Iberian Green Woodpecker


I have another armchair tick. On Leap Year day in 2004 I took a stroll through Casa de Campo in Madrid and logged the birds.

Somewhere I recorded a green woodpecker. I didn’t remark on it at the time but it has lately become remarkable. Last September, version 3.5 of the IOU world list split Iberian green woodpecker into its own species, Picus sharpei. So, in 2004 I wouldn’t have noticed its lack of face mask nor its thinner black border round the malar stripe. Had it been male. The female though does also have green feathering round the eyes. Just notice that the next time you see our nominate green woodpecker.

The Iberian in the species name doesn’t restrict it entirely to that peninsula. The bird is also possible in a titchy bit of France, to whit the area round Perpignan. I visited in 2008, as part of research for Let the Time Come, but didn’t note green woodpecker there, nor in Andorra nor Barcelona on the same trip.

So the life list now stands at 1,087. I wonder which 13 species will take me to eleven hundred. I have a notion to visit Málaga and thence Coto Doñana. Although that’s rather more than a day trip, it would provide, I’m sure. Otherwise, sticking to the UK would, at the current rate, take me seven years – not an option!

Or I could keep waiting for armchair ticks.

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