With respect to the shooting of woodcock, Anthony Jarvis raises a legitimate concern about the pressure on migrants as well as residents (Letters to the Editor, November 13), following the article - By the light of a woodcock moon. However, the difference between the shooting of migrant woodcock in the British Isles and that of songbirds in Italy, Spain and Malta, is that we know that woodcock populations in Scandinavia, Finland and western Russia, from whence most of our wintering woodcock originate, are stable.
The GWCT recommends delaying the shooting of woodcock until after December 1st in areas where they are known to breed to take pressure off our declining resident population, but this does not mean increasing the number of days on woodcock after this date. Indeed, we also advocate restraint in areas where only migrant woodcock are known to be present, partly because they are highly-site faithful. Through our satellite-tracking study, we now have a much clearer understanding of the countries through which migrant woodcock pass to reach us.
Anthony Jarvis is correct that ‘the fate of a species lies in the hands of all those countries it visits’; we should be working more closely with other countries to understand the cumulative shooting pressure on migrant woodcock populations and that is our next task here at GWCT.
Head of wetland research GWCT