Nothing much was moving, except that I noticed that the Bittersweet berries were particularly plump.
A Snowberry has been planted on the Lancing College side of the road by the Cuckoo's Corner car park.
Scores of House Martins filled the sky over the Adur Levels, notably over the fields north of Cuckoo's Corner.
There was a handsome Peacock Butterfly at Cuckoo's Corner.
I saw my first bright yellow Brimstone Butterfly of the year at Cuckoo's Corner. It was very distinctive in flight, but when I looked around I could not find it again.
Quite the most magnificent bird I have ever seen in the Adur area, a pale fawnish-brown Barn Owl flew majestically in a straight line above the Ricardo test track opposite the Sussex Pad Hotel (at the southern end of the Coombes Road) and then veered into the cover of the trees. The bird flew at 4:45 pm GMT in bright sunshine so the view was far from fleeting. I was struck by the size of this bird as it appeared much bigger than expected, especially its head which was looking in my direction. (The book size says it is no bigger than a Kestrel.)
Moorhens seemed to more numerous than in previous years, a handful noted on the ploughed fields to the south-east of Cuckoo's Corner. For virtually the whole of this month there has been a score or more Moorhens in the private (Lancing College) field next to Ladywell Stream on the west side of the Coombes Road (see the photograph above).
Two pairs of Great Spotted Woodpeckers chased their partners around the tree tops opposite Cuckoo's Corner on the Coombes road. They made a tremendous commotion as they performed their antics, with a rattling trill-like call that was repeated at regular intervals. At times it seemed if two males were competing over one female and at another time, it seemed that there were two separate pairs. This was the first time I had seen more than one of these woodpeckers at the same time. There woodpeckers chased each other up the tree trunks and flew from the larger branches to another tall tree seen amongst the bare branches until they were hidden amongst the ivy. There were a mixture of mature and decaying trees and this would seem a likely breeding area for these attractive birds.
There was a lot of bird song along the Coombes road, one call a very harsh single squeal that stood out amongst the melodies and clicking calls. I have no idea what bird can make such a noise?
Three white rumped deer were spotted in the fields overlooked by Lancing College and close to Ricardo's test strip (east of the Coombes road at its traffic lights junction with the A27) at around 10:00 am. Roe Deer are frequently seen around the Adur Levels and these fitted the book description.
The fungi are probably the remains of Velvet Shank
Lancing College Private Property
view from the east bank of the River Adur
1 January 2004
Clumps of Velvet Shank, Flammulina velutipes fungus were growing on at least three Elm trees to the north of Cuckoo's Corner.
This is a typical species of late autumn throughout the winter. It is a remarkable species since it has its own built in antifreeze and can go through frosts unfazed and resume dropping spores immediately afterwards. Indeed, its growth and spore production are stimulated by cold.
Fungi of Shoreham (with more images and information)
Adur Fungi: Fruiting Bodies (Monthly Guide)
Fungi of the British Isles (Yahoo Group)
Adur Nature Notes (January 2004)
Adur Levels 2004
In half an hours slow cycle ride from New Salts Farm to Cuckoo's Corner (via Shoreham Airport), I must have spotted about twenty Moorhens, in the fields with cows and in drainage ditches and small overgrown streams. This is more than usual, although this water bird hides amongst the reeds and they may just have been venturing out and it does not necessarily reflect increasing numbers.
dusk drew in, the estimated count of Lapwings
flying south over the River Adur near Cuckoo's Corner (on the Coombes Road)
There were also two fleeting glimpses of hawks, the first flying along the Coombes Road by Cuckoo's Corner was probably a female Sparrowhawk. The second one, a couple of minutes later as the light faded, looked like a male Sparrowhawk that flew very low over the field next to the river that was seen from the gate separating Cuckoo's Corner from the towpath. Subsequent observations of a hawk on the dull afternoon of 20 November 2003 seem to indicate that it was more likely to be a female Kestrel, although the bird persistently refused to hover.
A small flock of Long-tailed Tits were a pleasant attraction at Cuckoo's Corner (on the Coombes Road), favouring a Sycamore Tree near the new swing gate between the towpath and the car park, but also venturing into the taller trees where a Greater Spotted Woodpecker was clearly seen on the side of a tree trunk.
Two Kingfishers and two Water Rails, Rallus aquaticus, were seen near Cuckoo's Corner, on the Coombes Road. This is assumed to be by the freshwater Ladywell Stream.
The towpath from Old Shoreham Toll Bridge north to Cuckoo's Corner on the western side of the River Adur was graced by a Grey Heron. Butterflies fluttered in the hot sun with a large handful of Small White Butterflies, Red Admirals and Meadow Browns, plus more than one Small Tortoiseshell. North of Cuckoo's Corner, a Pheasant strutted in the road, and scuttled into the heavy roadside undergrowth at my approach.
Corner, the flash of orange and white
of the male Orange Tip Butterfly was
sudden and unmistakable. There were a couple of the larger all-white females
as well. From the trees on the Lancing College side of the road, a Cuckoo
called just once.
The drainage ditch running north from Cuckoo's Corner was choked with floating weeds or algae. Scores of Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies, mostly faded, fluttered over the grasses and plants by the stream's edge.
Gliding less than a metre above the road surface, south of Cuckoo's Corner (TQ 201 064), a male Sparrowhawk flew at least 20 metres along the road before veering suddenly in the hedgerow on the right. It was identified as a male by its slate-bluish colour, and as a Sparrowhawk by its behaviour including the fanning of its tail as it swerved adeptly between the bare hedgerow branches in a way that would not be common for the Kestrel. A Kestrel, a regular sight on waste land, had spent some time gliding and hovering near Old Shoreham on the east side of the Adur, so I was able to contrast the two falcons.
A Great Spotted Woodpecker was spotted on the Coombes road between Cuckoo's Corner and the Ladywell Stream, in a tree at the bottom of the private path leading to Lancing College (TQ 200 069).
Cuckoo's Corner is a lay-by a half mile so down the Coombes Road from the A27 turn off for Lancing College and the Sussex Pad. It has a collection of old trees which provide a magnet for birds. A flock of about 50 Long-tailed Tits were singing in the lower branches of the ivy adorned 12 metre + high trees. This bird is not a titmouse at all and is appreciably smaller than a Pied Wagtail, they actually looked much smaller (apart from the long tail) than the Wrens which all shared the branches, and there was a Chaffinch in the understorey of evergreen vegetation.
Adur Levels 2004