Cornish Biodiversity Network  -  Supporting Wildlife Recording

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Cornish Red Data (2009)

The descriptive text, below the map, is from the Cornish Red Data Book (2009). The map on this web page depicts the organisms distribution and shows the records made pre-2000 and those made since.

Sylvia undata - Dartford Warbler

Range & Status

Western Europe and north-west Africa; in Britain and Ireland it is at the northern limit of its world range, fluctuating between 150 and 1000 pairs depending on winter weather conditions.

Regional Distribution

Cornwall: formerly quite widespread but a local resident which was virtually wiped-out by the cold winter of 1878/79; few records in 20th century until 1973 since when reported annually, becoming marginally re-established (bred 1976 and regularly at Rame from 1980-1987). Three small population centres developed during 1980s (totalling some 15 pairs): Rame Head-Whitsand Bay, The Lizard and southern Bodmin Moor area. All coastal sites witnessed a decrease during late 1980s. In 1994, the only located breeding at Kit Hill

which held seven territories. Up to five territories re-established on coastal strip between Rame Head and Tregantle in 2007 whilst the Kit Hill population has decreased to possibly a single pair. Outside breeding season odd birds have turned up in most parts of Cornwall. Isles of Scilly: merely a vagrant.

Habitat & Ecology

Occurs in gorse-covered slopes, both on coast and on inland commons. Some breeding pairs of this largely resident species are known to have arrived as spring migrants.


Severe cold spells in winter. Clearance of coastal and moorland Gorse Ulex spp. scrub. Accidental fires in summer.


Requires sympathetic management of Gorse scrub. A few sites are SSSI and Kit Hill is a Country Park. Protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and Annexe 1 of the European Union Conservation of Wild Birds Directive. Listed (long list) as a globally threatened/declining species (BSGR, 1995).


I.J. Bennallick, S. Board, C.N. French, P.A. Gainey, C. Neil, R. Parslow, A. Spalding and P.E. Tompsett. eds. 2009. Red Data Book for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. 2nd Edition.Croceago Press.

The Cornish Red Data Book Project was led by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Federation for Biological Recorders (CISFBR). The full text and species accounts (minus the maps) are available on the CISFBR website.

Cornish Biodiversity Network. 2017.