AN appeal has gone out for keen-eyed volunteers to count one of the UK’s most elusive birds in the 2013 national woodcock survey being organised by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and the British Trust for Ornithology.

The woodcock is a beautifully camouflaged bird with a long slender bill that can be identified by its very distinctive flight and call.

Because of their secretive nature, there has long been uncertainty about the status of the breeding population of woodcock in this country.

To determine whether these birds were under threat, the GWCT and BTO carried out the first-ever national count in 2003 which revealed that there were about 78,000 male woodcock in Britain.

Dr Andrew Hoodless, an ecologist with GWCT and a world authority on woodcock, said: “This survey will help us measure the change in the size of the breeding woodcock population since our first major count in 2003.

“This will help us produce new county population estimates and assess breeding distribution and abundance changes in detail.”

He added: “Woodcock have very specific habitat requirements in the breeding season and the survey will enable us to investigate how changes to woodland habitat and general land use over the past 10 years have affected their numbers.”

The survey takes place in May and June. To take part, visit