This is the shot I wanted

And I didn’t disturb the bird to get it.

Green Woodpecker - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

We discovered a Green Woodpeckers’ nest just over a month ago. Since then they’ve finished incubating their eggs and are raising at least two large chicks. They are extremely sensitive to any disturbance so when we photograph them, it’s with telephoto lenses with teleconverters from a respectful distance and we’re hidden in portable hides. These birds can see an ant move from the top of a tree, so I draw the mesh across so they can’t even see my hands move in the shadows inside the hide.

I tell no-one about the nest. Unfortunately word gets out and, back from Rome, I pop along to see them and the ground is littered with a dozen people in beachwear, scattered, lounging around in the sunshine beneath their nest tree, all desperate for a photo. Few seem to be aware of the disturbance they are causing, the lack of normal behaviour the birds are exhibiting, and the stress they are causing.

I’m thrilled with the photograph, but even more pleased that we didn’t disturb them. No photograph is worth ruining a bird’s life for.

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