Woodcock monitoring

Create Conservation Project/Cause -  | Zoltan Boros
n Hungary, there is a special woodcock monitoring program, which is the only legitimate framework in which birds can be shot. Hunters are obliged to provide observation and hunting bag data in order to have up-to-date information on the population because it is not considered a “regular” game species in the country. However, not only shot birds provide data for research purposes but live birds are caught and ringed as well. This happens in spring and autumn/early winter when the birds are migrating either to or from their wintering grounds.
Monday, 24 February, 2025 to Wednesday, 30 April, 2025

To preserve the traditional spring hunting of the Eurasian Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) in Hungary while also assuring its sustainability, a monitoring program was maintained with the coordination of the Hungarian Hunters’ National Association. The program's primary goal was to estimate the size of the migrating population in the country based on synchronised census data and track its long-term changes. The program was maintained successfully with national coverage in the last 13 years, and it was based on synchronised roding surveys performed weekly, 12 times each spring. The observers used standardised paper forms to record the number of contacts (Woodcocks seen and/or heard). Hunting of Woodcock between 2010–2021 was only allowed for the monitoring program participants with strict regulation and obligatory sample collection from each bird. The primary purpose of sample collection was to assess the sex- and age structure of the population and to evaluate their trends. According to the results, no significant trend could be observed either in the population size or the sex- and age composition between 2009 and 2021. The proportion of males was above 75% each year, while the proportion of first-year birds and adults was almost identical in the annual hunting bags. The measure of harvesting was meagre compared to the size of the population, and it had no significant, detectable impact.