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Wintering woodcock are returning to the UK, but experts expect a patchy season.
the British trust for Ornithology’s bird track programme recorded a sudden increase in the number of birdwatchers recording woodcock sightings in the third week of October. so far the birds direction and temperature at the point of departure are key factors. Weather forecasts for scandinavia and the Baltic show warming temperatures and westerly winds for the next week, suggesting that the departure may be delayed.
During the winter between 700,000 and 1.2million woodcock are expected to arrive in the UK. British wintering woodcock breed suggests a mixed picture, with an indication that it has been a relatively poor breeding season west of moscow but an average one east of moscow.”
He added that “based on breeding alone, shooters in the north are likely to see fewer woodcock with those in the south seeing more normal numbers. However, a lot depends on weather at this time of year. If it suddenly gets much colder on the continent in the next couple of weeks that may push more woodcock to Britain than we would see in an average autumn.”
among the birds waiting to return are the birds satellite tagged through the Gwct’s woodcock watch programme, none of which have yet crossed the north sea.
the UK’S breeding population of woodcock continues to struggle and the advice from the Gwct remains not to shoot them before 1 December, to help take pressure off resident breeding birds. Matt Cross
“Up to 1.2million woodcock are expected to arrive in the UK”