UK: Dartford warbler back from the brink of extinction

Dartford warbler

From Good Animal News:

A RARE songbird has tripled in number in 13 years and returned to Wales, The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said yesterday.

But the Dartford warbler’s population increase can only be sustained and improved if the Government protects the birds’ natural habitat, the RSPB said.

The UK population of Dartford warblers increased from 1,890 pairs in 1994 to an estimated 3,208 pairs, according to a recent survey.

The bird has returned to Wales, the Midlands and East Anglia, and there are 85 pairs in the Channel Islands.

The population growth is a massive jump from 1963, when just 11 pairs were counted.

Milder winters and the availability of heathland have helped numbers increase, according to the RSPB.

The bird has also adapted to new habitats.

The Dartford warbler – or Sylvia undata – is distinguished by its short, rattling warble, and its distinctive buzzing call.

See also here.

And here.

8 thoughts on “UK: Dartford warbler back from the brink of extinction

  1. Endangered bird hops to rescue of nudist beach

    By Amol Rajan

    The independent, Thursday, 25 September 2008

    The Darford Warbler is one of the species under threat

    The nudists who have frequented Eastney beach in Portsmouth for more than a century thought they were on the way out.

    Qinetiq, a British defence technology company, wants to build 131 luxury apartments there, potentially leaving the nudists very unwelcome.

    But help is at hand, and it has taken the form of a tiny and rather rare friend. The Dartford warbler is one of the few species of warbler to winter in Britain. And now it is has come to the nudists’ rescue.

    Qinetiq had received planning permission to develop its flats on Eastney beach on the condition they widen an access road leading to the land. But at a special meeting of the city council earlier this week, protesters successfully pushed the council to carry out a further environmental study to see if the flats will endanger the bird’s natural habitat.

    As a result, the warbler may soon discover its safest haven is in the company of naked humans.


  2. Worries over Dartford warblers after fierce winter

    3:00pm Wednesday 23rd March 2011

    Signs of spring are starting to appear on Dorset heathland but the question worrying wildlife experts is how many scarce Dartford warblers have survived.

    Harsh winters have in the past decimated the numbers of the perky small birds whose song from the top of flowering gorse is a harbinger of warmer weather.

    The birds feed on insects and in the 1960s arctic blasts reduced numbers to a few breeding pairs. However in recent years they have been a conservation success story.

    Dorset heathlands are carefully managed with these and other rare plants and reptiles in mind, but it is not yet known how many of the ruddy-breasted warblers have survived the coldest December for 100 years.

    Those that did sit out minus 10 temperatures are starting to build their nests.

    The warblers stayed on the heath, woodlarks flocked to the countryside and nightjars flew to sub-Saharan Africa for the winter.

    Experts are not too optimistic for survival rates but want to give every bird the best chance of breeding this year.

    Chris Dieck of the RSPB, who has been monitoring the numbers of heathland birds over the past few years, said: “By keeping your dog on a lead from February to August whilst on the heath, you will be helping Dartford warblers and other ground nesting birds like woodlarks to build future generations. Any disturbance by dogs or humans will potentially prevent them from breeding.”

    The nightjar nests on a patch of bare ground between the heather, a place where a lizard might be seen basking later in the year. The Dartford warblers nest is low down in gorse or heather and woodlarks nest on the ground next to broad-leaved woodland.

    Nicky Hoar from Dorset Wildlife Trust said the first Dartford warblers had been seen at their Upton Heath reserve in the past week.

    “We think we might have done a little better because it’s more sheltered,” she said.

    The Urban Heaths Partnership’s Dorset Dogs website has information where dogs can be exercised off-lead without disturbing rare birds.

    If anyone sees wildlife deliberately disturbed, it can be reported to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


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