We decided to switch our itinerary in order to avoid the fog and heavy drizzle, making our way to the Adur Estuary to kick off our Sussex Birding Mini-Trip with Geoff and Jane.
Things got off to a good start, with two Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit and a Greenshank loosely grouped together! Just in front of them was a flock of about 10 Turnstone, including some splendid males. Opposite, several Oystercatchers were busy calling and flying up and down the river.
As we walked north, we heard a Cetti's Warbler and a couple of Skylarks.
A flock of four Little Egrets dropped onto the shore, and a Pied Wagtail was feeding close-by. We then examined the flock of loafing gulls, which contained Herring, Great Black-backed, Lesser Black-backed, Black-headed and Common Gull.
A few Swifts flew into the wind, a first for the year for all of us!
From the Old Toll Bridge, a Cormorant was drying its wings and we added another wader species with a distant Redshank. As we walked back south down the other side of the estuary, we bumped into James and watched a couple of Whimbrel feeding on the mud just a short distance away.
Happy with the showing of waders, we made tracks for Saddlescombe, one of Geoff and Jane's favourite walks. Walking through the farm, we saw a Mistle Thrush up in the trees and enjoyed watching Swallows zipping around the barns. A couple of Linnets and a Greenfinch were on view in a hedgerow up the slope, then a male Great Spotted Woodpecker alighted in top of a tree, allowing superb views!
Our circuit produced several Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps, as well as memorable encounters with several Skylarks, plus a couple of singing Meadow Pipits performing their parachuting song-flight.
A Raven called as it passed at eye-level and threw in a couple of barrel-rolls. We also spotted a few Buzzards, a Kestrel and a distant Red Kite.
After hearing a couple of Whitethroats, we heard the rattling of a Lesser Whitethroat and the bird appeared for a few moments in a bush below us. As we headed back to the car park, a female Blackcap showed well next to the path, and a Green Woodpecker yaffled in the distance. A flock of Stock Doves flew by, showing their short tails and subtle grey tones.
Back around the farm, House Martins were whizzing around with the Swallows and we enjoyed spectacular views of pairs of Mistle Thrush and Song Thrush, both gathering food for young in their nests somewhere.
It was a pleasure to go birding with Geoff and Jane and explore their local patch, helping them to understand the birdlife there!