First night of 2018/19 winter fieldwork

By Chris Heward, Wetlands Research Assistant

Andrew (the boss) and I visited one of our regular field sites on Saturday night, where we are conducting a long-term ‘mark-and-recapture’ study of woodcock. We both saw a few birds – but nowhere near the mid-winter densities we might expect for this site.

Over the area I surveyed, I saw 4 birds, perhaps 20-25% of what I might expect to see in January. This is quite normal for November though, with the numbers of migrants increasing as the month progresses. Sometimes we don’t see peak numbers until after Christmas.


My first bird of the 2018-19 winter fieldwork season was a retrap – a woodcock that I originally caught and ringed as a juvenile in January 2018. There’s no way of knowing whether this bird has migrated to the continent in the intervening 11 months or has remained resident in Hampshire.


Woodcck numbers

at 16:06 on 11/12/2018 by John matthews

For several years we have self imposed a bag limit of 40 ‘cock for the day and 6 ‘cock for individuals on our woodcock shoot on the Lleyn penninsula (we only shoot the ground 3 times in a season). Last saturday1st dec, with 3 guns having bagged up, we had a count at lunchtime, before some of our usually most productive drives, and had 52 in the bag! Woodcock were in more abundance than for decades and were also flying strongly and in excellent condition. We retired to the pub with all guns more than happy . (Usual bags for the WHOLE day are~30)

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