Great spots in Staffordshire

Local Patch Reporter Zoe Cheadle explains how to identify a male, female and juvenile great spotted woodpecker. 

Great spotted woodpecker

I recently discovered a reserve I had never heard of before in the Staffordshire area - Blithfield Reservoir.

We parked just off Newton Hurst Lane. There are three walking routes to choose from and about four bird hides. We saw plenty of butterflies, blue tits, great tits and nuthatches, but the star of the show was the king of the bird table: the great spotted woodpecker.

The great spotted woodpecker always brings back fond memories for me. I lived in Switzerland close to a forest for six months and decided to set up a bird feeder outside the patio doors. After about three weeks I was having regular visits from blue tits, great tits, goldfinches, sparrows and greenfinches.

One day, as I was sitting on the sofa, the birds quickly dispersed as a great spotted woodpecker landed. I was thrilled! This woodpecker paid regular visits to the garden along with his fledgling later on in the spring. I fell in love with this bossy king of the birdfeeder.

At Blithfield we spotted a family of great spotted woodpeckers from one of the hides. Here is how to identify a male, female and fledgling.

A female has an all black head...

A male has a red patch on the back of his head...

And a fledgling has an all red crown.


Read more exciting nature blogs by BBC Wildlife local patch reporters

BBC Wildlife wanted to find a new way to share some of our readers’ natural-history diaries with other wildlife enthusiasts, and Local Patch Reporters was born. 

Our 20 Local Patch Reporters for 2014 are aged from 10 to 64 and live from Dorset in the south to Shetland in the north.

Throughout this year they will be exploring and reporting on nature in their neighbourhood via online blogs.

Zoe Cheadle is a local patch reporter from Staffordshire

Local nature patch: Apedale Country Park, Silverdale Country Park and Wildlife Trusts Westport Lake

I spend every weekend watching and photographing wildlife. 

Wildlife aims for 2014: Photograph a kingfisher, join a bat group, continue to transform my balcony into a miniature wildlife haven.

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