It is always a great pleasure to hear, and hopefully see, a Dartford warbler on the heath. Most often skulking in a thicket of gorse, it’s easy to understand why an alternative name for them is furze-wren.
My subjective impression this summer is that they have had a successful breeding season. Certainly they seem to be quite conspicuous just now along the Ferry Road and around the Knoll dune heath.
This is good news, strengthening the role of the Purbeck heaths as an important area for Dartford warblers. Furthermore, although they are mainly restricted to southern England, good breeding success and better winter survival has allowed them to expand their range northwards in recent years, reaching up to the Midlands.
And perhaps they are losing their renowned shyness and secrecy a little – one of the most reliable places to see them this summer has been by the BBQ area at the Knoll Beach car park.