top of page
  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

The Adur Estuary SSSI & Shoreham Fort: Ringed Plovers, a Peregrine Falcon & Wall Lizards. 31.08.21

On Tuesday I walked with a friend from Coronation Green in Shoreham, where the Adur Estuary RSPB Nature Reserve (part of the Adur Estuary SSSI) can be viewed, then over the Norfolk Road Bridge, and then we waked up the path on the west side of the Adur, over the old Toll Bridge, down the east sight of the Adur; across the Shoreham Foot Bridge, and along the board walk on Shoreham Beach to Shoreham Fort. We saw many interesting things; many of them listed in the Adur Estuary SSRI citation.

The ADUR ESTUARY Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) citation: The Adur Estuary, together with Rye Harbour further to the east, represent the only significant areas of saltmarsh between Chichester and Pagham Harbours in West Sussex, and Sandwich Bay in Kent, The estuarine plant communities are unusual due to the relative scarcity of cord-grass, Spartina spp. The large area of intertidal mudflats within the estuary are important for a variety of wading birds. Saltmarsh plants fringe most of the estuary and in places have colonised large areas of mudflats. Sea purslane Halimione portaculoides dominates most of the areas above mean high water mark, and annual seablite Suaeda maritima is also extremely frequent in these areas. Towards the mean low water mark, glasswort Salicornia sp. is dominant and sea aster Aster tripolium becomes more abundant. Other species are scattered throughout the saltmarsh community, including common sea lavender Limonium vulgare, thrift Armeria maritima, sea plantain Plantago maritima and sea poa grass, Puccinella maritima. Cord grass Spartina spp. is noticeably absent from most of the estuary, but a small stand does grow southeast of the Old Shoreham Bridge. At the landward margin of the saltmarsh a variety of herbs and shrubs are frequent, including mugwort Artemisia vulgaris, orache Atriplex spp., teasel Dipsacus fullonum, yarrow Achillea millefolium and elm Ulmus procera. The intertidal mudflats of the Adur Estuary support a number of wading birds, particularly redshank, dunlin and ringed plover. The number of ringed plover regularly exceed 1% of the total British population, making the estuary of national importance for this species. A variety of species breed within the reedbed adjacent to the estuary north of the A27, including moorhen, reed warbler and sedge warbler. The estuary embankment near the car park supports a large colony of viviparous lizards, Lacerta vivipara 1003359 (naturalenglan

Map of the SSSI. The orange line shows our walk

Map from: Magic Map Application (

This is what we saw:

From Coronation Green we saw Black-Headed Gulls, Great Black-Backed Gulls, Little Egrets and this Juvenile Herring Gull following its parent

and on the other side of the river three Redshanks

In the rife leading to the "Dogs Trust pool", from just over the Norfolk Bridge, we saw Little Egrets

and Redshanks

and a Lapwing

on the recreation ground on the way the the path on the west bank of the Adur we saw several Pied Wagtails

On the path on the west side of the Adur we saw many Small White Butterflies

and a Wasp Spider, Argiope bruennichi

The wasp spider is a great mimic - looking just like a common wasp keeps it safe from predators, even though it is not dangerous itself. It can be found in southern England, but is spreading north.

The wasp spider is a very large, colourful spider that is a recent arrival in the UK from the continent and has slowly spread over the south of England. It builds large orb webs in grassland and heathland, and attaches its silk egg-sacs to the grasses. The web has a wide, white zig-zag strip running down the middle, known as a 'stabilimentum', the function of which is unclear.

Mating is a dangerous game for males; they wait at the edge of the web until the female has moulted into a mature form, then take advantage of her jaws being soft and rush in to mate. However, many males still get eaten during this time. Wasp spider | The Wildlife Trusts

After we had crossed the Toll Bridge we walked down the path on the East Side of the Adur. From the path we saw a flock of about 50 Ringed Plovers

And we saw a Peregrine Falcon attempt to catch some; he didn't manage to. Presumable the Peregrines was one of the the pair that roost at the old Cement Words at Beeding (further up the Adur)

Further done the river on the banks there was much Ivy in flower, I looked for Ivy Bees Colletes hederae the "new bee in the block" (which have recently arrived a few years ago in Britain from Northern Europe) bit all I saw were Drone Flies Eristalis tenax (one of the hoverfly honeybee mimics) on them.

And we saw a Female Holly Blue, Celastrina argiolus butterlfy.

This photo of the river banks shows how for much of Sussex - east from Shoreham to Beach Head) - the soil along the coast sits on chalk.

We then walked over the Foot Bridge and along Shoreham Beach to the Fort, where there is a thriving colony of Common (Wall) Lizards Podarcis muralis

This very agile lizard is well named as it can often be seen basking, hanging from walls or rock faces. It is either green or brown with mottled marking along its flanks, and reaches a length of about 8-inches (20cm) with the tail making up to two thirds its overall length.

In the British Isles in particular, this lizard is associated with man-made habitats; particularly stone walls such as old houses, boundary features and castles. It can also be found on cliff faces, and strongly favours south facing facades

There has been some discussion as to whether the Wall lizard is a native species, as it is on Jersey in the Channel Islands. Although it cannot be ruled out with complete certainty, All scientific evidence (including legacy records, museum specimens, zooarchaeological remains & DNA analysis) suggest that the Wall lizard is an entirely introduced species to the United Kingdom, with many documented releases across the nineteenth century. Common Wall Lizard (

We also saw a Wheatear - a bird that is seen in Spring and Autumn at Shoreham, as passage migrants going to and from their winter stay in Africa.

We also saw three Common Sandpipers on the beach at the Fort ; but they flew off before I could photo them

bottom of page