Dartford Warbler declines

………………………………….

The heavy snow in February may have had a devastating affect on the Dartford warbler in some of its UK’s strongholds.

Initial reports suggest Dartford warbler numbers on important heathland sites in Surrey, Berkshire and Hampshire are down by around 80 to 90 per cent from 2008 due to this year’s snow.

Sam Dawes, conservation manager in the RSPB’s South East region, said: “The impact of this winter’s snow shows what a fine balance there is for these birds between success and failure. Dartford warblers have generally been doing well on the Thames Basin and Wealden Heaths in recent years due to milder winters and better protection of the sites.”

“The Thames Basin and Wealden Heaths, and the special birds they support, have never been so important but it’s a rare habitat that desperately needs protecting.”

“Climate change could also see Dartford warblers ousted from their traditional grounds in Europe and north-west Africa, and if the birds can’t find refuge here, on our heaths, the future for them could be very bleak indeed.”

Surfbirds.com, 6 Jul 2009