In the serene woodlands of Somerset’s Quantock Hills, a distinctive sound resonates, filling the canopy with its presence. It’s a series of repeated, one-note calls, followed by a rapid trill, often compared to the spin of a coin. These unmistakable sounds announce the presence of a male wood warbler. With curiosity, I direct my gaze upwards, scanning the pale green foliage for a bird that harmonizes with its surroundings. Finally, I spot him, diligently foraging for minuscule insects among the leaves.
The wood warbler is part of the esteemed “western oakwood trio,” a group of charming birds that migrate to the UK’s “rainforests” from sub-Saharan Africa each spring to breed. Alongside the pied flycatcher and redstart, these birds have graced the British woodlands with their presence.
Not too long ago, the wood warbler was the most prevalent and easily observable among them. However, this year, I found it exceptionally challenging to encounter them. I’m not alone in this predicament. Over the past three decades, wood warbler numbers have plummeted by two-thirds. If this alarming decline persists, these delightful birds may soon vanish as breeding residents in the UK.
In a recent effort to understand and potentially conserve these dwindling populations, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) embarked on a mission. They equipped four male wood warblers with miniature geolocators, allowing them to track the birds’ incredible journey south to Africa.
These tiny devices unveiled a journey far more intricate than previously imagined. The wood warblers, it turns out, make an extended stopover in Italy during August, followed by an arduous Sahara crossing to the Sahel region before reaching their final destination in West Africa. Whether this newfound knowledge will be sufficient to secure the wood warbler’s future remains uncertain, and only time will reveal the fate of this enchanting species as a British breeding bird.
At Natural World Fund, we are passionate about stopping the decline in our wildlife.
The decline in our wildlife is shocking and frightening. Without much more support, many of the animals we know and love will continue in their decline towards extinction.
When you help to restore a patch of degraded land through rewilding to forests, meadows, or wetlands, you have a massive impact on the biodiversity at a local level. You give animals a home and food that they otherwise would not have had, and it has a positive snowball effect on the food chain.
We are convinced that this is much better for the UK than growing lots of fast-growing coniferous trees, solely to remove carbon, that don’t actually help our animals to thrive.
This is why we stand for restoring nature in the UK through responsible rewilding. For us, it is the right thing to do. Let’s do what’s right for nature!
Donate today at https://naturalworldfund.com/ and join in the solution!