The Woodpecker Network


LSW young in nest Somerset 2023Lesser Spot young (3 male chicks) in a nest Somerset 2023 - photo Gus RobinWoodpecker Network Breeding Season Report
Thanks to the efforts of all our LesserSpotNet collaborators we were able to collect breeding data from 21 Lesser Spotted Woodpecker nests in 2023.

It was a very mixed breeding season but, overall, the number of young fledged was 2.4 young per nest, pretty much in line with the long term average.

The nests monitored in 2023 were from nine counties with most in Hampshire and Somerset. Thanks to a dedicated team in the New Forest, Hampshire continues to be the key county. In Somerset concerted efforts by a small team led by Gus Robin resulted in five nests being found, doubling the county total since 2015. It was great news that a nest was found in Essex at a site with regular records of drumming and calling birds – the first nest monitored in Essex since the project started in 2015.

The grand total of nests monitored since 2015 now stands at 135 nests from 21 counties. Read the full report here

2023 was one of the latest breeding seasons we have recorded with a median first egg date of May 4th about five days later than the mean date for 2015-23.

LSW at its nest in Norfolk, photo Keith BilverstoneMale Lesser Spot bringing food to its nest in Norfolk, photo Keith BilverstoneEarly nests did very well with five or six young fledged but later nests did relatively badly and we know of three nest failures (one during incubation and two when feeding young). We were also aware of three completed cavities where, as far as we know, no eggs were laid.

The lateness of the season was very frustrating for all us observers. Right through April nothing much seemed to be happening and it was not until May that nests started to be found. Consequently, only five nests were found during incubation with the mean clutch of only 4.2 eggs – only a small sample size but worryingly low.

The number of young fledged from successful nests was an average of 3.0 chicks. This is in line with previous years but the high numbers of failures in 2023 brought the overall fledging figure down. It seems the cool conditions right through April were holding the birds back and the ones which were able to start laying relatively early were by far the most successful.

For county by county information of all the nests monitored see the full report here, Read the full report here.

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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