Fortunately it is now having a small renaissance and can be found in a number of heathland breeding areas across the south and east of England.
I picked Dunwich Heath to look for them but the weather was poor. It was overcast and there was a strong on shore wind to deal with. Dartford Warblers prefer to keep low at the best of times and the wind factor just made seeing any quite difficult.
|Coastguards Cottages, Dunwich Heath|
Finding the Dartford Warblers is quite easy. You just need to walk around the heath listening for that 40 fag a day wheezing that they make deep down in the heather or gorse. Once you hear this and locate the general position, you wait. You will see a dart of a small dark bird as it flies from one bush to another. If things go well, it will sit up for a few moments atop a gorse or heather strand before diving back down and disappearing. Now my problems really began. I wanted to digiscope the bird and this was proving difficult, even impossible because when you are faced by a sea of heather, it is tricky to focus a scope on a particular part (it all looks the same) By the time you do find the place the bird was, it’s gone. I was frustrated to say the least but decided to change my tactics and gamble on the observation that these birds are creatures of habit and one warbler had returned to a branch of dead heather or something a couple of times so I decided to set up for a return visit.
|Sit and wait.....|
|This was the last I saw of him.|