Conservation status: Red

The aquatic warbler is a regular but scarce autumn migrant to certain areas in southern Britain, visiting on its way between breeding grounds in eastern Europe and its winter home in West Africa. Its dependence on a specialised and vulnerable breeding habitat means it has become a globally threatened and declining species. It is more yellow-brown and streaked than the simliar sedge warbler.



Latin name

Acrocephalus paludicola


Warblers and allies (Sylviidae)

Where to see them

They are best looked for in coastal reedbeds along the south coast, often feeding near the reedbed in low vegetation. The RSPB reserve at Marazion Marsh, Cornwall records several aquatic warblers annually and they have also been seen at Radipole Lake and Lodmoor reserves in Dorset.

When to see them

Arrives at its European breeding grounds in April. Migration starts in autumn and sometimes earlier with some males leaving breeding areas at the end of June and the majority in the second half of July. Juveniles leave shortly after fledging. In the UK it is best looked for in late summer, especially the latter half of August. It can be difficult to see in thick vegetation as it tends to keep close to the ground or water and creep along.

What they eat

Insects, caterpillars and grubs, and spiders.


EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
12-20,000 pairs--10 birds


Aquatic warbler distribution


In the UK
Usually seen along the south coast of England.
In Europe
Eastern Germany and Poland eastwards.
Germany and Poland eastwards into central Asia.


Niels Krabbe, Xeno-canto

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