Saturday, 20 November 2010

A 'pecker and a wader.

But first the wader....

Turnstone. David Cookson

An excellent portrait image of one of my most favourite waders the Turnstone, a bird I must say more about sometime soon in a 'gap filler' between my birding. A brilliant photograph David for which - along with the LSW below - I am truly grateful.  

Lesser-spotted Woodpecker. David Cookson

I was prompted to make a few brief notes on the Lesser-spotted Woodpecker (LSW) when I found this image of DC's, a bird you'll be hard pushed to find in our recording area in North Lancashire where it bred in the Silverdale-Leighton Moss area during the 1960's and 70's with frequent records during the 80's. In 1978 three pairs of LSW bred at a location on the River Lune with one or two annually until the mid-90's, apart from a single pair at Melling in 2000, no breeding has ever been confirmed in the Lune Valley since. To the south of Lancaster nesting was recorded at Scorton and Street Bridge between the early 1960's and 90's with only occasional sightings since then, the most recent I'm aware of was of a male - at a site I'm not at liberty to disclose on Birds2blog - in the spring of 2003, surely raising the possibility of a breeding foothold of this reclusive little bird.

It is the reclusive behaviour of the LSW which makes the species a difficult one to observe/survey but it has been shown to be restricted to England and Wales having never been recorded in Ireland, in this country it is also absent from the uplands and treeless lowlands. The LSW has declined at sites with a high density of Grey Squirrel, although the Great-spotted Woodpecker is a more likely predator which - if some opinion is to be considered - will also evict LSW from their nest holes.

The combination of a scarce and declining species that inhabits a difficult habitat means that further required research into the LSW will be something of a challenge. With regard to our own recording area I reckon there are isolated pairs of breeding LSW somewhere out there, finding them is another matter, but I've been in touch with someone recently who has told me he's going to take me to a location where he almost guarantees a sighting of the LSW....I'll let you know the result.


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