Weasel rides woodpecker in incredible viral photo

A photo of a green woodpecker fighting off an attack by a weasel in East London is spreading across social media, leading to skepticism, photoshopped variations and the hashtag #WeaselPecker.

Amateur photographer Martin Le-May captured weasel attack in East London park

An image of a green woodpecker fighting off an attack by a weasel drew skepticism earlier this year, but the man who took it remained adamant that the photo was real — unlike the raccoon and alligator photographer who has clammed up completely. (Martin Le-May )

An amateur wildlife photo spreading across social media appears to be a fantasy scenario: a fuzzy little woodland creature hitching a ride on a feathered friend. In fact, it depicts a weasel's unusual attempt to kill a green woodpecker in East London in the United Kingdom. 

Wildlife photographer Jason Ward tweeted the photo yesterday, sent to him by amateur photographer Martin Le-May. It has more than 7,000 retweets as of Tuesday morning. 

There was some suspicion online that the photo may have been faked or photoshopped, but numerous media outlets, including the BBC, BuzzFeed and have tracked down Le-May.

Some have published his other photos of the incident, which lack the focus of his most famous shot, but tell the story of the weasel attacking the woodpecker, and the bird taking off in an attempt to escape. 

The picture has now achieved meme status, with various manipulations of the photo appearing on Twitter, filed under the rather unfortunate hashtag #WeaselPecker. 


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.