Rare songbird is at home in Suffolk

A RARE songbird whose numbers have tripled within 13 years is making itself at home in Suffolk.The Dartford warbler, which has increased in the UK from 1,890 pairs in 1994 to 3,208 pairs, is doing well in Dunwich Heath.

A RARE songbird whose numbers have tripled within 13 years is making itself at home in Suffolk.

The Dartford warbler, which has increased in the UK from 1,890 pairs in 1994 to 3,208 pairs, is doing well in Dunwich Heath.

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

As well as Suffolk the bird has returned to Wales and the Midlands and there are 85 pairs in the Channel Islands.


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Mick Wright, site manager for the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said: “This is a bird which stays in the same place all year round so it has been aided by the mild winters we have been having.

“But the county is doing really well and this breeding season seems to be successful so far.

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“We expect it to be spotted in other locations in the county soon and possibly in Norfolk.”

But Mr Wright said people who are walking in Dunwich Heath needed to stick to paths and not disturb the birds which nest in heather.

He added: “Their nests are very delicate and can be destroyed easily. People need to watch out for where their dogs are going because we have had a few nests destroyed by dogs.”

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said the bird's population increase can only be sustained and improved if the Government protects their natural habitat.

Simon Wotton, research biologist at the RSPB, said: “This survey is fantastic news for a very vulnerable bird, particularly because it has moved to higher ground not used by Dartford warblers for many years.

“If the Government is to help wildlife adapt to climate change it should be assigning more land for the creation of habitats to help birds like these.”

n Have you spotted a Dartford warbler? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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

It has a long tail and is about 13cm long, with grey-brown upper parts, a wine-red chest, white belly and red eye-ring.

It is on the amber list of conservation concern because of previous population declines.

Conservationists believe the Dartford warbler's population increase is partly the result of a £25 million heathland protection programme run by the Government agency Natural England.

Source: RSPB>

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