Saturday, 25 June 2016

Bird of the week - Green woodpecker

This is an elusive bird, often heard yaffling but rarely seen.  Even then it is usually peeping from the far side of a tree trunk or branch.  So it was a rare and wonderful opportunity to watch and photograph this female green woodpecker. Many many thanks to Denise & Phil.

The European green woodpecker (Picus viridis) is our largest woodpecker.  Although it nests in a hole in a tree it spends a lot of time on the ground hunting for ants and has a long sticky tongue for collecting them.

Green woodpecker numbers are increasing

but it is less common here in the north of the country.

In Thomas Bewick's time the green woodpecker was only the second largest British woodpecker (he records the black woodpecker as a resident bird!).  This is the male green woodpecker from his 1797 A History of British Birds.

Bewick gives the bird's other names of Woodspite, High-Hoe, Hew-Hole and Pick-a-Tree.  He writes "... it is called by the common people ... Rain-Fowl, from its being more loud and noisy before rain.  The old Romans called it Pluviae aves for the same reason.".  He also made a watercolour.

You can read more about the green woodpecker here.  Listen to a recording of the yaffle here.  And listen to Kate Humble's BBC Radio 4 Tweet of the Day on green woodpecker here.

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