New Forest Woodcock Group

The New Forest Woodcock Group (NFWG) is a not for profit voluntary group set up to study all aspects of Woodcock ecology in and around the New Forest, Hampshire. Scientific research is on going, but the group is keen to involve volunteers who would like to help with various observational study projects in the New Forest.

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The Woodcock Scolopax rusticola, is a Wader that relies on its cryptic camoflague to avoid detection. It is beautifully coloured to resemble the dead leaves and bracken found in its typical woodland habitat. They spend most of the day roosting in the woods before venturing out at dusk to feed on worms and small invertebrates on the surrounding Forest lawns and pastures.

The New Forest has always been a stronghold for Woodcock, but nationally the birds have a mixed distribution through the year.

In the New Forest there are two populations, one population is resident and breeds here, the other are migrants who fly from Russia and Scandinavia in November to spend the winter here before returning eastwards again in March to breed overseas.

The Woodcock is notoriously difficult to study by casual observation alone. Advances in technology has given the researcher a helping hand so that birds can be followed locally with small light-weight radio transmitters and internationally with Satelite tags. In the late winter of 2012 twelve satelite tags were put on Woodcock under licence in various parts of Britain by Woodcock enthusiasts and all coordinated by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT).

Fascinating information has already been recieved from these twelve pioneers and their migration routes back to the breeding grounds can be watched at

Prior to this technology, the ringing of birds caught in Britain or overseas was the only method to discover where they went. The tiny aluminium leg rings have a unique number and bird ringers under licence from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) still catch Woodcock across Britain. Satelite tags tell us where they go and how they do it, whereas the information from caught birds in the hand, such as the birds weight, it's size, and body condition, is crucial in monitoring the population overall. To aid ringers who wish to catch Woodcock, the Woodcock Network was set up to promote Woodcock research nationally. They have a very informative Facebook Page for all those Woodcock enthusiasts, and for ringers who wish to catch Woodcock, their web site, is most helpful.

The New Forest Woodcock Group is based on voluntary time contributions from it's members, so relies on Sponsorship and or Grant aid to purchase equipment to progress research into this enigmatic bird. Large or small. any sponsorship would help. For more information on how sponsorship would help any of the NFWG research projects, please contact us: