Any one who has ever taught a bird watching class or led groups of beginners will be familiar with the rare birds seen by their group. And sooner or later one of them is bound to report ‘ a brilliant yellow bird with a bright red head’. And they are usually convinced it is some sort of tropical bird – it must be really rare. But it is a sighting of this bird, which oftentakes some time to be accepted as ‘only’ a green woodpecker, which can fire the enthusiasm of many beginners. The yellow is in fact a yellowish green, confined to the rump, which becomes very visible as the woodpecker flies away with its bouncing ‘undulating’ flight.

There is no question, the green woodpecker is one of the most colourful of all the birds native to Britain. And they make themselves very obvious by often feeding right out in the open in the middle of lawns, where they can be relatively inconspicuous while feeding, but when disturbed become very obvious as they fly away. Unlike the other two species (the Greater and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers), they are frequently to be seen on the ground, and this is because they have a great love of ants, and will return day after day to a favourite anthill to feed.

The largest of the three species of wood pecker found in Britain, Green Woodpeckers are also easily recognized by their laughing ‘yaffle’ call. Like many such obvious birds they have a wide range of old country names and while standardization of the names is obviously an advantage for birdwatchers, I can’t help feeling that we have lost something when these old names are lost :

Like the other woodpeckers, Greens do drum, but their drumming is neither so resonant nor harsh as the other two species, nor as frequent – they rely on their laugh to demarcate their territory. In Europe the closely related, though duller, gray-headed woodpecker is also found – but this is a more difficult bird to find, and one that even keen birders often have trouble in seeing.

Article By John A Burton

Photographs by CRUSH Photography©

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In moves that endanger Waders, a bird that has benefited from climate change will soon be decimated, an expert warns.

The Iceland-based black-tailed Godwit – a wading bird that winters in Britain – has enjoyed a 10-fold population increase compared with 120 years ago. But British expert Graham Appleton said Iceland is planting forests to offset carbon emissions, which in turn will damage the nesting habitats of Waders such as Godwits.

It is also planning wind-farms which can occupy nesting areas. Writing in the journal “Perspective” Mr Appleton said: “It seems like the land-use pattern of the last 1,000 years, which have been largely favourable for Waders, are now in reverse.

This is an interesting article published in the Daily Express Newspaper on Monday, the 09 August – always worthwhile looking at the big picture before jumping to conclusions about Climate Change in particular.

All images in this blog are taken by CRUSH Photography©

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Now the commonest and most widespread UK bird of prey. The buzzard is quite large with broad, rounded wings, and a short neck and tail. When gliding and soaring it will often hold its wings in a shallow ‘V’ and the tail is fanned. Buzzards are variable in colour from all dark brown to much paler variations, all have dark wingtips and a finely barred tail. Their plaintive mewing call could be mistaken for a cat.

Greatest numbers of buzzards can be found in Scotland, Wales, the Lake District and SW England, but now breeding in every county of the UK. They are found in most habitats particularly woodland, moorland, scrub, pasture, arable, marsh bog and villages. Buzzards can even be seen in towns and cities including Glasgow. Look for birds soaring over wooded hillsides in fine weather, or perched on fence posts and pylons. In some areas they are known as the tourists’ eagle, often being mistaken for this larger bird of prey.

Buzzards, like many other birds of prey, were also affected by the use of organochlorine pesticides in the 1950s and 1960s, reducing their ability to reproduce. Populations and range remained restricted until the late 1960s when these pesticides were withdrawn. At the same time, there was a reduction in illegal killing, as gamekeepers in many lowland areas came to appreciate that buzzards pose a very limited threat to game shooting interests. As these threats lessened, buzzard numbers started to slowly increase in Britain and Northern Ireland.

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The blackcap, sometimes referred to as the northern nightingale, is a distinctive greyish warbler, the male has a black cap, and the female black cap has a chestnut one. Its delightful fluting song has earned it the name ‘northern nightingale’. Although primarily a summer visitor birds from Germany and north-east Europe are increasingly spending the winter in the UK.

New findings

Since the 1960s, the number of blackcaps which spend winter in the UK has grown and grown. It’s no longer a rare sight to see them in your garden in the middle of winter.

Just what are they doing? Surely blackcaps should be heading for warmer climes? After all, the UK’s no place for a warbler in winter…

We’ve known for a while that the blackcaps that come to Blighty for winter tend to have been hatched or breed in southern Germany. We found that out from ringing, where birds are fitted with a uniquely-numbered, lightweight metal ring which can be read and reported if they’re found or caught again – extract taken from RSPB.

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