My bird feeding array has been set up outside the window of my study. I can gaze from here and contemplate the important things in life such as, “ is my trellis crooked, or is my neighbour’s fence slightly off horizontal?”. You know, the kind of things that keep pedants awake at night. As I flick through eBay looking for a laser-sighted spirit level, a flash of black and white passes the window and lands on the peanut-drilled log.

LSN 26Apr16 Greater Spotted Woodpecker 02

This is the male Greater Spotted Woodpecker (note, it is the woodpecker that is greater, not the spots). The large, oval shoulder patches are not the source of his name. The white marks are more like splodges. The spotted element of the name comes from the white spots on the wing feathers. They are visible in the photos, but are revealed properly as the wing is spread.

LSN 26Apr16 Greater Spotted Woodpecker 06

There is also a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Compare the two as one might compare the Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers. With the larger Dendrocopos major around starling-sized whilst Dendrocopos minor measures up to a sparrow.

LSN 01Apr16 Great Spotted Woodpecker 02

There is also a female and I assume them to be a pair nesting nearby. There is ancient woodland very close in 3 directions with ample nesting opportunities. The female lacks the red nape patch of the male.

Written by Redgannet
Redgannet worked for more than 35 years as a flight attendant for an international airline. He came to birding late in his career but, considering the distractions, doesn't regret the missed opportunities. He was paid to visit six continents and took full advantage of the chance to bird the world. He adopted the nom de blog, Redgannet, to avoid remonstrations from his overbearing employer, but secretly hoped that the air of mystery would make him more attractive to women. Now grounded, he is looking forward to seeing the seasons turn from a fixed point.