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Woody Woodpecker climbs bird equivalent of Everest to return to nest

Woody had a lucky escape after plunging 30ft from his nest as he leant forward to grab a snack from his mum's beak.

Still unable to fly, poor Woody overbalanced and fell out of the nest, plummeting 30 ft down the tree into dense brambles.

It was all caught on camera by amateur photographer Ian Curtis, while out walking in Wolvercote lakes, Oxon he thought Woody may have had his chips.

Can I have breakfast Mum Credit: Ian Curtis
Woody leans forward to reach for the food Credit: Ian Curtis

Over a couple of days I realised they were 2 nestlings …who would take it in turns to peer out of the hole, calling for food.

The Parents would arrive, beak full of insects, and climb into the hole.

As the chicks grew larger and stronger, the parents would feed them at the front of the hole, stuffing insects into their gaping mouths..

Predictably the chicks were very demanding and - whichever was at the hole entrance - would stretch out their necks when they saw the parents flying towards them.

– Ian Curtis
Going Credit: Ian Curtis

Then, whoops, it happened. One youngster did overreach, over-enthusiastically and was suddenly spread-eagled against the bark, apparently desperately hanging on.

As well as hanging on with its claws, the half-grown wings were pressed against the trunk for extra support.

I stood there thinking, Oh my gosh - what do I do now. But there was 15-20 foot of dense brambles so I couldn't help. I just sat and waited.

– Ian Curtis
Gone... Woody fell into dense bramble Credit: Ian Curtis

There was a deathly silence. Ian thought the parents may fly down with food, but no. Ian was beginning to fear the worst when he saw a flutter of wings on a tree trunk

Woody bravely clambers back up the tree Credit: Ian Curtis

I had been assuming the worst. That the beady-eyed magpies or crows would swoop in and put an end to Woody

But his sibling back in the hole was. Shouting for parents and food Woody had something to home in on. Even so, it must have looked like a bit of an Everest effort.

After a few efforts of a clamber forwards, clamber sideways,half a clamber backwards, I realised Woody was making serious progress. Woody was, however, climbing the “wrong” tree.

Still, at least he could see home. And you could see going through a human’s mind it would have been ”I just need to flutter across this canyon to get to the other side”. He did and was able to grab hold and begin the final ascent.

When he did make it back to his home, he clambered onto the top of the trunk and sat down for a rest .

– Ian Curtis
Safely back home Credit: Ian Curtis

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The dig which uncovered a 5,000 year old burial site

Excavations are underway at the site of a 5,000 year old burial site in Wiltshire. The monument, which was found in a field between Avebury and Stonehenge, will be the first to be fully investigated in the county for 50 years. Rob Murphy has been to find out what's they've uncovered.

Rare pre-historic rhino tooth found on Isle of Wight

A teenage fossil hunter has discovered the tooth from a rare prehistoric rhinoceros that roamed the Isle of Wight 35-40 million years ago.

The tooth of the rhino-like Ronzotherium washed up on the beach on the coast near Yarmouth, in the north west of the island after being entombed in clay for million of years.

Theo Vickers, 18,was out fossil hunting when he came across the Rhino molar and knew straight away that he'd found something very special.

Ronzotherium tooth washed up on Isle of Wight Credit: Dinosaur Isle Museum

I knew straight away it was a species of rhinoceros, and after researching it further online I contacted Dinosaur Isle Museum. Finds of primitive rhinos like Ronzotherium are really rare.

It’s strange to think that such an iconic animal that people would usually associate with the African savannah, was actually evolving here, on the Isle of Wight, 35 million years ago.

– Theo Vickers

The clays where the fossil was found were laid down in a sub-tropical swampy floodplain similar to the Florida Everglades that covered the area which is now the Solent.

There have only been a handful of these teeth found in the UK and and they are all at the Natural history Museum and date from the 19th century.

This is the first one that has been found in may years and the first in our collection which dates from 1820.

It dates from the Oligiocene period when the world was changing dramatically and the Northern hemisphere was cooling.

There was extensive swamp over the area we now know as the Solent, and at this point in our history the UK was connected to mainland Europe. Other teeth and bones have been found in France.

The tooth had only been out of the clays for a few days it was washed out of eroded clay but is still very shiny. I think it is important the tooth stays on the Island and it will be looked at by a specialist and hopefully will add to our knowledge.

– Dinosaur Isle Museum curator, Dr Martin Munt

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Ascot horses enjoy a snooze after a busy few days protecting the Queen

Thames Valley Police horses enjoyed a well earned rest after giving their all protecting HM Queen at Royal Ascot.

Having a snooze after a busy few days at Ascot Credit: TVP Mounted Section
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