Hurrah and huzzah, success at last. Today I enjoyed my first ever decent, prolonged view of a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.
It was, of course, at Whitacre WWT reserve, but not on the car park feeders where so many photographers (including me) line up their cars and lay in wait, trying to take its picture. After an uneventful hour watching those feeders this morning, I decided that a) I don't have the patience to be a decent bird photographer, and b) I needed to stretch my legs and pee.
So I set off around the reserve to meet both these needs. Just 300 yards into the woods I heard a call which I recognised immediately. I have heard it several times before and either not seen the bird, or seen a disappearing shape. But this time, high above my head in the leafless branches, he was there - a tiny woodpecker with a distinctive white 'ladder' up his back. This was the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - the least common of Britain's three woodpeckers and, owing to its size and chosen habitat, definitely the hardest to see.
I watched for a few minutes as he made his way along a few branches, I took a photograph so poor and blurry that I won't even bother to post it here, and then grinned like a loon for 10 minutes. Success always feels better when you've put the hours in first.
I then walked around the entire reserve, finding plenty to enjoy - a Buzzard soaring low over the pools, two pairs of Little Grebes squabbling among themselves, a lurking pair of Teal in the undergrowth - 30+ species in all. And, as usual, I lingering in the feeder hide for some photo opportunities - these are the best of today's crop.