We’re really excited to have had 3 separate sightings of woodcock at Denmark Farm recently – each in a different part of the reserve, so we may have several birds here.
The woodcock is a highly secretive and largely nocturnal wading bird which spends most of the day in dense cover – so we are very lucky to see them. If you are out walking and inadvertently disturb one from its resting place it will zigzag between the trees before dropping back into cover.
Woodcock with earthworm
The shelter-belts and scrubby areas around the pastures here at Denmark Farm are good resting places for woodcock during the day, with our invertebrate-rich pastures providing excellent night-time feeding.
The breeding birds in the UK are residents but, in the late autumn, birds come here from Finland and Russia to over-winter. Unfortunately, very few breeding woodcock remain in Wales – the loss of managed coppice in Britain in the last 50 years has probably contributed to the decline in the British breeding population.
Several birds from the UK have been satellite tagged and followed on the long journey to their breeding grounds. One bird from Cornwall was discovered to have flown a whopping 6200 km (almost 4000 miles) to Russia, arriving at the same latitude as Western Mongolia! (source: http://midwalesringers.blogspot.co.uk).
Keep a look out as you walk around our trails and you might just be lucky enough to spot one. Our trails are open every day except Christmas Day (bring your wellies – some paths are very muddy and wet at the moment); ideal for a bracing winter walk before the next round of mince-pies!
If you’d like to learn more about birds, why not sign-up for our ‘Bird Identification’ course from 13 Apr until 15 Apr 2013 (10 am to 5 pm), with tutor Dave Anning (RSPB). Click here for more information.