Thursday, March 1, 2007
The Collared Doves where cooing outside on the balcony at 7am this morning. Spring is here, officially, today... and the doves know it. The woodpeckers know it, too. Actually, they've known it for some time. Last week I spent a day in the Bukk hills. I saw Black, Green, Grey-headed, Middle Spotted, Lesser Spotted, White-backed and Great Spotted Woodpeckers in the forests and a Syrian in a village near Eger. All in one day. It was a clear, warm day, just an odd shower, but more like spring than winter. Several of the woodies were drumming. Every spring I have to get my "ear-in" again and sort out who is doing what. It's possible to identify all of Europe's woodpeckers on the basis of their drumming. Some are easy to recognise as their drumming is diagnostic, unique and unmistakable. Some a bit tricky at times, there is overlap, at least to the human ear. And it's difficult to describe these drumming in words. The only way to learn them is to go out, listening, spending time in the woods. Woodpeckers can drum at almost anytime of year, it's their main way of communicating with each other, but spring, now, is the time when they really go at it... staking out their patch, bragging to rivals, showing off to potential mates.