Link to the Adur Nature Notes 2006 web pages

 Adur Flood Plain
 Chalk Downs
 Coastal Fringe
 Intertidal (Seashore)
 River Adur Estuary
 Lancing Nature Blogspot
 Sea (off Sussex)
 Town & Gardens
 Widewater Lagoon
 Garden Bird List 2006
 Adur World Oceans Day 2006

World of Widewater (Community Friends Group)


 Coastal Zone
Brackish Water Lagoon


Widewater is a landlocked brackish lagoon approximately 1066 metres long and 90 metres at its widest point when the lagoon is in flood. It was created by Man from the original Adur estuary after been landlocked by longshore drift and violent storms. The waters are replenished by the sea, which filters up through the basin of the lagoon on very high tides, and also by rain water. There is a dramatic rise in the level after heavy rainfall, more than can be explained by the rain landing directly on the lagoon flood plain. Man has built up banks on the perimeter of the lagoon to prevent flooding to this nearby reclaimed land, now turned to residential use. The quantity of water contained within the lagoon and salinity are liable to fluctuate wildly. The flood plain covers an area of 18.5 acres.

Mute Swans with cygnets at the beginning of July 2005

At its maximum flooding with a measurement on the gauge by the bridge giving a depth of 1.60 metres, the lagoon will cover an area of 4.6 hectares (= 11.4 acres) with a perimeter of 2282 metres. 

Little Egret
Little Egret (left)

Photographs by Andy Horton

Wildlife Reports

Widewater Reports 2007

6 December 2006
Three Little Grebes were seen on Widewater Lagoon. They quickly dived under the water. There could have been more of these small fish-eating birds.

22 November 2006
A flash of turquoise and a Kingfisher flew like an arrow out of the Tamarisk photographed below. Simultaneously two Little Grebes dived under water as the Kingfisher flew over them. Less than a minute later, the Kingfisher was seen again as a Little Egret took off from the shallows of the flooded lagoon. Three Mallards dropped in, hanging in the air before they descended. 

15 November 2006
The Water Rail was reported to have been seen when it ventured out of its hiding place under the Tamarisk and in shallow brackish water near a small island east of the bridge. I could not see or hear anything of this bird that must be very good at hiding in a small area which was inacessible because of the boggy nature of the land and water. Was it the same bird that visited Widewater earlier in the year (but not recorded on these Nature Notes pages)?

The birdwatchers said that the Water Rail was hiding under this Tamarisk


A Little Grebe was seen diving under the surface in the deeper water. A Cormorant was standing on a pole on the lagoon further to the west. 

12 September 2006
The flooded lagoon registered 1.64 metres on the gauge by the bridge, as high as the lagoon gets after the spring tides of the last few days. 

The Rock Lavender plant was discovered on the gravel near the pipeline. Previously, its nearest location was on the chalk cliffs east of Brighton. 

Report by David Wood

14 August 2006
One adult Mute Swan led a troop of eight almost fully grown grey cygnets on Widewater Lagoon flooded by the recent high spring tides

8 August 2006
There is much more water seen in the lagoon than would normally be expected after a warm July without any rain. This is because of the pipeline from the sea. 3-spined Sticklebacks were very common again in the lagoon and they were joined by the young of the Sand Smelt, Atherina presbyter, which must have come as juveniles through the pipeline. Two Little Egrets were feeding regularly. I did not see any of the small prawns that were abundant last year. 

6 June 2006
There was a Mallard on an island but absolutely no sign of a Red-breasted Merganser on Widewater. There did not appear to be any cygnets with the second group of Mute Swans at first,  but then four fluffy cygnets ventured out from the shelter of a parent on a Tamarisk island. The 3-spined Sticklebacks were common again and could be seen darting around underwater, and this may have attracted the interest of the usual Little Egret. There were probably at least two, but these birds are now so familiar I rarely note their numbers.

On the flood plain where the gravel and pebbles had been disturbed to install the pipeline, there was a varied collection of plants as though the terrain had never been disturbed in the first place. Ivy-leaved Toadflax still dominated but there was plentiful Sea Kale, Bird's Foot Trefoil,Sea Campion, Thrift, Sea Beet, Cat's Ear, Stonecrops and other plants, including a few Yellow-horned Poppy
There were also escaped and naturalised garden plants, some in abundance, but these white plants were seen on the grass margins, next to the broken flint wall, north of the bridge. They were Snow-in-Summer, Cerastium tomentosum. Wild Flower Images

4 June 2006
The Red-breasted Merganser was still on Widewater, it did not look oiled but preened its left flank frequently suggesting it might be trying to clean up something.

Report by Richard Fairbank (Shoreham Beach) on Sussex Ornithological News

10 May 2006
The Mute Swans appear to have had six cygnets this year. My view was a bit obscured though. 

8 May 2006
In the evening produced (to my surprise) a drake Red-breasted Merganser was sitting on the tiny islet, quite alone, quite close to the concourse/footpath that runs through the lagoon. The bird seemed fairly approachable.
NB: Mergansers are unrecorded inshore outside the months of October to March. They are passage migrants offshore until May.

A usual Little Egret was fishing in the shallows by the Tamarisk island and then the Grey Heron spotted us passing and took a short flight. 

21 March 2006

A Red-tailed Bumblebee, Bombus lapidarius, flew into some long grass at the east end of Widewater Lagoon. 

13 March 2006

I counted half a dozen Teals feeding upended in their characteristic way east of the bridge and just east of the Tamarisk island on the flooded lagoon. Later a couple of female Mallards, with males in company, fed in the same way. 

9 March 2006
A Water Rail is seen around the Tamarisk island on Widewater

Report by Bernie Forbes on the Birds of Sussex (Yahoo Group)

15 February 2006
The Mute Swan cygnets have moulted and they appear to be one moult away from their full adult plumage. I discerned that their beaks were not yet as orange as their parents. I spotted a single Dunlin on the muddy fringes, but the Oystercatcher was not seen. Two female Mallards were there instead. A single chirm of just three Goldfinches was seen.

8 February 2006
The Oystercatcher and Redshank were feeding in the shallows west of the bridge, but not in the same proximity as before. Maybe, the two birds were just attracted to the habitat and their closeness was just a coincidence before

17 January 2006
My first butterfly and my first large insect of the year was seen flying in of the beach and sea over the fringes of Widewater Lagoon at 2:00 pm. Alas, it was so sudden and disappeared so quickly I could not be positive of its identity. It was probably a Red Admiral. The air temperature was 11.1 ºC.There was no definite proof that this was an immigrant butterfly as it could have been a hibernating butterfly that had flown out from under the eaves of the nearby houses to the north, flown south and then north again against the Light Breeze from the north-west. From previous experience in late autumn, there was good chance it was an immigrant though. 
Adur Butterflies 2006

6 January 2006
Again, the Oystercatcher and Redshank were feeding together in the shallows west of the bridge over Widewater. This seems to be an opportunist arrangement. 

5 January 2006
An Oystercatcher was actively feeding in the shallows to the west of the bridge over Widewater dipping its beak into the black mud and occasionally I could see movement in the gullet of the bird indicating it was swallowing a small item. The black mud on retrieval almost obscured the red beak. 

Redshank and Oystercatcher
All the time it was followed around by a Redshank in water deep enough so the red legs of the latter wader were totally submerged. This seemed to be a sustained feeding arrangment that lasted for the whole 15 minutes I was there and for probably much longer. The Redshank was not seen to eat anything. 
East of the bridge, two Mute Swans were squabbling in their usual way with wings raised one swan making a showy attempt to attack the other one. Afterwards the swans gyrated in circles next to each other for a few minutes. At least two Little Egrets were feeding in the shallows of the flooded lagoon. 

Widewater Wildlife Reports 2005

Magic Map Link for Widewater Lagoon

World of Widewater
(Community Group)
Secretary Jo Procter Tel: 
01903 752505
190a Brighton Road
BN15 8LL

Link to Widewater Reports 2005

Adur Nature Notes 2006:   Index Page

Adur Valley
Adur Nature Notes 2006