Starting out in an East Sussex woodland on a beautiful May morning, we were greeted by brief views of a Great Spotted Woodpecker as we began the day's Sussex Birding Mini-Trip. Completing a short circular route, we encountered a few singing Goldcrests and a couple of Garden Warblers, while patience was rewarded with good views of one of the singing Blackcaps in the telescope.
A Treecreeper had us all craning our necks upwards as it gleaned over the bark of some mature oak trees, and a family of Ravens took off noisily as we headed back to the car park. While re-fuelling with tea and biscuits, we enjoyed the company of a trio of Pied Wagtails picking insects from the gravel.
Our next stop was West Rise Marsh, where we found a male Bearded Tit surprisingly quickly on the edge of the main lake, though getting a view once it had landed in the reeds either side of us was another matter. Thankfully, a pair of Reed Warblers was more obliging, showing right out in the open at the edge of the reedbed.
A Cuckoo sang as we made our way along our route, as did a couple of Cetti's Warblers. A Little Egret and a couple of Grey Herons were feeding in the shallows and we managed to get eyes of a singing male Reed Bunting and a Sedge Warbler as it performed its display flight. Swifts and House Martin swept the skies above.
As we reached the edge of the lake again, we enjoyed watching a sleepy pair of Great Crested Grebes and compared Lesser Black-backed and Great Black-backed Gulls within the flock of bathing Herring Gulls.
For a fairly quiet May morning, the two sites offered truly pleasant and restful birding.