Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Pesky Woodpeckers

This has been one of the warmest Januaries on record in this part of the UK. Although we have had a few hard frosts, it has generally been remarkably warm. Great news from the point of view of heating bills.

Earlier in the month we had a lot of high winds, so bad that a tree was brought down in the garden.
Fallen tree
On closer inspection, the tree was full of holes obviously made by woodpeckers. I don't know whether the tree was rotten inside when the woodpeckers decided to nest there, or whether the woodpecker holes caused the tree to rot?

A fallen tree is always a useful source of fuel for our wood burning stove and it was not a very pretty tree, anyway. Luckily it did not fall on anything.

Just outside our kitchen window we have a two storey luxury bird box. The great tits had been showing great interest in it until an incident last week. I had been out all day and when I arrived home was shocked to see that a woodpecker had completely wrecked the box! It had obviously been busy all day enlarging the holes. They are now so big that you could fit a tennis ball through the holes. Completely ruined for nesting great tits :(

I cannot understand why the woodpecker would do this. At this time of year there was obviously nothing nesting yet (I don't think so, anyway). I am wondering if the woodpeckers themselves are planning to move into the box. That would be interesting.

Bird box ruined by woodpeckers
The sparrowhawk is still making life difficult for the little birds around the feeders. As I have mentioned before, it is a little stupid sitting on the garden chair waiting for the little birds to appear. The little ones have more sense than that.

It appears to be getting more desparate, however, and we have seen it on several occasions try to chase the little ones into the bushes. Of course, it's size does not allow it to get in among the branches, so it usually leaves empty-beaked.

Today, I managed to grab a photo. It is not a good one because it was late afternoon and the light was fading. But, at least you can see it is a male with a grey back and reddish stripes on the chest.
Sparrowhawk - Accipiter nicus
It is February tomorrow and the forecast is cold with possible snow on the way. We have not had any snow yet this year. It has been a strange winter. There are daffodils, snowdrops and primroses flowering and some of the bluebells are even several inches high.