Dead Snipe or Woodcock in Central London

Hello there,

I work in Central London, the route I walk from London Bridge station takes me across London Bridge, down past Bank, along Moorgate and up towards Old street roundabout. 

This morning, sadly I spotted a dead bird lying in the corner of the pavement just outside a restaurant, at coordinates (51.522349, -0.087224) between Old st and Moorgate - if you pop those coordinates into google maps I think the spot should come up.

Anyway, my family especially my Mum and Brother are quite avid bird watchers/enthusiasts... I am too, however I'm not as knowledgeable as them.

I thought it had to be either a Snipe or a Curlew - though checking my Mum's old bird book with illustrations this evening I thought it was probably a snipe (Curlews are very different actually), however as Mum pointed out, it could well have actually been a woodcock. Looking at some photos online, I'm inclined to think she is correct.

The size was probably between 25-30 cm long, which again possibly lends itself more towards being a woodcock - also the stripes along the chest feathers too perhaps.

Could anyone give a second opinion (or third in this case).

Either way, seemed like such a bizarre place to find what I would have taken for a shallow water wader type bird.



  • Mums are always right.....
  • As Robbo says Mum has got this one. It's actually not that unusual for Woodcock to turn up in cities in the winter. They are 'crepuscular' birds so active between dusk and dawn, there is some thought that they get confused by light reflection off glass. I think there was some research being done into it. I'll see if I can find a link

    Cin J

  • In reply to Germain:

    Thank you for confirming :)

    Yes I was reading about the mishaps of woodcocks who make their way into the city this morning actually:

    https://www.theenglishgarden.co.uk/expert-advice/woodcock-birds-are-lured-by-british-cities-and-gardens/

    Rare woodcock birds from Russia and Scandinavia have been lured to the UK by bright city lights and British gardens. Plump and bizarre-looking, the woodcock has been turning up in the most unusual places.

    In recent weeks, the RSPB has been receiving numerous reports of woodcock – a bulky wading bird with a long bill – showing up in back gardens and even cities. Surprised members of the public have also taken to social media to share pictures of birds appearing in urban areas, including central London.

    Many birds appear dazed and confused, having collided with buildings and windows.

    (I wonder if this was the fate of the poor bird I found - possibly broke it's neck hitting the building)

    Most woodcock found in the UK are migrant birds which spend the summer in Finland and Russia. Then, in October and November, when the cold weather bites, they set off for the UK in their thousands to enjoy our relatively milder weather. Because they make their long journeys – often over 1,000 miles – during the night, flying low, woodcock are prone to bumping into unexpected landmarks. Often these are tall buildings next to rivers, suggesting the birds are using rivers as migratory paths. Experts also suggest that woodcock are lured by artificial lights, and can mistake glass windows and shiny office buildings for the open sky. 

    (The spot I found it was a good mile away from the Thames, though the notion of it being lured off coarse by the city lights is possible I suppose)