of yellow on the underside of the wing revealed the identity of the Grey
Wagtail that flitted across a garden pond north of the Meads (Overmead),
just outside the centre of Shoreham. This bird is an unusual migrant from
northern climes, although a few breed in the Adur valley.
by Jenny Byrne
last Full Moon of the 20th century is much brighter than normal and can
be seen clearly before dusk.
thin layer of snow fell on Mill Hill and the
downs above Shoreham. This event is unusual before Christmas, occurring
about once a decade. Freezing temperatures throughout the following day.
The snow quickly cleared to be replaced by a morning layer of frost on
December 1999. A night temperature of
minus 5° C was forecasted on the coast at Shoreham-by-Sea.
were scattered all over Shoreham Airfield, hundreds
of them evenly spaced, each occupying an area of slightly less than a tennis
court. There were slightly more than usual and it was low tide in the river
where small waders have arrived in hundreds from colder climates. Redshanks
with their bright red legs (no juveniles with yellow legs were noted) were
the most noticeable with their sentinel alarms calls, but there were lots
of much smaller birds, most of them were Ringed Plover. The resident
Ringed Plover seem to occupy the shingle, where amongst the scorched appearance
remnants of the Dock and pebbles they are confident of their camouflage
and perched on a shingle outcrop and even on the seaweed littered strandline,
they can be just about be discerned. The finches seem to be absent from
the bushes around Widewater, which was unusual.
An arrow- formation (wedge?) of 24 Cormorants heading north over
the Toll Bridge in the late afternoon, was immediately followed by another
formation of at least 50 Cormorants, and there was a continual procession
of stragglers. It is probably not unusual, but it was the first times I
had seen a formation in excess of 23 birds on the Adur.
meeting at Adur Civic Centre, Shoreham-by-Sea, was held to outline
the idea of a Vegetated
Shingle Nature Reserve on Shoreham Beach. The turnout was 56 interested
people. The questionnaire returned a 78% census in favour of the concept.
The public included many beach hut owners.
Mitchell (WSCC), Steve Berry (English Nature), Steve Gilbert (RSPB), Jeremy
Sergeant (Adur DC Leisure) were represented on the panel, chaired by Geoff
Howitt (Adur DC, Chair, Labour, St. Mary's ward, Shoreham-by-Sea).
photographic display by David Wood
consisted of a large selection of shingle plants on Shoreham Beach. The
bird pictures were by Stanley Allen.
Childing Pink (by Andy Horton)
Shingle Nature Reserve Web Site
Beach (Shingle Plants)
influx of a dozen immature Herring Gulls make their presence clear,
by squawking etc. in Shoreham Town Centre.
A couple of adults also accompanied the colony (throng?). Unlike the more
prevalent Black-backed Gulls, which are
not seen in the centre of town, Herring Gulls are bolder in the presence
of humans, scavenging on edible rubbish.
of Black-headed Gulls invaded Buckingham Park after a night of strong
winds, gusting to gale-force. The grass was very damp and there would be
plenty of worms.
Wagtails, noticeable throughout the year also increase in numbers in
the winter, through a migration from the north. They flit over the streets,
often in pairs, with their characteristic low level (below car height)
dipping flight, their long tail wagging up and down giving them the local
name of Dishwasher.
batter the coast over the weekend.
batter the western outer pier at Shoreham Harbour
by David Wood (Shoreham Beach),
on the picture for a larger image.
on Southwick Beach have been pronounced unfit for human consumption (nobody
was daft enough to eat them) because of contamination by polycyclic aromatic
hydrocarbons (PAHs) from the old coal gas works (probably), closed over
20 years ago. I would not be surprised if they tested for toluene, they
would discover this cancer-inducing agent as well.
all-season rockpoolers will realise that on
the Sussex coast the mobile inhabitants of the shore, small
etc. move offshore into deeper water. Usually, the is movement is very
sudden, on the last low spring in September there will still be abundant
shore life, but by the first low spring tide of October, all the life will
have disappeared and there will be nothing at all of note under the rocks.
The sudden onset of cold weather is probably the reason.
it was after some bitter chill winds, that I trudged down to Kingston
beach, to collect a few mussels, and apart from the 30 plus Black-headed
Gulls and four Oystercatchers scavenging on the edge of the
calm sea, I not expected anything of note.
beneath the rocks strewn amongst the mussel beds, first year Blennies,
only 15 - 20 mm, and similarly-sized Rock Gobies
sheltered beneath the flint cobble-sized rocks.
with a Limpet & Acorn Barnacles
in itself particularly unusual for this beach, but together with small
Crabs, in Netted Dogwhelk shells, and small Hairy
Crabs, and the first Dogwhelk I had seen
since 1982, the cumulative effect was a bit of surprise of the frequency
of life on the beach. Oysters, cockles,
shells, Grey Topshells accompanied the abundant
were common. Some of the chalk had broken up and a few empty shells of
the Piddock, Barnea candida, lay
Beach page (link)
a sharp north-easterly, the wind chill felt near freezing. Black-headed
Gulls are omnipresent throughout the year on the River Adur mud and
on the Middle Road playing fields, where one out of 20 gulls was the less
commonly seen, and slightly larger, Common
Gull. Black-headed Gulls have red-orange legs and the Common Gulls
have grey-green legs.
Swan has been reported from the Adur Valley.
Hollins Nature Pages)
a Little Egret and a Red-breasted Merganser, are all three
fish-eating birds that could be seen in the River Adur opposite Ropetackle
in the afternoon when the tide was low.
Little Egret foraged in the shallow pools between the mussel beds with
a solitary Redshank. The Cormorants were fishing, but the Red-breasted
Merganser disdained such activity, and just stood at the edge ot the tidal
stream and watched the river flow by.
to Egrets at Thorney Island
Beach, a single Oystercatcher
probed on the edge of the mussels beds, for worms etc.
Brooklands Boating Lake a Little Grebe (Dabchick) was seen swimming
and diving under the water. (June Brown).
a clear day, with the sun low in the sky it was quite murky even at 3.30
pm over the exposed mussel beds adjacent to Ropetackle, between the Norfolk
Bridge and the Railway Viaduct. Midway between a high neap tide of 5 metres
and the maximum ebb of the day, there was still enough water in the River
Adur for the regular populations of Cormorants to dive under for
fish. One was feeding in the fast running stream under the Norfolk Bridge.
These birds are a common sight in ones or twos throughout the year, and
are too familiar to warrant more than one mention on this page. They are
the most interesting of the residents, fanning their wings and diving for
supper. Eels are often a noticeable prey as the wriggly fish often entangles
around the beak of the bird. Diving amongst the pleasure boat mooring
chains, I was treated to sight of a Red-breasted Merganser also
making repeated dives. Just like the Cormorant the dives were often extended
and it would surface metres away from the dive point, moving further away
from my position. This bird is an irregular visitor during the winter.
It had not seen this punk-haired bird (sawbill diver) for at least
5 years. A couple of these birds occasionally spend a few days on Widewater
Lagoon feeding on the Sticklebacks.
Conservation Board are planning an Internet "Virtual Information Centre"
to provide additional information about the South Downs (Julian Grey).
counted over 50 adult Great Black-backed
Gulls, with a handful of full-sized juveniles all perched on
top of the blue roof of the disused prefabricated warehouse and factory
of Sussex Polythene, Brighton Road, Shoreham-by-Sea. This property is adjacent
to Monteum Ltd, where the Shoreham trawlers and fishing boats berth. Great
Black-backed Gulls are common in the town from autumn to spring, commoner
than the noisy squawking Herring Gull. In nearby Brighton, Hove
and Worthing, the Herring Gull is far the commoner of the large gulls.
for a better view
of the Kingfisher of yesterday and/or to catch
the Little Egret on film when there was more light around noon, I was to
be disappointed as the tide came up to its maximum of 6.7 metres and, of
course, high tide was about an hour later. Even the towpath had nearly
broken off - (the banks are friable white chalk on the east side north
of the railway viaduct) - and washed into the Adur.
flash of the iridescent turquoise and gold against the dull mud flats north
of the Railway Bridge over the River Adur attracted
my eye. It was a couple of hours after the highest equinoctial tide, so
the water was still mostly in flood, and the Kingfisher, perched
but for a brief moment on a protrusion above the surface of the river.
tidal stretch that up to and well beyond the wooden Toll
Bridge is a fully saline part of the estuary
and there were still plenty of small Bass
in the river.
looked like a young bird, probably searching for new territory. It is in
autumn that the occasional Kingfisher can be seen in the lower reaches.
was about to move on to see if I could catch a glimpse of the Kingfisher
upriver, when I noticed the first mud flats appearing as the tide rapidly
receded. Gulls, Black-headed and immature Great Black-backed
Gulls, were already settling down, and amongst the whites and greys,
one bird stood out because of its activity. Even without binoculars, I
could see clearly the fishing behaviour of the Little Egret. Unlike
the Heron which perches actually in the water, the Little Egret stood on
the mud and stretched out its long neck to capture a first year Bass. At
least one fish, it needed to adjust in its beak before swallowing.
the mud appeared the Lapwings settled in flocks of hundreds and
the squawk of the Redshank, foraging even nearer the bank acted
as sentinel. Upriver between the Toll Bridge and the Flyover, another Little
Egret was on the look out for fish and a large Cormorant almost
invisible against the steep marsh clay bank
dived into the river on its quest for fish. Mallards rested on the
mud outcrop, shared with assorted gulls, in the middle of the Adur
adjacent to Ricardo Engineering, just north of the Toll Bridge.
Force 8 winds, gusting to Storm Force 10, and rain coupled with spring
equinoctial tides batter the south coast at the weekend. In Shoreham and
Lancing where all the properties built too near the sea were removed during
World War II, there was little damage.
shingle on the beach was hurled around by the power of the waves, burying
the Spear-leaved Orache, Atriplex hastata, the ground-hugging
plant nearest to the sea. (David Wood).
Labour party announce at the Bournemouth Conference that the South Downs
are to become a National Park. All the Councils in Sussex except
proposers Brighton Council are opposed. The FOE are actively in favour
and groups like the National Trust and the Society of Sussex Downsmen have
expressed their support. The Sussex Conservation Board, which would be
replaced, are opposed. A few working environmentalists I have met said
that it would not make much difference, except that:
planning applications on the Downs would be more difficult.
more money would be available for conservation projects etc.
flocks of Goldfinches and Greenfinches brings a glimpse of
colour as they flit around the banks between Widewater
Lagoon and the sea. There were probably Chaffinches as well.
The salt spray results in an unusual collection of wild plants that attract
these birds, that can be seen throughout the year.
of the Shingle
second half of September was particularly wet with heavy rain almost every
day and night in the last 2 weeks.
wave with temperatures measured at 24° C maximum. Later in the afternoon
the temperature fell to 20° C. The mist and the ameliorating effects
of a sea breeze made the temperatures on the coast much lower than inland
temperatures forecasted at 28° C. Exceptionally humid.
humid heat wave, but it was cool enough to be pleasant at 8.30 am at the
lowest point of the spring tide. At Kingston Beach
on the lowest ebb, the sea was lapping against the tide marker at Chart
Datum. It was as still as a mill pond. The seagulls, mainly the Black-headed
Gull (with red legs, the heads are mostly white), Larus ridibundus,
were resting on the sea and flying around and squawking. The numbers and
the abundance was unusual so there had to be a reason. Terns were diving
into the sea, so there must be shoals of small fish.
1 metre above Chart Datum, Kingston Beach
hour later when there was enough water to peer into the clear water from
the mussel-strewn concrete blocks at Kingston. I could see most of the
shoals were Bass, about 40 mm long, but varying
from 20 mm to 60 mm in the hundreds of shoals of several hundred to a thousand
fish in each. The Adur is a nursery river for Bass,
but I had never seen so many before (regular observation since 1979).
Egrets, their distinctive all white colouring stood out from the greenery
(Glasswort) and they were right in
the middle of the Adur mudflats (between the footbridge and the Norfolk
Bridge), sometimes hidden in the dips of the channels. The tide was low
in the mid-afternoon. In addition 7 Grey Herons were perched as
still as statues. All the birds were too far away for photographs even
with a 500 mm mirror lens. The light was poor in the middle of a thunderstorm
and a downpour.
has been abundance of small Grey Mullet in the river this year, which would
be fed on by the Herons.
Roberts (Shoreham Beach) reported a Little Egret, Egretta egretta,
from the mudflats near the houseboats. It was on the remaining mud at about
the maximum low neap tide (minimum range, high tide 4.7 metres) at 3.00
Egrets were first recorded on the River Adur in 1993 and 1994)
Eclipse at Shoreham-by-Sea, figures (unofficial):
difference between 40000 Lux and 5000 Lux is about 4 aperture stops on
a camera settings. There was still enough light to take a photograph, like
an overcast day, like a prelude to a thunderstorm.
| 9.30 am
|| 40000 Lux
|| 45000 ¤
|| 21000 ¤
|| 4000 ¤
times of the maximum coverage where confirmed by visual observation of
the eclipse through the mylar spectacles.
a clear day, the temperature in the sun varied from 25° C to 18°C
at the maximum amount of the eclipse. The lower temperature equalled the
by Andy Horton
Photography (including LUX/EV readings conversion)
Solar Eclipse Photographs (from Cornwall)
the prolonged hot and dry spell for the complete month of July, the mud
flats on the part of the River Adur that runs through the centre of Shoreham-by-Sea,
West Sussex, turned green with a rapid spread of the salt tolerant green
plant known as the Common Glasswort, Salicornia
europea. This plant is collected for food when it is known as Marsh
Samphire, and is meant to be a poor man's asparagus.
shells on the small Piddock, Barnea candida,
were scattered over a small (1 sq. metre) are of exposed chalk bedrock
between the mussel beds on Kingston
few days earlier the weather had been inclement with gale force winds.
Card from Kingston Beach
Jellyfish, Aurelia aurita, swarmed
in thousands in Shoreham Harbour, Sussex. This
jellyfish is common and widespread throughout the oceans of the world and
is common all around the coast of Britain. It would not deserve a special
comment if they had been recorded regularly at this location before - they
had been for about 4 years, but not in such numbers.
largest specimens reached 25 cm in diameter. In some specimens the four
rounded pinkish masses, which are the gonads, could be seen. An occasional
specimen had 6 rings.
Wood (BMLSS) spotted a pod of about 6 Dolphins 100 metres off Shoreham
Beach, Sussex, in the early evening with at least three jumping out
of the water at one time. They swam very quickly east towards Brighton.
Hubbard also spotted a pod of dolphins bow-riding the fishery protection
Dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, have been identified in Chichester
Harbour, West Sussex.
3 metres* long female Mako Shark, Isurus
oxyrinchus, (the consensus now seems that it is a Porbeagle) was
caught three miles off Brighton by cod fishermen and brought into Monteum
Fish Market at nearby Shoreham-by-Sea. The shark
weighed 172 kg (378 lb). The largest shark normally caught in Sussex
seas is the Tope, Galeorhinus
galeus, and then only occasionally. Rarely Porbeagle Sharks,
nasus, have even been caught, but this is my first report of a Mako.
Reported in the Shoreham Herald.
One report said 2.2 metres, excluding the tail fin?]
to Shoreham Herald
On further examination the shark looks like a Porbeagle. Andy Horton
consensus now seems that it is a Porbeagle. Doug Herdson, Marcus
Goodsir, Pål Enger, Philip Vas, Steve Barker & others. 16/2/99.
Tom's Guide to the Differences between the Porbeagle & Mako Shark
There was a diesel
oil spillage of 400,000 litres (400 tonnes) in Shoreham Harbour, Sussex,
(east end of the Canal) from a bungled burglary. The environmental damage
is expected to be small as most of the oil was prevented from entering
the canal part of the harbour, connected to the sea.
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. This swan lives
on the Swiss Cottage lake in Shoreham-by-Sea.
pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, were spotted
by the Shoreham lifeboat crew from their boat while out on an exercise.
Three days later, they were observed from the shingle beach, swimming about
50 metres offshore, near Hove lagoon, Sussex (near Shoreham Harbour).
All species of dolphins are rarely seen off Sussex and there were no reports
from 1997. The heatwave from 7 August continues and the temperatures have
reached 28° C every day for nearly two weeks on the Sussex coast.
Ray, Torpedo nobiliana, was caught with some difficulty, because
the powerful electric shocks transmitted up the line, by angler Steve
Alnutt off Shoreham Beach, Sussex. It weighed
8 kg (18 lb) and was returned alive.
continue to be caught from the shore and piers at Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex.
The latest weighed 6.35 kg (14 lb).
along the Coombes Road from Cuckoo's Corner to the Sussex Pad on a warm
summer afternoon I surprised a Mink hauling
a Crow into the hedges near the Ricardo Test Track.
scombrus, are being caught in commercial numbers off Shoreham-by-Sea,
Sussex. These fish are normally caught only in summer. Sussex
fishermen believe that the warm water is the reason for their occurrence,
although in the coldest month of the year the sea temperature was measured
at 7° C which is about normal for February.
Report by Peter Talbot-Elsden
A Ring-billed Gull,
Larus delawarensis. 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 prominent black tip to
its beak on the left side, and a lesser smudge on the right beak. The legs
of this bird were a 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.
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 The American bird has a Herring Gull-like thicker bill. This vagrant
bird has been reported on six occasions from Sussex during the 1980's.
I am not so sure now. I am prepared to accept it was a Ring-billed
Gull. I have just discovered a photograph
that looks a bit like the gull on Widewater.
is a wader that spent most of its life out at sea. The occurrence of one
of these birds at Shoreham Airport attracted bird watchers to the western
arm of Shoreham Harbour pier where it was seen again on the 10th.
Kites were seen over the River
Adur at Shoreham.
Seal, Halichoerus grypus, hauled up on the footbridge supports
in Shoreham-by-Sea town centre in Sussex in July 1996. It was well off
its beaten track where Common Seals, Phoca vitulina, are vagrants
and Grey Seals unheard of.
by Steve Savage (Portslade)
rabid Dauberton's Bat was
taken by Sheila Wright
to the Bat Conservation premises in Shoreham, after being discovered in
Question and Answer