Great Spotted Woodpecker Success!

22nd April 2009
Success at last!

After a couple of fruitless weeks at the feeding station my avian photography target had its picture taken. The Great Spotted Woodpecker paid a visit to my new “Log Feeder” and stayed briefly, but only long enough for me to take six images in a short burst from my Canon 1DMK III.

The Woodpecker was very camera shy and on its return one and a half hours later I only managed one shot before it took flight again I have some stunning images of the rear end of a GSW in flight!.

These birds are very nervous and they continually call to each other from the surrounding trees before they make a move towards the log feeder and even then they do not stay long!

My log feeder set up is a hybrid of Kevin Keatley’s (Wildlife Watching Supplies) set up.

It is made up of a Cherry Tree log circa 1.5 metres long and 12cms in diameter. This is then mounted onto aluminium fishing bank stick (The bank stick is screwed to the back of the log.) that is then inserted into an aluminium extension. This enables me to move the log feeder at will and be able to heighten or lower the feeder so as to get the optimum background and birds eye level with my 500mm lens.

I then mounted a small peanut feeder to the back of the log taking care that it would be concealed from the camera. Then a piece of wood was fixed to the peanut feeder so that only the sides would be available to the birds when they started to feed. This ensures that a classic side on pose from the GSW or any other bird could be orchestrated.

5 or 6 holes were then drilled into each side of the log (the side facing your camera lens) these should be deep enough for the Blue and Great Tits not to be able to reach the mixture of fat and bread or peanuts that will be stuffed into the holes later.

Once completed the feeder is positioned at the minimum focusing distance from my 500mm lens and angled to show only the “clean” side of the log. The peanut feeder was filled and then left for the GSW and other birds to find the free lunch! This can only take a few hours or it can take 2-3 days, I left mine for 3 days.

On my first visit back to the log feeder the GSW was already there happily feeding. So I went back at first light the following Sunday and set up my camera in the hide and waited patiently. I did not have to wait long. The first bird onto the log feeder was the GSW, a female. One short burst from the 1DMK III and she was gone. But mission accomplished.

After several visits the Great Spotted Woodpeckers’s are used to the sound of the shutter firing off and take no notice at all, that is until a midge goes up your nostril and you have to sneeze, then it’s curtains for at least 2 hours!

19th April 2009

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