Photographer tells how he got amazing shot of weasel riding on a woodpecker’s back

woodpecker weasel photo
Martin Le-May
It’s the kind of one-off photo every wildlife photographer must dream of getting.

Amateur shooter Martin Le-May lucked out recently when he captured this incredible image of a weasel riding on the back of a green woodpecker.

Taken on Monday in a park close to London, Le-May’s shot quickly went viral after it was posted online, picking up millions of views on news and social media sites around the world. But how did he manage to snap it?

Speaking to the BBC, Le-May said he was out walking with his wife when he heard some “distressed squawking” from across the way.

As any keen wildlife shooter would do in such a situation, Le-May reached for his camera – a Canon 70D DSLR – and reeled off a few shots as the bird took off from the ground (below).

woodpecker-weasel-2

Martin Le-May

“Initially I just assumed I was taking a photo of a woodpecker in flight, and feeling quite pleased with myself that I was getting a good picture,” Le-May said.

“But then there was this sudden realization that there was something on its back, which was really exciting.”

Wildlife expert Lucy Cooke described the incident captured by Le-May, as well as the photo itself, as “extraordinary.”

“The green woodpecker is a ground-feeding bird, but weasels normally attack rabbits. The woodpecker is not its usual prey,” she told the BBC.

While weasels are known for their brazenness, it’s a safe bet this particular one wasn’t expecting the ride of a lifetime when it attacked the bird. Having said that, the bird can hardly have expected a weasel to jump on its back, either.

If you’re wondering what became of the put-upon woodpecker, the good news is that it got away.

“They crash landed a little in front of us,” Le-May said. “We probably startled the weasel, and the woodpecker flew off into the bushes, and off up into a tree.”

As for Le-May’s snapping skills, the sharp shooter evidently had his camera at the ready, a lesson to all wannabe wildlife photographers on the hunt for that magical moment that nature sometimes throws right in front of our eyes.

Emerging Tech

Short film celebrates New Yorker’s amazing robot costumes

New York City resident Peter Kokis creates stunning robot costumes out of household trash. His designs are huge, heavy, and extremely intricate, and never fail to turn heads when he's out and about.
Outdoors

The best battery packs and power stations for use in the outdoors

If you want to keep your smartphones, tablets, and other devices charged while camping int he backcountry these battery packs and portable power stations are rugged enough to survive while providing plenty of power too.
Gaming

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in 'Destiny 2: Forsaken'

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.
Photography

From DIY to AAA, here's how to take a passport photo in 6 different ways

If you're applying for a passport or renewing one, you need to submit a photo in your official application. There are strict guidelines, but fortunately, it's something you can do at home. Here's how to take a passport photo.
Photography

The best mirrorless cameras pack all the power of a DSLR, minus the bulk

Mirrorless cameras offer a lot of photography firepower, inside a compact body. Explore the best mirrorless cameras, from the pro-level to the beginner-friendly shooters, in this guide.
Photography

This A.I.-powered camera follows the action to produce epic selfie videos

Want to capture more epic action selfies? The Obsbot Tail is a camera-gimbal combo that uses artificial intelligence to follow the action. Using a handful of different modes, the camera works to keep the action in the frame.
Photography

Sony crams its best camera tech into the new $900 A6400

Love Sony's autofocus, but can't stomach the full-frame price? The Sony A6400 mirrorless camera uses some of the same autofocus technology and the processor of the A9 in a compact, more affordable crop-sensor camera.
Photography

These point-and-shoot cameras make your smartphone pics look like cave paintings

If your smartphone camera just isn't giving you the results you're looking for, maybe it's time to step up your game. The latest and greatest point-and-shoot cameras offer large sensors, tough bodies, and long lenses -- something no phone…
Photography

GoPro bumps resolution on Fusion 360 cam to 5.6K with new firmware

Currently available in public beta, Fusion firmware version 2.0 offers a new 5.8K mode that results in 5.6K output when the 360 camera's two hemispheres are stitched together. It also adds support for 24 fps video and RAW time-lapse…
Photography

With 5-stop optical stabilization, Fujifilm GF 100-200mm is ready for adventure

Fujifilm revealed a new lens designed to deliver on the GFX system's promise of adventure-ready medium-format photography. The GF 100-200mm F5.6 R is a weather resistant, relatively lightweight, 2x telephoto with impressive stabilization.
Photography

Olympus teaser shares glimpse of OM-D camera that’s good for more than sports

Is Olympus about to release a new mirrorless camera geared toward sports photographers? The latest teaser offers a glimpse of an upcoming OM-D camera set to launch on January 24, and by the looks of the teasers, it's capable for landscapes…
Photography

Nikon A1000, B600 pack big zooms into compact, budget-friendly cameras

The new Nikon Coolpix A1000 packs in a 35x zoom lens, 4K video, and an optical viewfinder, while Nikon's B600 brings a 60x zoom lens to the table. The cameras are modest updates to Nikon's budget-friendly zoom models.
Social Media

Nearly a million Facebook users followed these fake Russian accounts

Facebook purged two separate groups behind more than 500 fake accounts with Russian ties. One group had ties to Russian news agency Sputnik, while the other had behavior similar to the Internet Research Agency's midterm actions.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world will take your breath away

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.