|Scientific name:||Scolopax rusticola|
Resident & winter visitor from Scandinavia and Russia. Red-listed in Ireland, due to a decline in the breeding population. The European population has been evaluated as Declining, due to a moderate recent decline
With its long straight bill and plump body, it resembles a large Snipe. It is rarely seen on the ground, due to its secretive nature and cryptic plumage (which mimics dead leaves) and spends most of its day hidden amongst vegetation on the woodland floor. The best way to see a Woodcock is to wait at a good vantage point on a forest track or firebreak at dusk during spring or early summer. Listen for the call, then watch for the bird to appear, performing a strange fluttering display flight over the tree tops. This activity is known as roding. In flight, Woodcock have a heavy-chested appearance and rather rounded wings.
In breeding season, 3-4 grunted notes followed by a high-pitched, short, explosive 'pissp' sound made by the roding male at dusk and dawn, as they fly above the trees.
Feed predominantly on earthworms, at night.
Nests on the ground in forests and woodland, usually well camouflaged amongst dead leaves and low vegetation. Young leave the nest soon after hatching.
Wider distribution in winter, occurring in woodland, also scrub and some open areas (bracken and heather-covered hills).
Highly elusive, and underrecorded. Readily takes to coniferous plantations.
More wide ranging during Winter during which time numbers are bolstered by an influx from continental Europe.