Return of the Dartford Warbler

The last sighting of a Dartford Warbler on Putney Heath in 2016 was the first recorded sighting since 1938.  Dave Wills, who spotted it, had high hopes that the large areas of gorse on Putney Heath, its favoured habitat, might attract a breeding pair.

Unfortunately, a fire on Putney Heath destroyed a large area of gorse and no further sightings were recorded so we were delighted when our local expert and Bird Walk leader, Adrian Podmore spotted one on the Heath on 16th December.

This morning, one of our volunteers headed out and was able to get this lovely photograph

Dartford Warbler

About the Dartford Warbler

The Dartford Warbler is a small, dark brown bird, with a long tail, a distinctive red eye-ring and a cherry-red breast. It is most often spotted warbling its rattly and scratchy song from the top of a gorse stem. It is dependent on mature, dry heath habitats in the UK, and particularly on Gorse that is in good condition for surviving cold, harsh winters. It only eats insects and does not migrate for the winter, which means it is vulnerable to cold weather and prolonged snow cover. 

The population of Dartford Warblers crashed in the 1960s to just 10 breeding pairs and although numbers are recovering, it is still considered an Amber List species. As a ground-nesting bird, it is also susceptible to disturbance by people and dogs.  

It makes a grassy, cup-shaped nest, in which it lays three to five eggs. It can have up to three broods from April to July.