A week ago I took a wander around the lowland heath at Thursley Common in the hope of getting some images of maybe one or two of the specialist species that inhabit this landscape.
What I didn't bargain for was the ever present blustery wind which kept most species, including Woodlark and Tree Pipit, far too distant for the lens although I did enjoy some decent views albeit brief through the bins.
Even the male Common Redstart made life tricky as it flitted from branch to branch and then disappeared with its tasty morsel destined for a growing brood somewhere. Other species sighted included a pair of nesting Lapwing; a Common Buzzard hounded by Crows; a Hobby zipped past in purposeful flight and several Stonechats called from their windswept perches. Needing some respite from the blustery conditions I entered an area of mixed deciduous woodland and immediately my ears picked up the incessant calls of young Great Spotted Woodpeckers (Dendrocopos major) begging to be fed. I quickly located the nest hole and found a convenient resting place at the base of a nearby tree and waited.
Both adults share the very similar black and white plumage including the large white oval shoulder patches plus the saturated red vent and barred black and white flight feathers. The first adult to appear was the female distinguished by her totally black crown.
... and then one of the youngsters appeared and gratefully accepted a meal. This species produces one brood with a clutch of 4 to 6 eggs. After an incubation period of 14 - 16 days, mainly by the female, fledging usually takes another 20 to 24 days. As there is only room for one chick at the nest hole it is definitely a question of 'first come .. first served'. Unlike most other species the parents do not remove the fecal sacks so I guess the nesting cavity becomes a little rank over time!
I felt very privileged to monitor this constant feeding activity for over 30 minutes as both parents regularly returned with tasty insects for their new family before leaving them to their endeavours.
Back at The Moat pond Mrs Mallard was overseeing the movement of her recently fledged young through the knee high waterside vegetation and every so often raised her head to ensure that they were complying with her instructions to stay out of view. FAB.
For more images from around the world please check out WORLD BIRD WEDNESDAY.