The shout of “Woodcock forrard” is enough on its own to excite many people. After a ‘fall’ of Woodcock, when they’ve arrived fresh from Scandinavia, they’re most often seen flitting tantalisingly across snow laden forest rides. They are indeed a challenge with their silent jinking flight which makes them prized by many sportsmen. Loved and coveted as a surprise on a normal shooting day or specially sought out on a dedicated woodcock day they are certainly ‘special’.
Woodcock have stocky bodies, cryptic brown and blackish plumage and long slender bills. Their eyes are located on the sides of their heads, which gives them 360° vision. Unlike in most birds, the tip of the bill’s upper mandible is flexible.
As their common name implies, the woodcock are woodland birds. They feed at night or in the evenings, searching for invertebrates in soft ground with their long bills. This habit and their unobtrusive plumage makes it difficult to see them when they are resting in the day. Most have distinctive displays known as “roding”, usually given at dawn or dusk.