RSPB: Cetti's Warbler
Warbling Colonist's Success
Mediterranean Songbird Spreads
One of Britain's newest and loudest breeding songbirds is successfully spreading across England and Wales, according to a survey by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and English Nature.
The Cetti's Warbler first bred in England in the early 1970s and since then has spread into England, Wales and the Channel Isles. The first national survey of the species took place in 1996 when volunteers and staff from the RSPB, EN, and others visited 421 potential breeding sites.
The results show that the population has increased to between 536 and 593 singing males at a total of 168 different sites. Two-thirds of the population was found in Hampshire, Devon, Dorset and Somerset. Counties most recently colonized were Avon, Surrey and Warwickshire, in England, and Gwent and Ceredigion in Wales.
The Cetti's Warbler is a Mediterranean species which has steadily spread through France and was first seen in England, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany in the 1960s. It suffers during prolonged, severe winters and the population in Kent declined dramatically after the cold winters in 1984/5 and 1985/6.
A small brown, insect-eating bird, it is best located by its loud, explosive and far-reaching song which is usually given from deep within a bush or other scrubby vegetation, close to water. The Cetti's Warbler is unique among British songbirds-it has only ten tail feathers and it lays bright red eggs.
Dr. David gibbons, RSPB head of monitoring and surveys, said: "The population of this skulking insect-eater has now become well established in the UK. The recent run of mild winters will have helped it to survive and expand. Indications are that the population is continuing to grow and expand, and if climate change becomes a reality then it may soon be a common sound around British wetlands."
Phil Grice, ornithologist at English Nature, said: "A loud burst of Cetti's Warbler song on a cold grey winter's day is always a delight. That people can now experience it in more wetlands than ever before is great news. Let's hope our efforts to conserve other wetland birds such as the Bittern lead to such spectacular growth in numbers."
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