Tag Archives: great spotted woodpecker


OK, you’ll have to take my word for it because, as usual, we didn’t get the photograph.

We went for a look at Budby Flash, because we wanted to see birds but didn’t want to walk. As we parked, Julia pointed at one of the feeders, where a Great Spotted Woodpecker was feeding.  The photos are a bit hazy because we took pictures through the windscreen rather than risk scaring it off.


Great Spotted Woodpecker – Budby Flash

When we did eventually get out of the car it flew off, as expected.

The feeders were full of tits with the odd robin, chaffinch and dunnock having a go. The robins, which normally pose so well, were too busy chasing each other, resulting in a lack of photographs. I got one poor shot of a coal tit but it was mainly a day for blue and great tits, with a visit from some long-tailed tits (who did their best to hide their faces).

While I was taking photos of the feeders Julia stalked round the trees that overhang the water by the bridge. A cry of surprise interrupted my photography and I turned just in time to see the eastern end of a westbound kingfisher. It managed to find a spot just round the corner, where it was still close, but hidden. I did think I’d spotted it later, but it was just a discarded beer can when I zoomed in.

The Birds

The header photo shows the origin of the mysterious tears that keep appearing in the polytunnels. The plastic is several years past the point that it should have been replaced and a crow striding across the top of the tunnel is a step too far. One day soon I’m expecting to see one fall through completely.

Julia has already used two rolls of mending tape and several large pieces of scrap polythene getting the tunnels ready for winter and despite this the wind ripped a large section last month. It’s patched now but she’s currently raising the money to replace at least one of the covers next year.

Based on the cost last time we bought covers on the farm we are hoping to spend no more than £600 doing the job. This should enable us to get a good six years of fund-raising in before we need to replace them again. Manufacturers tend to recommend three years, as the sheet gradually lets less and less light through, but economy is more important than the ultimate growing performance.

It doesn’t seem a lot of money, but when you are raising it by selling bird boxes at £5 each it takes some doing.

The Black-headed Gulls were out in force too, and the squabbling between gulls and crows is ine of the more raucous sounds around.

While I was taking photographs of the flowers and plastic poppies the squeaks of Long-tailed Tits filled the garden as they descended to pick insects from the willows.

And coy bumbarrels, twenty in a drove,
Flit down the hedgerows in the frozen plain
And hang on little twigs and start again. 

John Clare – Emmonsail’s Heath in Winter

Clare hit it on the head there, as there were about twenty of them, and they were hanging on little twigs. They were also a bit coy when it came to posing for the camera and, as usual, I got more photos of empty branches than I did of birds.

There’s something a little eerie about a poet managing to do that from a distance of 200 years.

The Great Tits on the feeders were slightly easier to get, but the Cormorants, which flew by several times, proved impossible to photograph. Finally, alerted by the distinctive flight, I was able to get a distant shot of a Greater Spotted Woodpecker. It’s a common bird, but always nice to see, even at a distance.

Sorry about the quality of the photography, but it was a grey and windy day and I’ve become a little rusty over the summer.

Canad+a Geese in flight - River Trent at Wilford

Canada Geese in flight – River Trent at Wilford

The final shot shows three Canada Geese in flight. I took it a couple of weeks ago and didn’t have a chance to use it. I thought I’d include it here to show I can photograph birds in flight, though the day was a little brighter, and they did fly right over the top of me.

Birds, birds, birds…

We washed the bird feeders this morning. It’s one of those jobs that I usually put off as I much prefer watching birds feed to washing grubby feeders. After trying to sterilise some with boiling water last year I’m also a little worried about melting them.

It’s clear from looking at them that several of the feeders have design faults that mean you can’t clean them properly. One now has damp seed trapped in its base, which must be worse than not cleaning it at all, and another quite clearly allows peanuts to fester in the base. They are both very cheap feeders so I can’t complain, but for £1.50 I’m not going to persist with them; I will just buy some that are easier to clean.

In around 1969, after reading The Bird Table Book by Tony Soper, I became very keen on feeding birds, and one of my milestones was the winter when greenfinches started to feed in quantity. From being exotic visitors (compared to the sparrows, chaffinches and starlings that formed the bulk of our garden birds) they rapidly became bullies, because there were just so many of them.

Times change, and after Trichomonas gallinae, swept through the greenfinch population (reducing it by over a third) they aren’t the force they once were. The parasite is thought to be spread by access to dirty feeding equipment, which is why I’m trying to keep ours clean.

Our bullies on the feeders are now jackdaws and goldfinches, and the greenfinches and house sparrows are now uncommon visitors.

Talking of jackdaws, they were on one of the feeders when we arrived this morning – using the support from the flat feeder pan as a perch to attack the peanuts. I have now made a number of changes, which include removing the flat pans and supports. It means that the robins and blackbirds won’t have anywhere to feed, apart from the floor, but I will think of something for them as soon as I can. I’ve also bought a new feeder to supply suet pellets, so they smaller birds are still getting a high energy diet.

Currently we have a couple of jackdaws stalking round and looking puzzled.

The squirrel-proof fat ball feeder at the back of the centre doesn’t stop the jackdaws but it does slow them down, so we will continue using that until we finish the remaining fat balls.  The feeder in the hedge has been replaced with a seed feeder. We get tits and sparrows there on the fat balls, so they should be able to cope with the seeds.

That’s it, apart from a touch of hypocrisy. Shortly after restocking the feeders we had a great spotted woodpecker come to visit the feeding station. To be honest, I’m very pleased it did. They are colourful, and though they aren’t rare, we haven’t had one on the feeder before. The hypocrisy comes into play when you consider they raid nests (and beehives!). The beehives are still a sore point. They aren’t much different from a crow in that respect, but because they are colourful, I tend to forgive them.

As luck would have it, Julia had the new camera out in the field when I needed it, so I had to use the old one to photograph the woodpecker. Isn’t that always the way?