Friday, 10 June 2016

Woodpecker in the garden...and more

I've often bemoaned the fact that I never get a woodpecker on my bird feeder and I've seen one Great Spotted and one Green one in the garden since I moved in in 1992. So imagine my joy and annoyance when I accidentally scared off a Great Spotted adult off the feeders.

Not to worry as it was sighted the next day, and rather surprisingly it started pecking at a fat block that nothing else, except a recently fledged Robin, seemed to be interested in. And then it came the next, and the next and I was so happy as I love their unmistakably clipped 'Chip, chip' song.


I have a nut feeder that issues whole nuts onto a base plate that the tits and squirrels almost exclusively use and wasn't sure if the woodpecker, which I nicknamed Gregory (it's better than Woody), would be able to access them. I decided to add a meshed one to the stand as they seem happier with this style, and indeed have a different toe arrangement to other birds. It has become the go to food source. It also seemed to be the same bird which was identifiable by the Keith Flint style feathers on the back of it's head. 


It doesn't usually stay long preferring a noisy smash and grab raid, but whilst here it often pauses to  roll it's head back which I assume is it looking out for predators which is wise, seeing as we get regular Sparrowhawk flypasts. The one other constant is that it always flies off in the same direction...

I was heading out of our back gate to get some shopping when I heard some rather noisy Goldfinches in an Elm tree. They make a babble at the best of times but this made the tree seem alive which was a sound and a half, bit it continued after they flew off. The tree was cheeping away without a breath, and then I noticed that it was coming from a hole.

Well what do you know? The woodpeckers have a nest not 90 seconds from my house. I could see both parents flying through the trees and could see our garden visitor by his sticky out head feathers. This is an adult about to launch itself out on another forage.

The cheeping of the chick, or chicks is incessant and there was seemingly no pause for breath. Upon seeing the nest hole for the first time I hard just sound, but on subsequent visits it was easy to see a head, or heads, poking through the hole.

In this shot we have 'Gregory' perched diagonally up from the nest hole with a beak full of food, and a chick just visible at the entrance. Both were talking to each other via 'Cheep' and 'Chip'.


I was checking back every few days and it was remarkable to see that the chick (or chicks) went from staying out of sight, to fleeting glimpses out of the nest, to sticking their heads right out in a short space of time. I'd put a trail cam up for two days near our bird feeder and not got a single recording and I wonder if their skittishness meant that they were nervous of the camera. With this in mind I photographed the parent arriving from a little way away, but when it came to go the youngster(s) weren't overly bothered that I'd got close up to snap it.

I went out after getting back from this coastal jaunt and it seems that the youngster(s) has/ have fledged as there's no activity in or around the hole. I scoped the area for any young but didn't see any. A shame as the story would have a beginning, middle and end but they fledged and that's the main thing. Kids, they grow up so fast...

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