3rd March 2018

In freezing conditions, birds need fresh water but if the can’t get it, they will eat snow, like this Great Spotted Woodpecker I have been watching in the garden. This Mistle Thrush, during a blizzard, managed to stand ankle deep in melting ice on the pond, and sip water from a more melted spot!

Great Spotted Woodpecker eating snow

Mistle Thrush sipping from a slightly melted pond

If you can, put out water for them. Conditions: Still, grey with early snow showers. Temperature: Max 1 Min -1C.

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14th February 2018

Great Spotted Woodpeckers are turning up on our feeders as usual but males can also be heard drumming on the tree trunks to establish their territories, which they will do until April. (Male have a red patch at the back of their head, females don’t – see photo’s). One of the success stories, their increasing numbers and spread mean you can hear them in most of the UK- we even heard one at Kelsey Park, Beckenham, at the weekend! They find the loudest drumming-posts, including telegraph poles. (Green Woodpeckers, while they excavate nesting holes in tree-trunks, do not drum). Conditions: Frosty and showery. Temperature: Max 5- Min 4C.

Great Spotted Woodpecker- female

Great Spotted Woodpecker- female  

 

 

Great Spotted Woodpecker- male

Great Spotted Woodpecker- male

11th February 2017

Woodpecker drumming– another call you are likely to hear, during February, is the territorial and mate-seeking hammering of Woodpeckers. Only the Great and the Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers drum- not the Green Woodpecker. Since the sparrow-sized Lesser Spotted, (the male of which has a red cap, and no white shoulder bar. ), is now on the endangered red list, having declined by 73% in 25 years, the most likely one you’ll be hearing is the louder, faster and much more common Great Spotted Woodpecker. The male Great Spotted, starling-sized, has a red nape. The sound really carries- I heard three trying to out-drum each other recently in Sussex. But listen carefully- if you should hear or see a Lesser Spotted it is worth letting the RSPB or BTO know. Conditions: Sleet, rain and low cloud. Temperature: Max 3- Min 2C.

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming- male has red nape

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Great Spotted Woodpecker- male

Great Spotted Woodpecker- male

25th November 2016

Woodpeckers, like this female adult Great Spotted Woodpecker at the end of our garden (no red on top of head, like juvenile, or back of neck like adult male) is closing and opening its eyes  for every hammer. This is thought to help keep wood chips out of its eyes, but more important to prevent the force of the hammering popping its eyeballs out of their sockets. But there again, it was thought we close our eyes when we sneeze for the same reason, but now this is discredited, so who knows. Anyway, this also shows the value of putting dead wood, lying or upright, in your garden- woodpeckers will feed on insects in the wood. Conditions: Down South is breezy and sunny. Temperature: Max 10- Min 6C

Great Spotted Woodpecker- eyes closed as it hammers

Great Spotted Woodpecker- eyes closed as it hammers

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Great Spotted Woodpecker