Weasel takes flight on woodpecker's back

Ruth Doherty
Weasel takes flight on woodpecker's back
Weasel takes flight on woodpecker's back



A picture of a baby weasel riding on the back of a woodpecker has gone viral on social media.

But before you think it's a rather cute image of two unlikely best friends, the reality is that the weasel was actually trying to make the woodpecker its next meal.

Martin Le-May was out walking with his wife in Hornchurch Country Park in Essex hoping to see a woodpecker - but ended up seeing a lot more than they bargained for.

Mr Le-May put his binoculars down and picked up his camera when he saw a woodpecker stumbling in the undergrowth and heard its "distressed squawking".



Speaking to the Standard, Mr Le-May explained what happened next: "The bird flew across us and slightly in our direction; suddenly it was obvious it had a small mammal on its back and this was a struggle for life.

"The woodpecker landed in front of us and I feared the worst.

"I guess though our presence, maybe 25 metres away, momentarily distracted the weasel. The woodpecker seized the opportunity and flew up and away into some bushes away to our left.

"Quickly the bird gathered its self-respect and flew up into the trees and away from our sight.

"The woodpecker left with its life, the weasel just disappeared into the long grass, hungry."

According to the Mirror, Martin added: "It is the most amazing set of pictures I have ever taken. To get a weasel on the back of a woodpecker is incredible.

"It is an unbelievably unusual to witness something like this and I guess it is just a chance in a million.

"It is certainly not something you expect to see on a walk around Hornchurch."

A number of people on social media have suggested the image is fake, but Martin Le-May is adamant it is not.

And wildlife expert and TV presenter Steve Backshall says it is definitely a conceivable incident.

Steve told the BBC: "For the bird to be able to fly is pretty extraordinary, but not unheard of, so I have no reason to doubt it.

"If the image is real, it's remarkable, but nothing in it is totally unbelievable.

"For the green woodpecker to be able to fly away would be extraordinary, but a young or female weasel would be a pretty lightweight passenger."

He added: "The weasel is pretty fascinating.

"It can kill things much bigger than itself, so it's an impressive little creature in itself when you think about its size."






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