IT IS more than likely that Rocket, my adopted woodcock, is a daddy by now, according to the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust.
I don’t think woodcock males are very paternal so his brood, if indeed there is one, will have to make its own way back to Scotland this autumn without an escorting father.
I am sponsoring Rocket – judging from his photo, an appealing little fellow with a beady eye – at the rate of £3 a month. This helps pay for the solar transmitter strapped to his back which tells us where he has been all this summer.
The answer is a Norwegian national park with an unspellable name well north of Trondheim. After being caught and tagged in March in the Beauly Firth area he almost immediately took off across the North Sea. In common with the rest of his species, Rocket is capable of flying for 24 hours non-stop at 25mph. Unsurprisingly they then spend the next 11-17 days recovering before pushing on to the next leg.
Anyway, having arrived in Norway and making it up to the north he was thought to be “roding” in the gloaming, a sort of woodcock male display intended to attract a mate. That was in May.
Assuming he found a mate and covered her, or whatever it is woodcock do – they do it in mid-air, which is quite something – he will have hung about until she finished laying her eggs and then gone off on another roding expedition in search of a second wife. (Why the female of the species is not called a woodhen remains a mystery. But there you go).
Of all the tagged woodcock from the UK, Rocket has ventured the furthest north, although I notice a Cornish woodcock named Monkey has managed to fly more than 3,500 miles to central Russia – so far that by the time he got there he had to start coming back if he wanted to be home for Christmas.
Some have not made it. Last time I looked at the chart in the spring at least one had disappeared almost immediately after being tagged. It turned out she had been sponsored largely (I use the word advisedly) by the Soames family, headed by the rotund MP Nicholas Soames, a walking talking parody of the huntin’, shootin’ an’ fishin’ toff.Asked by a local radio reporter what he’d eaten for breakfast – this for testing sound levels, not broadcasting – Soames replied: “Two cold grouse and bottle of claret, what did you have dear boy?”. Needless to say the unprincipled hack immediately put it out on air. It could have been worse – he might have breakfasted on woodcock.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South west