Eight days ago now I posted THIS teaser and wondered if you could guess what two species I think I am the first to ever photograph.
Did you guess correctly?
The three photographs I took from the house, to the top end of the garden (forgive the background of lurid pink garden trug and tripod legs) are below and show...
A male great spotted woodpecker taking a HORNET MOTH LARVA (caterpillar) from an exposed poplar root in our back garden.
Try to find a similar image on Google (of a woodpecker taking a hornet moth caterpillar). I think you'll struggle.
A little more meat on these bones, then.
Q: How do I know it's a male great spotted woodpecker?
A: Because of the scarlet patch on its nape. (A female lacks this and has an all black nape).
More importantly, perhaps...
Q: How do I know this is a hornet moth larva?
A: Because our poplar trees in the back garden are RIDDLED with these beautiful (if pesky, if you are a tree person) insects. You may remember me blogging at some length about the emergence of these moths in our garden last summer. We have a steady stream of woodpeckers on many days, doing what this woodpecker did above - flying down to our poplars (our biggest poplar is the most popular) and tapping away at exposed roots or near entry holes at the base of the trunk. When the sound that "comes back" to them is NOT a "hollow sound"... that means the grub (or in this case, the hornet moth caterpillar) is feeding in a tunnel just below the bark or root's surface. A few insistent digs and chisels from the woodpecker and the caterpillar is exposed and plucked from the root or trunk.
Amazing to watch - and I was lucky enough to have a camera to hand this time.
Most people go their entire lives without seeing ADULT hornet moths.
And only a tiny, tiny few (mainly tree surgeons etc) will ever see a hornet moth caterpillar - as it spend that entire part of its lifecycle hidden below the bark of a tree or inside the roots of a tree, rather like a goat moth caterpillar... which we've also seen (you may remember?)
Well... we're not tree surgeons here... but also... we're not most people, either.
We use our eyes.
We really use our eyes.
So we see everything.
And boy... do we know how lucky we are.
I hope you enjoy what remains of your weekend...