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Sunday, 12 May 2013

Great Spotted Woodpecker - May, 2013

Last year, for a month or so, we had a juvenile female Great Spotted Woodpecker visiting our garden on a 'several times a day' basis. We don't see woodpeckers very often in our garden, so this was quite exciting for us. Suddenly she was gone, and we feared the worst.

I can now say, with absolute confidence, that she is back! This is based on behaviour and preferred food. Unlike most GS Woodpeckers, which have a preference for peanuts, this bird (as good as exclusively) likes to feed from the fat balls - only once have we seen her briefly try the offerings of the sunflower heart tray. Also, her approach to the fat balls is virtually always the same. She lands on a particular section of our back fence, surveys the scene, flies to the base of a silver birch branch (dead, and inserted as a photographic prop near the feeder pole), climbs the birch until level with the fat ball holder, and then hops across. After feeding she flies directly up into the nut tree, cleans her bill, and then flies off southwards.

A week or so ago, she was visiting even more frequently - one day she came five times before mid-day(!) - and we came to the conclusion that she was probably feeding young. In the warmer dry weather she started deviating from her usual behaviour, and coming to our bird bath and 'mini-pond' for a drink. This gave me a few slightly different opportunities for photography, although I was having to shoot through the double glazing of my study or the conservatory. Note the long probing tongue in the first image.







Great Spotted Woodpecker (female) - our garden
I'm not sure how long she will continue to visit us for - her visits have thinned out a bit in the last three days - but we're hoping, if she does have youngsters, that she will bring them to visit us too!

Whilst on the subject of the garden, on Friday we lifted the garden annual total of species visiting to 35 - not with anything as spectacular as April's Redstart, but with a Carrion Crow. It was about time, as we see a Crow round our garden virtually every day, but this was the first day this year that we've actually seen it put a foot down in the garden (the criterion that we use for counting a garden bird). We're not halfway through the year yet, but we've already beaten our previous annual record (last year's) by three species!

Carrion Crow - our garden (bringing the garden year-list up to 35 species)

54 comments:

  1. You've managed to pull some (I mean a lot)stunning detail out of the crows plumages like it a lot. The GSW are all brilliant and couldn't even start to pick a favourite, though the first one has everything from tongue to feet 10 out of 10 from me Richard

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    1. Thank you, Doug, for your very kind comments!

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  2. It's one of my favourite birds and I was only this afternoon, lamenting the fact that ours is not frequenting! Your post brings me hope. On the images; I really like the 3rd one - the light is brilliant.

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    1. I hope that your woodpecker shows up soon, Christian. I'd be happier with that 3rd image if it wasn't for the bit of burn-out on the neck and forehead. fortunately they are only relatively small areas!

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  3. I like the woodpecker when it was looking up. What parts of the tree do lesser spotted woodpecker nest do they nest near the bottom of the tree.

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    1. Thanks Harley. I think that image is probably my favourite one of the set too!

      You might think that Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, being smaller birds, nest lower down in the trees, but it is my understanding that they actually nest (and feed) higher up in the trees! Possibly a case of smaller bird, smaller nest hole, smaller branch to make nest hole in?

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  4. Wow! I've only seen these in books. You really got some amazing, wonderfully detailed shots of this beauty. Congrats!

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    1. Thank you Gail, but I'd rather be looking at your Red-bellied Woodpecker, and your shots rather than mine!!

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  5. Beautiful shots Richard! Lovely to have the GSW as a regular visitor. I only get the occasional visit and have only ever managed a rather poor shot of it feeding from the sunflower hearts feeder, I just missed it on the birdbath which would have been better.

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    1. Thank you Jan. I think she may have left us already, as I haven't seen her now since Saturday. Maybe we'll have to wait another year for a GSW?!

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  6. These are just sensational shots with such vivid details. Well done.

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  7. Beautiful, especially the first. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

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    1. Thank you Gary. Best wishes to you and Boom.

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  8. the woodpecker is beautiful! sweet little cocked head. the carrion crow is just handsome! wonderful shots!

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  9. Superb views of your 'special' garden visitor.

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    1. Thank you Frank. Sadly, I'm not seeing her so often now.

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  10. Great photowork!
    Lovely photos!

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  11. Beautiful Richard, such a pretty bird and I love your header.

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  12. Great photos and how nice to identify a bird by its preferences and behavior.

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    1. Thanks Mick. It's not often I get to do this, even with my owls, but it adds to the excitement when you can. However, it also means that you tend to get attached to a particular bird and that can have some sorrowful consequences!

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  13. Awesome shots of the woodpecker, it is a beauty!

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    1. Thank you Eileen. She's certainly a favourite with me!

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  14. Isn't she grand! Wow, gorgeous captures with amazing detail.

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    1. Thank you your kind comments Karen.

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  15. Great photos of the woodpecker.
    The photo of the black crow is sublime.
    Regards, Irma

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    1. Thank you Irma for your kind comments.

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  16. What great shots! I miss woodpeckers - we have none in Australia. The second 'date' my (now) wife and I went on was to see a GSW nest! She's Australian and had never seen a woodpecker! Oh, the romance!

    Cheers and thanks for linking to WBW

    Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. Thanks Stewart, I wondered if these photos might get you reminiscing!

      Keep up the good work!

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  17. Beautiful woodpecker and amazing series of pictures. We have three kinds of woodpeckers here right now, but I've never seen this one.

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    1. Thank you Sallie. Your woodpeckers are a bit more spectacular than ours!!

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  18. Excellent series! The woodpeckers are gorgeous.

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  19. How wonderful to watch her repetitive behaviour. She is such a love lady and I sincerely hope she will teach her offspring where the best take-away is.
    The crow shot is superb with every feather clear and in place. I have not seen a better of this much maligned, intelligent bird.

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    1. Thank you, Arija, for your very kind and encouraging words!

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  20. She is a gorgeous bird! Wonderful captures.

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    1. Thank you Pat. Glad you enjoyed them!

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  21. Those woodies are all brilliant and the Raven is pretty grand too~

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    1. Thank you Mary. I wish it was a Raven - although they are not rare in this county, that would be a pretty amazing bird to have in a back yard over here! This is just a plain ole' Crow, but nevertheless welcome!

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  22. They are well captured images Richard. We have Great-spotted Woodpeckers but they are in competion for the nuts from the squirrels. Unfortunately for me, the squirrels visiting my garden seem to be increasing, so I will have to invest in feeders that will deter squirrels but still attract the GS Woodpeckers.

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    1. We used to have a problem with squirrels, Linda, but we haven't had any squirrels for about a year now! In some ways I miss them - my wife certainly is disappointed that they've gone.

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  23. Great series of beautiful birds.

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  24. Hi Richard,
    I really love this very expressive bird and the way it moves around when it comes to the feeder!
    I had 2 pairs this winter visiting and I have a ball taking pictures.
    Yours are fantastic and show how much you enjoy them too! ;-)
    Well done and keep the good work up for my pleasure!
    Back from Spain with a cute Little owl coming up in a couple of days!
    Cheers for now!

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    1. Thank you, Noushka, for your very kind words!

      I'm beginning to realise that Woodpeckers are probably close behind Owls as my favourite group of birds, although it's a close run thing between them and Raptors. The only problem is that, whilst it is relatively easy to go out and target Owls, finding Woodpeckers is much more a matter of chance.

      I'm really looking forward to seeing the fruits of your Spanish trip - especially the Little Owl!

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    2. Hi Richard!
      Well funny enough, I find getting woodpeckers to come in the garden is a lot easier than seeking out owls, at least here in my area and that is why I go to Spain. I suppose the density of our woods makes it very difficult, a pity.
      Of course you have my permission to set a link on the OBN, ;-)
      Enjoy your day!

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    3. Thank you Noushka. Have a good one yourself!

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  25. Beautiful Great Spotted Woodpecker and of course, the Carriom Crow. They are well photographed Richard.

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