The great spotted woodpeckers (Dendrocopos major) have changed their behaviour. The male has stopped his territorial drumming on the wooden roof of one the hanging bird feeders and, whilst we had quite often seen them together in the Magnolia tree, they are now only seen alone. I believe what has changed is that the eggs, having been incubated for 10-16 days, have hatched.
The old cherry tree where the great spotted woodpeckers are nesting
That presented a chance to try and get some photographs of the birds going in and out of the nesting hole. The only thing is that woodpeckers are timid to the point of paranoia and these two are very timid indeed. Getting close enough for a photograph without stopping them from going to and fro was quite a challenge, especially as I don’t have a camera like the one on this page. In the end I set up a chair at a distance and sat down with my camera to wait. I heard one before seeing it, a repeated ‘chuck, chuck’ call, and the female (you can tell this by the lack of the red marking on the back of her head) landed firmly on the tree trunk, giving me time to snap a couple of pictures.
Enlarging the photo on the computer, I saw that the woodpecker had a beakful of goodness for its chicks – wings and body parts. I can’t be sure, but the wings suggest it had been collecting dragonflies. We see dragonflies resting amongst the foliage of the lime trees at the back of the courtyard so maybe it found them there.
A beak full of juicy goodness!
There will another 18-21 days of feeding the young ones in the nest and then they will fledge (leave the nest) and we should start to see them around the garden. The camera will be kept handy for that!