Species Of The Week Number23: Great Spotted Woodpecker

There are three species of Woodpecker breeding in the UK. The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker has become quite rare and is mainly confined to the South of England. A single Green Woodpecker was hanging about eating ants on Sugarwell Hill for a short period about a year ago. The Greater Spotted Woodpecker is however quite common across Meanwood.

The reason the GSW is Species of the Week this week is because they have started drumming to herald the spring and the new breeding season. As well as hearing them it is also a good time to spot them now, before the leaves appear on the trees.

GSWs also frequent bird feeders throughout the year. The ones that have visited my garden feeders appear to prefer sunflower seeds to peanuts. When not partaking of this vegetarian diet they will also break into a Blue Tit nest and gobble up its young. Nice.

In terms of nesting, Woodpecker's tend to use the same tree, although not always the same hole, for a few years. This was the case in one of the Poplar trees running alongside Meanwood Beck for 2 or 3 years until a storm took part of the tree down and my local Woodies disappeared last breeding season.

If you want more top woodpecker content there are around 240 species in the world to choose from, including the Middle Spotted Woodpecker (really!) and the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in the USA. The last known sighting of the Ivory Woodpecker was in 1944 and it was generally assumed to be extinct. Until one turned up to say hello to a rather excited birdwatcher in Louisiana last year.

Publicado el 01 de marzo de 2023 por clunym clunym


I love your post. It is fascinating and exciting to think of the extraordinary creatures near where I live in Meanwood, by the beck. I’ve just joined this group. I don’t know much about wildlife but would love to learn. I think I have heard woodpeckers but I am not sure. I’d love to see one. Have you any advice on how to achieve this?

Publicado por powerytreuifsws hace alrededor de 1 año

Off Grove Lane over the beck I think I saw a kingfisher flash past a couple of times but they are so rare it may have been wishful thinking or is it wishful perception?

Publicado por powerytreuifsws hace alrededor de 1 año

Thanks for the comments on the post! You have definitely heard a woodpecker and very probably seen a Kingfisher. There are 3 species of Woodpecker in the UK and the one we have in Meanwood is the Great Spotted Woodpecker. In fact a pair used to nest in the trees along the Beck to the west of Rolette Cafe. If you have a garden then they will come to bird feeders occasionally, otherwise its just a matter of keeping your eyes open (easier in the Spring before the trees come into leaf). Woodpeckers have quite a distinctive undulating flight (up and down like waves). If you have seen something fast and with a flash of azure blue flying along the Beck (at up to 30mph!) it can't be anything except a Kingfisher. If you get lucky you might see one perched above pools looking for fish - but they are quite shy. Other birds you might spot on the Beck around Grove Lane are Dippers and Grey Wagtails. Good luck!

Publicado por clunym hace alrededor de 1 año

Fantastic. Thank you so much. I’ll be avidly searching for those woodpecker flight waves from now on.

When I have heard them I have searched in vain and tried to locate them by sound. I presume it’s impossible to see them in action because of the shadows and high position. I wonder which trees they prefer to peck.
Thanks so much. I appreciate your quick and thorough response.

Publicado por powerytreuifsws hace alrededor de 1 año

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