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Woodcock Scolopax rusticola L 35-38cm. Dumpy, long-billed wader with short legs and cryptic plumage. Mainly nocturnal. Sexes and ages are similar. Adult and juvenile have marbled chestnut, black and white plumage, palest and more extensively barred on underparts. Note large eyes, located high on head, giving bird almost complete all-round vision. Voice Male utters soft duck-like calls and explosive squeaks at dusk. Status Associated with wooded habitats; both mixed and deciduous woodland is favoured. Needs mosaic of open areas and dense canopy cover in breeding season. Migrants from as far as Russia boost winter numbers and then very locally common. Sadly many are shot. Observation tips Easiest to detect in spring: visit likely looking woodland at dusk and watch and listen for roding birds. Prolonged close views are tricky because bird is so difficult to spot.
- © E.A. JANES/Nature Photographers
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