Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Windswept Wander.

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.

Some five minutes later the male, who sports a red patch on its hindcrown, eventually worked his way down to the nest hole ......

 ... 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. 


  1. oooh. that's one way to encourage the fledglings to leave the nest! yikes! :)

  2. Hi Frank, I LOVE that Great Spotted Woodpecker. I've never seen one of them. We have about 5-6 different woodpeckers here --but not that one.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Boy, I love those woodpecker shots. They are great. I have never seen a Spotted before.

  4. Excellent shots of the woodpecker Frank.
    Must have been great to just sit and watch them.

  5. I really like the woodpecker, they are so beautiful coulored. How great to get to see them feed the young ones. I saw one yesterday but as usual I was to slow with the camera, but next time...Nice photo of the mallard to!
    Have a nice day!

  6. Beautiful scenery but the photos of the young woodpecker looking out of the nest hole are really great. Nice to be able to watch it but great to get photos as well.

  7. Hi Frank Super images of the GS Woodpeckers at the nest site, also the Redstart have not seen one this Spring, I agree that wind has made the last week very difficult for Photography.

  8. Hi there - GSW's were just about my favourite bird when I lived in the UK. Used to have them around the house when I lived in the southern Lakes - oak woodland to the back fence. No woodpeckers at all in Australia. Good to see some images again!

    Cheers Stewart M - Australia

  9. Fabulous shots of the GS Woodpecker Frank and a lovely collage.

  10. Excellent images Frank, especially the GSW’s
    Like you say, how privileged to be able to sit and observe nature at its best. :o)

  11. What a wonderful series. No way you could have known you would get such excellent pictures of the woodpeckers feeding their young. Just amazing!

  12. Excellent psot Frank. The spotted woodpecker shots are terrific! Well done!

  13. Great captures! The Great Spotted Woodpecker is beautiful!

  14. It certainly has been windy recently but it obviously hasn't effected your photography. Really like the Woodpecker sequence.

  15. Woodpeckers are great to see ...your captures are lovely.

  16. Hi Frank,
    Great photo`s of all the birds, but the star of the show for me has to be the Redstart! An absolutely stunning bird, that we don`t have breeding here so we have to rely on passage birds!
    Follow me at HEDGELAND TALES

  17. OH so cute that little one popping its head out--just too wonderful eh? Great Photos!!

  18. Love those woodpecker images Frank. And the bark on that tree he's at is cool. Carol

  19. Hi Everyone. I'm way behind at the moment but will catch up with you all idc.

    Hi Theresa. Certainly adds another dimension as well as being couped up with your siblings .. lol.

    Hi Betsy. Delighted to be able to show you one of our 3 species at last.

    Hi Bill. Slightly similar to Downy and Hairy but much, much larger.

    Cheers Keith. It was magical.

    Thanks fjallripan. The youngsters are so noisy, it is difficult to ignore them.

    Thanks Mick. My lucky day.

    Cheers Monty. Saw 7 Redstarts in Kent today but they were far too active flitting in the branches for any decent shots.

    Hi Stewart. They sure are a super species to watch and ocassionally get close to.

    Thanks Roy.

    Thanks Trevor.

    Hi Springman. Right location and right time for once.

    Hi Chris. Thanks very much.

    Hi MainBirder. Thanks John and the GSW would appreciate the compliment.

    Cheers Adam. With the rising temps we will be wishing for a breeze before long!

    Thanks Andrew.

    Hi John. Got some cracking views of Redstarts today but only through the bins!!

    Thank you Sondra.

    Thank you Carol.

  20. Hi Frank...I can't believe I can finally comment on your blog, but it is only on the blogs with the pop up seperate comment section that is working like your, and my idenity name shows up!! grrr
    I have Internet Explorer 9...I know I am not the only one with this problem but it is getting old at this point!!
    A lot of my best friends have been able to post comments on mine,but I can't comment and answer or thank you!!

    Well...what a great post I just love that you have caught a woodpecker with it nesting hole, something I would love to see,but you did a great set of photos, of the babies and all. Just super!!

  21. Oh Frank, what grand images of the adult Spotted Woodpeckers and then add in their feeding the young ones...priceless;)))

  22. Nice group of photos! I love the shot of the little Woodpecker waiting to be fed.

  23. Frank, super pictures! I love the one with the young accepting food from the parent.

  24. Hi Grammie. Delighted you managed to get through at last ... hopefuly your stress levels will now drop!
    I thought it was going o be one of those 'failed' days but you never know what might be just round the corner.

    Thank you Mary. One species where the youngsters make a lot of noise when they need feeding!

    Thanks Pat. First come ... first served.

  25. Thanks Cindy. It was great to watch and just as exciting as your Tern courtship sequence.

  26. Love the Spotted WP's. Have never seen one of those. We have Hairy, Downy, and Red-headed WP's.

  27. Loved that spotted woodpecker! Reminds me of our downy & hairy woodpeckers here in Michigan. Wonderful that you captured the baby being fed. Also enjoyed your sweet mallard - they are such good parents!

  28. HYi Frank, great images not only of the adult woodpecker, but feeding its young one. I have never managed to get a shot of a woodpecker although one is in the neighbor's yard.

  29. Great images as always. I especially like the last one. :)


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