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Dartford Warblers have amazing comeback

Words by Smiley Team

Dartford Warblers have made an amazing comeback from the brink of extinction in the UK, with 183 pairs being found on RSPB nature reserves – the highest number ever recorded.

The birds, which were once reduced to just a few pairs in Dorset, can now be spotted on heathland sites such as RSPB Minsmere in Suffolk and RSPB Arne in Dorset. 

In 2021, surveys counted 37 pairs of birds on the Minsmere nature reserve, which is a strong increase from 23 pairs in 2019. This is thanks to conservation efforts to create and restore heathland, as well as a trend of mild winters. 

“We have seen a steady increase in the number of Dartford warblers, alongside other species relying on the heathland habitats such as nightjar," said Mel Kemp, warden at RSPB Minsmere. “All the hard work of restoring this habitat has really paid off.”

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Heathland is an important home for nature in the UK, and it is made up of different types of gorse, heather and berries, such as crowberry and bilberry. It's home to a number of other species; rabbits, hares, stoats, weasels, grass snakes and slow worms. 

Unfortunately, approximately 80% of healthland has been lost in the past 150 years. According to The Wildlife Trusts, the heathland on lowland has been drastically reduced due to agricultural development and the planting of conifers. 

On uplands, heathland has become huge areas of impoverished grassland due to its over-management. However, conservation efforts are being made to bring different types of heathland back from the brink of extinction. 

“Increased responsibility for the Dartford warbler population means we need to continue to restore, manage and protect the heathland we have left here in the UK to best ensure the future of not just this species, but many others too,” says Mel.

Inspired to act?

SUPPORT: You can find out ways to help protect heathland on the Bug Life website.

DONATE: Donate to the RSPB or The Wildlife Trusts to help further protect wildlife.


This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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