The home of Shooting Times and Sporting Gun

Woodcock survey biggest yet

The survey, conducted every 10 years, reveals the distribution and size of Britain’s native woodcock population with mixed results.

The latest survey of the UK’s resident woodcock population attracted the highest ever participation rate since the count began 20 years ago. 

Run by the GWCT and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), the Breeding Woodcock Survey aims to gather evidence on the size and distribution of the red-listed Eurasian woodcock. The survey covers non-migratory populations and has been carried out in 2003, 2013 and 2023. 

In total, 1,230 randomly selected sites in the UK were surveyed last year, compared with a total of around 820 in 2003 and 2013. In the 2023 survey woodcock were recorded at nearly 400 sites and the final results are expected by spring 2024.

Dr Chris Heward, head of wetlands research at GWCT, said: “Our last national survey in 2013 estimated that around 55,000 male woodcock breed in Britain, but also highlighted a 29% decline in numbers between 2003 and 2013. Most people see the headline figure of 55,241 males, but it can feel fairly arbitrary — understanding the upper and lower bounds is more important. Visiting a wider sample of sites also allows more opportunities to directly detect change.”