Recorder speaks to Hornchurch photographer behind the ‘weaselpecker’

Photo: Martin Le-May

Photo: Martin Le-May - Credit: Archant

An amateur wildlife photographer did not expect anything to come of his friend tweeting his picture of a woodpecker flying off with a weasel on its back – how wrong he was.

Photo: Martin Le-May

Photo: Martin Le-May - Credit: Archant

Martin Le-May, 52, of Hornchurch, was amazed when he saw that his photograph – which has been nicknamed the “weaselpecker” – has been shared on social media by more than 100 million people across the world.

He said: “I am completely and utterly gobsmacked.

“I am part of a closed Facebook page dedicated to people who take pictures of wild birds and it was one of the members that tweeted it.

“I’m on Twitter so I checked later that day to see if it had any reaction and 4,000 people had already shared it at that point – I looked at it again the next morning and it had 900,000 hits.”

Photo: Martin Le-May

Photo: Martin Le-May - Credit: Archant


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The wildlife image was taken on Monday at Hornchurch Country Park when Martin and his wife decided to go for a stroll.

He said: “It was while we were walking that we heard a distressed squawking noise and saw a flash of green.

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“I already had my binoculars out but I swapped them for my camera and took a few snaps.

“I said to my wife afterwards ‘I think there’s a stoat or a weasel on that woodpecker’s back’.

Photo: Martin Le-May

Photo: Martin Le-May - Credit: Archant

“The weasel was trying to eat the bird so I was a bit worried but when it landed near us, thankfully the weasel ran off!”

The unusual image has been shared more than 11 million times on the BBC’s Facebook page, and has gained attention from national newspapers as well as an appearance on breakfast show Good Morning America.

Martin said: “I have had people from across the world adding me as a friend on Facebook, which is unbelievable.

“It is a dream to become a full-time photographer but I don’t think I’m good enough to do that.

Photo: Martin Le-May

Photo: Martin Le-May - Credit: Archant

“I would never charge anyone for my photographs because I like to think they make people happy.

“I have got a lot of other pictures which are technically better I suppose but this one has grabbed people’s attention.

“It’s a great feeling knowing that it has been so well received.”

Photo: Martin Le-May

Photo: Martin Le-May - Credit: Archant

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