20 July 2012

Woodpecker wanderings

Life cycles are the basic building blocks of life - you are born, you breed and then you die. However, we now live in a complex world of technologies and infrastructures and this simplistic life cycle is a bit more complicated.

That was the case for one Great Spotted Woodpecker, originally ringed near Ashford, Kent, that managed to produced a recovery after its death. We don't know why but this Woodpecker decided to go travelling one day. This fact may not be remarkable if it wasn't because it tried to catch a train instead of flying as birds do. Perhaps because it didn't have a ticket, it went in through a window and somehow died to be then found in Maidstone on the 18:20 train from Ashford to London. We are so grateful to the finder of the bird who took the time and effort to report this bird online via www.ring.ac.

Great Spotted Woodpecker - Jill Pakenham

A couple of weeks later, another helpful person reported this bird, again via www.ring.ac, having found it in South Kensington. Perplexed, the Ringing Officer contacted finder 2 saying 'Sorry but you must have misread the number' How can this bird have moved another 55km after it was found dead and removed from the train?

After carrying out extensive research, we managed to reveal the mystery about this 'zombie' Great Spotted Woodpecker. Finder 1 found the bird freshly dead in a train in Maidstone and did what the ring says: INFORM BRIT MUS LONDON SW7. We are so grateful to her for going to the Museum in London. After reporting it she disposed of it in a Park in South Kensisngton, where finder 2 found it about a month later before the mechanisms of decay had started the transformation of the bird into dust, only to start the life cycle again.

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