The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) is encouraging birdwatchers across Yorkshire to count their local Woodcock from now until 30 June.
There has been a worrying decline in the numbers of breeding Woodcock over the last 40 years and, throughout May and June, the GWCT and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) are working together to raise awareness of our native Woodcock numbers.
“There are likely to be a number of factors contributing to the decline, from changing habitat to increasing predation.” explains Dr Andrew Hoodless, Head of Wetland Research at the GWCT. “Ongoing monitoring is essential to help us understand annual fluctuations in numbers and assess the trend.
The more volunteers who are willing to help out, the more accurate a picture we will obtain. We are asking birdwatchers to help us with this year’s survey by making three counts at dusk of displaying males.”
The Woodcock, being largely nocturnal, can be hard to spot. However, males conduct a distinctive courtship flight, accompanied by a shrill call, known as ‘roding’ at dawn or dusk.
Given this trend, it is essential that the counts continue, and greater participation will help to reduce the errors around annual estimates. Key areas in the UK where counting is urgently needed include Yorkshire, Norfolk, Northumberland, North Wales and Scotland.
Dr Hoodless concludes:
“We are very grateful to all the surveyors who have already taken part in our annual Woodcock surveys and would urge you to continue.”
For full details of how to take part see www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/woodcock-survey.
To learn more about current research on breeding Woodcock visit: www.woodcockwatch.com/tracking-woodcock/tracking-breeding-woodcock/