New Year Wish

January 6, 2013 at 8:18 pm

A Woodcock in your garden would be high on most peoples New Year wish list. The one in this week’s photo is in my garden but the circumstances surrounding its arrival are not what you would expect. I was walking through Hopwood woods when a Carrion Crow and a Magpie that were attacking something on the ground caught my attention. I was just in time to save the Woodcock that had some feathers plucked from its breast but otherwise it was in tact and should have been able to fly. To save it from the Crows I brought it home and placed it in the garden vegetation while it recovered , then returned it to the woods at dusk when the crows had gone to roost and it was safe. I was pleased to see it fly off and my first good deed of the year was complete. However, the story does not end there. Several days later,as I walked through the woods, I noticed the remains of at least two Woodcock that had been predated as they roosted at the base of Silver Birch trees under a canopy of bracken. Had the crows discovered how to catch Woodcock at their diurnal roost sites or was the culprit a Fox and the crows were just finishing off the job? My encounter with just two crows and no sighting of a Fox would suggest that the crows were the culprits. As Hopwood Woods are the most important wintering site in Greater Manchester for Woodcock this would be a worrying trend especially when recent satellite tracking has proved that some of our wintering Woodcock have travelled more than 4000 kilometres from Russia. In the late 1970’s I caught and ringed one Woodcock in Hopwood Woods. The following year it was killed by a car as it was flying across a road in Belgium!

During last month we had more than twenty species of bird in the garden on every single day. On New Years Day a record twenty two Long Tailed Tits fed together.