Long-time followers of Woodcock Watch will be aware of the ‘will she, won’t she’ drama that Wensum has entertained us with throughout the last three winters.
Although she was caught in Norfolk in 2013, Wensum has never returned to the UK since. Instead she winters at a favoured site in Lower Saxony, Germany and returns each year to breed in Central Finland.
As such, we’ve come to think of Wensum as a Finnish-German migrant quite distinct from the rest of our British and Irish woodcock.
But the question that always remains is why she was in the UK when we caught her and will she ever return? Our theory is that Wensum was briefly visiting Norfolk in order to escape a particularly nasty cold snap on the continent that year. If we could document her doing this for a second time, and explicitly link it to cold weather at her Saxony home, then we could prove this. But so far, it has never happened.
Yesterday Wensum made an interesting move in the right direction, flying c. 250 km west to the Netherlands. The only thing separating her from Norfolk now is 300 kilometres of North Sea. It must be noted, however, that she has visited the Netherlands once before in the winter of 2014/15, only to turn round and head back to Germany, without gracing Norfolk with her presence.
One of the questions we are most eager to answer is, If she were to return to Norfolk, would it be to the same site at which she was caught? This could provide a valuable insight into the way in which woodcock deal with cold weather. Do they have known escape routes to familiar sites or do they head west blindly, settling wherever the weather is mild enough?
We watch with interest for Wensum’s next move, whatever that may be.
Please help our declining UK woodcock