The amazing photograph above of a weasel hitching a ride on the back of a woodpecker has a far more sinister origin than current social media posts are suggesting.
The picture is currently burning a hole through the internet with suggestions that the bird is simply giving the weasel a friendly lift, but as photographer Martin Le-May explained to ITV News the bird was in fact being attacked.
…I saw that flash of green. So hurriedly I pointed out to Ann the bird and it settled into the grass behind a couple of small silver birch trees. Both of us trained our binoculars and it occurred that the woodpecker was unnaturally hopping about like it was treading on a hot surface. Lots of wing flapping showing that gloriously yellow/white colour interspersed with the flash of red head feathers. Just after I switched from my binoculars to my camera the bird flew across us and slightly in our direction; suddenly it was obvious it had a small mammal on its back and this was a struggle for life.
The woodpecker landed in front of us and I feared the worst. I guess though our presence, maybe 25 metres away, momentarily distracted the weasel. The woodpecker seized the opportunity and flew up and away into some bushes away to our left. Quickly the bird gathered its self respect and flew up into the trees and away from our sight.
Unless of course the picture is an elaborate fake and I’ve just wasted five valuable minutes posting this up.