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Upcoming Woodhen Survey & Impacts on the Island Woodhen Population

This householder advises that the next Woodhen Survey is scheduled for Monday 5th December – Friday 23rd December 2022. The aim is to survey woodhen populations across the Island including the settlement.

Woodhen surveys will be carried out:

Monday 5th – Friday 23rd December

6:30 – 11:30 and 15:00 – 18:00

Board staff will need to access leases in the settlement to conduct the survey.

Any leaseholders that wish to make an appointment for a specific time or require written notification please contact the LHIB Environment Team on 6563 2066 or email [email protected].

Survey results

The previous Woodhen Survey conducted in March 2022 recorded a total number of 778 individuals. This is the highest number of woodhens recorded since surveys began in 1985 and shows an increase of 180 birds in the surveyed areas since the previous survey in November 2021 (598), only four months prior.

There is currently an unknown number of woodhens at Big Slope after the release of 15 birds there following the REP. It is also probable that the number of birds in un-surveyed areas has increased in line with those in the settlement area. Therefore, the island-wide population is likely to be considerably higher than reported. Because Mount Gower and Boat Harbour were not surveyed in March, the numbers in those areas are presumed to have remained stable since November/December 2020 for reporting purposes.

Woodhen mother and her chicks
Woodhen mum and her chicks
N.B. No survey was undertaken in 2019. The 2019 numbers are the number of woodhens released from captive management after the REP
Figure 1 The number of woodhens recorded in surveys since 1985.

Survey method

The survey is designed to search certain areas of the island and to record all individual woodhens in those areas. If necessary, some areas are repeatedly visited until all the woodhens have been recorded. The survey is not constrained by how long it takes to complete and if required, the survey will continue until the majority of birds have been recorded. The survey may, however, be constrained by staff availability and staff movements on and off Island.

In recent years, the surveys have taken from nine to 12 days to complete depending on the number of birds recorded. In 2021 and in March 2022, the surveys took three weeks to complete due to the observed increase in the number of birds within the settlement areas.

Due to the steady increase in the population, the Board will be seeking advice from specialised fauna survey ecologists regarding the future of the census survey. The Board would like to explore alternative options for monitoring the population to ensure the ongoing protection of the species while minimising intervention activities.

Woodhen deaths
The Board continues to record elevated numbers of roadkill.

Woodhen roadkill is identified as one of the main human associated impacts on the species. In order to collect sufficient data to assist the Board to manage this impact we ask residents to report any roadkill to the LHIB Environment Team on 6563 2066 or email: [email protected]

The Board understands that woodhen roadkill may be unavoidable and all reports of roadkill will remain confidential. The location, band number (if applicable) and time of day will be recorded on a register and kept at the Board administration office.

Remaining within the 25km hour speed limit, and not feeding birds near roadsides will help minimise deaths, and your cooperation is appreciated.