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mark greco gite horse chestnut

The Horse Chestnut where the drama occurred.

When searching for those memorable moments in our natural world it’s sometimes very easy to overlook at what’s in your own back yard. Today this was very much the case.

Although it was Sunday my day started quite early as dozing in bed I could hear the distinct laugh of a Green Woodpecker and one thing knew- it was close! Being quite a compassionate guy I tried not disturb my partner too much by crawling out of bed. I then slipped out of the bedroom- grabbing my binoculars on the way..

The calls were emanating from a large Horse Chestnut which towers above and to the side of the gite but where exactly was the bird?  So as not to scare anything that may have been there I tentatively crouched down by the window and looked out. It was around 8.00 am and scanning through the slightly clouded windows I spotted that, indeed, there was a Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis) clinging to the side of the tree. It was almost static and appeared to be transfixed by a hole in the trunk at which it kept pecking whilst occasionally calling and then glancing around. It was at this point that I noted that the calls were being echoed in the distance and after around 5 minutes another Green Woodpecker arrived and perched around a couple of feet away from the first – both now taking an intense interest in the hole. No animosity between the two was displayed so I wondered if the two were a mating pair looking for potential nesting sites.

Their hope of a claim on this site , however, was short lived as within a few minutes a Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) swooped in, knocking the first Green Woodpecker off its perch and making straight for the safety of the hollow. The two Green Woodpeckers didn’t hang around – disappearing to another tree over the road.

After a few moments the of head Great Spotted Woodpecker emerged from the hole and gazed around its vicinity as if looking for any other birds who intended to stake the claim on its patch. I didn’t spot a second Great Spotted Woodpecker but, fingers crossed, we may have a breeding pair near the site.

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