An amateur photographer in London captured a seemingly incredible moment showing a woodpecker carrying a weasel on its back, but as it turns out, as amazing as the photo itself is, the weasel is actually trying to kill the woodpecker.
The photo, which has gone viral, was taken by London resident Martin Le-May while he was out for a walk with his wife. In the image, a weasel can be seen riding on the back of a woodpecker as the bird glides through the air. Le-May says the encounter happened accidentally and described to BuzzFeed News how the two animals battled it out in the air.
“As we walked we heard a distressed squawking and I saw that flash of green,” Le-May wrote in an email. “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[sic] 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.
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“The woodpecker landed in front of us and I feared the worst,” Le-May continued. “I guess though our presence, maybe 25 meters 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. The woodpecker left with its life. The weasel just disappeared into the long grass, hungry.”
So while the reason why the weasel hitched a ride on the woodpecker may not be as awesome as many of us hoped upon first seeing the picture, the beauty and rarity of the image is undeniable.