Greater spotted woodpecker {Dendrocopos major} female, Warwickshire, UKMike Wilkes

The Brits are invading Ireland all over again – British great spotted woodpeckers that is who are migrating across the Irish Sea like never before.

BirdWatch Ireland has reported that after 300 years of extinction, the great spotted woodpeckers are now alive and well and breeding on Irish soil once more.

Present in Ireland since the Bronze Age, the species had become extinct after the widespread clearance of woodlands all across the country in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Thanks to the migration from Britain, bird lovers now estimate that there are 50 breeding pairs living on the island of Ireland, many of them in a concentration of nests in County Wicklow.

According to thew Irish Times, the eWings magazine also reports that the British birds might have come to Ireland because the population of woodpeckers in Britain has increased dramatically, by some 400 per cent in the past 40 years.

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It also states: “The re-colonization of Ireland from Britain has been in two waves, with the first woodpeckers arriving in Northern Ireland and breeding there in 2006.

“Three years later breeding was confirmed in Co Wicklow. The Wicklow population has been the subject of a detailed study ongoing since 2008 and the population has increased there from seven nests confirmed in 2009 to 17 nests in 2011, with a further nest in Co Dublin.”

Scientists at University College Dublin and woodpecker experts across Europe are exploring the likely origin of the birds

“The diverse nature of the haplotypes found within the genetic study suggests that the Irish population has been founded from multiple localities within Britain,” claimed the report.