Today I went looking to Beeley Wood to look for woodpeckers. Knowing the area had all three species present I set a challenge to see all three species in one morning – great spotted (easy), green (medium) and lesser spotted (hard).
The plan was to catch the bus to Oughtibridge and start from there, but due to me missing the bus due to a ridiculous factual error on the “My Next Bus” text service (telling me the 57 stopped at a bus stop it didn’t even go past!), I decided to get the tram to Middlewood and walk from there.
Walking up the closed section of Middlewood Road North after the Middlewood Tavern, I saw a suspiciously lesser spotted-looking bird fly into a tree next to me. I didn’t believe it at first, and presumed it was just an optimistically misidentified great tit, but sure enough it was a lesser spotted woodpecker! It was showing so well I didn’t even need to raise my binoculars, and I had great views of a bird you can usually only expect fleeting views of.
In Beeley Wood my luck continued. It was a pleasant walk with all the usual woodland species present (great, blue, coal and long-tailed tits, nuthatches, treecreepers, goldcrest and a jay), and grey wagtails on the river. And eventually I got a brief but unmistakable view of a green woodpecker flying past.
And the great spotted? Never saw one. Goes to show you never can predict quite how easy it’ll be to see species, even in areas you know they all frequent. I never saw any more lesser spotteds in Beeley Wood either, which also proves the point that birding is often about simply being in the right place at the right moment – if it wasn’t for the Transport Executive’s badly updated text services I’d not have been walking that way, and would not have had amazing views of a brilliant little bird.