Home
 
 

Articles Incredible photo sequence shows weasel attack on Green Woodpecker

 
 

This page contains 9 reader comments. Click here to view (latest Thu 05/03/15 15:38).

At first glance it may seem too extraordinary to be true: a weasel seemingly hitching a ride on the back of a Green Woodpecker.

But this photo is no illusion, nor the product of Photoshop trickery. This stunning photograph, taken yesterday by wildlife enthusiast Martin Le-May near his home in Hornchurch, Essex, shows one scene in an apparently short-lived battle between predator and unwitting prey.


Green Woodpecker with Weasel (Photo: Martin Le-May)

After appearing on various social media outlets late yesterday evening, the photo quickly went viral, and has been retweeted from the @BirdGuides account over 1,100 times. Jason Ward (@Jayward7), who initially tweeted the photo, had registered almost 6,500 retweets by late morning on Tuesday.

Mr Le-May, who held his nerve to document the sensational scene in photographs, recalled:

    It was a sunny afternoon, with the occasional cloud making the Hornchurch Country Park seem that grey brown dull winter colour even though it was the 2nd March.
    My wife, Ann, and I had gone for a walk. I had hoped that she might see a Green Woodpecker as she has not really seen one before.
    As we walked we heard a distressed squawking and I saw that flash of green. So hurriedly I pointed out to Ann the bird and it settled into the grass behind a couple of small silver birch trees. Both of us trained our binoculars and it occurred that the woodpecker was unnaturally hopping about like it was treading on a hot surface. Lots of wing flapping showing that gloriously yellow/white colour interspersed with the flash of red head feathers. Just after I switched from my binoculars to my camera the bird flew across us and slightly in our direction; suddenly it was obvious it had a small mammal on its back and this was a struggle for life.
    The woodpecker landed in front of us and I feared the worst. I guess our presence, maybe 25 metres away, momentarily distracted the weasel. The woodpecker seized the opportunity and flew up and away into some bushes away to our left. Quickly the bird gathered its self respect and flew up into the trees and away from our sight.
    The woodpecker left with its life, the weasel just disappeared into the long grass, hungry.


Three further images illustrating the woodpecker and weasel's struggle (Photos: Martin Le-May)

Related pages

Green Woodpecker Green Woodpecker
Essex Essex


Related articles

Articles Andrew Roadhouse: 1965-2017 Articles Andrew Roadhouse: 1965–2017
John Law pays tribute to his great friend, Spurn stalwart Andy Roadhouse, who sadly passed away at the end of April. read on read on
Articles Attempted predation of a Northern Wheatear by an Isabelline Shrike Articles Attempted predation of a Northern Wheatear by an Isabelline Shrike
Howard King tells the story behind a remarkable series of images obtained in Bahrain earlier in March. read on read on
Articles In the right place at the wrong time Articles In the right place at the wrong time
Graham Gordon was left tearing his hair out as a frustrating autumn 2016 culminated with a dead 'first' within striking distance of his home. read on read on
Articles The top 10 Western Palearctic vagrants of 2016 Articles The top 10 Western Palearctic vagrants of 2016
Josh Jones takes a look at some of the standout rarities recorded in the Western Palearctic in 2016. read on read on
Articles Catching up with a record-breaker: an interview with Arjan Dwarshuis Articles Catching up with a record-breaker: an interview with Arjan Dwarshuis
After a successful 2016 spent smashing the world year-list record with a total of 6,833 species, Dutch birder Arjan Dwarshuis is back in his native Amsterdam — and we caught up with him for a chat about the mother of all birding years. read on read on


The information in this article was believed correct at the time of writing. BirdGuides accepts no responsibility for errors, or for any consequences of acting on information in the article. The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily shared by BirdGuides Ltd.

hide section Reader comments (9)

#1
Amazing! Keeping one's cool to get pictures in these circumstances is admirable.
   James Meikle, 03/03/15 09:43Report inappropriate post Report 
#2
Must be caption time! - Keep your pecker up. You never know when we -seal see you again!
   John Miles, 03/03/15 09:49Report inappropriate post Report 
#3
That woodpecker mustelid a charmed life.
   Peter Brash, 03/03/15 09:59Report inappropriate post Report 
#4
Beyond my wildest dreams ! Amazing
   Mark Coates, 03/03/15 11:32Report inappropriate post Report 
#5
See also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3k319DbHU80&feature=youtu.be labelled weasel v gull - it doesn't say where filmed.
   Allan Reese, 03/03/15 11:34Report inappropriate post Report 
#6
that video shows one of those black american swimming weasels! should be labelled Mink v American Herring Gull...
   Peter Stronach, 03/03/15 12:11Report inappropriate post Report 
#7
Thanks Peter. I think you are correct. The bill looks plain green on my screen but the structures better match mink and herring.
   Allan Reese, 03/03/15 15:03Report inappropriate post Report 
#8
wow
   Mark Welfare, 03/03/15 15:33Report inappropriate post Report 
#9
A truly remarkable image and one of the greatest I have ever seen. Enjoy the fame Martin, you deserve all the plaudits for capturing this.
   Dennis Morrison, 05/03/15 15:38Report inappropriate post Report 

Back to top Back to top

Latest edition Latest edition
Search articles Search articles
All articles All articles
Popular articles Popular articles
 
   
 
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Terms of Sale | Cookie Policy | About us | Advertise | Contact us
BirdGuides, Warners Group Publications PLC, The Chocolate Factory, 5 Clarendon Road, London N22 6XJ
© 2017 BirdGuides and Warners Group Publications plc. All Rights Reserved. Company Registered in England no. 2572212 | VAT registration No. GB 638 3492 15
Sales: or tel. 0800 919391 · International Sales: +44 (0)1778 391180 · Office: or tel. 020 8826 0934
 
   

Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites