Berkshire's lowland heaths     

   Dartford warbler is almost the only bird to put in an appearance on a winter walk through one of Berkshire's southern heathlands. Even in February they can be quite lively and reply to a bit of "pshishing"

   We are at the northern edge of their present range [excluding Suffolk] and the species' dependence on gorse and heather makes it especially vulnerable to hard winters and so its continued spread will depend on further mild winters [and increasing global warming?]. Sylvia undata appeared to be moving north in the late 50s before the severe winters of the early 1960s almost put pay to them

   According to "The Birds of Berkshire" it first bred in the county in 1991 although post-breeding dispersal has had birds recorded in the county since the 1980s. There is a slight chance of seeing the birds away from their breeding grounds from  October to February

   In the 2003 county bird report, surveyors reported 30 or so territories in East Berks. The report mentions five sites where breeding has been recorded or suspected.

   The subject for these photos was not found at any of the breeding sites referred to in the report

   In West Berks there is only one breeding site and  the latest county report had a couple of records of juvenile birds there in August

   Dartford warbler is on the RSPB's AMBER list
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