28 June 2012

Woodpecker

We have a green roof on top of our garage/workshop at the back of our house. A green roof is not one that is painted green but a growing roof, it is mostly covered in plants. It is my husbands part of the garden. He strengthen the roof within the garage/workshop with extra joists. Then he build a raised frame on the top and filled the area, with the help of friends, with organic matter. He has planted many sedums, grasses and alpine type plants, from the early spring to the middle of autumn there is always a plant in flower. Sometimes it looks like a sea of colour. He started planting three years ago, from a distance the roof looks covered, but closer inspection reveals that there are some gaps.

The best place to view the roof is from one of our bedroom windows. We have put a couple of small chairs there so that the children can see out easily. My youngest often watches from this vantage point.

The roof is now supporting a good population of birds. The raised edge means that it is a fairly safe place for birds to feed. My husband has placed four large logs amongst the plants, they have started to decompose now and we suspected were full of insects. This has been confirmed by a visitor to the roof this week, which has us all enthralled, a Greater Spotted Woodpecker.

Initially it landed on the top of one of the logs and had a good look around. I guess it was checking the area for predators, it continued to do this during feeding. It then proceeded to move down the side of the log and feed at length. It moved from one log to the next and stayed on the roof feeding for a good five minutes before flying off. A few minutes later I return to the room to put something away and noticed that there were now two woodpeckers on the roof. Only this time it was the same adult (later consultation of a bird book revealed it to be a male) and a juvenile. The adult was feeding the juvenile, after a few minutes the adult male flew off leaving the juvenile, who continued to feed alone for about a minute before flying off too.

In the last few years I have noticed a number of new bird visitors to our garden. It was a patch of grass when we moved in, we have planted many shrubs and trees, put up several bird boxes and a small wildlife pond. The Greater Spotted Woodpecker is not a rare bird, but it can be difficult to spot, to be able to watch one for so long was a special moment for us all.

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