Today I have been observing the Woody family on and off. I watch from my study window and take my photos with the Canon SX60. This is a camera that struggles to produce good results above ISO200 although in good light it can pass muster. For context and fairness however this is the distance it is being asked to cover. Woodpecker Manor is on the right as the longer grass starts before the wood. You can also see one of the moth traps on the ground.Now my first memories of woodpeckers are of Heinz Sielmann’s films, which he shot in 1954, before I was born (just). He was the pre-eminent natural history film-maker of his day, I suppose. Grainy black and white films on a TV set built by my father. 405 lines and a wait for the valves to warm up. So maybe the pocket sized SX60 is not so bad after all.
To return to my woodies, well the chicks are now just about visible as they crane their heads up for the parents to feed them with tasty, regurgitated morsels. Here is one Heinz Sielmann-era shot, which I have artificially coloured for you and there is no waiting for the blog to warm up. Get to the point, yes. Warm up, no.
The title of this post relates to a bizarre incident I observed this morning. I was surprised to see two different species of woodpecker on the same tree. The Green by the nest hole and rather lower down a Great Spotted.I thought the GSW would simply fly away in a few moments so I was completely unprepared for what happened next. The GSW tried to enter the Green Woodpecker’s nest hole. The GW seemed as bemused as me by this but rapidly regained its composure and vigorously drove the GSW away. So why would the woodpecker do this? I can come up with no other explanation than it has a ‘senior moment’ and was on the wrong tree. The RSPB says “Though insects are the staple diet, tree seeds supplement this in the winter, and birds’ eggs and fledglings in the spring.” But would a GSW really try to predate Green Woodpecker chicks? I struggle to believe this, especially with the Green Woodpecker parent at the nest hole. Bizarre.
It was not a ‘senior moment’. The Great Spotted Woodpecker returned but this time alighted only briefly before flying higher up the tree into the canopy. The young Greens are making a fearful din so they advertise their presence far too much.