Ground-breaking bird study receives vital funding


Published Thursday 16 January 2014

Volunteers examining the behaviour of rare woodcocks in the New Forest have been awarded over £12,000 to undertake cutting-edge research.

The New Forest Woodcock Group will use night vision equipment and radio tag transmitters to observe never-before-seen night-time mating behaviour and potentially track the movements of female with young. The volunteers aim to increase understanding of the woodcock and explore the reasons behind its national decline.

The RSPB has given the woodcock amber status in its traffic light system of conservation importance, meaning the number of birds has moderately declined over the last 25 years. By understanding more about how woodcocks use the New Forest the group hopes to discover if human pressures are affecting the species’ population.

The study’s grant was allocated by the New Forest National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) at its December meeting. The SDF provides grants for projects that will help sustain the New Forest National Park and ensure a better quality of life for now and future generations to come.

Dr Manuel Hinge, New Forest Woodcock Group Research Coordinator, said: ‘This woodcock breeding study will be helped enormously by the SDF grant. The woodcock is a very secretive bird whose brilliant camouflage makes it extremely difficult for us to watch and follow through dense woodland, especially at night.

‘The equipment purchased will allow us to follow three aspects of the woodcock’s breeding behaviour and will give the group an insight into how the birds use the New Forest in spring and summer. Members of the group will be able to watch the birds’ courtship behaviour at night with special imaging kit, follow individual birds at a discrete distance using radio tracking, and digitally record their display calls.

‘We hope that this study will help the group estimate with greater accuracy the number of resident woodcocks breeding in the New Forest and identify behaviour that has not been documented before.’

SDF grants are available for projects that provide environmental, economic and community benefit to the New Forest National Park. The fund is open to community groups, organisations and businesses and since April 2006 it has:

  • Funded 118 projects
  • Awarded £1.4m of grants
  • Secured £2.8m from other sources.

For more information please visit

To discuss a potential application please contact Andy Brennan on 01590 646676 or

To support or volunteer for the New Forest Woodcock Group please contact


Notes to Photo Editor:

A woodcock in the New Forest, copyright Manuel Hinge.

Notes to Editor:

About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect
  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit to find out more.

Media Contact:
Matt Stroud, Communications Assistant, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646650

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