Woodcock survey methods

Nesting Woodcock. Photograph by George H Higginbotham

Nesting Woodcock

Woodcock in the hand. Photograph by Herbert & Howell

Woodcock in the hand

Woodcock nest near Swaffham, Norfolk. Photograph by Greg Conway

Woodcock Nest

Background and Methods

This is an on-line survey. To choose a survey square or enter data, please register or login to the survey application from the buttons to the left.

A total of 1500 survey sites (1-km squares) in Britain and a further 80 in Northern Ireland will be available. These have been randomly selected from within the known breeding range, which will provide the basis for calculating a robust population estimate.   There will be 805 High Priority sites, which were surveyed in the 2003, and 775 Low Priority sites.  If you are unable to cover one of the High or Low priority squares, it will be possible to request a small number of Additonal squares by providing your local BTO Regional Representative with the site grid reference.

Within each site a single fixed count point will be selected, from which all observations are conducted. The count points are separated by at least 2km in order to avoid double counting. For High Priority sites, a six-figure grid reference for the original 2003 survey point (where available) will be provided, however, surveyors of new Low Priority sites will need to select their own count point.

Timing of Visits

The survey methods will be the same as those used in 2003. A total of four visits will be required: 

  • April: one daytime recce to establish the best place to locate the count point. 
  • May to June: three visits to count point at dusk, at least one week apart, between 1st May and 30th June. 

NOTE - if no woodcock are recorded on both of the first two dusk visits, there is no need to make the third visit.

Visit time and duration

The count period has been extended to 75 minutes compared to 60 minutes in 2003. Counts should commence 15 minutes before sunset and finish 60 minutes after sunset, giving total survey duration of 75 minutes. Times of individual Woodcock passes will be recorded so that data for 60 minute and 75 minute counts can be compared at the analysis stage.

What to record

During the 75 minute survey period all observations of Woodcock (in flight), both by sight and sound, will be recorded to the nearest minute and logged.  Some basic information on Habitat and Deer presence will also be collected between mid-May and mid-June.

Access permission

All observers are reminded of the need to obtain permission to cross any private land, and to follow the BTO's Health & Safety guidelines.