Friday, 11 May 2012

A Wealth of Warblers

The university estate supports a high diversity of breeding birds, including a wide range of migratory warbler species. Now is the ideal time of the year to look for these often elusive birds, as they become more obvious when setting up a breeding territory and singing.

Seven species of warblers breed on the university estate in most years, including Willow Warbler, Chiff-chaff, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler and Grasshopper Warbler. Most of these species are now back from their wintering grounds and are singing around the university grounds.

Whitethroat - doing a good job of hiding its white throat.
Photo: Phil Gates

Blackcaps and Chiff-chaffs are very common around Durham this year. There aren't many sections of the University woodlands in which you cannot currently hear the rhythmical song of the chiff-chaff (

Chiffchaff. Photo: Allan Watson

Similarly, most bushy areas and woodland margins have the warbling song of a male black-cap emanating from them at present (

Blackcap. Photo: Steve Willis

The populations of these two species, both of which migrate relatively short distances for warblers (most of our birds probably spent the winter in Spain or North Africa), have increased considerably across the whole of the UK in recent years.