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BTO Blueline
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BTO Blueline
Scolopax rusticola
Woodcock © G H Higginbotham

• Population

• Productivity

• Additional

Conservation listings
Europe: SPEC category 3 (declining)
UK: amber (European status)
Long-term trend
UK: probable rapid decline
UK population size
5,400–13,700 pairs in 2000 (1988–91 Atlas estimate updated using CBC trend: BiE04, APEP06); 78,346 (61,717–96,493) males in 2003 (Hoodless et al. 2009)
Status summary
The Woodcock declined rapidly and significantly on CBC plots for the three decades up to 2000. Because CBC did not include many coniferous forests and its plots were concentrated in lowland Britain, however, it is not certain how well this trend represents the whole UK population. Range contractions, that might have had the same cause as the decline in abundance, were recorded concurrently with part of the CBC decline (Gibbons et al. 1993). Recreational disturbance, the drying out of natural woodlands, overgrazing by deer, declining woodland management, and the maturation of new plantations are possible causes of the Woodcock's decline, but there is no strong hypothesis as yet (Fuller et al. 2005). BBS is inefficient at recording this scarce, mainly crepuscular species, and cannot continue the index series. The first special survey aimed at monitoring the UK's breeding Woodcock took place in 2003 and has provided a new, much higher baseline population estimate for future monitoring (Hoodless et al. 2009; also, here). It is important to note, though, that the upward revision of the population estimate is due to new methodology and carries no information about population trends. The CBC decline was discounted in 2009 as a reason for the species' amber listing (BoCC3), which now rests on the breeding declines recorded across Europe, especially European Russia (BiE04). Annual numbers shot in the UK, which include winter visitors from declining populations in Europe, have increased around threefold since 1945 and are currently running at a historically high level.

1968-1999: -74% (confidence interval -88% to -49%)

Population changes in detail
Demographic trends
Additional information

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This report should be cited as: Baillie, S.R., Marchant, J.H., Leech, D.I., Renwick, A.R., Joys, A.C., Noble, D.G., Barimore, C., Conway, G.J., Downie, I.S., Risely, K. & Robinson, R.A. (2010). Breeding Birds in the Wider Countryside: their conservation status 2010. BTO Research Report No. 565. BTO, Thetford. (http://www.bto.org/birdtrends)

Pages maintained by Iain Downie, Mandy T Andrews and Laura Smith: Last updated 11.10.2010