In a recent copy of British Trust for Ornithology News, there was an update on the number of records received on the presence of breeding woodcock in the UK. The BTO are currently producing the next National Bird Atlas which will be published in 2012/2013. The production of the National Atlas happens every 20 years and allows the BTO and others to decide which birds are in decline, especially in terms of reduced ranges in the UK.
The piece in BTO News on woodcock was very downbeat because at this half-way stage, compared with the last Atlas published in 1993, fewer records of breeding woodcock have been submitted by interested members of the general public, particularly in Wales and Scotland. We are not surprised by the situation in Wales. Our 2003 National Breeding Survey detected very few birds there, but the Scottish situation does surprise us. In 2003 over half the breeding woodcock recorded in the UK were sighted in Scotland.
Why the BTO should be so pessimistic and why they should choose woodcock to illustrate a species with few data accumulating, we can only speculate, but it would be a great shame if such an iconic bird is badly under-recorded in this National initiative. In other words, birds might be present, but no-one is telling the BTO!
So can you help? If you are sure that you have seen a roding woodcock in the last three summers then please email me with the details. A postcode or nearest village along with the approximate date will be fine. If you have come across a nest or chicks, then please mention this. We will gather the data and pass it en-block to the BTO on your behalf.
For the first time, the BTO Atlas will be a combined one incorporating winter and breeding ranges, so we are also keen that the range and abundance of the species in winter is properly represented. Please let us know the numbers of woodcock you have seen in the last three winters. Again, postcode or nearest location, with month and year will suffice. If you are concerned about confidentiality, please state this clearly and we will submit your records at the 10km square level.
Please get in touch. You can email email@example.com or write to Professor Nick Sotherton, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, Fordingbridge, Hampshire, SP6 1EF.
Your details will be kept confidential.
Thank you for your help.