Some factors affecting age ratios among woodcock wings collected from hunters in Britain.
The effects of some of the main factors likely to influence age ratios among woodcock wings collected from hunters were examined for two regions of Britain.
The proportion of young in the bag in N. England was significantly correlated with rainfall the previous summer, which is known to affect woodcock breeding success. The percentage of young in the bag from Cornwall in southwest England is consistently higher than elsewhere in Britain and evidence is presented that this may be due to the generally higher rates of harvest in this area. The number of woodcock shot each winter at one site in Cornwall was significantly correlated with the percentage of young in wings collected from hunters in southwest England. However, in the year when the bag was highest, the proportion of young was lower than expected, probably due to a hard-weather movement of woodcock into Cornwall from other parts of Britain where age ratios are typically lower. The feasibility of using the age ratios in woodcock wing collections as indices of breeding success and population size is discussed with particular reference to Britain.