A British amateur photographer has recorded the extraordinary image of a weasel riding on the back of a green woodpecker.
The photograph, which has gone viral on social media, was taken by Martin Le-May at Hornchurch Country Park in east London.
Le-May said he managed to capture the moment while he was out walking with his wife yesterday.
“I heard a distressed squawking noise and feared the worst. I soon realised it was a woodpecker with some kind of small mammal on its back. I think we may have distracted the weasel as when the woodpecker landed it managed to escape and the weasel ran into the grass,” he told the BBC.
Le-May said the picture has been re-tweeted several thousand times on social media.
Wildlife expert Lucy Cooke said: “This is a truly extraordinary image.
“The green woodpecker is a ground-feeding bird, but weasels normally attack rabbits. The woodpecker is not its usual prey.
“But weasels are fearless. A female weasel weighs less than a Mars Bar but is as ferocious as a lion, so this is why the woodpecker would have been able to take off with it on its back,” Cooke said.
Wildlife presenter Steve Backshall said he has “no reason to doubt” the unusual photo.
He compared the woodpecker to other animals like leaf cutter ants and rhino beetles, which can carry 850 times their body weight.
He said: “The weasel is pretty fascinating as well. It can kill things much bigger than itself, so it’s an impressive little creature when you think about its size.”