The woodcock breeding season will now be well underway. Male woodcock will be roding all across the country and most females will be incubating. Some females will already have chicks, especially given the relatively mild start to the spring.
Normally, by mid-April, we are busy with spring fieldwork but under current coronavirus restrictions, little of our usual work can continue.
We co-ordinate a national monitoring scheme of Britain’s breeding woodcock population in collaboration with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). A network of volunteers across the country conduct three counts of roding male woodcock in May-June and the results allows us to measure annual fluctuations in their numbers.
We have been instructing surveyors not to carry out their usual surveys in order to reduce unnecessary travel and the risk of spreading coronavirus. However, in light of the government’s revised guidelines this week, we are in discussion with the BTO about the possibility of surveyors in England visiting local sites to conduct counts. We will issue an update next week, but in the meantime would encourage people who are lucky enough to be able to conduct roding counts on their own property to do so.