White-backed Woodpecker?

White-backed Woodpecker?

Whenever I’m alone in the bush, there are several species of birds and animals which always keep me company – the Raven and Lesser Spotted Eagle fly above the trees making their calls (sometimes the eagle flies through the forest and its wing beats send whooshing sounds through the leaves), woodpeckers knock on trees, Jays scream at each other and Red Squirrels jump about playing with their nuts. And of course there are plenty of little tits….

When I was a kid back in England, the sounds were different, with the Wood Pigeon and the Pheasant being the dominant noise makers.

In the area around my house we get multiple species of woodpeckers, and most are easy to identify – the Green, the Grey, the Black, the Lesser Spotted – but there are other species which could be one of several. The woodpecker pictured here is, I believe, a White-backed (Dendrocopos leucotos) as it misses the vertical stripes seen in other species, such as the Greater. Then again, it might not be. If anyone can clear up this matter I would appreciate it.

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Hoopoe

Hoopoe

I know the photo is terrible quality but this really was a spur of the moment event and it’s literally only luck that got the bird in the picture. We were driving through the village when we passed a bird standing by the side of the road. It took a few moments for me to realize it was a Hoopoe (Upupa epops). I slammed on the brakes, put the warning lights on, left the engine running and got out to take a photo.

The bird flew off into a nearby tree. I walked towards it and it flew off again. For several minutes I followed but never had chance for a decent shot. eventually, it settled in a large tree and I could just make out its silhouette through the branches so I snapped one off. I thought I’d been unsuccessful until reviewing the photo later.

We used to have flocks of Hoopoe pass through in early summer on their way North but i haven’t seen any for a while. Maybe this one got left behind when they migrated back south.

Lesser Spotted Eagle with mouse

Lesser Spotted Eagle with mouse

We have a family of Lesser Spotted Eagles (Aquila pomarina) living in a tree a couple of hundred metres from the house. Because of the hot weather, they’re using this time to ride the thermals and regularly fly low over our heads. Their screams fill the valley. This eagle is returning to its nest with a mouse in its beak

Stork on chimney

Stork on chimney

Even though this is an annual occurrence, it’s still something that fills me with dread – a White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) inspecting my chimney. As they’re protected, if they decide to build a nest on the chimney then they can’t be moved and I’d have to wait until they’ve returned to warmer climes before I can get rid of it – which is a long time to go without a fire. This particular stork is a bit late with nest building as others already have young. I’m hoping it’s not the insane one from a couple of years back who woke me up in the early morning by hammering its giant beak against my 2nd floor French doors or who was repeatedly seen in the cemetery hammering away at gravestones.

The other reason i don’t like them anywhere near my roof is they leave the black tiles looking like someone pelted them with buckets of ice cream. They’re very, very big birds (4-feet tall) and they produce a lot of waste…

Golden Oriole

Golden Oriole

The Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus) produces my favourite bird song – it gives a tropical or Australian-like sound to the garden. They only migrate for a couple of months each year and will shortly be leaving, much earlier than other migratory species. I’ve been trying for years to get a photo of one but they never seem to sit still long enough, plus they prefer the higher branches of trees.

House Martin nesting in window

House Martin nesting in window

Each year, several migratory species return to this region. The giant white storks are hard to miss, and the air is quickly filled with thousands of House Martins (Delichon urbicum). The Martens are like mini-swallows and have the extremely useful function of keeping down the insect population. However, there is a caveat to their arrival and that is that they nest in windows.

Every window has a Martin nest made of mud and saliva and bits they’ve found, and every window sill quickly mounds up with guano. Most people tie ripped plastic bags in the corners of windows to frighten them away. We don’t bother. In the window where this Martin is building a nest, there is another Martin doing likewise in the other corner.

It’s ironic because I’ve got House Martens nesting in my windows and Pine Martens nesting in my house….