December 1, 2021 5:18 pm
Woodpeckers by Nichola Andersen

I am so excited – I just looked out of the kitchen window and saw the woodpecker! The first sighting up-close this year at my bird table. I’ve often heard him (or her?) in the woods near my garden, but I’ve not seen him quite so clearly as just now (though it is hard to spot in the photo – look in the top right hand corner of the photo)

I’m lucky I have woodpeckers living so near me. There is lots of standing dead wood, which is important habitat for insects and the woodpecker enjoys feeding on them in summer. When I hear his ‘tik-tik’ sound in the woods I often stop and try to peer into the canopy to see him. But, the trees are so tall, and despite the flashes of red plumage (it’s the Great Spotted woodpecker) he is still quite elusive. Today, however, he was right on the acer tree behind my bird table; checking out what was on offer I expect. I do have nuts out, so perhaps it was those that he was attracted by and on occasion in the winter I have seen him hanging off the feeder.

Of course, as per usual, he flew off before I had the chance to get my camera out. I waited and waited with the camera pointing stupidly at the window. Just as I gave up, low and behold, he re-appeared. I fumbled for my camera and just managed to take a snap – but all I took was a blur of wings as he left again! 

I don’t know how other people manage to take such great photos of birds in their garden – my photos are normally very disappointing. I joined the Virtual Garden Birdwatch Group which has many St Austell residents on there. It’s so lovely seeing the birds people have spotted in their gardens. What is also really interesting is the stories people tell about each bird. They all seem to have their own personalities and quirks. My robin for example – – oh the stories I could tell you about him! Such a little character stuffed into something so tiny – no wonder the robin is routinely chosen as the best beloved garden bird in the UK. Whenever my robin is nearby I think about the robin in the children’s book “the Secret Garden’ which was one of my favourite books as a child and gave me tingles when I re-read it to my children. In that story the robin is a character in his own right and Frances Hodgson Burnett perfectly captures the ways of the robin and its habit of accompanying the gardener looking for exposed worms!

If you have interesting stories about the birds in your garden and like taking pictures then do join the British Trust for Ornithlogy’s year round Garden Birdwatch scheme. Every week you spend half an hour recording the birds in your garden. It’s a great citizen science project and vital work to help us understand numbers of birds. Plus – it’s fascinating! 



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