We catch woodcock using two techniques: dazzling with a spot-lamp on fields at night and mist-nets across woodland rides to catch birds leaving or returning to woodland at dusk and dawn. In winter, we catch most woodcock with a spot-lamp and hand-net. Dark, windy nights around the new moon are best. With practice, woodcock can be located on fields by their eye shine and momentarily dazzled.
Once in the hand, measurements of the bird are taken and it is fitted with an individually numbered metal leg ring. Rings are issued by the British Trust for Ornithology and form part of a global monitoring scheme for all bird species. The capture and ringing of birds requires training and practise and all our work is performed under licence. For more details on ringing woodcock, visit the Woodcock Network’s website to learn about their valuable contribution to migration studies.
We mount both satellite tags and geolocators on the lower back using an elasticated leg-loop harness. The loops are covered in hypo-allergenic tubing to prevent abrasion or discomfort. Fitting the tags takes three to four minutes and the birds are released at the point of capture.