Visiting a site where I've had Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in the past, I had the species in mind as we headed out from the car park but remarked: "We're not realistically going to see one today".
It was too early in the season. The thing about Lesser Spots is they're out there but this bird is so unobstrusive it is all but invisible, except when vocal during the initial stages of the breeding cycle in early spring. It was too early in the season and too cold.
I knew what the bird next to the Marsh Tit we were watching was before I got my binoculars on it, but I couldn't believe our luck: "Lesser Spotted Woodpecker!"
The female bird methodically picked over the trunks and branches in front of us, aware of our presence but not giving us a second glance.
Females have a white crown, whereas this area is red in males.
After a few minutes of watching her forage quietly, she flew through the trees. We followed but soon gave up. She had melted away into the wood.
Thrilled with the encounter, we got on with our walk through the wood, enjoying several Marsh Tits, Coal Tits and Nuthatches.
We then headed to Pett Level, where the wind made birding extremely difficult, not least the task of picking out the usual scoter flock on the sea, which we wrote off this time!
But it was a pleasure to watch a large mixed flock of Wigeon, Shoveler and Teal, while Curlew and Lapwing patrolled the grassy margins and a male Marsh Harrier hunted in the distance.
Stopping off at one of the pools on the west side, an adult Little Gull danced over the water for a minute or two before floating away over the sea wall.