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.