Woodcock survey results

Annual roding counts: 2002-2016

Thanks to a group of dedicated volunteers, we have data on the number of roding Woodcock for up to 150 sites across 24 counties since 2003.

The inital results (PDF, 390.23 KB)
 up to 2013, showed that counts were relatively stable until 2008. The number of roding males then declined steadily until 2015. However, in 2016 there was a substantial inclease, giving the highest counts since 2008. View the 

Woodcock breeding trend

Fig 1 - Annual change in the relative abundance of Woodcock based on counts of roding males.

It is possible that weather has an influence on annual fluctuations in Woodcock numbers.

  • Heavy rain and low temperatures in April and early May might result in higher chick mortality
  • In winter, low temperatures and lying snow will reduce food accessibility and could increase woodcock mortality

Given the general declining trend, which may invovle factors in addition to weather, it is essential that we continue to count atleast 100 sites per year in order to more closely monitor future change. 

Please do consider re-surveying your 2013 survey site or an new site this summer.

2013 survey results

Thanks to the help of our volunteers, over 800 randomly selected sites were surveyed in 2013, and here we provide a summary of the results; View the full results paper.

Analysis of the results found:

  • Breeding population estimate of 55,241 males - indicating a 29% decrease since 2003 (78,346 males)
  • Woodcock were encountered at just one third of woodlands surveyed
  • Site occupancy declined by 19%, since 2003.
  • Northern England, eastern England and Northern Scotland had the highest levels of occupancy
  • The lowest occupancy levels were in Wales and soutwest England
  • There was a severe decline in site occupancy of 21% in south Scotland
  • There was an increase in site occupancy of 18% in northern England
  • Occupied sites appear to be clustered around areas where large wooded areas remain, such as the New Forest, Thetford Forest, the Forest of Dean and Kielder Forest.
Figure 1 - Woodcock presence and absence at survey sites

Fig 2 - Woodcock presence and
absence at 955 surveyed sites
across the UK (darker shaded =
present, lighter shaded = absent)
(Click to enlarge)

Fig 2 - Woodcock presence and absence at survey regions

Fig 3 - Woodcock presence and
absence across 11 UK survey regions
(shaded = present, white = absent).
Map data not available for N. Ireland)
(Click to enlarge)