Green Woodpeckers are a difficult species to photograph for a number of reasons. They are a bird, even as juveniles, that are very wary of people and will fly off long before you have got remotely close to them either on foot or in a car. Often you may see one perched on the side of a tree but as you get closer they disappear around the back of the trunk out of view. Photographing Green Woodpeckers can be a frustrating pastime and is made all the more difficult by the fact that they are fairly uncommon in my local area. The main site I know they visit regularly is an old graveyard and this is where I have managed to get the majority of my photographs.
There are a few points to consider when taking photographs at these sites. You need to have a good deal of respect and sensitivity for the purpose of the place and why people are visiting. I always time my visits for the very beginning or end of the day, the 'graveyard shift' as I call it, which is better for photographic light quality and wildlife activity. Usually my visits are from first light and often I have finished my session as the first people are starting to arrive to pay their respects to the departed loved ones. Also where possible I tend to use areas that are where possible at distance from graves, particularly new ones, and never photograph around any people.
I decided that a possible time when photography success may be increased with this tricky species is when the adults were still feeding their recently fledged young in the mid-summer period. My thoughts being that the distraction of foraging for the young may allow an easier approach, this proved to be partly the case. The photographs in this post are the accumulation of several evening sessions of photography.
Hopefully the absence of the female means that she did not expire from the rigours of breeding or has not fallen prey to the large female sparrowhawk that frequently hunts the graveyard. These few short sessions proved to be my most successful for this species to date and I learnt a great deal which will hopefully go someway to help in the future, but knowing the difficulties of Green Woodpeckers, I am just being optimistic. With the juveniles now dispersed the adult male appears to have reverted to his old ways of being nearly impossible to approach. There is no doubt though it was a real pleasure to watch them and put some in front of the camera for a change, particularly as they are such strikingly beautiful birds.
I will finish off this post with a couple of images, firstly of one of the speckled blue-eyed juveniles.