Thursday, March 15, 2007


I managed to get into the Bukk Hills for a few hours. I checked an area with big beeches where White-backed Woodpeckers (one of my very favourite species) had a nest last year. A few trees had been knocked over by high winds in the winter, but the site is still good. Plenty of dead wood. A female was drumming (just in case you did not know, females drum, too) and after a bit of searching, I got decent views.
The global range of White-backed Woodpecker lies within the Palearctic from Fenno-Scandia and central Europe eastwards through boreal Asia, to Kamchatka, China and Japan. Though generally regarded as an “eastern” species White-backed Woodpeckers probably inhabited all of Europe including Britain in the past, possibly up to the Middle Ages, when there was still much old forest covering the landscape. Today it is Europe’s rarest woodpecker, being often very local in the boreal and temperate zones of central and Eastern Europe, Fenno-Scandia and Russia.
Elsewhere it has a rather scattered distribution with small relic populations of the lilfordi race in the Pyrenees, the Balkans and the Apennines in Italy. Over most of its European range White-backed Woodpecker is uncommon, if not rare, though in some areas such as the Carpathians and the lowland forests of Belarus it is widely distributed. A major contraction in range, particularly in the west of Europe, occurred in the 19th and 20th centuries. Yet despite its overall rarity in Europe the species can be locally the most common woodpecker.

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