Wood you be­lieve it!

Middlesbrough Herald & Post - - NEWS -

IT’S not ev­ery day that you spot some­thing as ex­cit­ing as a green woodpecker in your gar­den.

But this re­veal­ing photo was taken by Dar­ren Cairns at his home in Red­mar­shall.

Dad Alan for­warded the pic­ture and said: “The last time I can re­call see­ing a green woodpecker was eight years ago on High Moor at Mid­dle­ham.

“See­ing any woodpecker these days is a buzz, so this is very spe­cial.”

It’s some­thing of a bonus when you see a green woodpecker in the Cleve­land area, be­cause these pi­geon-sized birds are much less com­mon in the North than in the South.

I oc­ca­sion­ally visit my sis­ter at her home in Guild­ford and have been wel­comed on many morn­ings by the sight of a cou­ple of green wood­peck­ers mooching around on her lawn.

When I’ve made train jour­neys to re­port on Boro games in the past, I’ve oc­ca­sion­ally seen the fa­mil­iar yel­low rump of a green woodpecker as it darts up into the air af­ter be­ing alarmed by the noise of the train.

But, in and around Teesside, I have tended to hear them rather than see them.

Green wood­peck­ers, or yaf­fles as they are also com­monly known, have a dis­tinct loud cry which gives the im­pres­sion that they are laugh­ing at you.

How­ever it’s no laugh­ing mat­ter when you spend 15 min­utes try­ing and fail­ing to spot them through your binoc­u­lars in a tree.

Nat­u­rally green wood­peck­ers do make them­selves vis­i­ble when they are feed­ing on the edge of wood­land, be­cause their sta­ple diet is ants. They are best spot­ted feed­ing on short grassy pas­ture and, of course, lawns.

And talk­ing of spot­ting top birds in your gaden, Marie Med­calf looked out of her bed­room win­dow in Marton to see a king­fisher perched on the edge of her ground floor roof.

The re­mark­able iri­des­cent lit­tle bird hung around for about ten min­utes and even­tu­ally dropped down to the rocks sur­round­ing Marie’s gar­den pond, but then flew off.

It’s a mag­i­cal spectacle for any­body to wit­ness, which goes to show you need to be alert all the time be­cause you never know when wildlife mo­ments will oc­cur.

At this time of the year, young birds in par­tic­u­lar are still find­ing their bear­ings and could turn up any­where.

A cou­ple of years ago I had a ju­ve­nile red­start briefly perch­ing on my wash­ing line. It pays to keep your eyes open in the gar­den!

Eric would like to hear from read­ers about what they have seen. Email him at eric.pay­[email protected]

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