NATURE NOTES      2009
Lower Adur Valley, West Sussex

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October 2009


Reports by Andy Horton from personal observation unless otherwise indicated
Clicking on the new thumbnail-style images will reveal a larger photograph

Adur Coastal & Marine
Adur Estuary & Levels
Mill Hill & the Downs
Urban Reports

Red Admiral
 Little Egret
 Red Admiral


29 October 2009
The Indian summer resumes (15.5 °C at midday) and I visited Mill Hill directly through the Dovecote Estate, where at the top of the estate a damaged Painted Lady Butterfly seemed incapable of flying long distances. With the exiguous supply of nectar flowers on Mill Hill, the four other butterfly species were very lively indeed with  two male Adonis Blues, two Common Blues, two Clouded Yellows and a Red Admiral
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Fungi (October 2009)

26 October 2009
My walk along the Pixie Path found the identical Holly Blue Butterfly of the previous day. This was followed by a very pale Clouded Yellow and a bright yellow one. I thought I was going to draw a complete blank on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, when a pure white black lined Clouded Yellow fluttered rapidly past. This was the first time I had seen a completely white one and I have identified this this as a female Clouded Yellow var. Helice, which would be a first for Mill Hill. 

Pheasant on the Pixie Path
Adonis Blue on Mill Hill

Then to my surprise a nearly new male Adonis Blue was spotted on a single Devil's Bit Scabious flower its presence preventing a female Common Blue from landing. The iridescence was quickly noticeable when the Adonis Blue was first spotted. Seven species of butterfly, including another Clouded Yellow, were seen on an overcast day. 
Full Butterfly Report

25 October 2009
About fifty Lapwings 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. Sycamore trees were losing their leaves but the Willows were still green and a large Elm in Buckingham Park, Shoreham, was still all in leaf. Everywhere the female Holly was in spectacular berry. The Ivy was still attracting numerous worker Common Wasps and the common species of hoverflies, but the only butterfly recorded on Ivy was a surprise third brood Holly Blue
Full Butterfly Report
Adur Trees 2009

23 October 2009
With the first mushrooms after the rain and an autumnal feel under a cloudy sky, a female Holly was decorated with red berries with a small tree on the Mill Hill Cutting/top of the Pixie Path as spectacularly berried as would seem possible.

Common Ink Caps 
Coprinus atramentarius

Adur Fungi 2009
Adur in Flower (October 2009)
Adur Trees (October 2009)

Cormorants on Widewater


15 October 2009
The bright turquoise of a Kingfisher arrowing its flight over the Lapwing covered mudflats on the River Adur north of the Toll Bridge was a splendid sight. The tiny speck of brilliant colour flew towards a perching Little Egret


Over the ploughed fields of Coombes Farm seen from the bridlepath to Lancing Ring, hundreds of Wood Pigeons rose from the stubble. High up above in the blue sky with fluffy white cumulus clouds a Peregrine Falcon was mobbed by a Crow. On the river south and north of Cuckoo's Corner, 200+ Common Gulls congregated in a mixed gull roost with frequent Greater Black-backed Gulls, Herring Gulls, Black-headed Gulls, with a few Crows and Redshanks
Birds of Sussex

12 October 2009
Life for the declining number of butterflies was beginning to becoming more difficult. The Ivy was still an attractant but everywhere the bushes were dominated by swarms of wasps, bees and flies with the occasional bumblebee and the butterflies if they were able to find a perch it was an even chance that it would be right at the top of the bush. Predatory dragonflies were frequently seen, mostly Common Darters, but also at least one Southern Hawker

Southern Hawker
Clouded Yellow

Red Admirals were the only butterfly that were numbered in double figures with 14 or 15. Twelve butterfly species were seen on the day including at least five, possibly as many as eight Clouded Yellows, one of which was seen to settle on purple nectaring flowers.  At least half of the six male Common Blues on the lower slopes of Mill Hill were in a very fresh condition. 
Full Butterfly Report

10-11 October 2009
A juvenile Common (or Harbour) Seal, Phoca vitulina, was seen swimming in the River Adur estuary by the Surry Hard, near where some of the smaller fishing boats are moored. On the second day the seal was reported by Andrew Bellamy in the river at Upper Beeding. Seals are a rare sight off the mid-Sussex coast, but a few have been seen off Shoreham Beach before. The nearest rookery is a small group of seals in Chichester Harbour which are occasionally seen around Selsey (Seal Island).

Report and video in the Shoreham Herald
Previous Sighting in 2008

Yew8 October 2009

The highlight of the day was a young fresh looking Grass Snake that coiled and uncoiled immediately front of me sliding downhill and across the path through the lower slopes of Mill Hill, just as path enters the Hawthorn scrub to the north. 
Shrubs were covered in the red berries of Hawthorn, Holly, Wayfaring Tree, Dog Rose, Yew and Cotoneaster, and black berries of Bramble, Elderflower and Privet on the downs and outskirts of Shoreham. 
Adur in Berry (October 2009)

Devil's Bit Scabious
Small Copper

I was curious to discover how much the inclement weather of the last four days and the rain deluge of the previous day had affected the butterfly populations and if I would see any at all. As I opened my gate in Corbyn Crescent, Shoreham, an unexpected Clouded Yellow Butterfly flew past, skirting the Garden Privet hedges. This was the first of 26 Clouded Yellows, the most prevalent butterfly seen in the afternoon of thirteen species including the Brown Argus and Holly Blue (third brood) not seen previously this month. Swarms of wasps, bees, hoverflies and other flies and just a few butterflies covered the Ivy bushes on the Pixie Path and Mill Hill. The second most prevalent butterfly were Red Admirals with eleven counted. 
Full Butterfly Report
Adur in Berry (October 2009)

2 October 2009
As the sun was still shining, I thought I would make a detour through the outskirts of Old Shoreham and to the top part of Mill Hill. Nine species of butterflies were seen with over twenty Red Admirals, as well as frequent Painted Ladies amongst the Ivy. The small brown moths seen over the hedgerows and for the last few days were thought to be Vapourer Moths, Orgyia antiqua. There were about fifty Common Darter dragonflies over the tarmac path next to the meadow to the north of the upper car park on Mill Hill Nature Reserve
Full Butterfly Report

Brown tipped bracts indicate the Common Ragwort on the lower slopes of Mill Hill
Common Ragwort
Painted Lady
Common Blue (female)

Meadow Brown
 Speckled Wood
Red Admiral
Common Blue
Clouded Yellow
Wall Brown
Small Heath
Painted Lady
Large White
Small White
Small Copper
 Brown Argus
 Holly Blue

Thirteen species of butterfly were seen in the first two days of October 2009
The last two species (bottom row) were seen on 8 October 2009

Comma Butterfly
Comma Butterfly

1 October 2009
A pleasant (17.3 °C) beginning to October with a Light Breeze (Force 2) blowing from the NNW (N veering to NW) brought a dozen species of butterflies out to visit the few remaining nectar flowers and lizards out to bask in the sun, through a blue sky with wisps of cumulus clouds. Meadow Browns led the way with 13 counted followed by Common Blues with 8, all seen on Mill Hill
Full Butterfly Report

In the afternoon, I spotted seven Wall Lizards, Podarcis muralis, at the Old Fort (at the far eastern end of Shoreham Beach) with only a cursory attempt to look for them. 
Adur Lizards

Sussex Butterfly Reports (Butterfly Conservation Society)
UK Butterflies: Sightings

History of Mill Hill
Mill Hill News Reports 2009

Flora of Shoreham-by-Sea
Shoreham and District Ornithological Society
Lancing Village

Adur Valley Network (forum)

MultiMap Aerial Photograph of the Adur Levels and Downs

Urban Wildlife Webring

Link to the Adur Nature Notes 2008 web pages
    The Shoreham-by-Sea web site started on 1 January 1997.
Webmaster: Andy Horton.

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Golden Boar Fish
Speckled Bush CricketClick on the thumb for the enlargement of the cricketClick on the thumb for the enlargement of the cricket