Hey everyone, here’s something I bet you didn’t think you’d see this week: a weasel riding on the back of a flying woodpecker! No, they’re not engaging in The Neverending Story cosplay. This incredible image, taken in Hornchurch Country Park in East London, captures the weasel in the middle of a poorly thought out attack.
The photographer, Martin Le-May, told me it began when he heard distress calls from the bird, a European green woodpecker, and turned to see it jumping up and down on the ground. These woodpeckers commonly feed on ground-dwelling ants, and the weasel must have initiated a sneak attack. Birds do what birds do, however, and once the bird righted itself it was airborne—but not free. Though weasels are known for their courage and brazenness, I’m not sure this one was prepared for this contingency. Le-May said the pair got about 10 feet off the ground before landing again, where the bird managed to free itself of the weasel and fly off, both creatures apparently unharmed. (See more photos of the encounter, below.)
All due credit to Martin Le-May for his quick shutter finger, and for reminding us that crazy nature is all around us.