Lis­ten out for wood­peck­ers

Country Living (UK) - - Emporium -

VEN­TURE OUT INTO WIN­TER WOOD­LANDS and you’d be for­given for think­ing that bare branches and curled bracken mark a time of in­er­tia in nature’s cal­en­dar. How­ever, lis­ten care­fully and you might hear the dis­tinc­tive drum­ming of the great spot­ted wood­pecker (Den­dro­co­pos ma­jor). It ham­mers on dead trees to es­tab­lish its ter­ri­tory (rather than in search of in­sects as is com­monly thought), its cush­ioned skull ab­sorb­ing shock­waves in the process. The male – distin­guished by a flash of scar­let on the nape of its neck – can drum up to 600 times a day and has been known to knock on weather vanes and tele­graph poles. Great spot­ted wood­pecker num­bers have in­creased rapidly over the past 40 years and re­cently, for the first time, the bird was sighted across the Ir­ish Sea. Lack of fo­liage at this time of year means that the sound of their ham­mer­ing car­ries well – scan ma­ture broad-leaf trees and conifers for the best chance to spot one.

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