfinches flocked near the Church of Good Shepherd on Shoreham beach.

5 October 2002
Down the beach this morning to check the sea state for diving when I noticed I was being watched by a seal, bobbing in front of me. I first saw it in the surge five metres from the shore, in front of the new sea defence works, east of the Widewater Lagoon. A fisherman in a boat must have just passed the seal moments before I had arrived, maybe he gave the seal some titbits?
It was a Harbour (Common) Seal, Phoca vitulina, as I have photographed Grey Seals many times and this seal is different.

Previous Seal Report 2002
Seas off Sussex
Grey Seal Report 1996

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. 

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.

Photograph by Ray Hamblett

It was extraordinary to see how much effort went in to get one piece of rock to fit exactly the right position at the top of the newly formed mound. Imagine having to build a rockery with pieces that weigh several tonnes each. All the exposed pieces, it seems, must be secure and form an overall smooth appearance, so that if you take a line and hold it against the mound, no individual rocks break the line or leave a large hollow. Or perhaps imagine if it were rendered with cement, a rock would not protrude through. That seems to be the degree to which construction was taken. One piece of stone was tried, rolled, twisted, turned and finally rejected and another selected and the process repeated until just the right fit was obtained. There must be a huge safety factor at stake here. If one piece of rock was not quite secure, a person could be trapped and maimed by an unexpected shift if they inadvertently found the loose piece.

(* Larvikite, a type of syenite)

New Rock Sea Defences on Widewater beach

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

27 May 2002
A pod of dolphins, probably Bottle-nosed Dolphins, were seen off Lancing beach. They appeared dark in colour, described as black rather than the grey of the life-sized artificial dolphin on display at Adur World Oceans Day 2002.

Report by Russell at Adur World Oceans Day 2002
BMLSS Whales and Dolphins
Sussex Dolphins
Sea Watch Foundation

1 June 2002
A huge one metre in diameter jellyfish with a humped appearance was discovered washed up on Shoreham beach due of south of Coronation Green. This is the species known by several common names: Barrel Jellyfish, Football Jellyfish, Root-mouthed Jellyfish, and with the scientific name of Rhizostoma octopus. This is an unusual sighting off the Sussex coast, but this year tens of thousands have been seen off the coast of Cornwall, with many more washed up on the coast of Devon and Dorset. 
Report by Martin Ward at Adur World Oceans Day
Adur Nature Notes (Spring 2002) for Shoreham Beach Nature Reports
Other Reports
BMLSS Jellyfish

31 May 2002
A pod of dolphins, probably Bottle-nosed Dolphins, were seen off Shoreham beach. They appeared dark in colour, described as black rather than the grey of the life-sized artificial dolphin on display at Adur World Oceans Day 2002.

Report by Russell at Adur World Oceans Day 2002
BMLSS Whales and Dolphins

25 April 2002
The distinctive white underside of at least four immigrant Wheatears were unmistakable on the seaward side of Widewater, perching on the wooden posts (that comprise part of the sea defences running parallel with the sea) before the bird flew rapidly around, before embarking on their destination flights inland to the downs.
A clump of Squid eggs were washed ashore on Lancing beach.

4 April 2002
On the warmest day of the year, I spotted my first white butterfly of the year flying in off the shingle foreshore by the beach huts south of Beach Green, Shoreham Beach. It was probably a Small White, that could have been feeding as a caterpillar on the Sea Kale. Later more white butterflies were seen in one and twos in the town gardens of Lancing. 

15 February 2002
A small formation of four wading birds flew rapidly over the shingle shore and imported Larvikite (a type of syenite) sea defence rocks (TQ 213 044) opposite Beach Green, (by the beach huts) in mid-afternoon. These birds could be clearly seen with a white wing bar when flying away (not like the white rear edge of the Redshank) and there call was a clear  "chik-tik-tik" and this probably mean that they are Turnstones. A flock of three Turnstones have also been reported from Southwick Beach.

7 September 2001
Wheatears fly between the dock plants and beach huts on Shoreham beach prior to migration. There were Red Admiral Butterflies (4+) and hundreds of Small White Butterflies around the shingle plants and flying strongly in the breeze. 

15 July 2001
At the Old Fort (TQ 234 046), the Common Lizards, Lacerata vivipara, with exceptionally mottled markings, have found new places to hide after the flint wall has been repaired. The exceptionally speckled markings of the lizard are found in the European Wall Lizard, Podarcis muralis. (This latter species were kept in the back garden of a house in Old Fort Road and could be escapes. However, lizards were definitely present in the 1960s on the walls of the Old Fort and this pre-dated the presence of lizards in the garden of a herpetologist.)
Earlier Report of the Flint Wall Repairs
Postscript:  these lizards have now been definitely identified as the Wall Lizard, Podarcis muralis.

Local Lizard Comparison Photographs

11 July 2001
All boats remain in harbour as the beach shingle is rolled about by the Fresh Breeze (Force 5 +) without rain, with many white horses. The shingle that had been levelled with the renovation to the Inner West Arm of Shoreham Harbour sea defences south of Soldier's Point, near the Old Fort, last year, had now been reformed by the wind and returned to its former undulations, with the return of the common shingle plants including Sea Kale, Sea Beet, Yellow-horned Poppy, Sea Campion, Spear-leaved Orache and the common weed of wild places, the Sow Thistle was abundant. 
Beaufort Scale (sea)

The wind speed was later (June 2002) checked with the recorded figures which showed a mean average of a Moderate Breeze (Force 4) with a maximum of a Strong Breeze (Force 6). 

Beaufort Scale (BMLSS)
Shoreham Beach Weather Reports

28 June 2001
Shoreham Beach Nature Reserve
There will be meeting to discuss the future of the vegetated shingle at Shoreham Beach, with experts from English Nature, Adur District Council and West Sussex County Council. The question of Nature Reserve status will be discussed. 
The meeting is at the Church of the Good Shepherd Hall and starts at 7:00 pm.

Information from Duncan Morrison (Adur District Council)
The idea of the Shoreham Beach Nature Reserve received a mixed reception, with the majority in support, many undecided and a few objectors. 

14 June 2001
Red Valerian (Photograph by David Wood)The shingle beach at Shoreham beach along to the Widewater is a colourful sight with Red Valerian (red and white) , Viper's Bugloss (blue), Sea Thrift (pink), Sea Kale (white), Tree Mallow (crimson, not so much as usual), Yellow-horned Poppy, Silver Ragwort and a few garden flowers particularly colourful as expected during the best month of June. A party of school children, pencils and pads in their hand were on a field trip near the Church of the Good Shepherd.

Photograph by Andy Horton11 June 2001
Offshore from Brooklands Boating Lake, (1 mile east of Worthing Pier) the Ringed Plover reveals itself by its swift running over the shingle. Without moving it is too well camouflaged and difficult to spot. The summer residents birds and much plumper than the lean winter visitors. As the tide ebbs and the water recedes, more (a half dozen in 50 metres of sand) of these small birds appear on the emerging sand flats.

15 April 2001
I received a report via the RSPCA of three young sharks washed up on the beach at either Lancing or Worthing. A size was not mentioned. I assume these are Lesser-spotted Dogfish, Scyliorhinus canicula, which are so commonly washed ashore dead in all months of the year that they scarcely warrant a special mention. The specimen above was discovered intact near the Old Fort a couple of months ago, before it had been spotted by the gulls that scavenge along the strandline.

21 March 2001
Not exactly spring, but still a pleasant still day at 10° C and little sign of the mini-blizzard of yesterday. 
Work has begun on repairing the flint wall of the Old Fort of Shoreham Beach (constructed c. 1857) by Dave Smith of Flintman of Lewes. The Common Lizards, well known to Shoreham children, have been displaced from their prime holes in the wall, and have skittered off to new habitats. (TQ 234 044)
Full Story and Photograph
Flintman on Flint (Link)

Postscript:  these lizards have now been definitely identified as the Wall Lizard, Podarcis muralis.

Local Lizard Comparison Photographs

19 February 2001
A flash of red indicated the male Black Redstart flitting between the beach huts south of Beach Green, Shoreham Beach. It perched on a metre-high pole sticking out of the shingle beach where it looked black silhouetted against the morning sky. A couple of the brownish female birds were also reported on the same day. 

Report by Andy Horton

Old Fort (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)
Old Fort

12 February 2001
Two badly decomposed Dolphins were washed up on Shoreham Beach, Sussex. They were badly decomposed but were probably Common Dolphins, Delphinus delphis

Photograph by Steve Savage (click on the flipper for a close-up)FlipperPhotograph by Steve Savage

Photograph by Steve Savage (Sea Watch Foundation)
Click on the flipper for a close-up

A Porpoise, just over a metre long, was washed at nearby Worthing
Sussex Dolphins
Sussex Cetaceans 2001
Sussex Sea Watch Foundation News 2001

16 August 2000
The lizard originally identified as the European Wall Lizard, Podarcis muralis, which poked its head out of flint wall in which a sprig of Bittersweet was growing, on the Old Fort, Shoreham Beach*is almost certainly an adult Common (or  Viviparous) Lizard, Zootoca vivipara.
Postscript:  these lizards have now been definitely identified as the Wall Lizard, Podarcis muralis.

Local Lizard Comparison Photographs

It is found in the rest of the Adur area, e.g. near Cuckoo's Corner (TQ 202 069). Judging by the number the cats kill, Common Lizards occur frequently in the towns of gardens of Shoreham, as well as Slow Worms.

Pink Childing (by Andy Horton)31 July 2000
A Clouded Yellow Butterfly was spotted on a Childing Pink  still in flower in the minute area of sand dunes (TQ 229 048) remaining on Shoreham Beach. These rare plants seem to have increased in number, but are still under threat from encroaching vegetation

13 December 1999
A meeting at Adur Civic Centre, Shoreham-by-Sea,  was held to outline the idea of a Vegetated Shingle Nature Reserve on Shoreham Beach. The turnout was 56 interested people. The questionnaire returned a 78% census in favour of the concept. The public included many beach hut owners. 

Neil Mitchell (WSCC), Steve Berry (English Nature), Steve Gilbert (RSPB), Jeremy Sergeant (Adur DC Leisure) were represented on the panel, chaired by Geoff Howitt (Adur DC, Chair, Labour, St. Mary's Ward, Shoreham-by-Sea).
Co-ordinator: Hayley Tuppenny  (send comments to this EMail).
The photographic display by David Wood consisted of a large selection of shingle plants on Shoreham Beach. The bird pictures were by Stanley Allen. 

Vegetated Shingle Nature Reserve Web Site
Shoreham Beach (Shingle Plants)
Nature Notes

27 May 1999
Marion Wood (BMLSS) spotted a pod of about six Dolphins 100 metres off Shoreham Beach, Sussex, in the early evening with at least three jumping out of the water at one time. They swam very quickly east towards Brighton. 
Cetacean Page


Photograph by Andy Horton

The rock defences on the shingle beach were strengthened with additional rocks*brought in by barge across the North Sea from Norway. The rocks were deposited on the shore and rearranged by a JCB to hinder the erosion and longshore drift

(*Larvikite, a type of syenite)

c. October? 1998
A Boar Fish, Capros aper,was washed up dead on Shoreham beach, Sussex, with the identity confirmed by the Natural History Museum in London. The dried fish has been preserved as an ornament.

Report on 7 November 2002 by Viv Smith (Shoreham Beach)
2002 Report

Chalk & Flint

About 85 million years ago Sussex was covered by a warm sea. Sedimentary deposits of coccoliths (microscopic plankton with a calcium carbonate shell) laid down the chalk which is the rock of the South Downs of south-east England. The flint probably formed from the dissolved remains of ancient sponge siliceous spicules and was deposited at a later date into gaps and beds in the chalk when the silica then solidified. When the friable chalk was eroded the flint remained, subsequently rounded into spherical and ovoid pebbles by the action of the waves grinding the pebbles against each other.
(simplified explanation for upper layers of chalk)

Chalk Facts

Fossil Sea Urchin Echinocorys scutatus
Fossil Bivalve  Spondylus spinosa (pic).

 Clouded Yellow  Colias croceus
 Large White  Pieris brassicae
 Common Blue

Common Blue Butterfly (Photograph by Andy Horton)

 Polyommatus icarus
 Small White  Pieris rapae
Adur Valley Butterflies
British Isles Nature Reserves WebRing British Isles Nature Reserves WebRing
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