Woodcock Survey

Help Needed with BTO Woodcock Survey

The BTO in partnership with the Game and Wildlfowl Conservation Trust has launched a national survey to assess the breeding population of Woodcock in Britain and Ireland.

Woodcock is our only species of wading bird that is adapted to breed in woodland, both broad-leaved and coniferous. Results from local surveys combined with data from BirdAtlas 2007-11 indicate a decline in breeding distribution. The 2013 BTO/GWCT Woodcock Survey will provide a new population estimate and assessment of abundance change, as well as examining breeding habitat characteristics and the potential impact of grazing.

The nocturnal habits and cryptic nature of this species makes it difficult to monitor the breeding population using traditional survey methods, such as the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS). However, a special survey method for Woodcock has been devised which uses the counts of the territorial roding flights, undertaken by males at dusk and dawn, to estimate the number of individual males present. The results of the 2013 Survey will be crucial in determining the extent of changes to the breeding population size and distribution.

A total of 1500 sites (1-km squares) in Britain and a further 80 in Northern Ireland have been randomly selected to survey. 22 of these are in Cornwall and we are now looking for volunteers to help with the survey. Anyone interested can visit the survey webpage at http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/woodcock-survey where you will find instructions on how to register, select a square and download instructions and forms. Currently there are squares available in the following 10km areas: SS21, SW73, SW84, SW94, SX04, SX05, SX15, SX25 and SX28.

Although it’s unlikely that evidence of breeding will be found in the county, data collected in Cornwall will still be important and you never know what else you may find during the evening survey visits.

Some birds (including  some from Cornwall) have been satellite tagged. You can see the results HERE


Image BTO and George H. Higginbotham
Image BTO and Herbert & Howells
Image BTO and Herbert & Howells