Woodpecker photo sparks debate

Wildlife experts have given their support to an amazing photo showing a woodpecker flying through the air with a weasel clinging to its back.

The image of the wide-eyed bird and its stowaway was taken by photographer Martin Le-May at a reserve in Essex. Mr Le-May was walking at the Hornchurch Country Park with his wife, Ann, in the hope of showing her a green woodpecker.

After hearing “distressed squawking” he says he spotted the bird with the small mammal on its back, and took a series of photos.

Mr Le-May is adamant that his photograph is real.

He told ITV he saw the woodpecker “unnaturally hopping about like it was treading on a hot surface”, and when it flew past him “it was obvious it had a small mammal on its back and this was a struggle for life”.

After it landed near him and his wife he believes the weasel got distracted and the woodpecker seized its chance, “gathered its self respect and flew up into the trees. The woodpecker left with its life, the weasel just disappeared into the long grass, hungry.”

Wildlife presenter Steve Backshall says he thinks the picture is genuine. He told the BBC: “For the bird to be able to fly is pretty extraordinary, but not unheard of, so I have no reason to doubt it.”


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