Middlesbrough Herald & Post

Spotting a success story

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ONE of Teesside’s garden success stories is the great spotted woodpecker.

These stunning birds have realised in recent years that free food is on offer outside our homes and are increasing­ly cropping up on our feeders.

This particular woodpecker has been appearing on the feeders in Derek Whiting’s Stokesley garden for a few weeks.

Derek, who took the photo, says: “He certainly likes peanuts and can spend as much as seven minutes pecking away at the nuts. Much easier than banging his head against a tree.”

Derek’s woodpecker is easily identified as a juvenile by its fashionabl­e red head, which means it’s one of this year’s crop.

Young birds do not travel very far from their nest site. So this woodpecker will have fledged close to Derek’s home. It will have been attracted by the peanuts, and also enjoys a bit of suet.

The staple diet of great spotted woodpecker­s is insects, though this woodpecker may also have been fed one or two fledglings from smaller birds’ nests as part of his growing programme.

Great spotted woodpecker numbers have dramatical­ly increased in recent years which is due primarily to the birds’ adaptabili­ty.

They can breed anywhere from sea level to 9000 feet, are happy in both coniferous and deciduous woodland, and like visiting garden feeders!

There are several species of spot- ted woodpecker­s in Europe, but the only other one found in Britain is the lesser spotted.

This tiny woodpecker is much less common than its bigger cousin and unfortunat­ely numbers are continuall­y dropping. I haven’t seen one for more than 40 years.

Green woodpecker­s are reasonably common in the South. I usually fit in at least one annual visit to my sister’s house in Guildford, where green woodpecker­s feed on ants on her lawn.

We do see them locally, for example in the woods above Marske, but a green woodpecker sighting is not a regular occurrence on Teesside.

From birds to butterflie­s and I am relieved there is still enough flowering buddleia in my garden to fulfil the needs of the large numbers of peacocks and red admirals which have appeared.

This hasn’t been a great year for butterflie­s, cabbage whites apart. I have seen few orange tips, not many skippers, no painted ladies and not even a single small copper.

So it’s good see a late flood of butterflie­s in the air, even if they are the most familiar species.

Eric would like to hear from readers about what they have seen. Email him at eric.paylor@gmail.com

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