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
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
are liable to fluctuate wildly. The flood plain covers an area of 18.5
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 (left)
by Andy Horton
Grebes were seen on Widewater Lagoon.
They quickly dived under the water. There could have been more of these
small fish-eating birds.
flash of turquoise and a Kingfisher
flew like an arrow out of the Tamarisk photographed below. Simultaneously
Grebes dived under water as the Kingfisher
over them. Less than a minute later, the Kingfisher
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.
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
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.
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.
Lavender plant was discovered on the gravel
near the pipeline. Previously, its nearest location was on the chalk cliffs
east of Brighton.
adult Mute Swan
led a troop of eight almost fully grown grey
cygnets on Widewater Lagoon flooded by
the recent high spring tides.
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
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.
was a Mallard
on an island but absolutely no sign of a Red-breasted
on Widewater. There did not appear
to be any cygnets
with the second group of
Mute Swans at
first, but then four fluffy cygnets
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.
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.
Toadflax still dominated but there was
plentiful Sea Kale,
Campion, Thrift, Sea
Beet, Cat's Ear, Stonecrops
and other plants, including a few Yellow-horned
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.
Swans appear to have had six
this year. My view was a bit obscured though.
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.
are unrecorded inshore outside the months of October
to March. They
are passage migrants offshore until May.
was fishing in the shallows by the
island and then the Grey Heron
spotted us passing and took a short flight.
lapidarius, flew into some long grass at the east end of Widewater
half a dozen Teals feeding
upended in their characteristic way east of the bridge and just east of
island on the flooded lagoon. Later a couple of female Mallards,
with males in company, fed in the same way.
Water Rail is seen around the Tamarisk
island on Widewater.
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
not seen. Two female Mallards
were there instead. A single chirm of just
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.
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
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.
were feeding together in the shallows west of the bridge over Widewater.
This seems to be an opportunist arrangement.
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.
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.
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.
Wildlife Reports 2005
Map Link for Widewater Lagoon
to Widewater Reports 2005
Nature Notes 2006: Index Page