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Latest Nature Notes and Index page 2002

Link to the Adur Nature Notes 2004 Index page
Beaufort Scale
BEWARE OF THE WEEVER FISH ! (Venomous Dorsal Spines)

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* If the grid references are not given they could be found on the 
Adur Wildlife database on the Adur eForum

Reports by Andy Horton from personal observation unless otherwise indicated

Link to more detailed wildlife reports for January to March 2003
Link to the spring wildlife reports for 2003
Adur Valley Nature Notes  October - December 2002


All reports by Andy Horton unless the credits are given to other observers or reporters. 
Adur Wildlife Reports Index 2004

14 December 2003 
Tubaria furfuraceaFriends of Lancing Ring Christmas Walk  10:00 am
After the deluge of yesterday we were lucky to squelch through the mud of the meadows and paths of Lancing Ring under a clear blue cloudless sky in a pleasant 9° C. About 25 ramblers made a circuitous journey past the now full dewpond. On the decaying beech logs the variety of fungi was past its best.  In the forage-harvested short cropped meadows there were several clumps of the orange-brown Tubaria furfuracea mushroom. 
Full Report

4 December 2003
Absent last month, but now the bracket fungi has appeared on the logs as the cyclepath widens by the road layby south of Beeding Cement Works. Shining white with lawyer's wig top to its cap, the Shaggy Ink Cap, Coprinus comatus, was distinct amongst the undergrowth of brambles next to one of the logs.

An Elder tree just off the Waterworks Road was covered in clumps of the distinctive Jew's Ear Fungus, Hirneola auricola-judae. The trees were mostly bare except for the brown Ash keys and the galls in the Silver Birch.
Fungi of Shoreham (with more images)

2 December 2003
In the sombre winter landscape, the bright yellow belly of a Yellowhammer was clear and distinctive in the fields to the west of the Steyning Road north of Old Shoreham and the A27 Flyover. 

A small reddish toadstool poked its cap out from amongst the grass and chopped reeds laid prone to rot on the bank. The cap was under 20 mm across, but then another larger specimen had a flat cap at 35 mm in diameter. This species is Tubaria furfuracea. It is very common on damp wood fragments or even in rough grassland, especially late in the season.

IDs and notes by Malcolm Storey (BioImages)

At the foot of a Hawthorn Tree there was a clump of Coprinus mushrooms.These look like Glistening Inkcap, Coprinus micaceus,  but the ID is not yet confirmed. Against the gate on the eastern side in the sheep grazed field a couple of logs lay prone. They were covered in small clumps of the bracket fungi Stereum hirsutum and unidentified Mushrooms.
Fungi of Shoreham (Link to the new web site with more images)
Adur Levels

19 November 2003
Brooklands Boating Lake was visited for the first time since the reports of it being drained of water for repairs. This has left patches of black smelly mud, but there is still extensive shallow water where the large population of Coots, Mallards, Moorhens and Black-headed Gulls can rest, with at least one Mute Swan. Over the grass there were a few Crows, a handful of Herring Gulls and a visiting male Kestrel. (Some of the Mute Swans died and others were removed by WADARS after the mysterious deaths earlier this year.)

A strange tubweworm  was noticed for the first time growing on the stems of reeds and on solid objects in Brooklands Boating Lake. It has not been seen in Brooklands since the lake was created. It was first spotted this summer from the seaward southern end and spread all over the lake but not to the full freshwater reaches called the Teville Stream. This is the feeder stream from the north. 

Report with information from Mrs Hawkins

Mystery from Brooklands

Mystery Worm from Brooklands 2003

The reasonable speculation was that the colony of worms has been able to become established this year because of increased salinity in the low brackish water lagoon, because of the profound lack of rainfall this year. There are sluice gates separating the lake from the sea, and the juvenile stages must have arrived with a seawater intake. 
Brooklands Lake (new web page)

The mystery organisms are the empty tubes of the serpullid worm, Ficopomatus enigmaticus
See the Collins Pocket guide to the Seashore - top of page 113 (colour plate.)

Information and first ID by Richard Lord (Guernsey)
via the Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Group

6 November 2003
Just as I was resigned to the end of summer, a shirt sleeves sunny 16.6 ºC brought a Clouded Yellow Butterfly fluttering over the waste land next to the river just north of Adur Riverside Industrial Park (north of Ropetackle), Shoreham, in the late morning. Just after midday a Red Admiral Butterfly fluttered over the bushes by the railway track in Dolphin Road, Shoreham, and later in the afternoon another Red Admiral fluttered over the path by horse's field on the south-west approaches of Mill Hill, (south of the A27 main road). The constant breeze remained from the south-east for the second day running. 
Adur Butterflies Flight Times
UK November Butterflies

19 October 2003 
A Great Grey Shrike is seen on the Hawthorns on the west side of Lancing Ring above the recycling plant early in the  morning from 7.50 - 8.05 am; it then flew west out of sight in the direction of Findon Valley. 
Grey Grey Shrike Information Page

Report by Bob Kent (Lancing) on the Sussex Birds Yahoo Group

15 October 2003 
A Water Rail, Rallus aquaticus, was heard screeching in the Cokeham Reed Beds, west Lancing. 

Report by Roy Bratton via Ray Hamblett (Lancing Nature
on the Lancing Nature Smart Group
Bird List for Cokeham

Its caw (call) was a cross between that of a Magpie and a Crow, but it looked more like an overlarge Thrush or Blackbird: a couple of Ring Ouzels, Turdus torquatus, looked a very dirty black with a white breast as they chose Hawthorn bushes ahead of other shelter on the lower slopes of Mill HiIlAccording to the Shoreham & District Ornithological Society 1988 "Birds of Shoreham" the peak month for migrating Ring Ouzels is October. 
Day Report

11 October 2003 
As dusk approached, scores of Pied Wagtails, possibly numbering over a hundred seemed to be about to roost on top of the Courts Furniture Store (opposite McDonalds) near the Hamme in central Shoreham. 

Shoreham Fish Festival
Photograph by Ray Hamblett

The SHOREHAM FISH FESTIVAL on Coronation Green, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, was attended by an estimated 4,000 people if the sunshine as the high six metre spring tide filled the river  just before 1:00 pm. The British Marine Life Study Society held an aquarium display and despite technical problems with a very high plankton content in the water (which meant the large wrasse could not be displayed) the exhibits were well received by the younger age group. 
Picture Gallery

Kingfisher (Photograph by Roy Bratton)8 October 2003
Kingfisher was seen at the Cokeham Reed Beds, west Lancing.

Photograph by Roy Bratton

29 September 2003
Andy Horton appeared on BBC Southern Counties Radio to discuss the marine life of Sussex and the work of the British Marine Life Study Society.

26 September 2003

The small pamphlet "Flora of Shoreham-by-Sea" by Betty Bishop, second revised edition 2003 was published. The price for the 28 page booklet with a complete list of all the 673 wild flowers of the area is expected to be about £1.50 to cover the costs of production.

19 September 2003
I dived Shoreham beach by the Church of the Good Shepherd in the early evening and saw Cuttlefish of all sizes, Sepiola atlantica and some young squids possibly Loligo vulgaris

Tub Gurnard (Photograph by Paul Parsons)

Tub Gurnard, Chelidonichthys lucerna
Photograph by Paul Parsons

There were also shoals of Sand Smelt, and other fish: Tub Gurnard, Undulate Ray, Plaice and Sole, Bass and gobies!

Report by Paul Parsons

c. 17 September 2003
A specimen of the nudibranch Thecacera pennigera is observed on the Brooklands sea outfall pipe, on the Lancing/Worthing border, West Sussex. This small sea slug is probably overlooked and of a sporadic occurrence rather than uncommon, but this is the first record I have for the local coast, and I have never seen one on the shore, where it would be notable. 

Report by David Cropp via Paul Parsons
BMLSS Nudibranchia

17 September 2003
This insect appears to be the Speckled Bush Cricket, Leptophyes punctatissima, found in my front garden in Corbyn Crescent, Shoreham (TQ 224 053).
It was first discovered crawling over my Pashley Delivery Bicycle, but this bicycle is only used for short trips to the beach so I think it unlikely that it hitched a ride and more likely that this flightless cricket arrived until its own momentum. The cricket hopped very slowly along the concrete path. This is a common species.
UK Grasshoppers & Crickets
Town & Gardens (Shoreham-by-Sea)

Merlin was seen on Mill Hill. The smallest bird of prey is classified as "scarce" and a Winter Visitor and Passage Migrant in Sussex. 
SOS Birds of Prey

14 September 2003
Off Worthing (West Sussex), on a shallow water dive site known as the Worthing Lumps, a small school of Rock Cooks (Small-mouth Wrasse), Centrolabrus exoletus, were seen shyly swimming by the rock face, quite unlike the bolder Corkwing, Symphodus melops (=Crenilabrus), and Goldsinny Wrasse, Centrolabrus rupestris

Rock Cooks (Photograph by Paul Parsons)

Rock Cooks (Small-mouth Wrasse), Centrolabrus exoletus
Photograph by Paul Parsons

These inconspicuous wrasse have not been recorded off the Sussex coast before and the books state that is fish is only known from the southern and western coasts of Britain. They may have been overlooked, but they are certainly not a common occurrence. There have been no records of juvenile fish in Sussex rock pools, where the Corkwing first year fish are very common and Ballan Wrasse, Labrus bergylta,  juveniles occasionally discovered. 

BMLSS Wrasse
BMLSS News 2003

3 September 2003
large whale skull was landed at Shoreham (Monteum's Wharf, River Adur) by fisherman Nick Brown from a small (under 10 metres length) trawler fishing three miles off Brighton Marina, Sussex.

  Further Details and Photographs

The whale skull was eventually identified as that of the Fin Whale, Balaenoptera physalis. 

Report by Dr Gerald Legg (Booth Museum)

31 August 2003

Grass Snake (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)

A Grass Snake, Natrix natrix, was found trapped in nylon netting on Lancing Manor Allotment and was freed from its accidental entrapment.

Lancing Nature Gallery (by Ray Hamblett)

An adult Velvet Swimming Crab, Necora puber, was discovered under Worthing Pier as the spring tide receded in the early morning. Notable fish included large (100+) shoals of Sand Gobies and a juvenile Tompot Blenny
Double-headed Beadlet AnemoneThere was also an unusual discovery of a double-headed Beadlet Anemone, Actinia equina
Worthing Pier 2003 List & Images
Sea Anemones (BMLSS)

30 August 2003
On the Saturday of Shoreham Air Show, Mill Hill was closed to cars so the parched lower slopes were almost empty. The first blue was the bright blue of the Common Blue Butterfly, but the Adonis Blues soon appeared and the final count was 25. It was easy to get the species mixed up.

28 August 2003
The first rain since 11 August 2003 (when 5.84 mm was recorded). From 4:45 am to 5:30 am, 6.09 mm fell, which was more than the total rainfall for this August so far. By 9:00 am, the rainfall had reached 8.45 mm. 

27 August 2003
Rudd (Photograph by Steve Barker)Brooklands Boating Lake (see the entry below) could not be hypertrophic (overnutrified, cf. eutrophic) because in the upper stream reaches a shoal of about 30 Rudd could be seen in the clear slightly cloudy water, with broken bits of algae, but no aquatic plants, although there was some marginal waterside vegetation. These silvery fish were attractive with their bright red fins.

Mars comes closer to the Earth at 34,646,418 miles at 10:51 am than for any time since 56,617 BC. It rose in the Sussex night sky about 9:00 pm and could be seen low in the south reaching its highest point at 1:00 am
Adonis Blue
20 August 2003
The second brood Adonis Blue Butterflies are now out and flying around in their brilliant blue on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. One even ventured up amongst the brambles and long grasses immediately south of the reservoir on the upper slopes.  The count was 25+ (all males) and I was careful to avoid counting the same butterfly twice and to exclude the Common Blue Butterflies in the total. 
Full Report

19 August 2003
There were over a hundred birds on Brooklands Boating Lake (see the entry below) and the Coots, Mallards and Black-headed Gulls all appeared to be in fine fettle. A dozen House Martins were swooping around the island. These martins appeared very brown and could very well have been Sand Martins?

15 August 2003
I arranged to meet Andy Gattiker of the South Downs Conservation Board (SDCB) on Mill Hill. The SDCB were attempting a public consultation to justify their management decision to introduce a winter grazing of Limousin/Angus cross beef cattle (standard beef cattle) on Mill Hill. The downland was very parched with few butterflies in flight. 
Full Report including Butterflies

14 August 2003
The Shoreham Herald reports that Brooklands Boating Lake is again closed because of the mysterious deaths of both resident and visiting birds including six Mute Swan cygnets, two Coots, nine ducks and one gull. The cause is till unknown.  A toxic blue-green algae and botulism have been suspected as well as polluted silt in the lagoon. The problem occurs in late summer when the temperatures are at their warmest.

Brooklands Lake in June 2003

The water in Brooklands is mostly fresh stream-fed water, and is shallow without any appreciable water plants. 
Blue-Green Algae Toxicity in Waterfowl

8 August 2003
A woman brought in a Death's Head Hawk Moth caterpillar to Woods Mill (Small Dole), found in her garden at Lancing, a pretty amazing beast all in all. It was found in a Jasmine bush. This is a rare occurrence for the caterpillar to be found in Britain.

Report from Mike Russell at Woods Mill (Sussex Wildlife Trust)
via Sussex Ornithological Society News
NB: The Death's Head Hawk Moths have been discovered before as immigrants (hearsay reports) but not during the period of these Nature Notes (since 1997). 

Shoreham Beach Weather provided by Softwair Publishing5 August 2003
It was the hottest day of the new millennium when the air temperature (unofficial) reached 30.6° C at 5:54 pm with a gentle breeze. Humidity fell to 39% so it was quite pleasant outside.

Not surprising with the warm weather, many people who are not at work and children on holiday made their way to the beach where the estimated sea temperature was 19° C, possibly rising to 21° C inshore over sand. Weever Fish are around and there were several reports of people being stung by this fish that lives in the sand with its venomous black dorsal fin sticking above the surface on which the bather may have  the misfortune to step on. 

After being sting by large Weevers the pain is described as excruciating for the first two hours after which it subsides and rarely causes permanent injury. The pain can be relieved by immersing the foot in hot water at 40° C. This fish is common on sandy coasts all around Britain. 

Report by Jamie Hailstone (Shoreham Herald) with commentary by Andy Horton.
Beware of the Weever Fish

3 August 2003
Guided Butterfly Walk
The Wall Brown is a tricky butterfly to photograph, resting fleetinglyFriends of Lancing Ring  arranged for expert Brianne Reeve of the Butterfly Conservation group to lead a walk over the Lancing Ring Nature Reserve.
There was a screech and a magnificent view of a Sparrowhawk flying overhead, being mobbed by a Crow, the pale blue-grey body of the raptor distinguished against the cloudless sky. 
Eighteen species of butterfly were seen on the one and half hour walk around the meadows. They included immigrant species like the infrequently seen Clouded Yellow Butterfly, and the Wall Brown which can be a tricky one to see for butterfly novices. This is a new daily record number of different butterflies for me.

In the horse's field under the A27 flyover (west side of the Steyning road, south of the large roundabout) north of Old Shoreham, one hundred Black-headed Gulls congregated. This may be the advanced sortie after the annual explosion of flying ants.
Report 2003
2002 Walk Report
White Butterflies Identification page

In an Old Shoreham garden (Frampton's Court) a strange moth with two pairs of dragonfly-type wings flew rapidly from one plant to another, never settling, very fascinating as it rapidly dipped its proboscis into each flower before buzzing off to another nectar source. This was the Hummingbird Hawk Moth, Macroglossum stellatarum, an occasional immigrant. 

Moth Report by Mike Burtt

31 July 2003
Painted Lady on BuddleiaThere were 67 Mute Swans and one Australian Black Swan on the river at low tide south of the Toll Bridge and visible from the riverbank by Adur Metal Works. Four of the Mute Swans could be seen by Adur Recreation Ground under the Railway Viaduct. This is the largest number of swans I have seen on the River Adur from one viewpoint. 

First impressions seemed to indicate an even greater influx of Painted Lady Butterflies than yesterday as a half a dozen danced around one Buddleia bush on the cyclepath south of the Toll Bridge.

Chalkhill Blues (Photograph by Andy Horton)30 July 2003
On an overcast, cool, with brief sunny spells, light rain at times, it would be thought of as unpromising day for butterflies. However, the whole of the lower slopes of Mill Hill were alive with the amorous flutterings of an estimated 2,000 + Chalkhill Blue Butterflies reaching densities of three every square metre (two males and one female) on plenty of occasions. The lower slopes cover nearly five acres of ground so the estimate is a conservative one. This year, the numbers must approach the historic records of thousands of Chalkhill Blues reported in the past. 
Altogether on Mill Hill and its approaches there were seventeen different species of butterflies, a new record in one day for me. An unusual second brood Dingy Skipper was recorded on the lower slopes.

Small TortoiseshellThe prevalence of immigrant of brightly coloured  Painted Lady Butterflies (40+) on the footpath through the Lancing Ring meadows with the new reddish Small Tortoiseshells (25+) leaves me to speculate that the Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies were immigrants as well, although north of The Street, Old Shoreham, a normal orange livery specimen was noted. Casual visitors to the approaches of Mill Hill and visitors to Lancing Ring should not mistake the hundred plus Common Blue Butterflies for Chalkhill Blues. Common Blue Butterflies (100+) were found mostly to the south of the A27. 
Butterfly List (Species Recorded)
Blue Butterflies of Shoreham
Adur Butterflies

Chalkhill and Common Blue Butterflies (Photograph by Andy Horton)28 July 2003
On the town side of the bridge leading to Mill Hill that transverses the main A27 road, on the east there is a small Hawthorn copse (at the top of Chanctonbury drive, north side) leading to the grasses of the trunk road steep bank. In this small garden sized plot of long grasses and scrub, two species of blue butterfly congregated sometimes fighting over the same grass head. On this cool, overcast and windy day, the commonest Common Blue Butterfly (20+) seemed very small compared to at least one, probably three or four of the larger Chalkhill Blue, together with Meadow Browns (6+) and Gatekeepers (3+). I originally thought that Brown Argus Butterflies were present but the distinctive brown-blue-brown colour is now probably the female Common Blue Butterfly as closer examination of the photographs seemed to indicate the latter butterfly. 
Fourteen different species of butterfly were seen on Mill Hill. 
Identification Notes about the Brown Argus
Butterfly List (Full Report)
Adur Butterflies

27 July 2003
There were 500+ Meadow Brown Butterflies seen with thirteen or fourteen other butterfly species including three Clouded Yellows and a handful of Chalkhill Blues seen on the southern meadows of Lancing Clump. A Wall Brown Butterfly showed an unusual faded colour. Long-winged Conehead Crickets were seen. 
Full Report
Full Report with supplement
Friends of Lancing Ring

24 July 2003
The bright yellow with an unmistakable lining of black was immediately recognised as the first immigrant Clouded Yellow Butterfly of the year in the lower meadows of Lancing Clump. It was flying around energetically. The day was noted for large numbers of Red Admiral Butterflies (50+) and many of these may have been immigrants as well. 
Butterflies of the Day

Brown Argus (Photograph by Andy Horton)23 July 2003
A Brown Argus Butterfly was a surprise discovery on on the Slonk Hill A27 southern embankment (TQ 228 067) with other butterflies including Meadow Browns, Red Admirals, Gatekeepers, Large Whites, one Speckled Wood, a few Chalkhill Blues, and Large Skippers. This is the first record of a Brown Argus on these Nature Notes pages. The day's tally of different species reached fifteen
More Butterflies

21 July 2003
Fifteen different species of butterflies in a single day is a new record for me and included 200+ Chalkhill Blues on the lower slopes of Mill Hill
Butterfly List

Chalkhill Blue Butterfly on Greater Knapweed20 July 2003
Over 300 Chalkhill Blue Butterflies were observed fluttering around and copulating on the lower slopes of Mill Hill and they were to be seen on the sunny day at a conservative average of one butterfly every two square metres. At this prevalence, I got the impression that I was constantly about to step on one. My estimatefor the number of Chalkhill Blues on Mill Hill was 1,200.
Butterfly List (Full Report)
Early Evening Supplementary Report
Adur Butterflies

19 July 2003
Chalkhill Blue Butterflies on the Waterworks Road, Old Shoreham numbered at least five and they could be seen immediately, on the margins amongst the ferns, just north of where the road passed under the A27 Flyover. A male Emperor Dragonfly was on patrol.
At least one, almost certainly more, Wall Brown Butterflies were seen amongst vegetation including Fleabane on the cyclepath on the east side of Adur from Old Shoreham northwards. 
Butterfly List

18 July 2003
There are loads (probably over a thousand) of Moon Jellyfish, Aurelia aurita, in Shoreham harbour, with the four pink rings (the gonads) visible in many specimens.

15 July 2003
St. Swithun's Day
A record temperature for the new millennium on Shoreham beach. 
28.6 ºC was reached by 10.28 am. Just after 4:00 pm 28.7 ºC was attained and this exceeds any other shade air temperature since the records began at the start of 2000.

Shoreham Beach Weather provided by Softwair Publishing14 July 2003
With a shade temperature recorded at 28.4° C it is the warmest day of the year and the second warmest of this millennium.
Butterfly Report

11 July 2003
Chalkhill Blue on the lower slopes of Mill Hill (Photograph by Andy Horton)On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, at least fifty Chalkhill Blue Butterflies were flying about and not settling for long. Only a handful were on the middle and upper slopes. The Stemless Thistle was in flower, that prickly rosette that is a characteristic and slightly uncomfortable feature of the chalk sward. In the middle of the day the miniature Eyebrights show best and are ideally seen through a magnifying glass. Pyramid Orchids were frequently seen in the central area known as the Triangle.
Full Report
On a sunny day the temperature peaked at 26.6° C.

5 July 2003
A report from Paul Parsons and other divers seems to indicate the sea bed off the Church of the Good Shepherd, Shoreham Beach, has been changed, probably damaged by the mysterious work of the Environmental Agency.
Undersea Wildlife Report
Dredging and Pumping Work

1 July 2003
The Environmental Agency opened up the four inch slats and three workers (in two vehicles) supervised the 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 11 June 2003
Looking down into the internal weir (Photograph by Andy Horton)
The 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, the lagoon could become too hypersaline and be unable to support aquatic life. 
Widewater Salinity Records 2002-3

28 June 2003
Three Peregrine Falcons were perching near the Shoreham Harbour Power Station on some of the high dock lamps. These three birds are thought to be the three chicks born this year and they put up an amusing display chasing each around the power station chimney (their birth place in the nest box on the south side) and dislodging each other off the available perches. 
Breeding Report 2002

In 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. 

Reports by Peter Talbot-Elsden (Southwick)

Spotted Orchid (Photograph by Andy Horton)27 June 2003
Slonk Hill has been cut in half by the A27 by-pass as the dual carriageway truck road (constructed 1971) and the southern area of the hill is now the steep chalky embankments of the dual carriageway. 

The southern bank was adorned like a meadow with an extensive display of Spotted Orchids, Dactylorhiza fuchsii, near the footbridge to Slonk Hill Farm. The bank attracted butterflies including my first Comma Butterfly of the year, a Large White Butterfly with extensive black markings and a handful of aggressive Meadow Browns which tended to chase other butterflies away at any opportunity. 

There is a footpath through a Beech and Sycamore copse from the footbridge westwards and this can be followed for 200 metres. At the western end the embankment is overgrown with longer grasses and brambles and an occasional Pyramid Orchid, Anacamptis pyramidalis

Ringlet Butterfly (Photograph by Andy Horton)
It was in this area I discovered my first Ringlet Butterfly on these Nature Notes pages. This butterfly persisted in basking with wings wide open and would not close them for a view of the ringlets.
More Images

Area suggested by Jan Hamblett (Lancing Nature)

Marbled White Butterfly that has struggled to emerge (Photograph by Andy Horton)26 June 2003
In the Lancing Ring meadows, the Marbled White Butterflies were emerging, where 30 Small Skipper Butterflies readily settled on the Greater Knapweed.
Full Report and Pictures from the Lancing Meadows
On New Monks Farm, Lancing (west of Shoreham Airport) an out of flight season Peacock Butterfly in good condition settled south of the Withy Patch.

19 June 2003
Young Blackbirds on the cyclepath at Old Shoreham south of the Toll Bridge look more thrush-like than their parents. Azure Damselflies were common (50+) in the field to the east of the Waterworks at Old Shoreham. A yellow (underwing) Large White Butterfly was noticed and a single Meadow Brown. On the brief visit  over 50 Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies were seen as well as Dark Bush Crickets (a common species).
Full Report

Fragrant Orchid (Photograph by Andy Horton)14 June 2003
45 Mute Swans were counted on the still tidal part of the River Adur at Upper Beeding by the disused Cement Works. At Beeding Hill, the Fragrant Orchid, Gymnadenia conopsea, was in flower, and on the road verges above Anchor Bottom, there were the first observations of Meadow Brown Butterflies of 2003. And on Mill Hill, the Small Skippers put in their first appearance. On the lower slopes a bird of prey has caused a bit of a puzzle over its identification. This bird is very likely to be the rare Hobby, Falco subbuteo. The absence of the vast yellow expanses of Horseshoe Vetch was my instant impression. The grasses were still the short springy turf and quickly a Adonis Blue Butterfly fluttered by. It was one of three.
Adur Butterflies

4 June 2003
I walked from the Mill Hill upper car park along the lane and down to the stables at Old Erringham, a Little Owl was in its normal place in the small copse overlooking the stables but this time sat on a fence post right next to the road, otherwise just a single Hobby seen. A few Swifts, Swallows & House Martins were around the farm buildings and a Chiffchaff also in the copse, plus four Yellowhammers on Mill Hill. 

Report by Bob Kent (Lancing) on the Sussex Birds Yahoo Group

3 June 2003
The famous Boar Fish, Capros aper, died after its aquarium sprung a leak in the middle of the night. (It was caught in November 2002). Estimates are being obtained for a mould to make a casting of the fish by a professional taxidermist.

Vital Statistics
Fishbase Morphology

The best spectacle from Mill Hill was left to last as a bird with a very bright yellow breast flew out of the bushes by the reservoir. It looked like an exotic bird and it must be a male Yellowhammer, that can look as yellow as a canary during the summer.
Yellowhammer (Birdguides)
Full Report

The Mute Swans on Widewater Lagoon have seven cygnets this year. 
Red Admiral Butterflies and faded Painted Lady Butterflies appeared with a breeze from the south. I only saw a couple of each in ten minutes, but they behaved like immigrants and later more of both species were seen near Old Shoreham Toll Bridge

Photograph by Ray Hamblett31 May 2003
Shoreham bathed in a heatwave up to 24° C for the opening of the Adur Festival and Adur World Oceans Day 2003 on Coronation Green, Shoreham-by-Sea. About 3000 people attended the event that was steady and busy throughout.

Adur World Oceans Day 2003
10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Popular Information File on Adur World Oceans Day 2003
Acrobat Information File on Adur World Oceans Day 2003

Adur World Oceans Day 2003 Images (by Ray Hamblett)

Len Nevell was in charge of the Living Animals display including live Lobsters

The Adonis Blue Butterflies have disappeared from the lower slopes of Mill Hill and the vast expanse of Horseshoe Vetch has now receded.

Butterfly Report by Jan Hamblett (Lancing Nature)

27 May 2003
The Environment Agency are trying to implement measures to protect what they believe to be the only remaining Water Vole population in Sussex on New Monks Farm, Lancing. The habitat is under threat both from the airport expansion plans and legal spoil dumping on the 120 acres of unused farmland between Shoreham Airport and Lancing. 

Report by Mark Elliott (Environment Agency)

26 May 2003
After some rainy and dull days, the sun came out again on the Bank Holiday Monday afternoon. On the on the lower slopes of Mill Hill both male and female Adonis Blue Butterflies flew from one Horseshoe Vetch flower to another, and occasionally settled on some bare earth patches. 
Full Report

25 May 2003
A visit to Woods Mill (Sussex Wildlife Trust), near Small Dole, produced the Great Red Damselfly, Pyrrhosoma nymphula, and a mating pair of Azure Damselflies, Coenagrion puella.
Link to Images

Report by Ray Hamblett (Lancing Nature)
Adur Damselflies & Dragonflies

23 May 2003
Sheila Wright and David (Sussex Bat Group) led the evening walk in the dark up Lancing Ring in overcast damp conditions, unfavourable for bats as their prey food of insects were not flying about. On the edge of the woodland the bat detector picked up the sound of two Pipistrelle Bats in flight. The bats emit noises from their echo location system, which cannot be heard by the human ear, but can be picked up and identified by the bat detector. These bats were seen flying across the path shortly afterwards. Later a Noctule Bat was also detected.
Bat Conservation Trust:  Bat Information
Full Report

21 May 2003
Glaucous Gull (1st or 2nd summer), Larus hyperboreas, is 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. 
Image (Link to)

Report by Bernie Forbes and Russell Tofts via Sussex Ornithological Society News
Sussex Birder Web Site

17 May 2003
The Living Churchyard
Wildlife Walk
St. Mary de Haura Church, Shoreham-by-Sea 10:30 am
Wildlife in the churchyard with Brianne Reeve (Birds) and Betty Bishop and Beryl Clough (Flora) Steve Davey (Lichens) and Peter Hodge (Insects).

Photograph by Andy Horton

The Ash trees were laden with keys

On an overcast day the rain held off for a wildlife survey of the churchyard, with its collection of park trees and common ground flora of grasses, medicks, dandelions, buttercups etc. Several species of ladybird beetle were discovered
Shoreham Herald Report

11 May 2003
Brianne Reeve (Shoreham & District Ornithological Society) led the walk on Lancing Ring and meadows on behalf of the Friends of Lancing Ring. We were greeted by a screaming pair of Swifts, but otherwise it was more of an audio show, the birds calling from the bushes. An exception was a Yellowhammer on the top of a Gorse bush.
Full Report

9 May 2003
A pair of Stonechats showed and sang well, north of Mossy Bottom (near Southwick Hill).
Full Report

Adonis Blues and Horseshoe Vetch (Photograph by Andy Horton)

A Small Copper Butterfly was my first from Mill Hill as the Adonis Blue Butterflies copulated. 
Full Report

7 May 2003
A Willow Tit made its distinctive call from a tree on the cycle path from Old Shoreham Footbridge south to Ropetackle (TQ 210 054). The plain coloured bird could be seen, but not clearly because of the sun.
Earlier Report

Because of the rarity (probably extinct) of this bird in Sussex, this is not a 100% ID. It has not been submitted to the Sussex Ornithological Society as an official sighting as it has not been verified by a photograph.

6 May 2003
As the River Adur turns on the approach from the sea north of the A27 Flyover, the unmistakable downturned long beaks identified either a couple of Whimbrels or a pair of Curlews that seemed to be resting or feeding in the lee of the west bank at mid-tide. This was the first time I had seen these waders on the river estuary and they came as a bit of a surprise. Alas I did not have experience to differentiate the two species. It seemed that the shorter more downturned beak was nearer the Whimbrel, but I failed to observe the differences in the head markings between the two species of wading birds with downturned beaks. 
Full Report Link

On the lower Vetch Trail slopes of Mill Hill at least 30 Adonis Blue Butterflies fluttered around. There was one Orange Tip Butterfly as well as the first Wall Browns of the year.
Full Report Link

5 May 2003
I followed the Vetch Trail on the lower slopes of Mill Hill towards Old Erringham on a sunny 17° C May Bank Holiday Monday. Several acres of the steep slopes were graced by the yellow flowers of the Horseshoe Vetch (the food plant of the Chalkhill Blue and other butterflies).

Lower slopes on Mill Hill (Photographs by Andy Horton)

A narrow path winds it way through the lower 
Horseshoe Vetch covered lower slopes of Mill Hill

The sun had brought out the butterflies and day-flying moths there was an exceptional variety:

Dingy Skipper (Photograph by Andy Horton)Dingy Skipper  25+
Grizzled Skipper  5 +
Small Heath  10 +
Painted Lady   one
Cinnabar Moth  one
Adonis Blue   one

The Small Heath and Adonis Blue are my first confirmed identifications from Mill Hill for these butterflies. 
Link for Butterfly Images 

Dingy Skipper 

The trail climbs up a steep stepped incline through dense scrub and the following species were added:

Speckled Wood  5 +
Red Admiral  one, possibly three

In Shoreham town and gardens, a few specimens of the following butterflies were noted:

Small White  5+
Holly Blue  3+

4 May 2003
A Large Red Damselfly, Pyrrhosoma nymphula, visited my south Lancing garden pond. (TQ 186 044). 

Large Red Damselfly (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)

29 April 2003 
Green Hairstreak Butterfly was a notable observation near Pepperscombe (near where the South Downs Way passes west of Steyning).  (TQ 160 110)

A Brimstone Butterfly fluttering along the railway embankment near the Eastern Avenue railway crossing in Shoreham came as a bit of a surprise as I had not seen one for over a decade in this area. However, this was nothing compared to the shock of seeing a Yellow Wagtail almost out of my front window on the roof of my house, in Corbyn Crescent (TQ 224 053), opposite. At least, I thought it was an immigrant bird, not a Grey Wagtail, which has been recorded before in Shoreham town. The bird flew suddenly from the roof to the ground and then disappeared and I could not rediscover it with my binoculars.

25 April 2003
Now I have at last seen a falcon fly off the Shoreham Harbour Power Station, not from the chimney but from the main part of the tall building. I would not have penned it as a Peregrine and I did not have my binoculars. With my relatively inexperienced eye, I would have put it down as a Sparrowhawk and it appeared much smaller than I expected. The swoop and glide was distinctive and this was identical to the bird of prey I saw nine days ago near Mossy Bottom

20 April 2003
Dingy Skipper Butterfly was seen by the side of the Industrial Estate at Golding Barn near Upper Beeding (near Steyning) in the Adur valley on a breezy overcast Easter Sunday morning. This species is not often recorded, although it it is known from Mill Hill.

Report by Jim Steedman via the UK-Leps EForum
Adur Butterflies

ANightingale was heard over Cokeham Reed Beds, west Lancing. (TQ 167 043).

Report by Roy Bratton via Ray Hamblett (Lancing Nature
on the Sussex Birds Yahoo Group

16 April 2003
The shirt sleeves sunny weather was unseasonal (warmest April day since 1988), recorded at 22° C in the shade and this brought the butterflies out including five Brimstone Butterflies on and around Mill Hill.

Lower Adur Valley (Photograph by Andy Horton)

View over Lancing from Mill Hill
on 16 April 2003

From the bare field to the south-west of Southwick Hill the melody of a Skylark filled the air for ten minutes or more without a break. 
The small falcons are not always to separate at a distance, but the blunt-shaped head and swooping flight, together with the subdued colours (compared to a Kestrel) indicated a male Sparrowhawk at New Erringham Farm in the dip of the downs north of Shoreham.  (I now think that this bird could have been a Peregrine Falcon.)

Peacock Butterfly (Photograph by Andy Horton)The shirt sleeves sunny weather was unseasonal, recorded at 21° C in the shade and this brought the butterflies out with 50+ Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies from the bridlepath by Slonk Hill Farm northwards past New Erringham to Mill Hill, with 15+ Peacock Butterflies and to my surprise 5 Brimstone Butterflies on and around Mill Hill.
Adur Butterflies

Weather at Shoreham Beach (check by dates)

5 April 2003
At midday a mysterious large bird of prey was seen flying east towards Lancing College. The bird was flying towards us at a height of about 100 metres. The immediate impression was of a powerful, bulky bird of prey, in size close to a female Peregrine. The bird had a relatively slow wing beat and was mainly gliding. The bird was not wearing jesses.

Full Report

19 March 2003

Small-headed Clingfish (Photograph by Andy Horton)

        The Small-headed Clingfish is about 10 mm long

The low equinoctial spring tide receded as far as I have known it uncovering all the rocks on Lancing Beach. It was too dark to explore the exposed shore properly, but juvenile Small-headed Clingfishes were present under rocks, with hundreds of crabs and a chiton (small mollusc) Acanthochitona crinita. The sea anemone Sagartia troglodytes was plentiful. 
Shorewatch Project

17 March 2003
For the first time ever I discovered six 15 cm long SandSmelt, Atherina presbyter, in my shrimp push-net off Southwick beach, together with three pints of Brown Shrimps and some orange crabs (species not identified), plus a couple of small Weevers.

Report by Peter Talbot-Elsden

12 February 2003
After the mist cleared there were a pair of Peregrine Falcons circling over the Shoreham Harbour Power Station chimney, one falcon going into the large nest box on the southern side and the other bird right on top of the chimney.

Report by Peter Talbot-Elsden
Breeding Report 2002

Frog Spawn (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)

There was a ripple of activity on the pond in my back garden, in south Lancing (TQ 186 044) as I checked on it this morning. A pair of mating Frogs are resting on the surface among the weed near the edge of pond. They are tending a freshly produced clump of spawn.
The pond and spawn froze over night.

January 2003
There is a plan to introduce cows grazing on Mill Hill during the winter months. This appears to be without consultation with the public. The reason purported is to control the spread of the scrub. There is no mention of erosion of the chalk sward, the process known as "soil creep" where the soil moves down the steep slope, extenuated by overgrazing and can form terraces, bare patches which are more likely to be colonised by annual plants, whereas the chalkhill turf contains 90% perennials.
Cows also destroy the Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, which is the sole food plant for the caterpillars of the Chalkhill Blue Butterfly.

30 January 2003
In the town there was a flurry of snow. On the downs there was a light covering which disappeared by the following day. 

Photograph by Ray Hamblett

The Dewpond at Lancing Clump
Photograph by Ray Hamblett (Lancing Nature)

26 January 2003
A lovely male Red Breasted Merganser was on the small island at the eastern end of the Widewater Lagoon from 2.45 pm until 3.15 pm when I left.

Report by Bob Kent (Lancing) via  the Lancing Nature Smart Group
A Bar-tailed Godwit was spotted just south of the Old Shoreham Toll Bridge, the first time I have seen this wader here. This confirmed my earlier report. Also a very lonely-looking Brent Goose was around!
Report by Chris Barfield viaSussex Ornithological Society News

23 January 2003
A Bar-tailed Godwit waded in the shallows south of the Toll Bridge.
Full Report

19 January 2003
In the tiny front garden of 123 Old Shoreham Road, Shoreham, a large healthy looking Red Fox almost filled the garden with its presence at 3:00 pm on a bright cloudless afternoon. It was not afraid of me, less perturbed than many domestic cats. 

4 January 2003
Widewater Lagoon is in flood after the recent rain and the salinity fell to 15. The Little Egret foraged in the shallows as usual. This bird is not ringed. 
Widewater Salinity Page
The morning layer of snow is so thin it could be mistaken for frost. The precipitation on Shoreham beach up to 9:00 am was a mere 1.022 mm, with the temperature at its lowest point at 1.7 ºC at 7:50 am and a dew point falling to -0.9 ºC at 6:16 am. Wind chill was -5.3 ºC was 7:48 am  and although it is getting warmer, the wind chill in the Light Breeze (Force 2) was still below freezing in mid-morning.

3 January 2003
Amongst the scant remaining vegetation at a high spring tide, at least three pipits perched and flew around just above the water surface south-west of the Footbridge over the Adur (TQ 216 047). These were not the plump Meadow Pipits of the local fields but a different bird altogether, thin and straggly with a much paler speckled breasts with plenty of white, and a more marked face with a bit of a dark top. The white, or was it grey, tail feathers were not so bright either. So this bird was either a Rock Pipit (Scandinavian Race) or a Water Pipit, Anthus spinoletta. They were not easily perturbed, but they all flew off over the estuary before I could get my camera out. It seems from research and consultation that the identity is most likely to be a Water Pipit, which is not what I thought of at first. (The full subspecies name of the Rock Pipit [Scandinavian Race] is Anthus petrosus littoralis.) These pipits can be very  tricky to identify.
Last Meadow Pipit Report
Pipit on Lancing Beach
Trouble with Pipits Identification
Adur Estuary Page
Anthus petrosus littoralis (Sussex records)
Rock Pipits Observation Page (BMLSS)
Rock Pipits (Birdguides)

My first butterfly of the year was almost certainly a Small Tortoiseshell that fluttered out of the Hawthorn and Dogwood shrub on the south east corner of the dewpond field on Lancing Clump
A single Great Tit was spotted before it darted into an Ivy laden Hawthorn.

Full Report
Friends of Lancing Ring

Song Thrush (Photograph by Jan Hamblett)2 January 2003
On a day noted for its dampness with mud and sodden ground, there was a remarkable scarcity of birds and other wildlife in all the normal haunts. From a small bush outside the entrance to Ricardo's (TQ 125 059) on the airport side of the Toll Bridge at Old Shoreham, a Song Thrush performed its repertoire of songs, filling the dusk air with melody. The songs were heard again in  various parts of Shoreham town. Almost everywhere there were large gardens, or parks on any bushes to sing from the Song Thrush seemed to be singing. The wet winters of late seemed to have benefited this bird that feeds mainly on worms, although in hard winters it is capable of tackling snails when the frozen ground makes worms difficult to come by. 

1 January 2003
The Long tailed Tits, Aegithalos caudatus, are feeding on peanuts provided in  my Shermanbury garden.

Upper Adur East (Shermanbury area) Nature Pages


Latest Nature Notes and Index page 2002

Adur Valley Nature Notes  January to March 2002
Adur Valley Nature Notes  April - June 2002
Adur Valley Nature Notes  July - September 2002
Adur Valley Nature Notes  October - December 2002

Mill Hill, north of Shoreham

Adur Valley
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