History made as first pair of Savi’s warbler nest in Wales

Deio Gruffydd

Thursday 15 August 2019

25 years of wetland restoration on Anglesey leads to Savi’s warblers nesting at RSPB Cors Ddyga nature reserve. This is the latest special wildlife to establish a home here.

Fersiwn Gymraeg ar gael yma.

For the first time in Wales, a pair of Savi’s warblers have nested on the RSPB Cors Ddyga reserve on Anglesey.

Following the discovery of a lone male Savi’s warbler spotted by warden Ken Maurice on 14 June, a second bird was seen a month later. Volunteers kept a close watch and saw behaviour that confirmed the birds were breeding, including carrying food to unseen nest.

Savi’s warblers, known for their long, buzzing trill that carries across reedbeds, are very rare visitors, with only eight previous sightings in Wales, including one at RSPB Cors Ddyga back in 1999. While common in southern Europe, they are at the very limit of their range here. Most records are of singing males that stay just for a few days, which makes the nesting an exciting result for the staff, volunteers and bird watchers on the reserve.

This nesting follows the successful establishment of other rare species on the reserve. Bitterns, elusive birds famous for their cryptic plumage and booming call and Marsh Harriers have again nested on the reserve for the fourth consecutive year. Prior to 2016, neither species had nested in Wales for several decades.

RSPB Cors Ddyga Site Manager, Ian Hawkins, said:
“We’re absolutely thrilled to confirm that the first pair of Savi’s warblers are nesting here on the reserve. It goes to show that all the work we’ve put in to restore the wetland habitats has paid off and it’s safe to say that Cors Ddyga is a nationally important place for nature. Let’s hope our work will attract new species as their breeding ranges move northwards and westwards in response to climate change.”

Since 1994, RSPB Cymru wardens and volunteers have been restoring the wetlands in the Cefni Valley, creating a mosaic of reedbed, wet grassland and wet woodland. As a result, RSPB Cors Ddyga is now home to a suite of wetland species including grasshopper warblers, water rail and pillwort; a tiny fern that lives in muddy areas where livestock graze. The site also boasts the largest population of lapwing on Anglesey, with 71 pairs nesting in 2019.

Hawkins added:
“Thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the WREN Biodiversity Action Fund, we have been able to install sluices that hold the water in the reedbeds, improving the quality of the habitat and insect life in the wetland. The funding has also enabled us to create a new visitor trail at the reserve, from which the male Savi’s warbler could be regularly seen and heard."


Editor’s notes:

1. The RSPB is the UK’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. We play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations.

2. Savi’s warbler is a rare bird to the UK, with an average of just four birds seen each year, with the last confirmed nesting in the UK took place in Sussex in 2010.

3. Male Savi’s warblers have a long, buzzing trill that carries across a reedbed, and that’s usually the only clue to their presence, so it’s unusual to confirm that a pair has nested.

4. On average, four Savi’s warblers are spotted in the UK each year, compared to a peak of 30 territorial males in the late 1970s (-72% in 25 years).

5. RSPB Cors Ddyga is a Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is one of just three in Wales designated for the richness of its aquatic invertebrates, such as dragonflies and water beetles.

6. Banner photo credit: Steve Culley

Last Updated: Thursday 15 August 2019

Tagged with: Country: Wales Country: Wales Country: Wales Topic: Birds Topic: Conservation Topic: Reserves Topic: Savi's warbler Topic: Wetland