Early Morning Call

We were both still half asleep.

I was in that sort of in-betweeny world where a noise that you hear could be part of a dream. Or could not. Nope, definitely not. The noise I could hear that morning was like the sound of machine gun fire somewhere in the middle distance. As last experienced during a particularly eventful night in Jordan not so many years ago. Mike, bravely, decided to investigate.

It got louder on the landing. Even louder in his study. He went cautiously to the window.

The woodpecker was trying to hammer a hole in the main bathroom soil stack.


Woodpecker 011 Wm


That’s him. Woodrow.


Great Spotted Woodpeckers seek out a dead branch or hollow tree as a ‘drumming post’ on which to proclaim their territory. They can strike it with their bill at over 40 times a second. True, the bathroom soil stack might look a bit like a tree with branches coming off. It must certainly provide sufficient resonance.

In January dawn arrives at about the same time as the alarm clock goes off. The trouble is, woodpeckers continue hammering until June..

Oh good grief.


Early Morning Call

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2017-11-09T18:16:30+00:00January 18th, 2013|Tags: |


  1. Denise January 18, 2013 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    Don’t you love that moment of suspended animation – midst sleep and drowsiness and awaking? Especially if enjoying a dream. A matter of willpower in our house – mind now Bing is on hand to bite noses the drifting doesn’t last long! lol!

    • Jessica January 18, 2013 at 5:20 pm - Reply

      It may be a thing of the past here too…

  2. Susan Tattersall January 18, 2013 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    Woodrow is rather wonderful to look at, but on the minus side he could end up like the neighbour from hell. It is all part of the rich pattern of living deep in the countryside, she says knowingly. We are classed as semi rural here, which generally means some of the wonders of nature but with too many damn cars. Have a good weekend. I hope the snow doesn’t get too deep.

    • Jessica January 18, 2013 at 5:29 pm - Reply

      It can be lovely to be way out in the sticks, but not if we can’t get the car out. It’s at least five miles to the nearest shop. Two power cuts so far today.
      Very little snow here now though, it turned to rain early this morning. I think you probably have a lot more!

  3. Em January 18, 2013 at 2:40 pm - Reply

    We have a pair of them but luckily they refrain from hammering anything near the house. We had a stoat in the loft that we thought was a mouse for weeks. The scuttling stopped and then we found it desiccated months later. I;m beginning to feel very lucky reading your blog!

    • Jessica January 18, 2013 at 5:36 pm - Reply

      They are beautiful birds aren’t they. Last summer (when we took the photo), there was a baby around as well (red cap).
      Stoats can be vicious. Lucky you didn’t come across it when it was alive.

  4. Simone January 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    You will never get the peace you desire in the countryside Jessica!

    • Jessica January 18, 2013 at 5:44 pm - Reply

      I think you’re right.

  5. Jill Chandler. January 18, 2013 at 5:31 pm - Reply

    Ah the peace of the countryside. We have geese going over dawn and dusk, sometimes Whooper Swans too, then theres always the tawny owls . Our Woodpeckers stick to the fat balls and peanuts. But they do occasionally have a go at the electric carrying pole which bears the message, Danger of Death.

    • Jessica January 18, 2013 at 5:52 pm - Reply

      Eeek.. hopefully it’s the wooden pole and not the cables.
      It is lovely to hear the birds, as long as dawn hammering is not habit forming.

  6. CherryPie January 18, 2013 at 6:16 pm - Reply

    I don’t think that would do much for my mood first thing in the morning!! He does look lovely though 🙂

    • Jessica January 18, 2013 at 6:45 pm - Reply

      It was rather loud!

  7. haggiz January 18, 2013 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    If I have to be woken early, I would choose it to be by something as handsome as Woodrow. Julie x

    • Jessica January 18, 2013 at 7:29 pm - Reply

      He isn’t looking quite so white at the moment – all that climbing in and out of a wet tree hole no doubt!

  8. Sarah January 18, 2013 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    Wow that was a wake up call! Stunning creatures but I really hope he finds a proper tree for the next 6 months. Off to check out the rest of your blog now, just found you from Sue at Our New Life in the Country.
    Take care
    Sarah x

    • Jessica January 18, 2013 at 9:12 pm - Reply

      Hi Sarah & welcome to rusty duck!
      There are plenty of hollow trees around, he’s spoilt for choice, so I’m hoping so too!!!

  9. Vera January 18, 2013 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    No woodpeckers wake us up, and we ignore the cockerels crowing, but what is getting me springing out of bed is the sound of our two puppies carrying on like they have been abandoned forever!

    • Jessica January 18, 2013 at 9:13 pm - Reply

      I hope you are going to take some pictures, looking forward to seeing them!

  10. Rosie January 18, 2013 at 9:28 pm - Reply

    When I was reading about Woodrow I was thinking about the historical character of the ‘knocker-up man’ who used, in the days before alarm clocks, to knock on people’s windows to wake them up in time to get to work! I’m usually woken by the foxes calling across the gardens, the central heating starting up or a cat nibbling my nose – the latter isn’t conducive to staying in that lovely half awake dream like world for very long:)

    • Jessica January 18, 2013 at 10:36 pm - Reply

      Great story of the knocker-up man!
      I suppose, if Woodrow continues his fascination with the soil stack, it will become one of those things that gets incorporated into a dream. Unless he manages to put a hole in it. And then it will become yet another cost nightmare..

  11. Natalie January 19, 2013 at 1:00 am - Reply

    I love woodpeckers, and that one is so pretty! What a naughty devil! 🙂

    • Jessica January 19, 2013 at 9:52 am - Reply

      I do love to hear them drumming out in the woods, it’s amazing how far the sound carries!

  12. young at heart January 19, 2013 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    and they say the countryside is peacefull!!

    • Jessica January 19, 2013 at 3:19 pm - Reply

      Just a different sort of noise I guess.

  13. BadPenny January 19, 2013 at 4:25 pm - Reply

    I don’t believe it – I’ve just written about a woodpecker on my bird feeder earlier !

    My problem in the early hours is the cats wanting in or out or both – in out and in again ! Frankie brought us a mouse & sat under our bed with it. I finally got back to sleep ( odd dreams are indeed had at this time )

    • Jessica January 19, 2013 at 4:45 pm - Reply

      That is a coincidence, because I’ve just seen your post! You know what they say about great minds..
      I’m not sure about mice under the bed though..

  14. Judith January 19, 2013 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    Great story and elegant name too. Our pair, Woody and Wendy (I know, not very original) have yet to start drumming on anything other than on an occasional basis. Like Jill, ours seem to favour the wooden electricity pole as a drumming place but the oil fired Rayburn is so noisy at dawn who would hear a woodpecker?

    • Jessica January 19, 2013 at 5:40 pm - Reply

      Even less originality here… the female has been dubbed Mrs Woodrow and last year’s baby, ‘Junior’. Hopefully drumming on the soil stack will be occasional too. I didn’t hear it this morning, they may have preferred to stay tucked up in their tree!

  15. elaine January 19, 2013 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    I think your header says it all. Looking for a quieter life. Still.

    • Jessica January 19, 2013 at 6:40 pm - Reply


  16. starproms January 19, 2013 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    That’s a great picture of the woodpecker. We her one too, but it’s far enough away not to disturb us here. You’re going to have to learn to live with it I think.

    • Jessica January 19, 2013 at 9:27 pm - Reply

      Thanks Oma. I’m tempted to cover the pipe with something greasy..

  17. elizabethm January 19, 2013 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    We get woodpeckers on our feeders outside the kitchen window but so far they do their drumming further down the valley. Fab picture. I haven’t got anything half as good of ours. I am also amused to discover that your husband is a make, fix and mend type. I have his slightly older brother up here!

    • Jessica January 19, 2013 at 9:33 pm - Reply

      Make fix and mend is compulsory in the country! I hope you’re OK up there in the snow..

  18. Josephine January 20, 2013 at 1:02 am - Reply

    We have an amorous red-bellied woodpecker who is constantly hammering at the Bradford Pear tree next to the porch, I can hear his drilling from inside my bedroom.
    I’ve lost count of the times, I’ve awoken early thinking it was a knocking at the door.
    Yours is such a handsome chap !

    • Jessica January 20, 2013 at 11:16 am - Reply

      Oh wonderful!
      For all their noise, it is nice having them around. I hope Woodrow can be tempted back to the delights of a tree.

  19. ropcorn January 20, 2013 at 1:19 pm - Reply

    What a beautiful photo of the woodpecker! I tried to get close enough to take a photo of one who was at my sister’s patio a while back, but the little birdie got spooked and flew away. 🙁

    • Jessica January 20, 2013 at 1:51 pm - Reply

      Yes, they are quite nervous birds. You’d think with a beak that fearsome they’d be a little braver! The photo had to be taken with a zoom lens.

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