Tuesday, 3 April 2012

A Bird of a Different Feather

This morning before leaving for the parish office, I thought since it was very cold I'd throw out a handful of shredded suet as an extra for the birds clustered on the paved  area  covered in birdseed.

By the time I'd opened the door they had flown up in a wild panic and the garden was empty.

I threw the suet out anyway, locked up and had a last look out of the back door before leaving.

To my surprise, I saw a great spotted woodpecker on the peanuts and thought, "surely that can't have caused the sudden panic.  Looking for another explanation I saw a brilliant flash of yellow and red and on the buddleia
nearest the door was a green woodpecker, the first I've ever seen close to, and the very first ever in my garden.

Beautiful though he was, I couldn't see why he should be a source of fear, even if he was unfamiliar.  Then, at last, my gaze fell on the real culprit.  

Drinking from the birds' water bowl was Hercules, the red terror.  Decimator of large numbers of local feathered inhabitants.

I had photographed him a month ago on a misty early March morning when I had just poured a kettle of boiling water on the ice in the bird-bath.  

Normally I'd have chased him out before he could grab a feathered ' breakfast to go', but felt sorry for him so let him drink first, photographed him, then chased him out.

As a cat, not a predator, he is a large and beautiful animal, but I love my birds and prefer not to fatten them up to provide snacks for the furry terror.

What surprised me this morning was that all the other birds had fled, but the woodpeckers remained, apparently unperturbed.  Brave, or stupid?


  1. That darn cat!
    I have moved sites, you can find me at

    I'm having trouble commenting on your site for some reason. So I had to use the blogger a/c which is deleted.

  2. Or perhaps just experienced in the ways of cats, Ray? If you know cats can't fly, you can afford to stay put and look superior. How exciting to see a woodpecker in your own garden like that.

  3. Jenni. I hope this is not part of the dreaded blogger interference initiative which has been causing me so much aggro in recent days.
    Hopefully it will settle down soon.

  4. Perpetua you are probably right. Maybe it's not just owls that are wise.
    Yes the green woodpecker was quite something.
    Though it's hard to imagine why they are called green. Yellow is the predominant colour.
    I hope the visit wasn't just a one-off.

  5. How wonderful that so many of God's creatures love your garden, Ray! I'd love to see that "green" woodpecker - we don't have such a thing here.

  6. Hi Penny. The reason I think that I get so many 'visitors' of one sort and another, is that I feed everything that comes my way, and if all else fails, there is always water available for any thirsty creature.
    I wish my camera had been at hand when the woodpecker dropped by, though it would have been through glass as always. As soon as I open the door or a window, everything takes off.

  7. How wonderful to have such an array of birds in your garden. We too have the problem of prowling felines -- but the most they seem to acquire is the occasional pigeon.

  8. There are a number of cats in the area Broad, but most are non-birders. Hercules, on the other hand eats everything that moves and has a fearsome track-record.
    In the summer I keep the hose attached to an outside tap and he gets a quick 'shower' every time he puts a whisker round a corner, but in the winter I have to physically chase him. Quite exhausting but it saves the de-feathering of the neighbourhood.

  9. By the way, Ray, your back garden looks lovely. I hope you'll treat us to more photos of your pool and plantings!

  10. Penny, a mirage I assure you. The 'pool' is stone, slate to be exact, which replaced the lawn when John was no longer well enough to cut it.
    I was once proud of the shrubs and roses, but these days it is badly neglected. Lack of time, energy (and if I'm honest) enthusiasm.