Woodcock Scolopax rusticola

The graph shows numbers of woodcocks Scolopax rusticola shot per 100 ha of total estate area annually in the UK from 1961 to 2005. Error bars represent 95% confidence intervals.

The large increase in numbers shot observed in the 1970s appears to have stabilised around a shallow four- to six-year cycle. Woodcock shot in winter in the UK come primarily from Scandinavia, the Baltic states and Russia, so the cycle is probably linked to reproductive success overseas.

A joint Franco-Russian monitoring scheme suggests that those eastern breeding populations are stable, whereas those in lowland Britain appear to have declined by 74% between 1968 and 1999 (BTO Common Birds Census, small sample sizes). To establish how many woodcock breed in Britain, the Trust launched a national survey in 2003 jointly with BTO. It estimated that the number of males across the UK was 78,350, with a 35% chance of woodcock being present in one-kilometre squares containing at least 10 ha of woodland.

Index of woodcock bags from 1961 to 2006 (see statistical methods and interpretational considerations).  Error bars represent 95% confidence intervals.

Woodcock 1961-2006