Local Nature Reserve
(a saline lagoon)
Saline Lagoon was designated as a Local Nature Reserve in 1997.
The Reserve is owned by Lancing Parish Council.
The reserve boundary includes the car parking areas. The reserve,
including car parks, is subject to a Public Safety Protection Order.
to the LNR designation West Sussex County Council have ecological
oversight of the reserve and provide a Countryside Ranger who
monitors water levels, salinity, vegetation control and also chairs a
steering group committee attended by representatives from Lancing
Parish Council; the ‘friends’ group, World of Widewater (WOW) and
Shoreham District Ornithological Society (SDOS).
a voluntary basis WOW undertake maintenance such as litter
clearance, assist with vegetation control, are alert to any
ecological wellbeing issues that arise, are available to host
educational visits and, subject to fund raising, undertake special
projects to improve the educational value of Widewater Lagoon.
Saline Lagoon is not a truly tidal lagoon with an ebb and flow of sea
water on each tide. When the Environment Agency reinforced the sea
defences early this century a mitigation pipe was installed which
enables sea water to top up the lagoon at ‘spring tides’ –
periods of exceptionally high tides over a few days twice a month.
Rainwater and drainage from the surrounding area result in brackish
lagoon water, the habitat of specialised marine creatures.
a true tidal lagoon, with areas of mud made damp on each tide which
would be attractive to foraging waders in far greater number and
species, at Widewater the mud can be parched dry or completely
immersed for days. The semi-constant water level is managed in favour
of the brackish marine creatures of which several are rare.
History Identification Panels
identification of natural history found around the nature reserve,
‘World of Widewater’, the friends group supporting the
reserve have co-ordinated the provision of five panels:
– two panels, which are described in detail below.
Bird Identification - General Notes
birds will have seasonal, gender and age related plumage variations.
Gulls, according to species can take up to four or five years to
reach maturity during which time their plumage changes each year
through various patchy and blotchy stages.
is during the winter period (October to March) that Widewater is of
greatest interest ornithologically. Many species take refuge here
during the winter months then move away to nest in higher latitudes
or safe nesting sites elsewhere. Rarities may turn up after winter
The Panels at Widewater
logistics determined the number of birds displayed on the
identification panels. Other birds may be seen. Some are commonly
seen in the wider landscape such as pigeons and the ‘crow’ family
(corvids) or familiar garden birds such as Blackbirds, Wrens
and Robins. Others may only rarely be seen such as Coot, Whimbrel or
Little Stint. Yet others are shoreline or foreshore birds that
occasionally appear in the lagoon in small numbers such as Dunlin and
Ringed Plovers. Stormy weather in the Channel may drive others
onshore for shelter or recuperation. Atlantic storms may deflect
unexpected and rarely seen birds to the UK such as North American
species. During Spring and Autumn migration periods yet further birds
may take temporary refuge while passing through. It is the
possibility of seeing a ‘surprise visitor’ that makes Widewater
so interesting. I.e. there have been brief sightings of a Cattle
Egret, Red-necked Phalarope and Redstart. A Common Scoter which
usually spends the winter off-shore stayed for several days.
There are two panels covering birds species:-
click on either of the links for a more detailed description of the species shown on the panels..
District Ornithological Society assisted with the production of
two bird panels with its members providing many of the photographs.
The Society sponsored the cost of one panel. The second panel has
been sponsored by way of donations made in memory of the Society’s
former President, Stanley Rowlatt Allen MBE and his wife, Peggy.
Click on the SDOS Logo above to go to the Home Page of SDOS