Birding round Durham & Sunderland 2012

Birdwatching in & around Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland, County Durham.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Cone in the Hole

A short visit in passing to listen out for LSW

No such luck, but did manage an interesting woodpecker observation.

A female Great Spotted, one of a pair in loose association with a mixed tit flock.

On landing on a semi-mature Sycamore at around 30', it immediately began knocking away at a small pocket of decay ( rotting cavity where tree has lost a small branch ) on the shaded north east side of the stem.

I managed a few photographs and the bird seemed quite content at this position so i filmed a short video clip.

During the process Tony & i could see the object of its attention - which at several points came loose from its cavity - not some insect nor mammal, but a Larch cone.

On at least 3 occassions the cone came free from the hole in which it was entirely concealed, and each time the bird replaced it in the cavity, securing it before hammering away at it again.

We concluded the only way the cone could have found its way into the cavity was by having being placed their by the woodpecker ( or a squirrel ? ) -

But i did wonder whether this was a ingenious insect trap, rather than a means of simply securing the cone...

Others seen included an inexperienced Dipper pair building well below the flood mark, Kingfisher pair starting to excavate and a Chiffchaff watched contact calling - a couple more degrees before it starts to sing no doubt. Others in the valley included a dozen Heron and 3pair of Goosander, one of the drakes being realy aggressive to the ducks.

Also discovered what would appear to be a superb new Gilleard Bros owl-watching hide !
Cant see what else it could be for, other than a gloryfied rain-shelter !
But only time will tell
 heres the view :-

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