Hitching A Ride!
Incredible picture captures weasel hitching a ride on the back of a woodpecker
This is the incredible moment a woodpecker was caught on camera giving a small weasel a lift on its back.
The stunning photograph shows the tiny brown animal clinging to the back of the green woodpecker as it takes flight across Hornchurch Country Park in east London.
Although all appears rather amicable in the incredible image, amateur photographer Martin Le-May said the small mammal had actually pounced on the bird as its next victim.
Mr Le-May, a project manager from Essex, managed to capture the action photo during a walk with his wife Ann yesterday.
He later posted the photograph on Twitter with the caption: ‘Took this picture earlier today. Heard woodpecker in distress, then flew up with weasel on back.’
The image has now gone viral online after thousands of users shared the ‘one-in-a-million’ snap on social media.
The 52-year-old, who enjoys photography as a hobby, said: ‘We decided we fancied popping out yesterday afternoon and my wife has never seen a green woodpecker in the wild before and I knew of this place so we just went there for a walk.
‘We had been there for about 20 minutes, and had seen some other birds, when we heard this sort of distressed squawking.
‘Out of the bushes flew a woodpecker so I said to my wife: “There’s a green woodpecker”.
‘It flew in front of us and we could see it through the trees. It was hopping around on the ground acting very, very strangely and still making this squawking noise.
‘I decided to pick my camera up to have a look and just as I picked up the camera it flew off so I just started snapping at it as it came across in front of us.’
It was at that point Mr Le-May said he noticed the small animal on the back of the bird and realised it was either a stoat or a weasel.
He said: ‘I said to my wife: “It has something on its back and I think it’s a stoat or weasel”.
‘The bird landed about 20 metres in front of us and I said to my wife that there’s a chance this weasel could eat the woodpecker.
‘But as we walked towards it, I think we distracted the weasel and the woodpecker flew off back into the bushes where it had originally come from. It initially settled down on the grass but then a few seconds later it flew off into the trees.
‘It looked as good as it could have considering it had just escaped being eaten by a weasel.’
Mr Le-May, who has two grown-up daughters, said he only realised how remarkable his picture was when he downloaded it from his camera onto his computer.
He said he had never taken a photograph quite like the one he captured of the woodpecker and said the response had been ‘absolutely mind-blowing’.
He added: ‘I did get quite excited, I must admit. You look at it and your first reaction is “ooh I’ve taken a picture” and then the second thought is “I’ve taken a picture of a woodpecker with a weasel on its back”. It’s quite outstanding.
‘I think Ann was quite excited to see a woodpecker and see it in the context of being attacked by a weasel and then quite excited that my photograph has been seen by more than a million people.
‘I personally think I’ve taken photos of better quality before, but they don’t have any drama in. I’ve not taken anything like this before.
‘For over a million people to see your work is quite mind-blowing and outstanding.’
Mr Le-May used his Canon 70D camera and his 300m f2.8L lens to take the picture and usually just takes photos of wild birds at Rainham Marshes bird reserve in Essex.
He added: ‘I usually go there once a week and see lots of robins, chaffinches, blue tits, grey tits, coal tits and wetland birds.
‘The only weasel I had ever seen before this was when my wife were driving back from London and one ran across the road in front of us at Hackney Marshes.’
Richard James, a wildlife advisor for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said: ‘These are an incredible set of images.
‘Weasels are ferocious predators and often attack prey much larger than themselves.
‘In this case the weasel appears to have targeted the woodpecker due to the fact the green woodpeckers often spend a lot of on the ground eating ants so is very susceptible to attack.
‘If this had been a weaker bird I’m sure the attack would have been successful but this woodpecker was strong enough to take flight with the weasel on his back.
‘It was pretty fortunate to escape.
‘Green woodpeckers are relatively common but to see it in a mid-air battle like this is incredibly unusual.
‘This is truly a one-in-a-million shot.’
Mr James said he believed the weasel would have weighed about 190grams and been about 32cms long.
source: DailyMail Online