Woodcock fascinate me. Each year, these softball-sized creatures migrate thousands of miles back and forth between their summer & winter grounds. They’re arrival in April marks the beginning of my spring and watching them come through in the fall is one of the high points of my year.
Here in the US, we hunt the American Woodcock (Scolopax minor). Over in Europe they have a similar bird, but while their Eurasian Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) looks almost identical to our timberdoodles, the Euro Woodcock is about 1/3 larger than our birds.
Along with a larger size, it looks like the Euro Woodcocks also have a wider migration pattern. At least that’s prelimary results from the UK’s Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust Woodcock Watch are indicating. This project has affixed satellite tracking devices to several birds, and the information that the devices are sending back is pretty amazing. One woodcock, code named Monkey (MO on the map below), has travelled 4400 miles since the project began.
Considering that the continental US is about 2,8oo miles wide, and that Monkey will be repeating this trip in the fall, that’s some serious traveling. It’s also one more reason to have a tremendous amount of respect for all kinds of woodcock.
BTW: you can support the Woodcock Watch for about $50. Considering the value of the research their gathering, it seems like a pretty good deal.