Increasing reports of the wonderful Great Spotted Woodpecker’s return to Ireland are a delight to all nature lovers. In the last week alone, there have been sightings in Counties Wicklow (8), Dublin (2) and Down (1). Even last summer, there was a reported sighting as far west as Mayo, from a respected local birdwatcher.

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Great Spotted Woodpecker (copyright RSPB, UK)

I have been lucky enough to see this fabulous bird over the last number of years in far Eastern Poland, on the bird watching and wildlife trips I lead over there from Ireland. I’ve also heard them many times in France, tapping away to their heart’s content. I’d love to get to see one over here.

We were all brought up watching Woody Woodpecker, but to see and hear the little guy actually doing his drumming ‘live’ is just brilliant. Drumming is the loud, rapid-fire tapping created by the bird beating its bill off a dead branch. The sound carries some distance and it is the woodpecker’s way of claiming territory and is one of the best ways to locate them in a wood. Although I’ve been lucky enough to see these birds oversees, it can be difficult when trees are in full leaf.

See photos from this week from Tinahely, Co. Wicklow, copyright Dick Coombes, here.

The Great Spotted Woodpecker is about 22 cm long, with a wingspan of ca. 36 cm – essentially the same size as a Blackbird.

Learn about Great Spotted Woodpecker

Birdwatch Ireland has a page on this fabulous bird.

Update 2014 :

It is now the end of June 2014 and a quick look at Irish Birding reveals that 24 Woodpeckers have been reported as seen since the start of May. While some of these may well be of the same bird, nevertheless distribution now includes counties Monaghan, Cavan, Kilkenny, Longford and Armagh. It’s all good!

Further Update 2018 :

In late autumn of 2018, a bird was photographed on coastal County Sligo. During 2017, I myself had a Woodpecker tapping on a tree near Mohill, Co. Leitrim. They’re coming west, boys and girls!

Latest Update 2021 :

In the week after Christmas 2020, a report with photographic evidence of a bird in Woodford Co. Galway appeared. It shouldn’t be too much longer before Mayo’s first Woodpeckers begin to appear, perhaps in Belleek Forest, or Cong Woods.