ONE of the unforeseen consequences of the coronavirus shutdown, this time a happy one, is the increased ability of us to hear birds singing, as so much background traffic noise has been eliminated.

I have recognised the most common birds seen and heard in my garden – herring and black-headed gulls, magpies, jackdaws, pigeons and robins, mainly, but I recently heard and saw a stranger I could not identify.

I could see him (I assumed it was a male, since this is the start of the breeding season) perched on a nearby chimney pot, and that the call I could hear was clearly from him.

From a distance he looked like a starling, but I couldn’t see any distinctive speckles on his coat from that distance.

However, his call was very distinctive, and quite unlike the call of a starling according to my British Library CD of bird songs. Instead, it had a very repetitive sound, uncannily like a woodpecker.

When I searched through my recorded calls, the closest was that of a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, although the repetition was slightly slower than on my recording.

On consulting the internet for a visual image of this bird I realised that the one I saw had none of the distinctive spotted characteristics of a woodpecker.

As a clue, though, I could see his head nod very clearly several times before he emitted his call.

Do any readers know what I saw?