Woodcock occurs in County Durham both as a breeding species and as a winter visitor, arriving during autumn migration and often also during hard weather movements later in the winter.
Breeding season distribution in the county is only partially-known. Forested land in the west of the county is perhaps the habitat most associated with the species. The 2019 issue of the annual ornithological report Birds in Durham, published by Durham Bird Club, suggests that sightings increase when observers go out to look and listen for Nightjar. However, Woodcock can also be found in lowland woodlands further east as well as on open moorland.
In 2021 Durham Bird Club is seeking additional sightings of birds on their roding display flight, which can be observed from Spring onwards until the end of June and beyond. On their roding flights the males patrol a fairly large territory at dawn and dusk often uttering a grunting sound. The information sought in this survey is Date; Location; Start and finish time of observation; number of roding “passes” observed; Minimum number of birds. The last figure will be the maximum in view at any one time, since it is otherwise not possible to determine whether sightings are of the same bird or of different individuals. Results can be submitted by e-mail to the local organiser or via Twitter. If using Twitter please tag @DurhamBirdClub and use the hashtag #DurhamWoodcock
A more structured BTO survey of the species has provided annual monitoring on a limited number of sample sites since 2003 and seems to show a diminishing population. The results of this and of a major national survey in 2013 can be seen here. There may be some scope for volunteers to take on additional sites in Durham for annual monitoring – please contact the local organiser.