Step 2. Methods for Doing the Survey

Before carrying out any survey work, please read our Health & Safety statement here

Timing of Visits

You will need to pay:

  • 3 visits to your count point
  • at dusk
  • at least one week apart
  • between 1st May and 30th June.

Note, if no woodcock are recorded on the first two of these dusk visits, there is no need to make the third visit.

Avoid surveys on evenings that are wet or windy. Please check the weather forecast and sunset times before survey!

Visit Time and Count Duration

The count duration is 75 minutes. Counts should commence 15 minutes before sunset and finish 60 minutes after sunset, giving a total survey duration of 75 minutes. Please don’t do less or more than this 75 minutes.

What to Record

Many observers will be more familiar with woodcock in winter than in summer. Before completing your survey, please familiarise yourself with the calls of roding males and what roding males look like in flight (see online calls and videos below).

It is important that each flypast is recorded as a separate event, even if they occur in quick succession. Sometimes more than one Woodcock may fly by together. The number of individuals in the flypast should be recorded.

Please count all woodcock that you see and hear during the 75 minute count and record the following information:

i) your location

ii) date

iii) weather conditions at time of survey (dry / wet / windy / not windy)

iv) time at beginning of survey

v) number of woodcock seen (in flight)

vi) number of woodcock heard

vii) number of woodcock seen and heard (when you see and hear a bird at the same time)

viii) time at end of survey

ix) type of woodland (broadleaved / coniferous / mixed)

It is recommended that all observers obtain permission to cross any private land and follow any Health and Safety Guidelines.

Before fieldwork, become familiar with calls and flights!

It is essential to become familiar with the calls made by Woodcock before commencing your survey. Below are the main calls likely to be encountered. Click on each to hear a recording.

  1. Whistle calls
  2. Whistle & Grunt calls
  3. Two males interacting

The call from an individual bird consists of several low-pitched grunts followed by a high-pitched whistle. The grunts can be difficult to hear at times, and from a distance, all that may be heard is the whistle call repeated every few seconds.

Please watch the video below to see woodcock roding display. The woodcock has a distinctive silhouette in flight, appearing about the size of a pigeon, with a long, down-turned bill, large wings, and its head held high. Each male flies in wide patrols over the treetops, calling every few seconds.

Please proceed to Step 3 to submit your survey results.