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Adur Nature Notes 2004

February 2004


Reports by Andy Horton unless credited to other observers

Brent Goose

Brent Goose


 29 February 2004
A probable Rough-legged Buzzard was hanging and occasionally hovering over a ridge between New Erringham Farm and Thundersbarrow Hill, north of Shoreham in the evening from 5.15 to 6.03 pm (when virtually dark), viewed through a scope from the minor road north of Mill Hill at about 1 km distance. Southwick Hill and Thundersbarrow 2004The highlight of bird activity in my south Lancing garden (TQ 186 044) was a brief visit of a male Blackcap, Sylvia atricapilla. A Merlin (small bird of prey) was seen being chased by a Black-headed Gull before it descended into the reed beds near Shoreham Airport.
                  Report by Christian Melgar on the Sussex Birds Yahoo Group
Adur Levels 2004

27 February 2004
Eight Magpies congregated on the wasteland which looks like it was formerly a large garden for the manor house in Church Street, a stone's throw over into Southwick in the thoroughfare leading to St. Michael's Church. Magpies are common enough birds in pairs and even three together, but eight birds, possibly four pairs, is unusual. 
Just a couple of Goldfinches were spotted on the roof of a house opposite the easternmost playing fields in Middle Road, Shoreham. They could be part of a larger chirm unseen, but the flocks do seem to decrease from about 20 near the autumn equinox to small flocks of just five by the new year. 
Shoreham Town & Gardens

26 February 2004
McIntyres Field, Lancing Ring Nature Reserve (east)
A Great Spotted Woodpecker at the top of a large tree was seen briefly before it took flight over the field to another group of trees on the opposite side. A flash of coloured feathers in trees at the top of the meadow was enough to draw our attention to a Jay close to a dead tree peppered with holes.
The fungus Peziza vesiculosa was discovered on discarded hay at the western woodland margin of McIntyres Field, about two-thirds of the way up the slope.

Fungus ID by Jean J Wuilebaut
Lancing Nature Notes (by Ray Hamblett)
Adur Fungi: Fruiting Bodies (Monthly Guide)

The air temperature dipped just below freezing at minus 0.2° C an hour before sunrise for possibly the first time this winter.
Shoreham Weather Station

A Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starling is spotted by Amanda Solomon (Sussex Wildlife Trust) in a Southwick garden. This South African bird  probably escaped from an aviary.

25 February 2004
It the last few days, every single species of the regular birds were seen in their usual or larger numbers in all habitats in the lower Adur valley, except I did not catch sight of the brilliant blue wings of a Kingfisher until today, arrowing through the air over the polluted stream amongst the Macrocarpa (Monterey Cypress Trees) row in the Adur Riverbank Industrial estate (north of the railway line, north of Ropetackle, Shoreham) where the waste land and cyclepath of the old railway track meets the town. (TQ 210 053). A Kingfisher was seen in the same area last winter
Adur Levels 2004

20 February 2004
The Government have backed a plan to encourage the increase in the House Sparrow population.
BBC News Report
In the Adur area flocks of House Sparrows seem to be usually in small flocks between 20 and 30 in number. They can be overlooked but they make such a racket in the scrubbery that is hard to miss hearing them. It might be worth making a note of where the flocks are to be found, e.g.
On the Adur Levels along the cyclepath (old railway track) south-east of the Toll Bridge where three flocks up to about 85 birds are regularly seen.
Flitting around in the shrubbery where they can be clearly seen between Widewater Lagoon and the shingle beach. There are more in winter but flocks could be expected all through the year. 
In the towns and gardens the distribution of House Sparrows is decidedly patchy and there seem to be more in the partly industrial areas and near the railway tracks. They are common in Dolphin Road and Corbyn Crescent in Shoreham and in North Farm Road, Lancing, but these are just the places where they have been recorded and there are undoubtably many others. 
House Sparrows have not been recorded this year in the garden bird survey in a garden near Buckingham Park.
Adur Sparrows Page

15 February 2004
Frog spawn has been laid in the small garden pond in my south Lancing garden (TQ 186 044). This is the first local report. Further clumps of  spawn were laid in subsequent days. 

11 February 2004
A Painted Lady Butterfly was seen flying at about 8 mph against a light breeze (about 6 mph) from the north-west near Lancing Beach Green (by the Sailing Club where the path narrows between the green and Widewater Lagoon). This butterfly appeared to be an immigrant, probably on the long journey from Africa, possibly from France. 
Another Painted Lady Butterfly was found on the edge of a golf course bunker at Benfield Valley Nature Reserve, Portslade (TQ 262 079) where the Blackthorn (=Sloethorn) was beginning to blossom. 
Second Butterfly Report by Ray Hamblett (Lancing Nature)
on UK-Leps (Yahoo Group)
Strong evidence for Immigration of Painted Ladies

Painted Ladies Summary 2003-4

10 February 2004
A migrant Chiffchaff was reported from Lancing. The exact location was not given but this small bird inhabits the Lancing Clump Nature Reserve during the summer months. It is often recognised by its call. 

Hearsay Report by Betty Bishop
A Little Grebe (Dabchick) was ducking and diving on a flooded River Adur between the Railway Viaduct and the Toll Bridge. For the few minutes spell in which I watched, it spent 90% of the time under the water and it would appear again several metres from the spot from which it dived. 
Adur Estuary 2004

A Sandwich Tern flew arrow-like a purposely over the shallow sea (at high tide) parallel with Southwick beach before disappearing out of view to the west. Terns are unusual in the winter months. 
Adur Coastal 2004

A Peregrine Falcon is seen on Shoreham Harbour Power Station chimney at 8:30 am.

Peregrine Report by Peter Talbot-Elsden
9 February 2004
I first spotted the Buzzard (sp) at about 12.55 pm, it was soaring over the
Lancing Manor sports centre and in the general area of Lancing Manor. It soared around for about five minutes before flying heading west along the southern ridge of the downs. This is the first Buzzard I have seen in the Lancing area. 
Report by Bob Kent (Lancing) on the Lancing Nature "Smart Group"
The Sussex Ornithological Society has the Common Buzzard down as a rare/scarce Passage Migrant for Sussex. In the heartlands of Sussex it could be a rare resident. The Honey Buzzard is a very scarce Passage Migrant and the Rough-legged Buzzard is a rare visitor. 
SOS Birds of Prey
The Shoreham & District Ornithological Society has only one previous record (up to 1988) for February and most records are from over the downs. 
 Painted Lady A flutter of orange and the unmistakable patterns of a Painted Lady Butterfly that flew steadily over the southern section of Mill Hill. Later, a second Painted Lady flew around the copse and settled on the Beech leaves still on the tree and several times on the grass. Could these be immigrant butterflies rather than hibernating adults? Although it was a clear cloudless day, the temperature only reached 6.5° C. The winds have been from the north-west for most of this week (last three days) and south-west for the previous week. 
Weather Graph (February 2004)
The air temperature has remained above freezing for virtually all of the winter. (Painted Ladies may not be able to tolerate freezing conditions?)
Some lepidopterists tend to favour immigration, although amongst all the naturalists, the views seem to be about 50/50. I am tending towards the view that some adult butterflies have been able to survive the mild winter.
NB:  The last date on record for Painted Ladies in the Adur area last year was 10 October 2003.
Research has found evidence of Painted Ladies hibernating in Britain.
Immigration of Lepidoptera
Adur Butterflies
Adur Butterfly Flight Times

NB: Further information received from the south coast of England indicates that these Painted Lady Butterflies are almost certainly immigrants.

A further report of a Painted Lady Butterfly occurred on the northern part of New Monks Farm, Lancing.

Further Butterfly Report by Ray Hamblett (Lancing Nature)
on the Lancing Nature "Smart Group"

A Stonechat warbled away south-east of the road bridge over the A27 on the Shoreham town (Chanctonbury Drive) side.
Stonechat Report

8 February 2004
Venturing out from the flower bed undergrowth, the Dunnock (or Hedge Sparrow) looked very handsome with its grey breast as it seemed to be attracted to the sunflower seeds that had fallen from the feeder in the garden of at 40 The Drive (near Buckingham Park), Shoreham-by-Sea, (TQ  219 063). This is the first time a Dunnock has been seen in this garden. I wonder how many female Dunnocks will be attracted to this male bird? 
Six Greenfinches and a handsome Great Tit were amongst other birds present.
Adur Valley Biodiversity "Garden Birds" Self-entry Database (for Shoreham)

7 February 2004
A single House Martin was seen flying low up the River Adur this afternoon at 3:00 pm just south of the Toll Bridge for five minutes or so before heading up the Adur Valley. This is an extraordinary early record for this summer migrant. 

Report by Bob Kent (Lancing) on the Sussex Birds Yahoo Group

Adur Levels 20044 February 2004
A Grey Heron perched on the roof of a semi-detached house at the southern end of Greenways Crescent (TQ 266 063) near the main road in a residential area of Shoreham, and over a mile (2 km)  from its normal wetland or estuarine haunts. This residential area contains medium-sized and some large gardens capable of having large ponds.

As I walked out of the door to do the school run as a butterfly took off
down the my front garden in south Lancing (TQ 186 044) carried by the light breeze. It was too quick to positively identify and in silhouette but seemed pale and may have been a Painted Lady. This is the first butterfly of the year. This the same location from which the last Painted Lady of 2003 was seen on 10 October 2003.
Butterfly Flight Times (Adur)
NB:  Painted Lady Butterflies have subsequently been reported from other parts of Sussex including near Portslade railway station. The brief interlude of warm weather must have encouraged hibernating butterflies to emerge. The have no previous records of hibernating Painted Ladies surviving the winter on these Nature Notes pages and this is the first February record.

Butterfly Report by Ray Hamblett (Lancing Nature)
on UK-Leps (Yahoo Group)
1 February 2004
Looking and behaving a Wren with a dab of golden war paint, I had the my best ever view of a Goldcrest in the garden of at 40 The Drive (near Buckingham Park), Shoreham-by-Sea, (TQ  219 063). The first impression is the slightly different colouring of the wing feathers, the confirmation the golden strip on the forehead. (This is the colour of the female.) Alas, although I had a prolonged view, this small bird was disturbed and did not return to the garden. It is the smallest British bird (a distinction it shares with the rarer Firecrest) but this was not the impression I got. It seemed almost the same size as a Wren, perhaps even a  fraction bigger, and larger than the Long-tailed Tit
The Goldcrest was seen again on 16 February 2004.
Adur Town and Gardens 2004
Adur Valley (Shoreham) Biodiversity "Garden Birds" Self-entry Database
Lancing Nature Notes Index
Mill Hill 2004 (with new map)

History of Mill Hill
Mill Hill News Reports 2004

Chalk Downs 2004

Adur Valley Biodiversity Network  (forum)

MultiMap Aerial Photograph of the Adur Levels and Downs
Sussex Woody Species Identification Guide


EMail for Wildlife Reports

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

The old wildlife reports according to habitat will be archived. 

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