15 Aug 2022

Woodpeckers are back in Kilkenny for first time in living memory

The Great Spotted Woodpecker captured on camera by Paul Kavanagh on the banks of the Barrow, right on the border between Kilkenny and Carlow.
Depending on your age, you will have grown up with the Woodie Woodpecker cartoons and his cheeky antics.

Depending on your age, you will have grown up with the Woodie Woodpecker cartoons and his cheeky antics.

The real thing has been absent from this corner of the South East of Ireland for around 100 years but in recent months it has made a welcome and Phoenix like return to our woodlands.

The unmistakable banging of its beak on tree trunks can be heard along the River Nore outside Inistioge in the woods at the old Dysart Estate and also around 18 miles away on either side of the River Barrow close to Borris, Co Carlow.

And it comes in the wake of the news that the indigenous red squirrel has made a near miraculous comeback at Woodstock, Inistioge and other parts of the county.

Kilkenny Wildfire ranger, Jimi Conroy confirmed that a number of pairs of this particular woodpecker species are nesting around Russelstown, Ballilogue and Ballyfoile Upper and lower, down past Clodiagh on either side of the River Nore with the closest village being Tullogher while the birds are not too far from Brandon Hill on the other side “as the crow flies.” The exact location is being kept a secret for conservation purposes.

He said the news and the photographic evidence comes as the population of the bird has increased dramatically across England and Wales.

They like to nest in semi-mature wooded areas, either conifer of deciduous, and as you can see from the wonderful photograph by Padraig Kavanagh they are beautifully coloured.

Of course they are famous for “pecking” against tree trunks and this, according to Jimi is for two reasons. “One is a territorial thing and the other is to discover the hollow parts of the trunk where grubs are hiding and these form a large part of their diet.”

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