Banstead Commons and Banstead Commons Conservators
The Dartford Warbler is a small bird with a relatively long tail with very distinctive colouring. It is one of the few resident warblers in the UK and because it is insect-eating the population is very sensitive to cold winters. In the 1960s the countrywide population was reduced to only a few pairs but since then there has been a slow recovery although it's distribution is still restricted to southern UK.
It is believed to have first colonized Banstead Heath toward the end of the 1990s and a small but stable population was present until around 2010 when two successive cold winters led to it's demise. Since then although there have been occasional sightings it does not appear to have bred on the Heath. This spring however there have been a number of sightings and it would be good to think that it may once again breed here. The preferred habitat is mixed gorse and heather heath and in the spring is most likely to be seen singing from the top of gorse bushes. Our management of the Heath is aimed at increasing the area of suitable mixed heath and at the moment the most likely place to see them is at southern end of the Heath.
Reports of any sightings would be appreciated. Thank you.
(Many thanks to Steve Blain for permission to use his photograph, www.steveblain.co.uk)