Dartford Warblers on our local Heathlands

The Dartford Warbler breeds in pockets of suitable habitat in the southern half of England and Wales and is susceptible to population crashes during hard winters. Due to the sizable amount of habitat in the New Forest and the Thames basin heaths, Hampshire has plenty of habitat and a healthy but fluctuating population. Local heathlands like Broxhead Common and Woolmer Forests suit it well. They can be hard to find and are at their easiest to see when they perch up and sing during breeding time.


Canon EOS 7D Mark II Body

Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 L USM Lens

Crest population on Fire

I saw or heard nine singing Firecrest in the Deadwater Valley Trust Bordon Inclosure during a survey of a small area there first thing this morning. Most birds were associated with Ivy covered trees or Holly. They are tiny, the smallest british bird along with the Goldcrest and were formally a scarce bird in the UK. They first bred in the New Forest in 1962 and have steadily increased in numbers over the following decades. The Bordon area clearly suites them well and their song can be heard in suitable areas from late February to early March.


Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 L USM Lens

Some OBVIOUS signs of spring (and some not so OBVIOUS)

It hasn’t felt like spring over recent days with the sun only showing itself on just a few occasions and rain making itself know on most days. However I have been out and about a little with the camera and taken occasional opportunities to snap some of the below images on my mobile phone.

mallard drake
Just your standard duck to some but the iridescent green of of male mallards head looks particularly resplendent in the spring

Spring is just around the corner and many signs of activity relating to the new season have been apparent over the last few weeks. Along with spring colour and singing birds, flowering plants and buds appearing, a handful of summer migrant birds have already arrived to claim territory and will eventually breed in the area.

Chiffchaffs have started to arrive in the area over the last few weeks and across the country

Already the dawn chorus is quite impressive with thrushes and robins perhaps the most obvious. Both Dartford Warbler and Woodlark are heartily singing on our local heathlands including Woolmer Forest and Broxhead common and I’ve already heard Firecrests and Chiffchaff singing locally in Bordon Inclosure and in Woolmer Forest.

dartford warbler
Dartford Warbler showing and singing very well recently on Broxhead Common and no doubt Woolmer and Longmoor
primrose wild
Wild primrose are popping up all over at the moment as well as the less wild ones in our gardens
adder snake skin shed adder snake skin
Adders will be coming out of hibernation this month and I suspect this is the shed skin of one that i found this week on Broxhead Common
lichen fruiting bodys bodies
Not everyone’s first thought when you think of spring colour but the red of the fruiting bodies on these lichen are really vibrant and easily picked out among the heather on broxhead common at the moment.
More traditionally spring colour photographed this week, Daffodils
lesser celandine
..and these awesome lesser celandine are one of my favorites
Dunnocks are unobtrusive and secretive but become particularly obvious at this time of year.

It has seemed as if I’ve been hardly out of earshot of a singing Dunnock over the part few days. With few leaves on the trees they are often pretty easy to spot singing from an exposed perch on a hedge, fence or rooftop.

Richard Ford