Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)

The British Trust for Ornithology records show that in the early 1960's, when research in to bird populations began in earnest, the Great Spotted Woodpecker was not a common bird at all. Forty years on the situation is quite different and it is now one undoubtedly one of the commonest 50 birds in the country, that is certainly true in Dorset anyway.

I was interested to read a review of the population trend of this bird over this period of time and the research shows that numbers increased substantially during the late 1970's. This coincides with the arrival of Dutch Elm Disease that swept the country and turned the country's English Elms in to dead stumps. The arrival of Dutch Elm disease had devastating effects on our hedgerows and on the insects that depended on them but there was a winner in this, the Great Spotted Woodpecker. Dead and rotting trees are where it lives, where it feeds.

Nature is such a complex system, the balance is constantly changing, there are always winners and losers. The rate of change can be quite fast, some creatures adapt others suffer. We can only watch and hope that the continuing changes we are seeing before our very eyes turn out to produce more winners than losers. Certainly having more Great Spotted Woodpeckers around is a plus but we do miss the Elms.

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