Monday, 11 June 2012

Lesser-Spotted Woodpecker nest, From Chicks to fledging (Prt 1)

Breeding LESSER-SPOTTED WOODPECKER summary (Part 1)-
Undisclosed site
(May-June 2012)

In late May, i was fortunate enought to stumble on a rare thing.
I was privialidged enought ot find a nest of a LESSER-SPOTTED WOODPECKER, which was still in use with the male still feeding chicks. The birds have in the last week fledged the nest, so therefore, i thought now would be a good time to write up about them, although i still refrain from publishing site details.

Late one evening i was walking when i found what i thought was a Lesser-Spotted Woodpecker fly from a tree in front of me across a field into a deep wood to my left. I didnt see it very well, but i was certain this is what i had just seen. About another 100m and i stopped at a tree as i could see movement among the upper branches, and when raising my bins i was amazed to see a gorgeous male LesserPecker staring at me, and not only that, it was carrying food. Thoughts of an active nest whet my appitite, and slowly and surely, this dinky Woodpecker, hardly larger than a House Sparrow made its way down through the foliage.
Unfortunatly, on this first night i was unable to see the bird enter a hole, so was left unsure as to where it was nesting, although i could tell it was nearby.

The next morning, i visited the site again, to confirm that nesting was taking place, so i could approach the bayliff of the area to keep an eye out on the nest and try and steer people away to avoid desturbance. The nest was duly found, and i was quite worried by a number of factors relating to the nest. The birds had chosen to nest only a few feet from a very well used footpath, but as time went by, this worry diminished, as it became obvious that the bird's were oblivious, and didnt seem to mind the walkers etc very much, which was a great relief!
Worry 2 was that at the time i was at the site in the early morning, the sun shone directly onto the surface of the nest, great for photography, but worried me as if in the sun too long, the chicks could overheat in the nest, agian, viewing over time removed this worry, as it became obvious that after about 10am, the foliage around the nest covered it up, therefore shading the nest during the hottest period of the day.
The 3rd and final worry was one that couldnt be resolved, the birds had chosen to nest a mere 8ft above ground level, however, despite the constant squeeking from the chicks, the nest wouldnt have been noticed unless pointed out, and that only left predation as a threat.
Great-Spotted Woodpecker had chosen to nest a few trees further along, so therefore this was again a worry, as GSW are prone to 'picking' on their smaller cousins and raid nests to eat their chicks! But luckily, it seemed as if they were too busy with their own nest to bother with the LSW.

Observations at this time showed that the chicks in the nest were still very young, as incessant helpless call were heard, and the male often entered the nest to remove fecial sacks.
It also became obvious that this was basicly a one parent family, as ONLY the male ever came to feed the chicks and the female (which had been seen in the area) never ventured near the nest, although reports from other locals who checked on the nest indicates that the female may have been busy with an earlier brood as she was seen briefly with a LSW in tow, which could have been a Juv! (Although this is speculation)

Despite the obvious dissadvantages of having only one parent, the male Lesser-spotted Woodpecker got along fine, and brought plentiful amounts of food back to the nest, no doubt helped by the large emergence of Mayflies around the time.

Viewing from a resonable distance through a scope, allowed for the bird to access its nest without disturbance, and the only disturbance was when other walkers walked past the nest.

The bird visited the nest very often, and seemed to work on a feeding loop, 'working' a small section of tree's before moving back to the nest, then flying off to work another loop in the dense woodland, in doing so flying only feet above your head!

And now here is some footage of the bird:
(If anyone knows how to centre allign videos embedded from Youtube please comment, i have tried everything, including adding in the relevent html coding, but it just doest want to work!)

(Please note, the people's voice in the video is that of the assistant bayliff and his wife, they live very close nearby so i chose to inform them also on the nest to help with the potential desturbance)

Part 2 to this entry will come soon!


Jason K said...

An excellent find and a great post to summarize it Craig.

p.s. I don't blame you for not sharing the site info in the can't be too careful and I would have done the same

Pam said...

Wow! A splendid find, post and video Craig! I am looking forward to reading Part two!

midlands birder said...

Jase- Cheers, it was great to find them and be able to watch them over the space of a few weeks. And getting such amazing views was such a privialage!
With recent news of egg collectors in the area, i though it proberbly best just to withold site details, and it seemed better to try and remove some desturbance the birds may have come under unintentionally.
But, its a nice ending (so far) for these birds and their chicks, so it wa succesful!

Pam, thankyou- As said just, it was a real privialage to find, and some cracking views could have been had.
Ive got even more pics and videos in part 2!