A May recovery date for this record, and just a very short-distance:
Little Egret Ring no. GC34920
Ringed as an adult, 31st December, 2009, Oakham.
Found dead: 18th May 2012, Hoo Marina (finder's comment- "drowned, in the Medway".
Found 869 days after ringing, 3 kilometres west of ringing site.
Although many local Little Egrets do go a little south in winter, a small number hang on. When operational, the old Kingsnorth Power Station outflow had kept the waters near Oakham some three degrees warmer than the surrounding area- why Damhead Creek was such a pull for feeding Egrets and the odd Spoonbill, and why this bird was out and about on Oakham on a New Year's Eve.
Bill devised a method of supplementing their diet. The station's intake screens often trapped a number of fish, and these were usually just disposed of (have you ever seen Little Egrets in a skip? I have!). But a daily bucket, transported out to Oakham, proved a draw for the Damhead birds in the cold days of winter. So much of a draw, they not only got to recognise Bill and his bucket, they could pick out his E.On van as he drove out onto the island, and fly along after him.
Of course, Bill had an ulterior motive, there's no such thing as a free lunch and all that. In return for those fish, it would be good to get some rings on the birds. By placing the freebie feast in the mouth of his large static funnel trap, there was a chance to trap and ring an unwary bird by walking into the trap. This normally meant a second ringer had to being hidden up in a small blind near the mouth of the trap some time before the birds arrived- they knew what Bill was up to, and would not settle until he left.
So this bird found at Hoo had been one that stayed on the estuary for the winter, using Bill's 'bird table'.
The funnel trap was quite a size, positioned over and along the hedge Bill had grown beside the access road. It had a large holding cage, big enough for even the odd Harrier or Owl, which was partitioned by a large mesh wall to filter the passerinessafely through into a smaller holding area. Google earth shows the frame is still in place (fractionally below centre); sadly, when the site closed for the demolition of the Power Station, the trap had to be secured to a state of permanently open.
|At the mouth of the trap, autumn 2012. Complete with drinking trough drip-feeding a|
small pond (just out of shot to right). The strimmed area became waterlogged in
winter and was where the offering of small fish was placed.
|Inside, looking back through the baffles|
|The 'walk in' catching box.|
For the ringers, a question- 'what's the difference between a funnel trap and a Heligoland trap?'. Answer- a funnel trap is always straight, a Heligoland always has at least one 'bend'. This acts as an additional baffle to help deter birds from doubling back round and straight out of the trap.