Our Blue Tit box is empty. The incessant visits from the parent birds, arrival at the box heralded by frantic tweeting from inside have finally finished with the youngster’s departure. We were not here this year to watch the moment but I was reminded of the epic events two years ago. They enter a dangerous period, risking predation from the local Sparrowhawks, or one of the Magpies that have recently taken to visiting the garden in search of an easy meal.

Other fledglings are about the place, most conspicuous today being a juvenile Greater Spotted Woodpecker. Over recent weeks both male and female parents have been regular visitors to the garden, dropping down from the wood across our small valley where I know they nest to feed on peanuts or pick at a fat ball. Today, the fledgling joined them, spending some time being fed on fence and telegraph pole. Head markings are the key to identification. The female’s head markings are purely black and white, the male shares the same markings but has a red nape to it’s neck while the juvenile has a red cap. This red cap is similar to the markings of the Middle Spotted Woodpecker, though this species is confined to continental Europe, with no prospect of colonisation as they don’t migrate, even seasonally.

juvenile Greater Spotted Woodpecker with distinctive red cap

juvenile and male (with red nape to the neck)

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