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Woodpecker shown flying with weasel on its back in amateur photographer's amazing image

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Neil Connery.

A remarkable photo has captured a weasel on a woodpecker's back as the bird flies through the air.

The photographer, Martin Le-May from Essex, said he "feared the worst" for the green bird after hearing "distressed squawking" during its struggle with the mammal at Hornchurch Country Park.

After Le-May managed to capture the incredible image - which has become a hit on Twitter since it was taken earlier today - the creature managed to escape with its life.

A close up of the image shows the woodpecker in clear distress. Credit: Martin Le-May

Slightly blurred images also captured the rest of the battle.

The weasel clings to the bird's back. Credit: Martin Le-May
The bird then takes flight in an attempt to escape attack. Credit: Martin Le-May

Describing the events to ITV News, Le-May said he was taking a walk with his wife when the battle took place.

It was a sunny afternoon, with the occasional cloud making the Hornchurch Country Park seem that grey brown dull winter colour even though it was the 2nd March.

My wife, Ann, and I had gone for a walk. I had hoped that she might see a green woodpecker as she has not really seen one before.

As we walked we heard a distressed squawking and I saw that flash of green. So hurriedly I pointed out to Ann the bird and it settled into the grass behind a couple of small silver birch trees. Both of us trained our binoculars and it occurred that the woodpecker was unnaturally hopping about like it was treading on a hot surface. Lots of wing flapping showing that gloriously yellow/white colour interspersed with the flash of red head feathers. Just after I switched from my binoculars to my camera the bird flew across us and slightly in our direction; suddenly it was obvious it had a small mammal on its back and this was a struggle for life.

The woodpecker landed in front of us and I feared the worst. I guess though our presence, maybe 25 metres away, momentarily distracted the weasel. The woodpecker seized the opportunity and flew up and away into some bushes away to our left. Quickly the bird gathered its self respect and flew up into the trees and away from our sight.

The woodpecker left with its life, the weasel just disappeared into the long grass, hungry.

– Martin Le-May, photographer

Le-May said he hoped his picture would inspire others to venture out of their local green area and get snapping.