Tuesday 9 June 2009

Woody Feeder

With a grim forecast for the weekend, plans of going to see redstarts or peregrines were washed away, and it did look like one for the pub. Until that is, I spotted one of the local woodpeckers on the suet block. Hmm, I thought... maybe it's a good time to rig up that feeder I've been thinking about for a while.

Down to the garden centre, and a short while later I was constructing it. A pole, a squirrel baffler, a couple of feeder attachments and a log was what was needed, and after about 30 mins of chin scratching and drilling, I had the rather Heath Robinson affair rigged up out in the garden.

Smearing peanut suet into the holes, I retreated back to the conservatory and out of the monsoon. Would it work?

The answer was a resounding yes. And within an hour of putting it out, one of the adults and a juvenile woodpecker was sat on it, pecking at the suet. Alas it was too late in the day and still too wet for getting pics, but it gave me hope for the Sunday.

After a very wet morning, Sunday afternoon brightened up. The rain went and sun appeared, and despite the hide being damp, I took the opportunity to try for some pics.

Masses of starlings kept landing on the ground feeders, and they were amusing to watch, as they bicker and fight over bits of food. The juveniles, while feeding themselves, still chased the adults into the surrounding trees, pestering for food occasionally.

Then I heard that distinctive shanking sound of a woodpecker, and seconds later, a rather wet looking juvenile swooped in and on to the feeder. What fantastic views. Full frame - sometimes too close in fact - thank goodness for the zoom.
It had a little peck at the suet first, then must have heard my camera's shutter, as it sat very still for a few moments, blinking and looking around. They're quite cute actually - a stark contrast to the vicious, hungry birds that seem to launch out of the nest hole at the doting parents.

Once it realised the clicking wasn't harmful, it carried on pecking at the suet, stopping every so often to clean its beak on the log top. I may have to change the log to a longer one, as a lot of the shots I got included the top, which isn't that great. Nevermind, I got some different ones when a couple of the arguing starlings clattered into the woodpecker, prompting a fight back, and then a fall down to the ground. There of course was some more food, and it wasted little time in poking around amongst these new logs.

Hopefully I'll get some more shots of the adult birds, and of course more of this fine young bird, as it grows into maturity. A good result from an idea over a pint one Friday evening...

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