Adur rises four miles south of Horsham and runs south-east skirting
Coolham, Shipley and West Grinstead before meeting the eastern tributary
midway between Ashurst to the west and Henfield to the east. The eastern
tributary rises in two tributaries south of Haywards Heath, and south of
Burgess Hill that meet at Twineham. The River Adur reaches the sea at Shoreham-by-Sea
where the mouth has been deflected two miles to the east by the longshore
drift. Going upstream with the incoming tide through the centre of
New Shoreham under seven bridges
before the tide reaches the village of Bramber after 6.4 km (4 miles).
The river then passes about one mile east of the town of Steyning. The
is tidal for 17.9 km (11.1 miles) from the mouth to Bines Bridge on the
range where the River Adur, now at Kingston
Buci (part of Shoreham-by-Sea), meets the sea through the entrance to Shoreham
Harbour, is up to 7 metres above Chart Datum
on an equinoctial spring tide.
Estuary Wildlife Reports 2006 (Link)
pm on a high
tide with just a glimpse of the mud banks, I estimated there were about
two thousand Lapwings in
a single flock that split into two waiting to land.
a dozen Mallards
waddled around the water's edge of mudflats west of the Footbridge,
the late afternoon a extraordinary band of white Advection
Mist crept over from the
Airport and New Monks Farm area which
in about fifteen minutes first of all obscured the view of the Toll
Bridge from the south-east by the Railway
Viaduct and then the view of Lancing College disappeared under the
cloud. Lancing Clump could just about be
seen above the low-lying mist.
the right state of tide effects the numbers of
birds on the estuary. On a flood neap opposite Shoreham
Airport, the birds were exiguous. Only the common birds were present
and not many of them, a handful of Redshanks
warning calls and orange legs were most distinctive),
a dozen of so Dunlins,
about 30 Lapwings
(a further thousand were on the airfield), one Grey
Heron, two Cormorants
flying overhead, a few Mute Swans
and just the occasional Black-headed Gull.
Two Little Egrets
were seen north of the A27
Flyover. There was a single Mallard
right the bend in the river east of Cuckoo's
(just to the east of) the Footbridge,
a Little Grebe
dived under the water at low tide.
large handful (at least eight) of Ringed
Plovers were spotted on the mud on the
south side of the river east of the Footbridge
and just before the Waterside Inn on the same longitude as Ferry Road.
Plovers are more familiar to me as
an all the year round and frequent and occasional breeding bird of the
beach pebbles. However, the resident population is supplemented by winter
visitors and migrants that are more numerous and likely to be found on
the estuarine mud flats, where they can be common (over 100 birds). These
small birds can be difficult to identify amongst the other waders when
the tide is low.
first there was not many birds of the mid-tide area of mud, just a Redshank,
an Oystercatcher (it squealed and flew
off), one Grey
Plover, a Crow
and eleven Swans
by the Adur Riverbank Industrial Estate north
of the Railway Viaduct. It was only nearer
the Toll Bridge that more birds could
be seen including between 10 -20 noisy Redshanks,
from 100 - 200 Dunlins,
25+ Great Black-backed Gulls,
40+ other gulls with Black-headed Gulls
and Common Gulls
recognised and probably both Lesser Black-backed
Gulls and Herring
Gulls as well, one Black
Brant (black Brent Goose) feeding on weed
in the water, a handful of Crows,
and a total of about ten Grey Plovers.
was a Black Brant (black Brent Goose) amongst
the Sea Purslane
south of Old Shoreham the Toll
the River Adur estuary on a flood neap tide (5
metres) in the early afternoon.
the afternoon on an ebbing mid-tide (2 metres)
the usual birds were on the mud opposite the Airport, a dozen Grey
Plovers, a handful of Dunlins
and noisy Redshanks,
a few Turnstones,
and the Black-headed, Herring and Black-backed
Gulls (over a hundred gulls in total, probably less than normal)
were noted with at least three Little Egrets,
as I passed by and the light began to fade. The first Lapwings
landed and one flock was about a thousand
birds. At least one Crow
foraged further up the shore. On the river, a handful of Mute
Swans were so familiar that I omitted
to record how many there were.
presence of a Little Egret
on the sandbank north of the Toll
more usual than not. I did notice that one seen in the afternoon had very
distinct yellow feet
which is normal for this bird, but I had never noticed its feet quite so
Field Grasshoppers, Chorthippus brunneus,
heard stridulating amongst the vegetation on the chalk banks of the River
Adur estuary just south of the Toll
Bridge and after a few minutes I spotted
them crawling and jumping and flying.
was perched on the pole until he was disturbed. He is a regular hawk in
autumn around the Toll Bridge area of Old Shoreham.
Heron took off flapping its wings leisurely
from the edge of the flooded river by the Adur
Riverbank Industrial Estate north of the Railway
Viaduct. There were a pair of Mallards
small wader bobbing up and down and feeding at the water's edge at low
tide in the fading light was probably a Turnstone.
I counted twenty of them near the Railway
Heron took flight from a flooded river
between the A27
Flyover and Cuckoo's
Corner. Later it was fishing in the shallows
and took flight again and scattered the gullls
following a tractor to the west of the river.
of five Cormorants
were seen to be actively diving a catching fish, probably first year Bass,
in the River Adur at half spring tide,
opposite the Airport.
I drove from Steyning past the Cement Works at 7.15
am I glimpsed something which looked large
and interesting, but couldn't find it again when I pulled in at Dacre Gardens.
I caught up with it at the
had a good view of an Osprey
with a mob of Jackdaws.
It continued to circle and drift down the Adur valley putting up waders
and gulls below the Toll Bridge.
least two Wheatears
and a Pied Wagtail
were spotted in passing on the mud and rocks on the borders of the low
tide and land near the Railway
(with their parent Mute Swans)
near the Footbridge were nearly adult
look at the grasshoppers on the margin of vegetation above the high tide
mark on the east side of the River Adur estuary
were definitely two species, the
Chorthippus albomarginatus, and the Common
Field Grasshopper, Chorthippus brunneus.
were seven Little Egrets
between the Footbridge and the Norfolk
Bridge on the River Adur estuary on a low neap tide.
Six of the Little Egrets
were resting under the warm sun (26.6 ºC)
whilst a further Little Egret
was patrolling the shallow rock pools left by the receding tide.
flock of Lapwings
were flying over the Airport, the first time
I had noticed them back this autumn (but they have probably been here for
some time, I just had not made a mental note of their returm).
the rain I ventured out as the spring tide nearly
lapped against the banks of the Adur estuary.
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. Some
of them are the Lesser Marsh Grasshopper,
the Adur by Shoreham Airport in the morning, there
were juvenile Curlew Sandpipers
with the Dunlin.
a quick count scanning with my binoculars, there were at least eighty Mute
Swans between the A27
Flyover and the Railway
Viaduct excluding the two families
with four cygnets each known to be resident
on the river and seen by another watcher earlier in the day by Coronation
Green. The tide was a mid-to-low neap at 3
metres at 4:00 pm.
four Little Egrets
were joined by a Grey Heron.
Ripples caused by fish could be seen in the surface waters. There were
Mullet fry in the water on another occasion.
of four Little Egrets
was seen catching a fish in the shallows of the flood spring tide
Toll Bridge and their was
fishing and one on the tall pole. Fry could be seen including the regular
first year Bass
and Sand Smelts
and what were probably very young Garfish.
of Little Egrets
fed near the Toll Bridge on the low
swirl of water noticed from 110 metres away as a small shoal of Grey
Mullet fed near the Footbridge
at low tide. Two juvenile Herring Gulls
rested on the flat calm river.
at low tide two Mute Swans
were seen with four cygnets underneath
just before midday. In the late afternoon (6:00
pm) a minimum of 60 adult Mute
Swans were counted between Cuckoo's
Corner and the Railway Viaduct including
another family of Mute Swans with three
cygnets. There were two
Herons patrolling the thin line of mud
north of the A27
the Adur estuary at low tide, opposite Shoreham Airport,
a minimum of 55 adult Mute Swans
were counted with at least one Little Egret.
at least some Mute Swans surviving with
four cygnets on the River Adur near the
Footbridge. Four cygnets were seen
with one adult swan
in close attendance and another adult in mid-stream at low tide.
Most of the cygnets on Widewater died
quick scan through my binoculars at mid-tide level on the neaps, opposite
the airport, failed to discover anything of interest
on the mud flats, twenty (30+ were recorded a few days later) or so Mute
Swans, a handful of Black-headed
Gulls and perhaps two immature Herring
Gulls was the extent of the bird life.
cristatus, in summer plumage with an elaborate crest, but a grey
back, was on the flooded River Adur at mid-tide between Cuckoo's Corner
and the A27
Flyover. The rare Gull-billed
Tern was still present on the Adur estuary
opposite the airport arriving on the falling
tide about 9.30 am.
the the low spring tide, the Gull-billed
Tern could be easily overlooked or mistaken
for a gull as it waddled along the tideline and occasionally on to the
mud. It spent most of the time about midway between the
Bridge and the Railway Viaduct.
With its black head and black legs it had to be distinguished from a Black-headed
Gull within a few metres of the tern.
At first, the Gull-billed Tern was
in the company of a Little Egret
and it seemed to be pecking at minute food particles, but after a few minutes
it caught a ragworm which tangled around its beak before swallowing it.
On another occasion, the worm was taken to the water and rinsed before
being gulped down. It paused its quest for food to preen at least once.
Later an Oystercatcher
joined the tideline search as the tide fell to the low of one metre.
birders were out in search of the distinctive Gull-billed
Tern with their scopes into
a Force 6 Strong Breeze, later a Force 7 Gale.
still present on the Adur estuary between the
Bridge and the Railway Viaduct until
late in the morning when it flew off westwards.
Tern is an annual vagrant to southern England.
Its natural distribution is mostly a bird of southern Europe including
coastal wetlands such as the Ebro Delta and Coto Donana (Spain) and a small
population in France.
nilotica, was still present on the Adur estuary opposite the airport
to at least 8.10 am
giving good views, although it is a bit flighty. This is a rare bird in
Britain and Sussex.
Heron was stalking in the low tide shallows
within sight (through the binoculars for a clear close-up view) from the
Bridge. It caught a small fish and with a little bit of difficulty
it swallowed it, too quick for my binoculars.
of Sussex (Rare Birds)
first summer Glaucous Gull, Larus
hyperboreus, was seen and identified
on the Adur mudflats north of the Railway
1:30 to 2:15 pm
is very likely to have been the gull seen by me two
days before. The description of the gull I saw matched that of a Glaucous
Gull, but I was
inexperienced and did not get a close enough look to make a positive identification.
Gull is classified
by the Sussex
Ornithological Society as a "very scarce"
Vagrant or Passage Migrant. This gull species
may return to the same area regularly and one Glaucous
Gull has been seen on the Adur before.
The Glaucous Gull
is a northern species that breeds in Iceland.
Gull Photograph by Dave Green
the early afternoon low tide mud flats opposite Shoreham Airport, about
250 gulls congregated of five recognisable species: Great
Black-backed Gulls, Herring
Black-backed Gulls, Common
one unidentified speckled white gull that
lacked any black tail feathers. This large gull was a bit of a mystery;
a good look through the binoculars indicated its tail feathers and overall
appearance was different from the other gulls. Even the other immatures
had darker tails: I made a careful comparison. The bill and leg colour
of this gull were not discerned.
turning and searching amongst the broken flint walls and hulks down by
the River Adur estuary at low tide (midway between the Toll
Bridge and the Railway
Viaduct on the eastern bank) produced
the first discoveries of Slow-Worms
and Common Lizards
of the year.
Worms were quick to slither to shelter
Lizards seemed to have lost most of their tails
Hamblett rock-turning for Shore
Crabs and Sea Slaters
(Lancing Gallery by Ray Hamblett)
Gulls perch on supports next to the
the low neap tide there were over a thousand gulls of at least three species
on the mud flats between the Railway Viaduct
and the Toll Bridge. Through the
binoculars it could be seen that the large majority of the gulls were medium-sized
with distinct pale green legs, which are Common
were more than a handful of Herring Gulls,
and a few Great Black-backed Gulls
and Black-headed Gulls.
usual low tide collection of gulls on the Adur by Shoreham Airport this
afternoon consisted of:
Black-backed Gulls 15
Black-backed Gulls 8
adult Mediterranean Gull
was seen on the River Adur just south of Toll
Bridge around midday at low tide (low
neap tide at 2.4 metres WX Tides).
air temperature (10.7 ºC) went into double figures for the first time
since 12 February
2005, about one thousand*
the River Adur by Old Shoreham on the receding tide (WX
Tide 4 metres at Shoreham Harbour) about 2.00
pm waiting for enough mud to appear for the
flock to land. They are easier to count in the air and were in three flocks
of 300 to 350 birds in each.
This seems to be the usual number of roosting birds on the mud flats in
the River Adur, the four ducks around the first bend north of the A27 Flyover,
were four Pochards
which are unusual on the tidal river; their maroon heads of the three males
most distinctive. Further north on the bend of the main river by Cuckoo’s
Corner, four Little Grebes,
swam and dived in the flat calm water.
pair of Mallards
were on the flooded freshwater stream that ran parallel with the river
south of Cuckoo’s Corner.
the Adur at mid-tide, two Little Grebes
were diving underwater near Cuckoo’s
Corner. I attempted to surprise one as it surfaced, but it saw me and
skittered across the smooth surface of the river like a miniature Moorhen.
a dozen Redshanks
were easily spotted and there were probably more on these waders on the
of Old Shoreham Toll
Bridge two Little Grebes spent
most of the time diving repeatedly under the surface of the River Adur
estuary on a rising neap tide at about 2.5 metres
(two hours after low water).
the estuary between the Railway Viaduct
and the Toll Bridge, there were
hundreds of gulls and waders: Dunlins (100+),
(100+) with the tide not quite low enough for them to congregate, Black-headed
Gulls, Greater Black-backed Gulls (30+), Grey
Plovers (30+), with a handful of Crows,
Swans, but no Cormorants
or Little Egrets seen as I passing by with
a two minute scan with my binoculars.
Adur Estuary Wildlife 2004
Nature Notes 2005: Index Page