A photo of a weasel riding on the back of a woodpecker is causing a flutter on social media, not just for the original photo, but for Photoshopped amendments.
The original image was snapped Monday by Martin Le-May during a walk with his wife through Hornchurch Country Park in London, England.
The image has sparked a surge of interest online, being retweeted thousands of times and a hashtag of #WeaselPecker created on Twitter.
A variety of spoof images have been posted including guest characters, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Benjamin Netanyahu, Hillary Clinton, John Travolta, Miley Cyrus and Honey Boo-Boo.
According to Britain’s Telegraph, Le-May and his wife heard “distressed squawking” before witnessing the woodpecker’s “struggle for life” as the weasel clung to its back.
Le-May, 52, an amateur photographer from Essex, England, told ITV he “feared the worst” for the bird, which appeared to be “unnaturally hopping.”
“As we walked we heard a distressed squawking and I saw the flash of green,” said Le-May. “We trained our binoculars and it occurred that the woodpecker was unnaturally hopping about like it was treading on a hot surface.
“The bird was about 50 meters away from us and took off just as I lifted the camera up. Originally, I thought I was just taking a picture of a green woodpecker flying. Then I realized it had something on its back.
“Suddenly it was obvious it had a small mammal on its back and this was a struggle for life.”
The woodpecker eventually landed some 80 feet from the couple.
“I guess our presence … momentarily distracted the weasel,” said Le-May. “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.”
The photographer was unaware how stunning his pictures were until he downloaded them at home.
“I flicked through the photographs when I got indoors and suddenly I came across this image of a weasel clinging on to the back of the woodpecker.
“Then I realized that this was something special.”
Some Twitter users have suggested the photo may not be real.
But Matt Binstead, head keeper at the British Wildlife Center, told the Telegraph: “You can tell it’s a real photograph.
“A female weasel is not much bigger than a packet of Polos but they are quite ferocious little predators and will prey on things much bigger than themselves – their normal diet is mice and small mammals but they can go for small rabbits.
“It’s quite unusual for them to go for a bird, but green woodpeckers forage on the ground. I imagine the weasel gave it a go, jumped on its back and then the woodpecker took off.”