Monday, 18 April 2016


While I was up at the coppice coupe enjoying the rural peace of Filnore Woods, my ears were assailed by a very industrial -sounding noise.  It was a sort of metal clanging.

As I was next to the pylon, which gives its name to the pylon field, I glanced up as the noise came again.  Then I saw somebody small, and black and white flying off into the woods.

Photo: Mali, Littlehampton

It was a greater spotted woodpecker.  At this time of year they do their 'drumming'  to establish their territories.  It's a sort of machine gun noise or a drum roll, usually on a tree.  The bigger and more hollow the tree is the better, because it makes a bigger and better sound and intimidates rivals.  This is competitive drumming.

Photo: paulmitch

Well this particular pecker at Filnore has discovered that the pylon makes the best sound ever.  I've heard him several times since, r-r-r-r-rapping out his metallic signal to all in the neighbourhood.  It really carries.

Fortunately woodpeckers have thick skulls and strong neck muscles so they don't get headaches when pecking at up to 20 blows per second.

They like feeding on insects especially in dead and dying trees, so we mustn't cut down all our dead wood.  In winter they feed on conifer seeds, so perhaps we need to plant a few more conifers.

Come to our Dawn Chorus Walk 5.00 am on Sunday 24th April at Filnore Woods.

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