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Are there any great spotted woodpeckers in Ireland?

Sent in by Ann Bassett, Co. Down

There are four woodpecker species found in the UK - all are largely absent from Ireland.

Green, great spotted and lesser spotted woodpeckers generally stay in the same area all year round. These three species, along with many others in mainland Europe, don't seem to like crossing large bodies of water. So they don't make regular journeys across the Irish Sea or the Channel.

However, a few great spotted woodpeckers have crossed the Irish Sea, and there is now a small breeding population. There are no reports of green woodpeckers or lesser spotted woodpeckers in Ireland.

It would be great if you could report your sighting via Birdtrack, so that we can learn more about how and where these pioneering woodpeckers are colonising.

Wrynecks are rare summer visitors to the UK. Occasionally, they breed here but most are just migrating between Africa and mainland Europe. Most sightings in the UK are along the south and east coasts - they very rarely reach Ireland.

Middle spotted, black and grey-headed woodpeckers all breed in northern France but have never been recorded in the UK. These birds just don't like crossing open water.

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