Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Syrian Woodpecker: Individual Plumage Variation

This female Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus was photographed by Josip Ledinscak in Nasice, Croatia, in December 2011. This species is easily confused with the co-occurring relative Great Spotted Woodpecker D. major and the two will even interbreed. Note that the undertail colour on this bird is rather red, not pink as it should be for a classic Syrian. But I do not believe that this indicates a hybrid. I believe that it is merely individual variation in plumage. However, there is always the chance that birds like this are descendants of ancestors that hybridized generations ago and that mixed features re-appear in subsequent generations, but this cannot be proved in the field. In fact, many Syrians and Great Spotteds show such atypical features in areas where they do not co-occur and thus cannot have hybridized.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Urban Woodpeckers

Some woodpeckers in Europe can be found in urban habitats. Parks, churchyards and gardens, for example, can provide suitable habitat for some species. Green Woodpecker will visit lawns to feed on ants, Great Spotted Woodpecker readily visits garden bird-feeders and Syrian Woodpecker not only forages but often nests in settlements. However, some other species, such as White-backed Woodpecker, rarely occur away from forests proper. This photo shows a Syrian Woodpecker atop a roadside utility pole in a village in north-east Hungary.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Woodpeckers of Europe Talks in the UK.

I am giving 3 talks in the UK at RSPB local groups this week. I will be at Liverpool (Dec 12th), Wigan (Dec 13th) and North Staffs, Stoke (Dec 14th). Title of my illustrated lecture is Woodpeckers of Europe. If you are in those areas on those dates then see you there! Gerard Gorman.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Gallery: Syrian Woodpecker male

Male Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus, Apaj, Hungary, December 2011. Gerard Gorman.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Gallery: Grey-headed Woodpecker female

Female (note no red on forecrown) Grey-headed (aka Grey-faced) Woodpecker Picus canus. This superb photo taken in the Bukk Hills, Hungary, by Laszlo Nehezy.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Gallery: Male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Male (note the red crown) Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor. This is by far Europe's smallest picid. Photo taken in the Bukk Hills, Hungary, by Laszlo Nehezy. 

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Gallery: White-backed Woodpecker male

Male White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos nominate race. This superb shot taken by Thomas Hochebner in Austria.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Black Woodpecker foraging site

Typical, large, vertical feeding hole of Black Woodpecker, low-down on a beech. Adult man's hand shows the size. Photo by Gerard Gorman taken in the Western Pyrenees, Navarra, Spain.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Gallery: adult male Black Woodpecker

Adult male Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius at a feeding site. Photo by Mladen Vasilev, Bulgaria. 

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Gallery: Syrian Woodpecker Close-up

Close-up of a Syrian Woodpecker. This is the female from the photo in the previous post, though on this shot, at this angle, it is hard to see that. 

Friday, 23 September 2011

Gallery: Syrian Woodpeckers

Three Syrian Woodpeckers. A female, on the left, waits while two males display to each other. September, 2011, Csepel, Budapest, Szabolcs Kokay. Click the photo to enlarge. 

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Monday, 12 September 2011

Signs: Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker

This dead spruce has been worked by a Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus in search of bark-beetles. The bark has been pecked and also lifted up and off to expose the beetles underneath. This woodpecker often specialises in preying on such beetles (Ips and Polygraphus species) and increases in number locally when the insects are abundant. Photo by Gerard Gorman taken in southern Poland.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Gallery: Green Woodpecker male

Adult male Eurasian Green Woodpecker Picus viridis. Note the red in the malar stripe which females lack. This photo taken by Mladen Vasilev in Bulgaria.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Gallery: Eurasian Wryneck

Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla. This species, one of only two in the Jynx genus, often forages on the ground in search of ants. Photo taken in Bulgaria by Mladen Vasilev.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Black Woodpecker Colour Plate

Here is a preview of Szabolcs Kokay's colour plate of Black Woodpecker that appears in my book THE BLACK WOODPECKER A monograph on Dryocopus martius. Published by Lynx Edicions. See this website for full details: Black Woodpecker monograph

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Monday, 8 August 2011

Published !

I'd like to announce that my new book The Black Woodpecker - A monograph on Dryocopus martius is now published. ISBN-13: 978-84-96553-79-8. Published by Lynx Edicions. More details can be found on their website at Black Woodpecker monograph

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Syrian Woodpecker - an urban picid

Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus. This species is one of Europe's most urban picids and this pose, atop a utility-pole, is typical. Photo taken near Abaujker, Hungary by Gerard Gorman.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Black Woodpecker Book Cover

NEWS ! Here is the cover of 'The Black Woodpecker - a monograph on Dryocopus martius'. The book is due out any day now. Check out the 'LOOK INSIDE' feature on the publisher's (Lynx Edicions) website for a preview: 
Black Woodpecker monograph.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Foraging hole of Black Woodpecker

A typical, fresh, large oval hole made by a Black Woodpecker Dryocopos martius when searching for prey. The smaller holes that can be seen inside are not made by the woodpecker, those are the burrows of the insects that were sought. Estonia, May 2011.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Gallery: White-backed Woodpecker male

Male White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos nominate race. Photo by Thomas Hochebner taken in Austria.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Quiz woodpecker 42

Which species of woodpecker is this ? Photo by Gerard Gorman taken in Hungary.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Green Woodpecker feeding Black Woodpecker chicks

Here is a link to a video on YouTube showing a Green Woodpecker Picus viridis feeding Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius chicks at their nest. Shot in Catalonia, Spain, by Joan Culi and Joan Morena, the clip shows a female sharpei race Green Woodpecker. The young are also fed by a female Black Woodpecker, presumably their own mother! It was brought to my attention by Jordi Faus Colomer and is a remarkable bit of footage. Enjoy: Green Woodpecker feeding Black Woodpecker chicks

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Quiz woodpecker 41

Which species is this ? And why ? Photo by Gerard Gorman taken in Hungary.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Video Clip: Syrian Woodpecker

Adult male Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus with a grub in its beak. Clip by Dan Bastaja shot at Balmazujvaros, Hungary, May 2011.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Gallery: Adult male White-backed Woodpecker

Adult male White-backed Woodpecker. Nominate race Dendrocopos leucotos leucotos. Taken by Gerard Gorman, Bukk Hills, Hungary, May 2011.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Gallery: Female Syrian Woodpecker

Adult female Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus. Note lack of red on the nape (males show red). Photo taken in Zemplen Hills, Hungary by Gerard Gorman.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Quiz woodpecker 40

Which species is this ? And why ? Photo taken by Gerard Gorman in Hungary.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Gallery: Grey-headed Woodpecker female

Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus (aka Grey-faced Woodpecker) adult female. Note lack of red on forecrown. Photo by Thomas Hochebner, Austria.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

More Black Woodpecker work

Here is a classic, impressive feeding site of Black Woodpecker Dryocopos martius. Such holes are made when birds search for Carpenter Ants. Photo taken at Papuk, north-eastern Croatia by Josip Ledinscak.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Gallery: Grey-headed Woodpecker male

Adult male Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus.Taken by Thomas Hochebner in Austria.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Gallery: Black Woodpecker female

Female Black Woodpecker Dryocopos martius. Photo taken in Switzerland by Robin Allenbach.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Gallery: First winter female Great Spotted Woodpecker

This female Great Spotted Woodpecker D. major was photographed on the 2nd January, 2011, in Zihlschlacht, Switzerland by Robin Allenbach. Note that the post-auricular stripe does not quite touch the black nape. This is a feature of Syrian Woodpecker D. syriacus, however first winter Great Spotted also often has this unbroken line. The white outer-tail feathers and deep red ventral area clearly indicate that this bird is indeed a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Gallery: Lesser Spotted Woodpecker female

Female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor. At just 14-16cm in length this is Europe's smallest picid. Photo taken at Tata, Hungary by Ferénc Márkus.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Quiz woodpecker 39

Which species is this ? And why ? Photo taken by Thomas Hochebner in Austria.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Atypical/first winter female Great Spotted Woodpecker

This photo shows a female Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major with atypical head markings, that is, the black post-aurical stripe does not touch the nape. It is incomplete. This might suggest that the bird is a Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus (see photos in previous 2 posts) but other plumage features, such as red rather than pink under-tail coverts, white outer-tail feathers and a sturdy bill indicate Great Spotted. Could this bird be a hybrid Great Spotted X Syrian? Perhaps, but I think not as such atypical features are not uncommon on Great Spotted Woodpeckers, especially first winter birds. I believe this bird to be an atypical specimen rather than a hybrid. The photo was taken recently by Mladen Vasilev in Bulgaria.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Gallery: Male Syrian Woodpecker

Adult male Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus. Note the red on the nape (females lack this). Photo taken in Budapest, Hungary.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Gallery: Female Syrian Woodpecker

Adult female Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus. Note lack of red on the nape (males have red there). Black outer tail, broken, incomplete post-auricular stripe, relatively large white forehead patch and pink ventral area, rather than red, all help separation from Great Spotted Woodpecker. Photo taken in Budapest, Hungary.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Friday, 25 February 2011

Gallery: Great Spotted Woodpecker male

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major. A male, note the red nape patch. Taken by Thomas Hochebner in Austria.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Black Woodpecker note in British Birds

My note on marks in the eyes of Black Woodpeckers Dryocopos martius (as mentioned in an earlier post) is published in this month's British Birds (February 2011 - Vol. 104).

Monday, 7 February 2011

Gallery: Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nutcracker

Here is a great shot of a female Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major in confrontation with a Spotted Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes. Taken by Thomas Hochebner in Austria. 

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Request for photos for a new book

I am working on a new book, provisionally entitled Woodpeckers of the World: a photographic guide. This is for the esteemed publisher Christopher Helm/Poyser/A&C Black. The project editor is Jim Martin and he is looking forward to submissions of top-class photos of woodpeckers from anyone who would like to be involved. So, if you have photos of woodpeckers from anywhere in the world then contact Jim and he'll tell you what is needed. Good luck! His address: jmartin@acblack.com

Monday, 31 January 2011

Gallery: Black Woodpecker Leaving Nest

Male Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius leaving its nesting cavity. Photo taken in Hungary in spring 2010 by Laszlo Becsy.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

More Black Woodpecker Feeding holes

More holes made by a foraging Black Woodpecker Dryocopos martius in a swamp alder wood near Ocsa, Hungary. Note the oval shape of the largest one, which is typical, though it is not a nesting hole entrance.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Classic Black Woodpecker Foraging Holes

Classic, new holes made by a Black Woodpecker Dryocopos martius that has searched for Carpenter Ants. Note that the tree is hollow inside and this is where these arboreal ants have their colony. Some say that woodpeckers that do this have "destroyed" or "killed" the tree, but in fact the tree already has heart-rot, is hollow, and is already mostly useless for timber.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Black Woodpecker Monograph

I would like to announce that my book on Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius is due to be published this July. Click here for some advanced details from the publisher: Black Woodpecker Monograph

Monday, 3 January 2011

Black Woodpecker: iris mark

A high percentage of Black Woodpeckers Dryocopos martius show irregular shapes and marks in the eye. In particular, this concerns a pear-shaped black mark on the iris (see photo here and above in the blog banner). This is found on both sexes and across the global range; it is not confined to any one local population. Furthermore, no other woodpecker seems to exhibit this to the same extent. It is unclear what the function, if any, of this feature is. I will have a note on this subject in an upcoming issue of the UK journal British Birds and will post here when it is published.