About the Woodcock
Migrants from northern Europe
In autumn and continuing through December and January, Britain and Ireland see a large influx of migrant woodcock escaping freezing weather in northern Europe.
‘Falls’ of woodcock are often most noticeable around the full moon in November, commonly referred to as the ‘Woodcock Moon’. As many as 700,000 to 1,200,000 migrant
woodcock from Scandinavia, Finland, the Baltic States and Russia may spend the winter with us.
Because their food is inaccessible once the breeding grounds freeze, woodcock from northern Europe are forced to migrate to southern and western Europe where the conditions typically remain mild enough for them to feed. During the winter, woodcock spend relatively little time feeding in woodland by daylight but fly to farmland, both pasture and arable fields, to feed through the night.
During early March, the migrant woodcock prepare themselves for the long flight back to the breeding grounds by increasing their fat reserves. Most will have left our shores by the end of March, but it might be one to two months later before they finally reach their breeding sites.