Nature never ceases to amaze me and the dual between the woodpeckers and the barbets that I witnessed at the Seethanadhi nature camp was one of those moments that I would not forget soon; the Davids taking on the Goliaths.
While we were busy trying to locate the calling Trogon, familiar sounding of metallic ‘chiank’, ‘chiank’ made me turn around and it took me hardly a second to figure out where the sound was coming from. On the opposite bank of the camp, landed a pair of White-bellied Woodpeckers (Dryocopus javensis) on a bare stump and furiously drumming away sounding like a machine gun. These are the largest woodpeckers found south of the Himalayas and are predominantly black with a white belly and a red crown.
(the male and the female White-bellied Woodpeckers)
While they were happily gunning away to glory at the bare stump with the loud sounds resonating over the entire scape, entered a couple of Malabar Barbets (Megalaima malabarica) who perched right on the adjacent tree to where the woodpeckers were drumming hard.
The next few minutes witnessed an intense duel launched by the Barbets with each of the pairs taking turns to take a jibe at the woodpeckers, who amusingly were trying to avoid them and were seen moving around the tree holding on to their dear life.
(the Malabar Barbet harassing the Woopie... you can see another Barbet on the left...)
The Barbets, probably 1/3rd the size of the woodpeckers never gave a moment of relaxation to the woodpeckers and kept on heckling them, while all the while calling aloud and circling around the woodpeckers and swooping down on them in an attempt to chase them away. Finally getting heckled, the woodpeckers flew away and the Barbets were still calling away loud and clear.
(the Barbet almost hits on to the Woopie... the Woopie moves around for cover)
All this lasted for about 15 good minutes and all the while, I could not figure out why were the Barbets behind the woodpeckers as neither did I see any holes or cavities on the bare stump and that left me with lot of unanswered questions. Another reason I suspect would be their nesting cavities being probably on adjacent trees closer to the bare stump… probably!
(the Woodpecker flies away after constant nagging from the Barbets)
Some incidents never ceases to amaze...you just need to have an eye to see it!