147: Woodcock Research and Hunting with James O’Neill

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The woodcock is one of the most interesting birds. It is a wader that adapted to the woodland habitat. It has a range of unique characteristics like 360-degree vision, a flexible bill and white tail feathers that reflect up to 30% more light than the feathers of any other bird. It is also a valued game bird, meaning it is a sought-after quarry for bird hunters. So much so that an entire breed of gun dogs, cocker spaniels, was created for hunting woodcock. Their name ‘cocker’ is thought to have come from the bird’s name.

To talk about this fascinating bird I could invite only one person. Our guest today is none other than James O’Neill who some people refer to as Mr Woodcock. James is a PhD student at University College Cork who focuses his research on this species of woodland bird. James not only rings these birds but also conducts surveys and examines all kinds of parameters of woodcock biology and ecology.

As you would expect, one hour is not nearly enough to cover all aspects of James’ research and to even scratch the surface of his deep knowledge of this species. So we agreed that we’ll get together again soon to record part two of our conversation. Subscribe to my newsletter to not miss it. Finally, I want to give a shoutout to NARGC who was a driving force and huge supporter of this project. Once again a hunting organisation is playing a key role in research and conservation.

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