First woodcock on the move this autumn

By Chris Heward, GWCT Wetlands Research Assistant 

We have received data this morning indicating that one of our woodcock has begun its return trip to Britain. This is the first sign of autumn migration we’ve seen from the tagged birds this year.

Fonthill Abbie II was tagged in Southern England this March and migrated 2,500 km to Western Russia. She spent the summer at a woodland site around 250 km from St. Petersburg. Now, Abbie is in Germany, having covered roughly two thirds of the distance between Russia and her tagging location in Wiltshire.

Argos Fonthill AbbieThe rough location of Abbie based on the raw data received from the ARGOS satellite company. When higher-quality data is received, it will be plotted on the Woodcock Watch map.

This new location has not been plotted on the Woodcock Watch map yet. Our map filters out fixes of a ‘low’ quality and displays only the data rated as highly accurate. The most recent data we have received from Abbie is not quite of a high enough quality to have been plotted, but it appears to be ‘realistic’.

It shows Abbie very close to a site she stopped at on her outward migration and we have observed this behaviour before – woodcock seem to return to the same stop-over locations on both spring and autumn migrations.

We often receive a few low quality fixes when a tag first transmits, particularly after a long period of movement. Usually these are followed by more accurate fixes once the tag finds its bearings. We hope that this might happen in Abbie’s case, allowing us to confirm her exact location in Germany.


Re: Protecting Vulnerable Birds - The Woodcock

at 12:12 on 31/10/2016 by Rob - GWCT

Thank you for supporting our Woodcock Watch project. We have published information on the decline in the resident woodcock population as well as guidelines on how to reduce the impact of shooting on resident woodcock: http://www.gwct.org.uk/policy/position-statements/shooting-woodcock/

Protecting Vulnerable Birds - The Woodcock

at 11:54 on 31/10/2016 by D Wheatley

I recently donated to the woodcock tracking appeal and did so on the basis that, I believe that, as a wild bird listed a 'VULNERABE' by the RSPB this beautiful bird should be protected from hunting. It's one thing to shoot bred grouse and partridge, quite another to decimate the diminishing population of wild, migratory birds. I would hope that if those involved in hunting/shooting were made more aware of the facts re: numbers/their vulnerability, they would join with me in seeking to protect this species of bird. If their numbers decline too much further the population is liable to collapse.

Woodcock sighting

at 13:28 on 21/10/2016 by Rod Jackson-Gamlen

One woodcock seen on our shoot at Bow,Devon,on 20th. October

Woodcock caught

at 1:03 on 19/10/2016 by Ed Sorsby

Woodcock caught with trained sparrowhawk on land beside m1 junction 31, Sheffield area


at 16:27 on 18/10/2016 by Gary Beckett

We saw the first migratory woodcock on our shoot near Loddon in Norfolk last night ideal eastly wind and full moon for them to move.

Woodcock sighting

at 13:57 on 18/10/2016 by Mark Cowens

We saw two woodcock fly out of the game cover whilst beating at Denne Hill shoot in Kent on Friday 14th October. Several people commented on how early it was to see them.


at 11:58 on 18/10/2016 by Tracey Rich

Woodcock present on Pewsey Downs NNR 12/10/16


at 11:04 on 18/10/2016 by Paul Winship

Spotted a woodcock on land north of Scarborough on Sunday 8th October and on another piece of land towards Whitby on Saturday 15th October.

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