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Hoopoe or Woodpecker? (Müritz/NE Germany)

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Old Tuesday 28th July 2020, 07:23   #1
McHeath
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Hoopoe or Woodpecker? (Müritz/NE Germany)

Hi all! I'm new here; I joined because I'd like some opinions on what I saw yesterday (27.07.20).
Walking across a large natural meadow near the village of Speck in Mecklenburg/Vorpommern (NE Germany), I saw a group of about 20 House Martins mobbing a slightly larger bird. The group was about 150m away, and before I could get the binoculars up they had all disappeared behind some trees. They reappeared almost immediately, heading back in the opposite direction. The bird being pursued flew towards another wood about 400m away, so I was able to get a better look. At first I assumed that it was a Greater Spotted Woodpecker, but it looked somehow different. I really couldn't be sure if it had the curved bill and the crest of a Hoopoe, but three things made me doubt the Woodpecker:
1. The bird flew in a straight line, no dipping curves. Or would that be the normal flight pattern of a pursued Woodpecker?
2. Would a harassed Woodpecker decide to fly 4-500m across open meadows? Wouldn't it seek shelter in the wood? And wouldn't it have had to have been in the open anyway for the House Martins to have discovered it?
3. When it reached the trees, it landed in the outer branches; wouldn't a Woodpecker land closer to the trunk? It was by now a long way away, but I'm pretty sure that I saw the fanning of a wide black tail with a horizontal white stripe. With 8x binoculars however at that distance I really couldn't be sure.
Hoopoe sightings have increased considerably in Germany since last year; there have also been a couple of confirmed sightings in the area, so it doesn't seem wildly unlikely. It would be my first Hoopoe, so if any experts on the flight patterns of both species could give me any help, I'd be most grateful!
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Old Tuesday 28th July 2020, 08:04   #2
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Welcome to BF
I have never seen House Martins mobbing a Hoopoe or a Woodpecker, what you describe would fit Sparrowhawk much better
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Old Tuesday 28th July 2020, 08:10   #3
Deb Burhinus
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Could it have been a Eurasian Jay rather than a Hoopoe? Jays will predate small birds so perhaps more likely to be mobbed than a Hoopoe. Whenever I’ve seen Hoopoe in flight, the bold paddle-like black and white wings are really the stand out feature whereas, it’s the bold black and white tail of Jays that stands out in flight more than the wings. (Also has a lot of black and white on ‘roundish’ wings superficially like a Great Spotted Woodpecker and Hoopoe)

(Hoopoe tend to prefer feeding on short grasses so unless the meadow had be mown/grazed, the habitat might favour Jay)

https://www.oiseaux.net/photos/rene....ian.jay.7.html
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Last edited by Deb Burhinus : Tuesday 28th July 2020 at 08:14. Reason: add note
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Old Tuesday 28th July 2020, 08:44   #4
Alexander Stöhr
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Hello,

I am with Tom: I too cant remember seeing a Hopooe being mobbed by other birds(but I havent seen hundreds of them to be sure this cant be the case sometimes), and havent seen a Woodpecker chased by Swallows (but rarely have seen Great Spotted Woodpeckers beeing mobbed by other birds, they sometimes prey on eggs or nestlings, but I dont know if this is the reason).

But I am again with Tom: your describtion of the mobbing behaviour sound much better for a Sparrowhawk or a Cukoo. And much better for a Cukoo, because: in my experience, Sparrowhawks usually leave the (wider) area, when beeing mobbed and discovered. I understand that you decribe some kind of a chase with a bird, which is much better for a Cukoo. Yes I have seen Sparrowhawks that decided to rest after beeing mobbed, but they allways regretted this decision.

And the answer from Deb is also much better: Hopooe and Jays have a similar overall jizz in flight, due to flopping wingbeats and broad rounded wings (I know they are different, I hope thats understandable)

And: welcome to birdforum!
And more: Hopooes are not easy seen (at least in Germany, this situation was different on camping sites in Spain early in the morning), even in areas where they are regular. Best thing is to learn their distinctive call.
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Old Tuesday 28th July 2020, 09:14   #5
Andy Hurley
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Hi McHeath, welcome to BF from me as well.

I have recently been to MVP (Fischland-Darß Zingst) and saw a Jay being mobbed by Barn Swallows there. It looked like quite a fierce attack. the Jay returned to it's bit of woodland and the Swallows returned to their open areas.
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Old Tuesday 28th July 2020, 09:55   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Hurley View Post
Hi McHeath, welcome to BF from me as well.

I have recently been to MVP (Fischland-Darß Zingst) and saw a Jay being mobbed by Barn Swallows there. It looked like quite a fierce attack. the Jay returned to its bit of woodland and the Swallows returned to their open areas.
Welcome from me, too! I think Andy and Deb have given the best answer. A Jay (Eichelhäher) in flight can at times appear to fly and look like a Hoopoe (Wiedehopf).
MJB
PS I like your almost Brechtian screen name!
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Old Tuesday 28th July 2020, 11:18   #7
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Thanks to all for the welcomes and suggestions!
I think I'd go with the jay; bit embarrassing that it didn't occur to me as a possibility, but I'll claim the excitement, the distance and the bad light as excuses. The shape didn't fit a sparrowhawk, and there was too much obvious black and white for a cuckoo. So I'll book it as a jay.
We had a great day altogether, with a pair of red-backed shrikes and an osprey among many other species. Thanks again for your help; great to be on here!
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