Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Foraging holes made by Black Woodpecker

A series of vertical foraging holes made by Black Woodpecker Dryocopos martius when searching for beetle larvae. Note the exposed tunnels made by the beetles. Buda Hills, Hungary, November 2010.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Typical feeding stump of White-backed Woodpecker

Tree stump worked upon in typical fashion by White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos. Zemplen Hills, Hungary, 2010.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Northern Flicker in the WP

On the 15th October 2010 Vincent Legrand and David Monticelli found this male Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus at High Fields, Corvo Island, Azores. This is probably the first record of this species for the Western Palearctic. Thank you to Vincent for use of his photo.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Gallery: Middle Spotted Woodpecker

Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius by Nigel Sprowell. October 2010, Bukk Hills, Hungary. 

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Gallery: a pair of Syrian Woodpeckers

A pair of Syrian Woodpeckers Dendrocopos syriacus. Photo taken in Hungary by Nigel Sprowell.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Recommended Reading: The Cult of the Green Bird

This fascinating little book THE CULT OF THE GREEN BIRD - The Mythology of the Green Woodpecker by Antony Clare Lees details the remarkable role that Green Woodpecker Picus viridis has had in history, fable and legend. The species has been, across its European range, regarded as a  weather-forecaster, an oracle, the leader of tribes and even a monarch. It's well worth a look! It is published by Scotforth Books, 2002.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Green Woodpecker foraging on thatched roof

I received this note and photo from David Hosking in the UK: This male Green Woodpecker is one of a pair that has regularly visiting the thatched roof of a house in England during the autumn and winter months. They have done this since this roof was re-thatched 5 years ago and seem to probe through the wire netting for insects. 

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Recommended Reading: Schwarzspecht, Grauspecht, Grunspecht

This excellent German language study and overview of three European woodpecker species (Black, Grey-headed & Green Woodpeckers) is a classic. It is number 300 is the Die Neue Brehm-Bucherei series published by Westarp Wissenschaften, Germany. Written by the legendary Dieter Blume it has been revised and edited with the last edition produced in 1996.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Anvil of Great Spotted Woodpecker

A woodpecker "anvil" (aka "smithy" or "workshop"). Probably that of a Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major. Two cones wedged into a broken tree stump. Near Tartu, Estonia, May 2009.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Keystone Species

Many woodpeckers can be regarded as so-called "keystone species". This term refers to the role they play in providing nesting, denning and roosting sites for other wildlife. Woodpeckers are "primary hole-users", meaning they excavate their own holes. Species that cannot do this, but which use holes created by others, are known as "secondary cavity-users". Black Woodpecker is Europe's largest primary excavator and is an important bird as it provides tree-holes for many other animals such as Stock Dove (as in photo here by Laszlo Becsy in Hungary), Jackdaw, Tawny and Tengmalm's Owls, mammals such as Red Squirrel, Pine Marten, dormice, various bats and even bees, wasps and other insects. 

Friday, 1 October 2010

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Black Woodpecker carrying faecal sac

In this photo an adult male Black Woodpecker is flying from a nest with a faecal sac in its beak. These sacs are made of a mucous membrane and hold the soft droppings of chicks. Woodpeckers usually keep their nesting cavities very clean, removing the droppings of their chicks in this way after feeding bouts. This great shot was taken by Jari Peltomäki in Finland.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Nest-Box Damage

Some woodpeckers will open up nest-boxes, which have been erected for songbirds, in order to get at the chicks inside. They usually do this by enlarging the entrance hole. Here is an example of a nest-box that a woodpecker (perhaps more than one bird) has worked upon. In fact, the whole dead tree has been a foraging site. It is hard to say which species did this, indeed several species may have visited this tree. Photo taken near Brzeszcze, Poland, September, 2010.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Gallery: Wryneck

Wryneck Jynx torquilla. Taken at Cley, Norfolk, UK, on September 13th 2010 by Andrew Knights. Wryneck's no longer breed in the British Isles but they do drop in regularly when on migration.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Gallery: Wryneck

Wryneck Jynx torquilla, Europe's only migratory picid. Photo by Mladen Vasilev, Bulgaria.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Black Woodpeckers - changing over at the nest

A pair of Black Woodpeckers Dryocopus martius changing over at their nest hole. Photo taken in Hungary by Laszlo Becsy.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Woodpecker Feeding Signs

I have posted quite a few photos of the marks, mainly holes, that woodpeckers leave on trees when feeding. Many are diagnostic or at least can be narrowed down to a few species. Of course, knowing the range and habitat preferences of each species also helps when wishing to name the woodpecker that made any markings found. But sometimes, with some feeding marks, I would say that it is impossible to positively state which species made them. Here in this photo is an example. It is an old, rotten beech tree riddled with fungi and the holes and marks of a feeding woodpecker or woodpeckers. I took it in an upland forest in Slovakia where up to 8 woodpecker species occur and most of them could have fed here.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Recent Article on Woodpeckers

You may like to check-out an article by myself entitled A FOREST FRIENDLY SOCIETY in BIRD ART & PHOTOGRAPHY magazine (Issue 2, Summer 2010). This new mag is published in the UK. My article, which is illustrated with some great colour photos from around the continent, deals with Europe's ten picid species and how they are able to live together with minimum conflict.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Black Woodpecker foraging site

Black Woodpeckers Dryocopus martius are comfortable foraging at the base of trees. They usually do this when searching for carpenter ants, which have their colonies inside timber. Photo of such a site taken in NE Poland in May 2010.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Heinz Sielmann film clips

Here is a link to a page with three historical film clips. Peter Scott and Heinz Sielmann are discussing the latter's now legendary film "Woodpeckers". In this film woodpeckers were shown as they had never been shown before, right inside the nesting cavity. Click on the 3 photos on the right of the page to view the clips.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Syrian Woodpeckers in action

This great action shot of Syrian Woodpeckers Dendrocopos syriacus (female in the air, male on the ground) was taken in Bulgaria by Mladen Vasilev. See more of his woodpecker and other wildlife photos here.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Black Woodpecker male at its hole

Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius at its nest hole. Note the all red crown denoting a male bird. Photo taken in Hungary by Laszlo Becsy.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Monograph on Black Woodpecker

I am very pleased to announce that I have recently sent a manuscript on Black Woodpecker to my publisher. This monograph will be published within 12 months. It is the result of 20 years of work... observing pairs of this magnificent woodpecker and scouring the existing literature... and 2 years of writing. Here is a sneak preview of a draft sketch of one of Szabolcs Kokay's black and white illustrations which will be included in the book. There will also be 2 colour plates about 20 colour photographs.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Great Spotted Woodpecker Holes in Shed

One of the main areas of conflict between woodpeckers and people concerns the damage that they can do to wooden buildings. In some regions, they regularly bore holes in log cabins, barns and even occupied homes. People who, though being “bird-lovers”, sometimes ask for certain “crazy” individuals that continually hack holes in their summer houses to be culled. The precise reason why some birds do this is unclear, but presumably they are searching for prey that reside in the timber walls; it has even been suggested that high-frequency electrical sounds in the building fool the birds into thinking that invertebrates are present. This photo shows the work of a Great Spotted Woodpecker D. major on on a shed near Pasohlavky, Czech Republic, in April 2010.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

More Black Woodpecker Feeding Holes

Classic holes made by Black Woodpecker Dryocopos martius when searching for Carpenter Ants. Bialowieza, Poland, May 2010.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Conifer Cones Wedged By Great Spotted Woodpecker

Conifer cones wedged in groves in the bark of a tree by Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major. Bialowieza NP, Poland, May 2010.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Black Woodpecker Foraging Holes

More of those fantastic holes that Black Woodpecker Dryocopos martius makes when searching for Carpenter Ants. Note that the tree is hollow inside and this is where the ants live. Photo by Josef Chytil, Czech Republic.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

White-backed Woodpecker Tree Stump

Tree stump shaved in typical and classic fashion by White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos. Zemplen Hills, Hungary, May, 2010.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Gallery: adult male Green Woodpecker

Adult male Green Woodpecker Picus viridis. Note the red in the malar stripe. Females lack this. Photo taken by Mladen Vasilev in Bulgaria.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Gallery: adult female Syrian Woodpecker

Adult female Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus. Photo taken in Bulgaria by Mladen Vasilev.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Gallery: Grey-headed Woodpecker Female

Great shot of a female Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus (aka Grey-faced Woodpecker). Taken by Mladen Vasilev in Bulgaria. Note the lack of red on the fore-crown, which males have.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

New Black Woodpecker Feeding Holes

Newly made holes of Black Woodpecker Dryocopos martius. Note that the tree is hollow inside and this is why the bird hacks into it. The bird has not killed this tree as it is already doomed and infested with invertebrates. Photo kindly sent to me by Edward Mayer, taken in a park in Potsdam, Germany.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Holes in Telegraph Pole

Woodpecker holes in a telephone pole. Given the location and size of the holes almost certainly made by Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major. Breclav, Czech Republic, April 2010.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Black Woodpecker Holes

Old holes of Black Woodpecker Dryocopos martius in a dead pine tree. This species often creates several holes in favourite trees. Photo taken near Nova, north-west Estonia.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Gallery: Black Woodpecker at nest hole

Adult male Black Woodpecker Dryocopos martius at its nest hole with large chicks. Photo taken by Paul Harris near Frankfurt, in Germany. Note the brownish tones especially in the flight feathers.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Gallery: Green Woodpecker adult female

Close-up of a female Eurasian Green Woodpecker Picus viridis. Note the all black malar stripe. Males have red in the malar.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Old Feeding Holes of Black Woodpecker

Typical slit-shaped, old feeding holes of Black Woodpecker Dryocopos martius. Lednice, Czech Republic, March 2010.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Friday, 26 February 2010

Black Woodpecker Tail Feather

Central tail feather of a Black Woodpecker Dryocopos martius. Note how thick the rachis (shaft) is, though it cannot, of course, be judged from a photo, it is also rigid and strong. Found in the Buda Hills, Hungary.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Tawny Owl in Black Woodpecker Hole

Tawny Owl Strix aluco in an old Black Woodpecker nest-hole in a beech tree. Black Woodpecker is a major provider of holes for secondary cavity-nesting birds. Photo taken in Hungary by Laszlo Becsy.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Woodpecker Photographers: Peter Csonka

Peter Csonka, from Hungary, is another photographer whose work includes some great shots of European woodpeckers. This fine photo of a male Black Woodpecker Dryocopos martius was taken near Tata, Hungary. Take a look at more of his work: Peter Csonka

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker: record age for UK

This adult female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor was caught at Beale Park, near Reading, Berkshire, UK by the River Thames on the 6th February 2010 during a ringing session. The bird was found to already have a ring and when checked it was discovered to have been ringed at the same site in September 2003. For a small bird this seemed to be a very good age and it was later confirmed that this was the oldest know Lesser Spotted Woodpecker for the UK, at 6 years 4 months and 8 days. Thanks to Danny Alder for this snippet and to David Baker for the photograph.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Picid Pics

A new site for all interested in woodpeckers is Picid Pics. It contains many great photos of wrynecks, piculets, woodpeckers and secondary-users of woodpecker cavities.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Woodpecker Photographers: Laszlo Nehezy

Hungarian Laszlo Nehezy is another photographer whose work includes great pictures of woodpeckers. This superb close-up shot of a male Black Woodpecker Dryocopos martius was taken in the Bukk Hills, Hungary.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Woodpecker Photographers: Jari Peltomäki

This is the first in a series of posts highlighting photographers whose work includes great shots of European woodpeckers. First up is Jari Peltomäki
from Finland. This great shot of a male Eurasian Three toed Woodpecker Picoides t. tridactylus was taken near Oulu, Finland, in 1999.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Grey-headed (Grey-faced) Woodpecker Clip

This Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus (aka Grey-faced Woodpecker) was filmed foraging on a wall in a stone quarry in northern Hungary in January 2010. It is not clear whether the bird is collecting minerals or invertebrates from the surface. Dan Bastaja, who filmed the bird, says the bird had soil on its beak and seemed to be eating it. There is a lot of windy background noise, but it is nevertheless a great clip.

Sunday, 10 January 2010