Thursday, 16 June 2011

Dartford Warbler (Sylvia undata)

Latin Etymology: Sylvia ("woodland sprite") undata ("wavy")
Adult male Dartford Warbler (subspecies S. u. dartfordiensis) at Shoeburyness, Essex - February 2015

Featured Subspecies: Sylvia undata dartfordiensis
Weight: 9-12g  /  Length: 13cm  /  Wingspan: 13-18cm
UK AMBER LIST / IUCN Red List: Near Threatened

In my opinion, the most visually striking UK warbler - unlike the normal shades of brown of most of them. They are found on heathland in the south of the country and as a warbler they are told apart by the very long tails and the unique for Britain blue-grey and reddish brown colour scheme, combined with the dramatic red ring around the eye.  They are one of our few warblers that can be found in the winter (small numbers of species like blackcap and chiffchaff can be found in Winter but the majority leave), unfortunately, this makes them very vulnerable to hard Winters and will frequently cause the population to crash, particularly with multiple such Winters in succession.  As such though, this is potentially a bird which will actually benefit from global warming as far as extending it's Norther range goes and so may well increase.   My first sighting of this species was a coincidental glimpse in Cornwall while searching for choughs, the second, much better view was a by-product bonus of an equally failed attempt to see serin at Shoeburyness, where one of these birds was following a stonechat.

Related Species:
Family: Sylvidae
Genus: Sylvia
Subspecies: S. u. dartfordiensis, S.u. undata, S. u. toni

- Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - A rare and local breeding resident to Southern England (3,200 pairs) whose numbers fluctuate widely with Winter severity
 - A single bird seen fleetingly on The Lizard, Cornwall, much better views of a single male at Shoeburyness in February 2015

Further Notes: BirdForum OpusIUCN Red ListRSPBWikipedia, Xeno-canto

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