Woodpecker 5.13-7First, apologies to anyone who received notification of a new post and (possibly) some half-written draft gibberish… I pressed the publish button instead of preview. And not for the first time, either. So I junked the draft and am starting again.

The woodpecker nest is now a hive of activity, to mix creature habitation descriptors. I’ve kept a low profile near the tree so as not to disturb the birds. The weather has been too gloomy to bother with photos. However I did an experiment with an iPh@ne, using a method (see below) I hit upon during a birding trip in March. Some results were good enough to upload to the excellent Xeno-Canto bird sounds website. When the male and female had a nestling-duty changeover, I crept up behind the tree and held the phone up high, close to the nest-hole. The male was making the most extraordinary sound, just as if he were purring softly to his babies.

I turned the recording into an mp3, only to discover a problem uploading it direct via WordPress. So I have had to resort to the rather cumbersome Soundcloud instead, until I can add the mp3 in a more streamlined format. So here is the recording – turn your volume up a bit. Very fortunately, there was a lull in the noise from nearby road-works / building works / Police sirens / car alarms / barking dogs.

Has anyone heard anything like this, I wonder? I can’t find any reference to it online.


  • Use the Voice Memo app on an iPhone (I presume other smart phones have a similar app).
  • Once you have it onscreen, turn the phone round 180 deg and the image will swivel round too. This enables you to point the microphone in the direction of the sound, while having the controls the right way up.
  • Turn the volume up to max before you record. You may be surprised how well it works.
  • Handle the phone carefully so it doesn’t record you touching it as well.
  • The recording saves in m4p format, and you can email it to your computer direct from the app (or to anywhere else).
  • Drag / save the file onto your desktop from the email. When you open it, it will (a) play and (b) appear in your iTunes library (or whatever you use).


  • Having opened the recording, to convert the file to an mp3 (generally the preferred version for uploading elsewhere) in iTunes, go to your iTunes library and search for ‘memo’. There it is!
  • You can rename it at this stage if you wish.
  • Then go to ‘File’ on the top bar, and in the drop-down menu, near the bottom, go to ‘create new version’. It will offer you mp3 (and maybe other things, which ignore).
  • Click ‘mp3’ and a second recording file will appear in your library. That’s your mp3.
  • Drag it onto your desktop and do what you want with it.

I’m guessing here, but I suspect other smart phones with a similar voice memo app will be similar. Apologies if this is all blindingly obvious and written in the elementary computer language ‘eggy-peggy’. It took me a while to get it sorted out, and I hope the details above will help the lo-tek computer user to do this painlessly.

Woodpecker Fa


    1. Thanks Amelia. Realised today that it is the babies making the noise! It’s now louder (see addition to post) and one can hear separate ‘voices’. The parents communicate all the time with each other, very softly. I’m about to go down to Dorset for a few days – I really hope I’m back before they fly!


      1. I’m keeping an eye out for a glimpse of one taking a peek at the outside world. They are too small at the moment, though. More – and louder – sounds coming up later…


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