VOLUNTEERS examining the behaviour of rare woodcocks in the New Forest have been awarded more than £12,000 to undertake cutting-edge research.

The New Forest Woodcock Group will use night vision equipment and radio tag transmitters to observe never-before-seen night-time mating behaviour and potentially track the movements of female with young.

The volunteers aim to increase understanding of the woodcock and explore the reasons behind its decline.

The RSPB has given the species amber status in its traffic light system of conservation importance, meaning the number of birds has moderately declined over the last 25 years.

The study’s grant was allocated by the New Forest National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund (SDF).

Dr Manuel Hinge, New Forest Woodcock Group research coordinator, said: “We hope that this study will help the group estimate with greater accuracy the number of resident woodcocks breeding in the New Forest and identify behaviour that has not been documented before.”