Skip to main content
close x

Dartford warbler

Dartford warbler

The Dartford warbler is a true heathland specialty and the New Forest is one of its strongholds.

In the rest of the UK it is only found in the southern counties and Suffolk. These are the only places that stay warm enough for the species to survive through the winter and also have suitable heathland habitat.

In the New Forest, Dartford Warblers can be found on areas of open heathland with a scattering of gorse bushes. This is the only habitat where you are likely to find them, except in winter when you may see them in gorse scrub along the coast.

Most warblers spend the winter in Africa, but Dartford Warblers stay here all year round. They survive because the heather and gorse are thick and evergreen and they can find insects among the bushes throughout the winter, even when there is a covering of snow. But harsh winter weather will kill many of them and after the 1960s just a few pairs survived in the country.  More recently their numbers increased due to warmer winters and well managed areas of heathland.

The best way to look for Dartford Warblers is to go to an area of heathland with gorse bushes on a sunny morning in April or May when the males will be singing on top of the gorse bushes. Areas such as Dur Hill near Burley and Hampton Ridge, near Frogham, are good places.

Photo credit: Mike Read

ID Tip

ID Tip

Males look colourful in books with a crimson underside and steel grey upperparts. However the best way to recognize Dartford warblers is that they are the only tiny, grey bird of heathlands with a long tail.

Lead Ranger


'To help ground nesting birds rear their young safely, keep yourself, dogs and ridden horses on the main tracks from the beginning of March to the end of August.'

Newsletter Image





Six free walking routes when you sign up for New Forest Newsletter

Subscribe to New Forest National Park Authority

By entering your email below you are consenting to us sending you newsletters. To unsubscribe, email More info:

I think you mistyped your email
Your interests (tick at least one)

Please select one

By signing up to this form you are consenting to receive emails from us. Each email will contain a link to your personal reference settings where you can opt-out or change which emails you receive from us. Please read our Privacy Policy for more information about how we use data.

Subscribe to New Forest National Park Authority

Thanks, your subscription has been confirmed. You've been added to our list and your New Forest walking pack is on its way to you, including a link to download our free app.