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Photographer captures weasel's woodpecker ride

Martin Le-May photographed the weasel's attempted woodpecker take-down Monday in Hornchurch Country Park.

By Ben Hooper
Photographer captures weasel's woodpecker ride
A weasel rides on the back of a woodpecker in an attempt to bring the bird down. Photo by Martin Le-May

LONDON, March 3 (UPI) -- A photographer in London captured a rare photo showing a small weasel appearing to ride on a woodpecker, but he said the mammal was actually attacking the bird.

Martin Le-May of Essex said he and his wife, Ann, were walking Monday in Hornchurch Country Park when they came across the unusual sight.

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"I heard a distressed squawking noise and feared the worst," Le-May told the BBC. "I soon realized it was a woodpecker with some kind of small mammal on its back."

Le-May said the woodpecker was in a struggle for its life with the unwanted passenger, which appeared to be a small weasel.

"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 said.

The picture was posted to Twitter by Jason Ward and was retweeted thousands of times. Le-May said he was surprised by the reaction to his picture.

"I'm so proud so many people are getting to see my image. I'm totally taken aback by the response to it," he said.

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The picture has inspired numerous tribute images, including one that Photoshopped a shirtless Russian President Vladimir Putin riding atop the weasel as it rode on the woodpecker.

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