Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

It is not often I post so early in the day unless I have been owling but I was woken in a very special way this morning (and today isn’t my birthday!).

Yesterday whilst skiing in Maridalen I had heard a couple of drumming woodpeckers and suspected they weren’t Great Spotted – one was drumming close to an area with a lot of evidence of feeding woodpeckers with bark stripped off trees, suggesting Three-toed, and where I have also seen Black Woodpecker earlier in the winter. My ears though are not so good at differentiating between the drumming of woodpeckers (or is it my brain that is no good?) especially early in the season before I’ve got some practice. One of the last things I did last night was to listen to recordings of different woodpeckers to start tuning myself in.

When, at 7.30am this morning, I could hear two drumming woodpeckers I assumed I was dreaming. It slowly dawned on me though that this was no dream. There were TWO drumming woodpeckers and the pitch and length of the drumming meant they were surely Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (dvergspett) – but two and in our garden? I have heard Lesser Spot giving its territorial call in the garden once before (although not seen it) and similarly have heard but not seen a Wryneck once and have seen Great Spot on a handful of occasions but never drumming.

I looked out of the back door and could confirm that there was a bird drumming from the large willow tree although I couldn’t see the bird even though it was only 20m away and also another bird drumming on a telegraph pole on the other side of the house – but were they Lesser Spots?? Lesser Spot is a bird I rarely encounter, normally only a handful of times each year so I am always very excited to see one. To try to get a better view, I put on my dressing gown and went out the front door. I immediately saw the woodpecker on the telegraph pole and despite the sun being right behind it the small size confirmed the ID. Still half asleep I went back to fetch the camera, and then a minute later went back inside to fetch the memory card....
Finally up and running although feeling a little cold with only my dressing gown on (but refreshingly airy), the telegraph pole drummer had disappeared but the willow tree drummer was still there and showing well. A female Lesser Spot! I must admit to not realising females drummed but here she was drumming away on a chosen part of the tree. I kept watching and taking pictures and video and then she suddenly ran up the tree and put her wings out like a butterfly before flying off and revealing the male was there. He then preceded to inspect the same area of tree where she had been drumming. I assume this has something to do with the pair choosing a nesting site so maybe they will nest in the garden? Fingers crossed!

After a while the male moved back to the telegraph pole and drummed on the metal top. As I write this one of the birds has also been calling in the garden – the Kestrel (and Wryneck) type call.

Lesser Spots clearly move around a bit in the spring to locate a suitable breeding site and territory and there has been an upsurge in recent reports around Oslo the last couple of weeks. I fear that our garden is a little too disturbed but we will see if they hang around. As you will hear from the video they are quite close to the road! I promise that if I get another chance to film them I will use a tripod such that I get rid of the annoying camera shake that is my hallmark. I will also use a little more time with my camera settings as I see that I wasted a good opportunity due to a far too high shutter speed and therefore much too high ISO.

male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (dvergspett)

the female stretching her wing



the red on the forehead of the male is iridescent when caught in the sun


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