is some rather puzzling engineering work going on on the shingle foreshore
at the eastern of Widewater Lagoon, which seems to also involve an offshore
ship of some kind. Shingle and water is being pumped over a small section
of the beach.
photograph on the left shows what looks like mainly coloured water coming
out the pipeline which is discolouring the sea, but a lesser extent than
the water discharges from Shoreham harbour on to Southwick beach.
Page (by Ray Hamblett
Engineers have begun the
first stage of the seawater pipe installation at Widewater Lagoon. The
sections black plastic pipe are being joined by a heat welding machine.
The process takes about one and a half hours for each section. Two joins
have been made, there will be about twenty more joins to complete the pipe
which is designed to allow topping up of the lagoon should it suffer lack
of water in summer as a result of the sea defence works currently in progress.
The site of the installation is being plotted on the ground towards the
west end of the lagoon. The work is expected to be completed in March
The best bit of Ringed
Plover nesting habitat and the most attractive bit of the flora (Sea
Thrift and Stonecrops) of the lagoon fringes
has been churned to pieces. The location of the pipeline was changed at
the last minute. The top soil/gravel is meant to be returned in the place
from where it was removed.
(by Steve Barker) before the Pipeline
new rock defences on the shingle beach
are erected on Widewater beach with rocks*
brought in by barge across the North Sea from Norway.
great heaps of rock looking like small volcanic islands sat on the beach
the last time I looked. Each waiting to be sculpted into a new groyne structure.
I stood watching the contractors as they were using a mechanical claw to
set rocks into place in a mound that will become one of the new groynes.
was extraordinary to see how much effort went in to get one piece of rock
to fit exactly the right position at the top of the newly formed mound.
Imagine having to build a rockery with pieces that weigh several tonnes
each. All the exposed pieces, it seems, must be secure and form an overall
smooth appearance, so that if you take a line and hold it against the mound,
no individual rocks break the line or leave a large hollow. Or perhaps
imagine if it were rendered with cement, a rock would not protrude through.
That seems to be the degree to which construction was taken. One piece
of stone was tried, rolled, twisted, turned and finally rejected and another
selected and the process repeated until just the right fit was obtained.
There must be a huge safety factor at stake here. If one piece of rock
was not quite secure, a person could be trapped and maimed by an unexpected
shift if they inadvertently found the loose piece.
a type of syenite)
Rock Sea Defences on Widewater beach
Waves at the Shoreline: Special Considerations
REPORTS 2004 ET SEQ.
over 40 mm of rain the previous day and over night, the water level of
Widewater Lagoon on the gauge by the bridge is 1 m 66 cm, the highest level
recorded in 2003.
water level of Widewater Lagoon
on the gauge by the bridge was 1 m 63 cm.
the high spring tide a Little
Egret was stationed by the inlet where
the water was flooding in.
an inch of steady rain in the last two days and some high spring tides,
the level of Widewater Lagoon has only risen to 1 m 58 cm. The
shows no change from the beginning of the month and is recorded at 25‰
is still in flower in small clumps on the grass near the Information Kiosk.
larger than normal chirm of over 30 Goldfinches
made an attractive display amongst the dead Burdock
on an overcast day. It is the Burdock fruits
that are brown globular burrs that stick to clothing and anything else.
After thus dispersing its seeds, this biennial plant (purple in flower)
nearly 25 mm of rain in the last three days and the high tides, Widewater
is in flood and the spit at the east end near the island is completely
under water. The height reading is 1 m 65 cm. This level is higher than
at any time this year.
were at least three Redshanks
feeding in the Widewater shallows at the eastern end of the lagoon. (The
have a longer beak than the Turnstone.)
were present in two small chirms of under a dozen birds each.
roosting at dusk with the thirty Black-headed
Gulls looked slightly incongruous. It
rested on the narrow spit on the seaward side near the island at the eastern
end of the flooded lagoon. When the gulls took to the air, it remained
one Little Egret
and two Sandwich Terns
were seen at Widewater, Lancing.
first chirm of about a dozen Goldfinches
flew rapidly amongst the shrubbery between Widewater Lagoon and the beach
huts, and and a young (brownish) Brown
Rat was seen in the reduced undergrowth
next to the promenade above the inlet pipe.
is surprising how full Widewater Lagoon can look after just a small
rise because of the percolation and sea rushing through the inlet. The
water spreads out over the flat flood plain, submerging most of the Glasswort.
The Little Egret
was darting its beak into the shallows actively feeding. The small prawns
were most likely its prey.
the gravel near the inlet a Clouded
Yellow Butterfly flew
in the moderate north westerly breeze on a sunny
16.2 ºC (max) afternoon. Wild flowering
plants in short supply included Hawkbits,
Pimpernel, small very blue clumps of Viper's
Bugloss, the very occasional Bird's
Foot Trefoil and Sea
breeze blowing from the north against the high tide caused choppy conditions
in the sea, but it veered around from a completely opposite direction from
the south-east in the late morning.
inlet pipe to
Lagoon has not been detrimental to the autumn Glasswort,
as if anything the splendid and unusual scarlet fringe to the lagoon is
even more dramatic than usual. A large
Egret was feeding to the west of the bridge.
Glasswort by the Inlet Pipe
Lagoon was at the highest I had ever seen it, completed flooded on the
available flood plain at the east end, and west of the bridge, the red
is almost totally submerged. There were tens of thousands of very small
prawns, but I still have not seen a single Stickleback
was a single female Wheatear over
dry land near the lagoon preparing to start her long migration to Africa.
There were also a few small buntings (small birds) possibly Corn
Buntings near the inlet pipe.
Egret is absent from Widewater Lagoon. A Little
Egret was feeding near the Railway
Viaduct on the River Adur estuary at low
large moth entered a house next to Widewater
Lagoon. It was not identified, but it was very likely to have been a Convolvulus
convolvuli. There has been an influx of these immigrant moths in
Widewater in the early morning
lagoon level was as high as seen in winter. The area where the Glasswort,
would be poking out of the mud, was submerged.
seawater is flooding into Widewater Lagoon through the inlet
on the high (over 6 metre) spring tides. It will
be interesting to observe the effect of the artificially raised water level
on the colour and prevalency of the saltmarsh plant Glasswort,
Lagoon is being maintained at a winter high level by allowing seawater
in through the inlet pipe, maintaining a salinityof
full strength seawater. A
handful of Common
Blue Butterflies fluttered over the shingle,
the reduced overflow of the flood plain because of the raised level, and
Dragonfly flew at about six metres above
the surface. The green weed Enteromorpha,
and possibly some Sea Lettuce,
could be seen but the lagoon was not very attractive.
combination of the high tides and the new inlet
pipe have resulted in Widewater Lagoon being in flood comparable to winter.
The flood plain wild flowers are under threat
from the saline conditions, possibly including the Sea
were thousands of tiny prawns, lots of bubbles at high tide, but no Sticklebacks
to be seen.
close look in the shallows by the footbridge over the lagoon and it did
not look very attractive: the water was more orangey than normal, there
seemed to be excessive silt, the Cladophora
(green cotton wool-like weed) seemed to be absent and where the shoals
of 3-spined Sticklebacks used to be,
there were prawns. The weed present was a going brown and it looked like
the latter known as Sea Lettuce.
both Mute Swans
and prawns could
eat the Cladophora?
ecology of Widewater Lagoon seems to be changing. One filamentous green
weed is missing and the shoals of 3-spined Sticklebacks, Gasterosteus
aculeatus, which were one of the most obvious and easily recognised
feature of Widewater for the last fifty years or more, are no longer
to be seen and seem to have been replaced by small prawns. In the last
week, several huge, two metre long? plus Eels,
anguilla, were seen in the small pool near the input pipe thrashing
about in the muddy shallows. The width of the bodies were larger than could
be grabbed in one hand.
by Russell (Lancing)
were not decimated in the dry summer of 1996 as I have recorded them in
their normal numbers since then, probably two or three years ago. The last
positive record was in April 2002 of sticklebacks
being gulped down by the Little Egret. However, the Sticklebacks were completely
missing for summer of 2002. The disappearance of the Cladophora
could be important as the sticklebacks bred amongst this weed and used
it for their nests.
resident Little Egret was
repeatedly feeding in the shallows; I attempted to but I could not identify
what it was feeding on. There was not an abundance of prawns in its feeding
was handful of Gatekeeper
Butterflies in the taller vegetation on
the fringes of Widewater and a few Large
skippers were small and looked like Small Skippers until examined close
are a lot of small black insects around, especially the flies by Widewater
Lagoon. A Gatekeeper
Butterfly by the Information Booth (TQ
204 042) is my
first record of (TQ 204 042)
this very common (in July and August) butterfly
at Widewater or on Shoreham Beach on these Nature
Notes. However, it is possible that its very abundance means that it is
not mentioned. The beach area lacks the trees and bushes favoured by the
Lady Butterfly flew in off the sea and
I nearly collided with a Poplar Hawk Moth
my bicycle near the Information Booth at Widewater Lagoon (TQ
Agency opened up the four inch slats and three workers (in two vehicles)
supervised the input of seawater into Widewater
Lagoon on the high spring tide. Despite this topping up the lagoon,
the water level was still fractionally down compared to
specific gravity was measured (and double-checked) and the salinity calculated
at 35‰ (ppt), which is full strength seawater. This compares to a salinity
of 24‰ (ppt) in July 2002. A combination of the input of full strength
seawater and the evaporation during the exceptionally hot spell this spring
is likely to be the reason. If the fresh seawater is introduced throughout
the summer at the current rate, there is a risk that the lagoon will become
hypersaline and be unable to support aquatic life.
Salinity Records 2002-3
Flood Plain Images
Widewater Lagoon, several large Common
Eels have been seen to the east of the
bridge. They could only be seen at the bottom of the lagoon from a very
high vantage point on the roof of one of the houses.
by Peter Talbot-Elsden (Southwick)
Thrift has faded and Opium
Poppies are the most colourful feature
of the lagoon fringes.
Meakins (Environmental Agency) advises me that this was the date the pipeline
was first put into operation (by telephone
conversation of 3 July 2003). This is a Saturday
with a high spring tide of 6.4 metres (WXTides).
pipeline was actually opened on 13 April 2003
pm by the Widewater Pipeline Management
Team. However, as this was only at half spring tide of 3 metres at this
hour, I assume that the water would not come through until 10:30 pm when
the tide reached 6 metres in height.
the recent rain, the level of Widewater Lagoon was about 50 mm lower than
and this leaves bare patches of mud. The salinity
was measured at 30‰, the same as last month.
Salinity Records (June 2003)
resident pair of Great Black-backed Gulls
were making a bit of a noise with their shrieking calls. A
Tortoiseshell Butterfly as noted at the
western fringe of the lagoon.
Sandpiper was seen at Widewater.
Swans on Widewater Lagoon have seven cygnets
a handful of Yellow-horned Poppy
plants are in flower and the Tree Mallow
is now more handsome at the western end of the lagoon.
Admiral Butterflies and faded
Lady Butterflies appeared
with a breeze from the south. I only saw a couple of each in ten minutes,
but they looked like immigrants and later more of both species were seen
near Old Shoreham Toll Bridge.
Widewater there were thousands of ovigerous
small prawns collecting by the edge of
the lagoon. The prawn species has not yet been positively identified. (It
could be Palaemon elegans?)
Foot Trefoil was beginning to flower on
the gravel between the lagoon and the cyclepath/promenade, dividing the
lagoon from the sea.
Gull (1st or 2nd summer), Larus hyperboreas,
seen again at Widewater, Lancing at 10.15
am and again at 11.30
am, when it flew towards the River
Adur. The Glaucous Gull is
an Arctic species and a rare visitor to southern England. It is a large
species only exceeded in size by the Great
Black-backed Gull, one of which has been
resident at Widewater since the beginning of 2003.
soil and gravel that had been disturbed for the pipeline at Widewater was
like a bare desert between large drifts of the
A pair of Ringed Plovers
rose from amongst the Thrift,
and flew rapidly away.
of Disturbed Land (Link)
in Widewater Lagoon is recorded at a high level of 30‰. Seawater in the
English Channel is about 34‰.
is the highest recorded salinity in the last year.
Salinity Records 2002-3
Thrift is now in flower.
the Widewater flood plain, on the gravel and
soil that had been lifted to instal the new
pipeline and then replaced, the Sea
Campion was noticeably in flower.
new pipeline from the sea to Widewater Lagoon has been landscaped and now
merges into the shingle bank. After a couple
of months of low rainfall, the lagoon salinity rises to a high figure of
25.5‰ (as high as any recording last year).
Salinity Records 2002-3
species was probably the Red-tailed
steady stream of orange-tailed bumblebees
observed flying eastwards over the shingle beach to the seaward edge of
Widewater Lagoon. Over a period of two hours, a bee must have passed every
30 seconds and I estimated the total numbers passing at about 136. Later
in the afternoon a smaller fly-pass occurred.
were two pairs of Shelducks at
the eastern end of Widewater
were five ducks up-ending themselves to feed in Widewater Lagoon (eastern
end). Some 25% smaller than Mallards, I have penned these in asTeals.
a month of very little rainfall, I would guess that the salinity would
rise slightly in Widewater Lagoon, which was
heavily in flood which is usually associated with heavy rainfall. The
SG was measured and the salinity calculated at 27‰.
represents the largest monthly rise in salinity for a whole year. At the
time of writing, I have not checked if the new pipeline is in operation.
was a surprise to see a black
Goose wading around the edges and swimming
on the surface of Widewater Lagoon just south
of the footbridge over the lagoon. The Little
Egret was feeding as usual.
Gulls were standing on the thin layer
of ice that covered
nearly the whole expanse of Widewater Lagoon, the Mute
Swans were restricted to a small area
of clear water near the houses. The Little
Egret was predictably missing as it would
have had few opportunities to feed in the frozen margins.
Page (by Ray Hamblett)
thin layer of ice formed over the shallow fringes of Widewater
Lagoon. The daytime temperature was about
1.1° C and the dew point -4.2 ºC.
was a Kingfisher
at the eastern end of the lagoon.
Lagoon is in flood after the recent rain and the salinity fell to 15‰.
Egret foraged in the shallows as usual.
This bird is not ringed.
Dabchicks (=Little Grebes) are spotted
repeatedly diving beneath the flooded Widewater Lagoon.
by Peter Talbot-Elsden
the edge of Widewater Lagoon, a Kestrel
took a Goldfinch
in mid-flight, hard enough to down the bird before finally capturing it.
the edge of Widewater, a Feral Pigeon
probed. This "townie" is uncommon, (except for Southwick Square), not even
found regularly at the railway stations in the Adur urban district.
It could have been attracted by the feeding of the resident family of Mute
Swans (two adults and nine cygnets that
were partially white, nearly attaining adult colouring in their first year).
The swans quickly
swam towards me as I collected by water sample. On the sparsely vegetated
artificial island of Widewater Lagoon, a Great
Black-backed Gull was doing its best to
further denude the vegetation with a large (rabbit-sized) clump of greenery
which it flew off with.
the Information Kiosk by Widewater
Lagoon, two uncommon Sussex birds made a brief visit: a single Black
and a couple of Stonechats.
It is interesting how the Widewater provides a temporary haven for a large
variety of the less familiar birds. The identity of these birds were confirmed
Ornithological Society observers.
Egret was seen on the margins of Widewater
Lagoon. Not so little either, these two birds appeared as white herons
at first and the appearance of their size is dependent on their behaviour,
skulking around the margins makes them appear smaller. One bird seemed
to have such pronounced rings on its legs it appeared like it was in plaster.
Egret is back feeding on in and around
Widewater Lagoon after a break for the summer months.
the high tide reached it's peak at around 12:15
pm the percolation effect could clearly be
seen at the western end of the Lagoon. As the rising tide pushes it's way
through from the seaward side, trapped air is expelled. In many places
the along the southern edge of the lagoon air bubbles rapidly rose to the
surface as if the water was boiling. In at least two places, seawater springs
emerged from the lagoon edge. Black and green algal growth clustered around
the slow trickle.
the adjacent beach, as the sun shone warmly, the sea was flat enough to
skim pebbles on the surface. The fear of a low pressure weather system
corresponding with an unusual high tide did not materialise.
Butterfly patrolled the sheltered leeward
side of the bank while at the top of the bank a Clouded
Yellow Butterfly took advantage of the
clusters of Michaelmas Asters
which also attracted bees to one of the seasons last nectar sources.
Page (by Ray Hamblett
Images for September 2002 (by Ray Hamblett)
a month of minimal rain and with an Indian
Summer summer preceding some of the highest and lowest equinoctial
spring tides for over 20 years, I visited Widewater
Lagoon, 1½ hours after the midday high spring tide of 6.8 metres.
The bubbles of percolating seawater had ceased by then and the only water
commotion was caused by a small flock of Ringed
Plover. There was a band of about 40 cm
of wet mud (west of the bridge) where it looked as though the water had
recently receded. The lagoon level was higher than that of a month ago,
as the separate westerly lagoon was a continuous sheet of water, but still
scarcely more than a large puddle. The air
temperature was recorded at 21° C and water temperature in the lagoon
at 16.5° C. There were thousands
of small prawns in the lagoon.
distinctive long-legged spider Tetragnatha
extensa was discovered in the long grass near Widewater
Lagoon on the sea side.
one day of heavy rain (9 September 2002) and
high spring tides, the level of Widewater has risen again comparable to
August 2002 with the small western
lagoon again filled. It would be useful to have a continual recording
apparatus of height and salinity. A recording device was installed, but
I understand that it is no longer working.
noticeable, one bird flying from from one of the wooden parallel wooden
supports to another, prior to their migration to warmer climates.
a dry spell, Widewater Lagoon had receded/dried out and the small separate
lagoon west of the western causeway was reduced to a few puddles since
August 2002.A live Lagoon
Cockle was found on the surface.
Page (by Ray Hamblett)
finding the Wasp Spider,
bruennichi, on Mill
Hill on 18 August 2002, another
one almost leapt at me down at Widewater
Lagoon (TQ 2008 0415)
today. This one was close to the path across the causeway, I wasn't able
to get such a good look at it but I think it was a male, about half the
size of the Mill Hill specimen. I was distracted
for a minute and when I looked back the spider had 'legged it'.
Lagoon was very full of water (depth
? measured at ?) for August
could be explained by the heavy rainfall of the last few days which caused
flooding in some places. The high tide of
6.1 metres (WXTide Table) occurred
at 4.27 pm BST and
the air bubbles shooting up through the cracks in the alluvium floor of
the lagoon began one hour before the high tide. They occurred as a steady
stream of small bubbles and sometimes as large less frequent bubbles and
these bubble points occurred more often in the shallow water but also could
be seen at the surface in water that was two metres deep. The conjecture
is that this is seawater being forced into the lagoon through the shingle
bank and the bubbling only occurs on tides of over 6 metres in height.
pm I saw some air bubbles in the area approx.
200 metres west of main ridge and spreading a further 100 metres west.
There must have been at least 100 sets of bubbles! At least six had water
rising at least 25 mm over the level of the Widewater. At this time there
were no other areas showing this effect.
pm I then witnessed the same again this time
some 200 metres east of the bridge and extending another 50 metres east.
The bubble form was less pronounced than the previous lot.
of thousands of very small (> 15 mm) prawns collected on the lagoon edges
amongst the pebbles. Bob Cranborne provided
the thin mesh net and the markings on the these prawns could be seen clearly
when looking down into the white bucket. They were too small for positive
identification with the naked eye. There is a possibility of the Lagoon
Palaemonetes varians or more likely the Common Prawn,
the surrounds of the causeway, I suddenly spotted a Ringed
Plover chick. The two parents were conspicuous,
part of their distraction behaviour, and altogether a small flock of
about 15 Ringed Plovers
wheeled noisily. Wheatears
were flying around as well, prior to emigration and the Mute
Swan couple were accompanied by nine
dirty grey cygnets.
large and distinctive example of a female
Emperor Dragonfly buzzed overhead.
small cockles (new recruits of a breeding population) have now been discovered
at depths of 20 cm in Widewater, which was about a metre deep near the
bridge. This is the Lagoon Cockle, Cerastoderma
glaucum, although when the
cockles are small (12 mm width) they do not have the shape of the full
grown ones, so they initially looked to me like Common
Cockles, Cerastoderma edule. Actually, whilst they are alive
there does not seem to be an easy way to distinguish them as it is the
interior groove differences that are diagnostic. The shell is thinner and
the Lagoon Cockle is brittler and the live
shell can be easily prised open with a fingernail which is much harder
with the Common Cockle, even small ones. The Shore
Crab, Carcinus maenas, would find
these shells very easy to crack open.
The pipeline is now finished (written in July 2003) and the internal weir
in operation seems likely to handicap most immigrants from the sea, except
for small prawns.
black ooze (mud substrate) also revealed Nereis (ragworms), lugworms
and other assorted worms. The tiny gastropod Hydrobia was plentiful
as expected. There were also a few sediment-dwelling attachment type sea
anemones discovered, although these were not Edwardsia
sea anemones have been identified as a dwarf specimens of the distinctive Haliplanella
lineata with orange stripes which are not found on other British
sea anemones. The anemone photographed was only 2 mm in height and 3 mm
in diameter and this was typical of the dozen anemones discovered.
anemone (accidentally introduced species) is a sea
anemone that inhabits harbours and estuaries and occasionally lagoons
where the salinity is below full strength seawater.
lineata attains at least 20 mm high and 13 mm diameter in British
specimens but in other parts of the world could be twice this size.
by longitudinal fission is habitual
and frequent in this species.
(a small green or grey rockpool fish), Lipophrys pholis, was discovered
by S. McKenzie
in Widewater near the bridge. This fish would not be able to enter the
lagoon naturally at present and would have been introduced by human activity.
It was not behaving naturally, it was slightly moribund. This is because
of the lowered (corrected) salinity of 24‰
(ppt). These rockpool fish can only tolerate
lowered salinities occasionally for short periods when trapped in pools
at low tide. If the unfiltered pipeline
is introduced, these fish will find their way into the lagoon and unless
they could escape through the pipeline, they will die within a few weeks.
is another fish genus (two common species)
that would enter, but these fish have a short life less than two year span,
but the first year fry, with a greater tolerance of lowered salinity
(entering estuaries in the summer) would
still enter the lagoon and die in the first winter. Shore Crabs have an
even greater tolerance of lowered salinity, able to osmoregulate better
in higher summer water temperatures, but even with this hardy crab, they
would find it difficult to survive a winter unless they congregated in
more saline pockets. These crabs will predate on cockles and worms in the
least one live Lagoon
Cockle, Cerastoderma glaucum,
is discovered in the mud samples taken from deeper water yesterday.
trip in the unseasonal drizzle to Widewater Lagoon,
ostensibly in the search for the sea anemone Edwardsia
ivelli, but actually the collection of anaerobic mud and hundreds
of dead shells of the Lagoon Cockle, Cerastoderma
glaucum, with just the remotest long
shot that something interesting would creep out. The black mud substrate
was collected at two locations one west of and one east of the bridge on
the shallow edge of the deepest bits of the lagoon. After the recent rain,
the lagoon was still appreciably filled and showed no signs of drying out
that can occur in hot summers.
failure to discover even one live cockle was
worrying and disappointing. Worrying because the initial thought that it
was because of an accumulation of silt that caused thousands of the cockles
to die. Another possibility was that the collection area had actually dried
out completely during a recent dry summer and the mass mortality was because
some lagoons are prone to ephemerality it is in their nature to experience
wide fluctuations in populations of species. When I have recorded
glaucum at sites I have almost always found many many more dead shells
than living. Terry Wimbleton (Havant)
of the Conchological Society
has observed see-saw colonisation of suitable habitat for Cerastoderma
glaucum locally (Dorset
to Sussex) and was talking to me about this at a meeting recently."
first green spiky shoots of Glasswort
were clear in the boggy and almost dry margins. Floating on the surface
the strands of the rooted plant with the scientific name of Ruppia
maritima were pointed out. This is an unattractive choking
style green flowering point that was present in large clumps. Despite its
prominence this is the first record of it on these Nature Notes pages.
Widewater Lagoon, a pair of Mute Swans
to the west of the small bridge were accompanied by ten
cygnets. The lagoon was in flood after
the recent heavy rain.
the shingle bank of Widewater a Ringed
Plover flew rapidly towards the seashore.
This is a potential breeding are for these small wading birds if they are
not disturbed by Crows
Egret on Widewater Lagoon has been an
almost permanent resident for at least six months and an regular visitor
before that. Every time I cycle past, I expect to see this attractive white
bird with a long black beak feeding in the shallows. On this occasion the
egret was feeding avidly and I could see the flash of the the silver flanks
of the 3-spined Sticklebacks as they were gulped
down, at a rate of one very five seconds for several minutes.
(Hindsight: it is difficult to be sure of the prey at long distance.)
couple of Wheatears
have arrived by Widewater for the first report of these migrants this year.
150 Brent Geese
were also seen flying east a long way out to sea, and a flock of 15 Turnstones
Widewater Lagoon, a pair of Red-breasted
Mergansers shook themselves and dived
under the water. The Little Egret
was still there fishing in the shallows.
chirm of 20 Goldfinches adorned
the shrub on the south side of the lagoon.
the Widewater submerged margins, the brilliant
orange of the large Ruddy
Shelduck was the last bird to be seen
after the Little Egret
in the shallow lagoon to the east of the bridge and the Red-breasted
Merganser on the surface over the deeper
Lancing Beach Green where the Sailing Club building was being rebuilt,
a solitary bird flew just like the Turnstones
of a week ago. Only this time the fleeting rear view was different with
far more white, and the call was "kee-oo kee-oo"
which makes this bird to almost certainly be a Redshank,
although the call was not the shrill alarm of this wader when it is suddenly
disturbed on the estuary.
a hundred small birds were observed flying west over the sea, just above
the waves in flocks of 30 and 60+, only a 100 metres from the cycle path,
just 50 metres, from where the sea lapped on the shore, but the birds were
too small and quick for me to identify. I would go for Dunlins
as the most probable birds.
chirm of Goldfinches
the shrubbery between the lagoon and the sea numbered about 30 but they
were outnumbered by about 100 noisy House
Sparrows in adjoining bushes.
a wet and blustery day a small flock of 30 Dunlin
wheeled over Widewater. The resident albino Mallards
tucked their heads into their breasts.
Richard Ivell visited Widewater Lagoon, Lancing, West Sussex, to show
a group of naturalists and local residents where he discovered the very
rare sea anemone Edwardsii ivelli.
He also explained how they were discovered which should enable us to try
and and discover them again this summer when the water recedes. After the
recent rain the the lagoon was in flood, covering the
sp, completely. The miniature sea anemones were originally discovered on
a study of the Lagoon Cockle,
glaucum, which buries deeply (to 10 cm) in the soft sediment. They
revealed themselves in the bucket of mud and cockles.
The 1997 survey took core samples.)
of about 35 Pochards
cheered us up in the rain. These ducks appear like a dark blob at first,
their grey backs camouflaged quite well against the rippled water, repeatedly
diving under the surface. In the shallows a Little
Egret was repeatedly feeding right on
the edge, probably not on the Three Spined Sticklebacks,
aculeatus, although I am not quite sure what the Egret was stabbing
this time the sticklebacks were not actually seen in the lagoon and appear
to have already disappeared.)
Proposal to remove Edwardsia ivelli from Schedule 5 protection (Link)
proposal has been abandoned as the anemone may still be extant (May 2002).
Nature Newsletter (February 2002)
Lagoons Action Plan
were recorded by Colin Upton (Brighton RSPB)
leading a group of birdwatchers at Widewater Lagoon.
These ducks were also reported before Christmas at Widewater.
couple of the large white ducks, with a bright orange band around their
long necks, were Shelducks,
which appeared a large duck when they waddled around much larger than the
convoy of Mallards,
but when on the surface water of Widewater Lagoon the Shelducks appeared
high tides and rain had filled Widewater Lagoon which looked spectacularly
red with the red variety of Glasswort
in abundance, part submerged and partly still exposed west of the bridge.
At the eastern end a Little Egret
fished in the shallows.
flock of 50 plus House Sparrows
looked brighter and leaner and I suspected these were immigrants, not the
plump overfed resident birds.
Information Booth at Widewater Lagoon (TQ
204 042) is officially opened. It contains
a picture display and information by Ray
Hamblett and Steve Barker.
Lagoon page (by Ray Hamblett).
white moth buzzed around the white beach huts.
This was likely to be a Brown-tailed Moth
this was not confirmed).
August 2001, a large female Kestrel
observed leaving a bush adjacent to Widewater Lagoon before flying away
rapidly and then soaring.
fly to and from over the shingle beach between Widewater Lagoon and the
sea, their white rear very distinctive, before this slim bird settles prior
to its long migration back to Africa for the winter months. Three birds
were seen by the beach huts. There were probably more.
few Red Admiral Butterflies
appeared to flutter in from the seaward side, but these butterflies are
strong flyers and they may be just be moving from one nectareous plant
pair of Mute
Swans on Widewater Lagoon were followed
by six cygnets,
not cuddly small offspring but large dark coloured first year juvenile
first butterfly (species unidentified) of
the year over the shingle on the sea side of Widewater, but attention was
simultaneously distracted by a female Kestrel
over head, from underneath the pale blue with streaks stood out from the
blue sky of the first fine and sunny day of the year. The female looks
much larger than a male and could be mistaken for a Sparrowhawk. This bird
glided and than paused for the familiar hover, before swooping off on the
wind. It is usually the male that is blue underneath.
fragilis, near the remounts of flint walls
and grassland near Widewater. These small reptiles occasionally become
the prey of visiting Kestrels.
first immigrant Wheatears
make their landfall near the Widewater Lagoon.
oiled Gannet is reported from Widewater Lagoon. This was the first
sign of a much greater oil spill off the Sussex coast with scores of oiled
Guillemots and other birds. Sussex RSPCA, Tel: 0300 1234 999.
hovering over the grass to the east of the bridge over Widewater, and swooped
down quickly, but it quickly rose again so the strike must have been unsuccessful.
was very little evidence of the excessive rain of the last two days, Even
Widewater Lagoon had not risen to a flood warning extent, although all
the flood plain was sodden. The white faces
of five Coots
on the lagoon were immediately noticeable on a sunny shirt-sleeves day.
These birds, in the 1970s were abundant on the Adur
estuary had declined in recent years and were sometimes absent altogether.
my attention was quickly distracted by a colourful male Kestrel
taking off from a stump or a patch of dryish grass to the east of the bridge
over Widewater, flying west so it was hidden by the Tamarisk bushes.
light rain and low cloud on both days, in a moderate southerly breeze occasionally
gusting to near gale, I came so close (2 metres) to low flying femaleSparrowhawks
cycling, I thought we going to collide, but this bird of prey's superior
eyesight enabled to soar quickly out of the way. The first near collision
occurred on the cycle path by Widewater Lagoon (TQ
(This bird was not a Kestrel behaving like a Sparrowhawk.)
Information on Sparrowhawks
are on the move all over the Adur area, with a flock of about 50 Wheatears
flying over the beach next to Widewater prior to their southerly migration.
The lagoon was hosting 30 Mute Swans.
Egret dipped his beak in to feed repeatedly in the cockle lagoon (to
the west of the bridge) (TQ 200 042), part
of Widewater Lagoon. Its prey could have been 3-spined
Sticklebacks, which are commonly seen in the shallows from the vantage
point of the bridge. (The presence of the sticklebacks
are not confirmed by this report.) I had not seen a Little Egret
on the River Adur (estuary) this year, but the
young Bass shoals were not as numerous as in the
special year 1999. The first few Goldfinches and Greenfinches returned
to the fringes of the lagoon.
Martins swooped to and fro over Shoreham
Beach in an acrobatic prelude to their annual migration to warmer climes.
By the following day they had all left.
Lagoon has been treated to a visit by the Australian
Black Swan, Cygnus atratus, which must be living in a semi-wild
state, as it is not part of the British avian fauna. It is about half the
size of the familiar white Mute Swan, Cygnus olor. These swans often
inhabit the Swiss Cottage Lake in Shoreham-by-Sea.
A Common Gull, Larus
canus, was observed by Andy Horton (it was pointed
out to him) through a powerful telescope, at Widewater Lagoon near Shoreham-by-Sea,
Sussex just after midday standing on a pole in the brackish shallows. This
particular bird was in adult plumage and distinguished by a particularly
prominent black tip to its beak on the left side, and a lesser smudge on
the right beak. The legs of this bird were bright yellow.
The black beak markings of the juveniles are not included in most popular
books with the notable exception of the "Reader's Digest Nature Lovers
guide on British Birds." The clearly viewed markings on the right hand
side of this bird were consistent with the Common Gull and not the ringed
bill of the rare American vagrant the Ring-billed Gull, Larus
delawarensis. The American bird has a Herring Gull-like thicker bill.
This vagrant bird has been reported on six occasions from Sussex during
I am not so sure now. I have just discovered a photograph
that looks a bit like the gull on Widewater.
observations of Common Gulls do
not have such a pronounced black band or any sort of mark on their beaks
so the original identification of a Ring-billed
Gull seems at least fair, although I was never
sure. (AH, winter 2003).
Photograph (of a bird
area between the lagoon and the beach is particularly good for small birds
in autumn prior to migration)
in autumn prior to migration)
Action Plan for Sussex on Saline Lagoons has been published by WSCC.
Plan for Saline Lagoons
Biodiversity: Notes on Action Plan
Saline Lagoons: Links for more Information