It was tanking down with rain when we arrived at Pulborough Brooks for the day's Sussex Birding Mini-Trip with Sarah and Rachel, but with little wind and brollies to hand, we were ready to go birding!
The feeding station near the visitor centre was busy with Blue and Great Tits, while Greenfinches and Chaffinches were a treat to see in the bushes behind. Further down the track, a Nuthatch gave unusual views as it foraged on the ground alongside a couple of Robins.
Encountering Long-tailed Tits, Chiffchaffs, Treecreepers and a Jay along the way, we made our way to view over the North Brooks. The flood there was busy with birds, including a Ruff, 12 Snipe, two Green Sandpipers, a Black-tailed Godwit and an Avocet in terms of wading birds. Ducks on offer included around 70 Teal and a small number of Gadwall.
Work was taking place outside the Winpenny Hide so we skipped straight to the Westmead Hide. Just outside of it Swallows were gathering in the trees and a charm of Goldfinches followed.
From Westmead we could see three Greenshanks feeding elegantly on the pool. Something spooked them and a Wood Sandpiper call was heard. Then there it was! The smaller, elegant, splanged wader settled in front of us, giving brilliant looks through the scope.
A Little Egret flew in to feed and a male Marsh Harrier quarted the river bank on the far side but was hard to get on to. On the way back to the visitor centre we heard a Bullfinch calling but it remained unseen.
The second half of the tour was at Burton Mill Pond. Before we'd even parked up, a Grey Wagtail appeared just outside the car window. A short stakeout provided lovely views of Kingfisher, which caught and dispatched a small fish, and a flock of three Common Sandpipers which skipped between the viewing areas. A Great Crested Grebe and a small flock of Tufted Ducks were out on the water, a couple of Reed Warblers and a Grey Heron were in the reeds, and a Hobby made a brief appearance.
We undertook a short trip to see a nearby Little Owl, which we seemed to have missed this time at first, but then the owl called and was suddenly in view! The woodland and fields surrounding it were full of birds, with Marsh Tits, Garden Warbler, Firecrest, Goldcrests, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Swallows, Linnets, Coal Tit and Great Spotted Woodpeckers — and more! — featuring.
With 63 species recorded, including some star birds, it was quite a mini-trip!