Join the hunt for the elusive woodcockBy Hugh Fort
February 05, 2013
Eagle-eyed volunteers are wanted to join the hunt for one of the UK's most elusive birds.
The RSPB is hoping to recruit 1,000 people to look in more than 1,000 woods across the country for the woodcock.
The bird is very well-camouflaged and particularly hard to spot
It can be identified by its long slender bill, and its distinctive flight and call.
There has been uncertainty over Woodcock numbers in the UK since 2002 and it is believe it has had a 74 per cent decline in breeding numbers since the 1970s.
Dr Andrew Hoodless, an ecologist with the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and a world authority on woodcock said: "Our first national survey posed some interesting questions about abundance.
"In our repeat survey this year we need to identify why Wales and south west England support so few breeding woodcock and why areas such as Kent and Hertfordshire appear to hold rather low densities of woodcock despite having relatively large areas of woodland."
In total 1.500 random woodlands will be monitored across England, Scotland and Wales with additionals sites in ireland.
The most likely time for spotting the birds is around dawn and dusk.
Dr Hoodless added: "This country-wide survey will help us measure the change in the size of the breeding woodcock population since our first major count in 2003.
"This will help us produce new country population estimates and assess breeding distribution and abundance changes in detail. Woodcock have very specific habitat requirements in the breeding season and the survey will enable us to investigate how changes in woodland habitat and general land use over the past ten years have affected their numbers."
To take part visit www.bto.org/woodcock-survey.