CONFIRMED sightings of the rare great spotted woodpecker in West Cork at the weekend has been welcomed as ‘a first’ for Glengarriff Nature Reserve.
District conservation officer Clare Heardman said a video of the woodpecker drumming was captured by local woman Cat Holland and posted on Glengarriff Nature Reserve’s Twitter and Facebook pages.
The posting caused a great deal of excitement among birders, but several walkers – uninitiated in the ways of birdwatching – were also treated to the sight of the woodpecker and its distinctive sound.
Well-known birder, Christopher O’Sullivan TD, who is Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on environment, climate action and biodiversity, summed up the community’s enthusiasm, saying: ‘It is great to see the species return to Cork.
‘Similar to the buzzard,’ he said, ‘the great spotted woodpecker has expanded west, from Wicklow, over the last number of years.
‘It’s very exciting to think that the sound of a woodpecker could once again become commonplace in West Cork’s woodlands,’ he added.
Sightings were first reported in Wicklow in the 1990s, and subsequently in Killarney, but this was a definite first for West Cork.
‘It’s another plus for Glengarriff and another reason to visit the area where the white tailed eagle has been breeding so successfully,’ said the Clonakilty TD.
Huge numbers of people are following the programme to reintroduce the white tailed eagle, especially the webcam streaming of life at the eagle nest during Covid.
Clare confirmed that the great spotted woodpecker was extinct for about 800 years and only began to breed in Co Wicklow in 2009.
They were once a common sight in Ireland but died out after their woodland habitats were replaced by agricultural lands.
‘Some sightings of these birds were reported after they had been blown off course, but this is different,’ said Clare, ‘this has all the hallmarks of the return of a breeding population.’