DRYOCOPOS MARTIUS (Black Woodpecker)

13 July 2021

The Black Woodpecker has been one bird in my time (in our region) as a bird photographer that I would like to capture very much. I read and heard of sighting all around my own neighbourhood which is close to a nature reserve, but I never saw one, not even a glimpse of it. This bird with its specially adapted neck containing very strong muscles, allowing it to endlessly hack away at tree bark had to be beautiful. The more I wanted it the more I became obsessed with it. Why does everybody get to see one except me, hours and hours I spend unfortunately in forests and parks where it supposedly had been sighted. Hundreds of Great Spotted Woodpeckers and smaller ones passed me but not this blackbird.

Last week, however, I spend the day in a bird hide owned by Glenn Vermeersch. (I wrote a topic on his hides in Birdspots) The Black Woodpecker was spotted there as well, but as the day went by… you can guess it… all sorts but not that black one. By the time I was thinking of packing my gear to leave, I heard this drum outside… Grabbed my binoculars and started checking out tree by tree in that forest and finally, in the distance what did I see?
Humongous, gigantic larger than large but my oh my so beautiful… there it was finally, Dryocopos Martius.

I couldn’t believe how big it was, at least double the size of a Great-spotted one. My brain went like… Shall I keep watching it or get back behind my camera and try to capture it, but what if it leaves in those few seconds… when will I see one again? I decided to get back behind my camera and it took me 840mm to get a decent capture, it was that far away, at least 75-100 meters, but I did get a few shots that I’m satisfied with.
Never knew birds could make me this happy.

With only the Pine Marten as their serious enemy, I’m somewhat surprised that they’re not more common. We have lots of forests and they’re really big, so you can’t miss them when they pass you, so why do you think it’s so hard to spot them. Small ones, Spotted ones and Green ones, plenty of those but not this one, how come? Or am I really the only person that didn’t spot them before?