#WeaselPecker

Last week, as you might of seen a bird and mammal photo was all over the internet and television. The photo is of a young Least Weasel “riding” a Eurasian Green Woodpecker, and was taken by Martin Le-May, an amateur photographer in Britain and posted to his Twitter account.

Here is how Mr. Le-May recalled his sighting when he spoke to ITV News on March 2nd.

It was a sunny afternoon, with the occasional cloud making the Hornchurch Country Park seem that grey brown dull winter colour even though it was the 2nd March.

My wife, Ann, and I had gone for a walk. I had hoped that she might see a green woodpecker as she has not really seen one before.

As we walked we heard a distressed squawking and I saw that flash of green. So hurriedly I pointed out to Ann the bird and it settled into the grass behind a couple of small silver birch trees. Both of us trained our binoculars and it occurred that the woodpecker was unnaturally hopping about like it was treading on a hot surface. Lots of wing flapping showing that gloriously yellow/white colour interspersed with the flash of red head feathers. Just after I switched from my binoculars to my camera the bird flew across us and slightly in our direction; suddenly it was obvious it had a small mammal on its back and this was a struggle for life.

The woodpecker landed in front of us and I feared the worst. I guess though our presence, maybe 25 metres away, momentarily distracted the weasel. The woodpecker seized the opportunity and flew up and away into some bushes away to our left. Quickly the bird gathered its self respect and flew up into the trees and away from our sight.

The woodpecker left with its life, the weasel just disappeared into the long grass, hungry.

Eurasian Green Woodpeckers spend lots of time on the ground searching for ants which makes them vulnerable to predators such as weasels.

Least Weasels are ferocious predators, but usually hunt small mammals like mice and voles. Occasionally they will also take down other prey including rabbits, frogs, and birds.

Mr. Le-May’s photo caused such a stir that people started using the hashtag #WeaselPecker on Twitter.

GreenWoodpeckerPlusOne

Photograph by Martin Le-May, 2015

There was much debate about whether the photo was a fake and/or Photoshopped. Hany Farid who’s a professor of computer science at Dartmouth College, who researches digital forensics and image analysis, told National Geographic,

This would have required a nearly perfect and coincidental alignment of the two animals in their original photos so that they could be composited together… This type of forgery is therefore more difficult to create than, for example, two animals simply standing side-by-side.”

Here are two other photos by Mr. Le-May from that day,

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Photograph by Martin Le-May, 2015

eos_70d7169.jpeg.CROP.promo-mediumlarge

Photograph by Martin Le-May, 2015

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