The Woodpecker Network


Lesser Spot Network has reports so far this year from 19 counties right across the LSW breeding range. Birds are most likely to be detected from February to April, when they are actively establishing territories and pairing up and before the trees came into leaf. We have already had two reports of birds excavating. Many thanks to all observers who have sent in records so far and those who searched in vain, please keep them coming.  

Volunteers have been out since-February looking and listening for Lesser Spots. The birds are visible at this time of year when there are no leaves on the trees. Both male and female Lesser Spots will be drumming and vocal with their distinctive kee-kee-kee call and displaying to rivals and potential mates.

We have had reports of birds, drumming, calling and displaying from 19 counties across the breeding range:
Buckinghamshire, Cheshire, Devon, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire (including New Forest), Kent, Lancashire, London, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Shropshire, Somerset, Suffolk, Surrey, East & West Sussex and Worcestershire.

Some highlights: 

The New Forest remains the main stronghold for Lesser Spots, with good numbers also still present in Blean Woods in Kent and the Wyre Forest in Shropshire.

A countywide survey of LSW in Hampshire is in progress on a 1Km square basis. Lesser Spots have been reported from over 100 squares in the New Forest but only a few from elsewhere in Hampshire. Thanks to HOS for organising. Read more

A systematic search by volunteers and RSPB staff in Blean Woods in Kent has located at least 13 LSW territories.

Enhanced efforts in East and West Sussex have found LSW at sites not reported for several years.

Volunteer, Ed Horncastle has relocated 'his' pair of Lesser Spots in a Dartmoor river valley in Devon.

Volunteers in Norfolk are continuing detailed observations at several sites.

Searches in North Yorkshire and Durham have not reported any birds so far, keep searching.

Thanks to everyone who has sent us photos and videos of Lesser Spots, many are featured on our Twitter feed @LesserSpotNet

If you do find Lesser Spots please, make a note of the date, time and the location and report the record to Woodpecker Network, via this website or a Twitter DM to @LesserSpotNet as well as to your local county recorder (via BTO BirdTrack or other reporting system).
If you would prefer not to give the full grid reference, recording the 1 kilometre square is enough, for example SU2609 Acres Down, New Forest. Lesser Spots breeding territories are about one square kilometre in area, so this will give a good estimate of the population.

If you can follow your birds through the breeding season you may find them excavating a nest cavity in April or May and/or find an active nest in May or June. Monitoring the nest to record breeding outcomes gives critical information on breeding success.

An excellent timeline of LesserSpot activity through the breeding season collated by our Norfolk observers is here, LSW breeding timeline

Ken Smith is honoured to be appointed special advisor on Lesser Spots to the UK Rare Breeding Bird Panel. The aim this year is to encourage observers to submit all records of LSW from February to June to get a better understanding of the current range of the birds. LSW advisor appointed.

Is the population of around 2000 pairs decreasing?
A revised population estimate for Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers was published in the journal British Birds in August. This concluded there were an estimated 1,750–2,300 pairs during the 2008–11 national breeding bird atlas period. We don’t know for sure what has happened since then, but it is likely to have decreased. Read more LSW population estimate 

Want to find out more? Listen/watch Woodpecker Network's Dr Ken Smith on YouTube presenting 'Bars and Spots - the varying fortunes of Lesser Spotted and Great Spotted Woodpeckers'. The talk covers Ken's 30 years of research on Woodpeckers including all the information gathered in the last 6 years on Lesser Spots and what we know about why they are in trouble. The talk was given over zoom for the BOC last December,  or direct link here BOC; Ken Smith 'Bars and spots: varying fortunes of our British woodpeckers' - YouTube .


LSW RichardJacobs leftcolLesser Spotted Woodpecker by Richard Jacobs 2019 LSW TimPreston 256Lesser Spotted Woodpecker © Tim Preston

Don't confuse juvenile Great Spotted Woodpeckers with male Lesser Spots - they both have red caps!

Dont confuse your woodpeckers

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