Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap! Wondering what that drumming sound is at the bottom of the garden or high in the trees as you take a lockdown stroll?
It could be the Great Spotted Woodpecker, a bird once lost to Ireland whose numbers have been growing slowly but surely in pockets of the country in recent years.
Sightings of woodpeckers in Wexford town are rare; captures on camera rarer still. But local photographer Declan Roche was fortunate to snap these wonderful shots of the beautiful long-lost black, white and red birds near his home.
'Woodpeckers have only been in Ireland the last 10 to 15 years or so, with counties Wicklow and Down being their strongholds apparently, but recently there have been numerous reports from around the county of birds showing up in Curracloe, Coolgreany, Kilmuckridge and Forth Mountain. to name a few,' says Declan.
'So much so that the discussion even made the airwaves with [South East Radio's] Alan Corcoran discussing it on several mornings a few weeks ago. It looks like they are gradually spreading into County Wexford.'
Declan says he had never heard nor seen a woodpecker in Wexford town until he was drawn to investigate the source of a very distinctive staccato sound at the start of the Covid-19 lockdown.
'A week or two after I first heard the "drumming" sound in early April I eventually did manage to get a visual on the birds and observed from a distance for several weeks as the breeding pair successfully reared their young.
'All the photos were taken with a Nikon DSLR and 700mm equivalent focal length from a distance as to not cause any disturbance to these birds.
'It was great to see the wildlife thriving during this unusually quiet lockdown time.'
It's not clear when exactly woodpeckers disappeared from Ireland but some experts believe it to have happened in the late 17th and early 18th centuries when many forests were cleared to fuel a demand for timber.
Their distinctive drumming, which can carry up to a kilometre in the right conditions, is caused by powerful, chisel-like beaks hammering trees to excavate nesting cavities, proclaim territory and attract mates.
Our thanks to Declan for sharing this series of rare images. It brightened up our day!