Armchair naturalist Margaret spots a Great Spotted Woodpecker in her garden

Woodpecker in town

Over the past week it has been nice to see several visits of a woodpecker to the garden and although I can’t be sure that it’s the same one, it follows the same routine and arrives at the feeders, eats from the suet square for several minutes and then flies off again, usually having arrived from the same direction.

I have had lesser spotted woodpeckers in the garden before usually when the weather is colder and I hope that it will now be a regular occurrence and perhaps I might see more than one. Yesterday the woodpecker was feeding round the far side of the suet square feeder when a starling landed on the front side.

The woodpecker popped its head round and came round the front of the feeder and the starling appeared to me to do a double take and was thinking, you’re not a starling. The starling flew onto the bird table temporarily but soon came back and the two of them were sharing the suet for some minutes. The woodpecker seemed to be unfazed by one or two feral pigeons but as soon as a jackdaw arrived it decided it was time for the off.

Last week I mentioned that the wood pigeons seem to be less frequent visitors and that I had read somewhere that the parent birds take the youngsters out into the countryside in the autumn. Just to prove me wrong, the day after I’d written my blog, three wood pigeons appeared in the garden in the top of one of my conifer trees and then we’re feeding on some of the holly berries. It seems to be a very good crop this year but I hope the larger birds will leave something for the smaller birds, as I know the tits, sparrows and chaffinches also like the holly berries along with blackbirds of course.

Talking of blackbirds, I have seen both the male and female blackbirds hopping about on my side lawn and in my new raised bed, which at the moment is filled with soil but hasn’t been planted. Another shrub that the blackbirds are enjoying is a mahonia, as it is covered in berries. They will certainly relish the availability of worms and slugs from the garden now we have had a large quantity of rain here in Kent and the garden resembles soil again rather than concrete!

The starlings are certainly coming en masse to the feeders first thing in the morning and a few return later in the day and the jackdaws are coming in threes or fours again, with six at one time yesterday. The feral pigeons continue to come to the feeders in a big group and as I’ve had workmen in the garden again this past week, they will sit on my roof for a while and then disappear off to a neighbour’s across the road, but I have the impression that leave one or two scouts in my garden to call the others across when they see a food supply being put out. I have seen the squirrel on a couple of occasions this week feeding on the peanut feeder and a few peanuts are certainly being taken and placed in a store somewhere, so I expect plenty of peanut seedlings to emerge in containers and flower beds next year.

Written by Margaret Emerson

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