Old bird’s final resting place at city golf course

Great Spotted Woodpecker. Photo: Jill Pakenham/BTO Great Spotted Woodpecker. Photo: Jill Pakenham/BTO

Monday, June 23, 2014
1:47 PM

They tend to be the favoured habitat of men of a certain age, but one golf club in Norwich has attracted quite another type of rather elderly and distinguished visitor.

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The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has announced that the oldest ever recorded great spotted woodpecker was found at Eaton Golf Club, in the south of the city.

Experts were able to age the bird as it had previously been “ringed”, meaning it had been captured and data left on it, in a small “ring” on its leg.

Records showed that it was 11 years old when discovered – more than twice the average life span of five years.

Unfortunately the bird was dead when it was found at the golf course – but the local players with their wayward shots were cleared of any involvement in the death, as the creature appeared to have been killed by a predator.

It was found in May 2013 and the details were released this weekend by the BTO as part of a report from its network of bird ringers.

Paul Stancliffe, from the Trust, said: “We only knew about this woodpecker because the finder sent in the details on the ring. Just under a million birds were ringed in 2013 and we want people to report any they find to us.”

Although the Norwich bird is exceptionally old for a great spotted woodpecker, the report shows that some other creatures had grown even older.

The oldest known buzzard, for instance, was found to be more than 28 years old – breaking the previous record by almost three years.

It had been ringed as a nestling at Sunbiggin Tarn, Orton, Cumbria on June 16, 1985 and found dead 12km to the north-east of there on July 27, 2013.

The typical lifespan of a buzzard in the wild is 12 years,

Other record-breaking birds include a 32-year-old herring gull that was seen alive in Clydach, Glamorgan and identified from the colour rings that it was wearing, and a Cumbrian marsh tit that has reached the age of 10 years, four months and 25 days and still counting.

The typical lifespan of a marsh tit in the wild is only two years.

Do you have a wildlife story? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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