River Adur Estuary
growths of Sea Blite
on the widened River Adur
by Shoreham Airport
of a hundred plus Lapwings
were back on the mud
flats nearest to the Toll
Bridge at low tide in the afternoon. They were
very skitty, and after five minutes something spooked the whole flock and
the big mud flat to the north of the Toll Bridge was bare again. The Lapwings
flew around a bit and then decamped to the mud on the inside of the meander
bank almost underneath the Flyover.
Herons flying very low over the Downs
Link Cyclepath just north of the Flyover
(100 metres north of the Wood Heron)
were my surprise in the middle of the day.They are very large birds and
their sudden appearance all at the same time, and not much above the height
of the hedgerows, legs outstretched (landing gear down), came as a bit
of a shock. They sent hundred of Common
Gulls into flight, under a cloudy sky,
before they landed on the mudflats
of the River Adur
(out of sight).
with Sea Blite, Sea
Aster and Sea
marsh plants fringe most of the estuary and in places have colonised large
areas of mudflats. Sea Purslane Halimione
portaculoides dominates most of the areas
above mean high tide mark, and Annual
Seablite Suaeda maritima is also
extremely frequent in these areas. On bare mud Glasswort
sp. is the first coloniser and nearer low
water mark sea aster Aster tripolium becomes more abundant. Other species
are scattered throughout the salt marsh community, include Sea
maritima and Saltmarsh
Grass Spartina spp. is noticeably
absent from most of the estuary, but a small stand grows southeast of the
Purslane and Sea Blite
Heron fished in the middle of the River
Adur on a low neap tide
approaching 3:00 pm
in the afternoon, after the first rightangle meander of the river north
of Old Shoreham. It was not alone; a dog disturbed the hundred or so Common
Gulls and couple of Cormorants.
A few Little Egrets
are so regular to be hardly worth a mention nowadays. Two
small chirms of Goldfinches
around the Hawthorn and
other hedgerow shrubs. These chirms comprised only a handful of birds in
each (unless that were part of a larger chirm unseen). It was too cool
for any butterflies.
Blite, Cord Grass,
Grass, Sea Purslane, Sea Purslane
the River Adur there was the usual collection
of common gulls and waders;
most noticeable were the Greater
Black-backed Gulls and Lapwings
the tide was low and the mud flats revealed. There
were a few Grey Plovers.
portulacoides, is a small greyish-green
shrub abundantly found on the mud flats of the
Adur that are even covered twice daily
by the neap tides, but also nearer the high tide
margins. It is a halophyte
with leaves with a silvery sheen filled with air (not sap) and are dead
when the plant reaches maturity.
= Daughter of the Sea (Greek)
the return journey (from Lancing
the tide had receded revealing some of the mud flats on which a pair of
were courting, running around together, flying short distances in unison
and swimming together in the shallow river, like ducks.
all rose in unison from the mudflats on the River Adur
north of the
Toll Bridge, spooked
by a female Sparrowhawk
seen above the trees near Ricardos. The Sparrowhawk
was seen much closer from the Coombes Road over the Ricardos testing ground.
perched on a fence near Cuckoo's Corner. In the field to the north a few
hundred Common Gulls
rested on the ploughed Broad Bean
field, occasionally rising up in unison for no reason that could be ascertained.
a cloudy day with spots of rain there
were scores of Greater Black-backed Gulls
and occasional Grey Plovers
on the mudflats at mid neap tide south of the Toll
wheeled around waiting to land when more of the mud was exposed.
were two Oystercatchers
feeding over the mud flats south of the Toll
Bridge with hundreds of gulls.
were mostly a mixture of Common
Gulls, with frequent Herring
Gulls and occasional Greater
were thousands of birds on the River
Adur at low tide,
notably thousands of Lapwings,
thousands of medium-sized gulls, mainly Common
Gulls, hundreds of Dunlins,
occasional Grey Plover,
a few Cormorants
and Mute Swans,
scores of Great Black-backed Gulls and
hundreds of Black-headed Gulls
all noted in the area between the Railway
Viaduct and Cuckoo's Corner.
Thousands of Common Gulls
settled on the ploughed field north of Cuckoo's Corner.
low tide on the mud flats opposite Coronation
Green in Shoreham town,
a handful of Grey Plovers
were feeding on the southern bank in the middle of the River
Adur, before a Redshank
and a band of about ten Turnstones
appeared on the near bank, constantly on the move, literally turning over
the small stones in search of morsels. A Cormorant,
a Little Egret,
a few Dunlins
and immature Herring Gulls
were noted. A pair of Mute Swans
flew overhead calling loudly.
up the estuary on the main part of the river
in the vicinity of Cuckoo's Corner
there were about three hundred gulls,
which were mainly Common Gulls,
but contained other species including Great
Black-backed Gulls. A Cow
wandered down to the exposed mud flats and began to drink from the tidal
hovered over the Sea Purslane
at low tide south of Old Shoreham Tollbridge
and then descended. The target prey was not determined.
the rain I ventured out as the spring tide nearly
lapped against the banks of the Adur estuary. Just
south of the Toll
Bridge there was still a margin of vegetation
above the high tide mark on the east side of the
river, with Orache and other wild grasses and plants and this area hosted
dozens of active grasshoppers that appeared
to jump at least of metre. They looked slightly different from the two
commonly found on the downs meadows and wastelands
on the edge of town. I think some
of them are probably the Lesser Marsh Grasshopper,
upper tidal zone of the mud-flats contained Sea Purslane and Glasswort
in prevalent amounts and bunches of Townsend's
low tide means that it is just about possible to examine some of the plants
on the flats without squelching through the soft mud.
patches of what is probably Townsend's
Cord Grass, Spartina townsendii,
were found south-east of the Toll
Bridge. Townsend's Cord Grass
has a particularly interesting origin (see the Reader's Digest "Secrets
of the Seashore" page 75, a new plant species evolving in the nineteenth
not quite so dramatic as Widewater, the Sea
the estuarine margins have now turned a dramatic
neap tide variation between 2.36 metres (low at 12.04
pm) and the high tide of 4.4 metres (6:14
pm in darkness) is one of the smallest possible.
(The equinoctial spring tide variation could be up to 7 metres).
green of the Glasswort,
on the River Adur was in contrast to the rich
red-purple hues of the mostly submerged (this
close examination, the larger river plants seemed to have a red line up
their stems. This was Sea Blite.
the prolonged hot and dry spell for the complete month of July, the mud
flats on the part of the River Adur that runs through the centre of Shoreham-by-Sea,
West Sussex, turned green with a rapid spread of the salt tolerant green
plant known as the Common Glasswort,
This plant is collected for food when it is known as Marsh Samphire, and
is meant to be a poor man's asparagus. It tastes like a mouthful of seawater
to me. The plant roots in the estuarine mud in salinities
of about 3.2% but variable from full salinity with an incoming spring tide,
to fresh water running out over the top of the sea water.
green plant has cylindrical stems with paired branches like the stems which
are the leaves. As the year goes on the stems and branches turn a slight
yellowish hue in autumn. The small flowers are the same colour as the rest
of the plant and are inconspicuous. All the plants occur outside of the
main stream of the river near mean low water mark. The seeds need exposure
to air to germinate and will not establish if they are permanently submerged.
the riverbank, Sea Purslane,
portulacoides, predominates. It is easily distinguished from Glasswort
because its conventional leaves have a silvery sheen.
maritima, is extremely frequently to be found, and theSea
Aster tripolium, also commonly
Sea Lavender, Limonium vulgare was introduced, but may no longer
occur. The Cord Grass, Spartina spp. occurs.
the river opposite Ropetackle (Between the Norfolk bridge
and the Railway Viaduct), in the pools between the mussel
beds at low tide, small clumps of Irish Moss, Chondrus crispus,
grow on the mussel and oyster shells and small flint rocks. This red seaweed
is usually a dark brown, sometimes with a slightly iridescent hue, and
in very bright sunlight, the weed will turn green at the tips and stranded
specimens are often bright green as shown in the image (above) scanned
in by David Wood (Shoreham Beach).
Furrow Shell Scrobicularia plana
Homepage (Univ. of Galway)
(Adur Estuary) List
Beach, by the Lighthouse, is near where the river enters the sea between
the two piers of Shoreham Harbour.