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Woodlark and Dartford warbler survey 2017

There will be a Sussex-only breeding woodlark and Dartford warbler survey this year (as well as the breeding Cetti's warbler survey). This survey aims to update our understanding of the distributions of breeding Dartford warblers and woodlarks in Sussex, to enable the calculation of population densities and county population estimates, and to provide information on the habitat preferences of breeding Dartford warblers and woodlarks in Sussex. The survey uses mapping of singing males and other observations of Dartford warblers and woodlarks in tetrads where birds have been recorded previously or where they are known to occur or where there is potentially suitable habitat.

Both species were last surveyed in Sussex in 2006 (in a national BTO/RSPB survey) and results from the Bird Atlas 2007-2011 project provide information about their distributions, but since 2011 numbers of Dartford warblers are thought to have decreased dramatically due to some severe winters and also woodlarks have been recorded using an increasingly wide variety of farmland habitats as well as the more traditional heathland habitats on the West Sussex commons and the Ashdown Forest.

The full survey instructions will be made available but basically volunteers will be allocated tetrads and be asked to make three visits between mid-February and the end of June to search all suitable habitat and plot the locations of all singing woodlarks and Dartford warblers on maps as well as record some simple information about activity and habitat. Casual records of singing males anywhere in Sussex will also be collected. It is likely that most survey registrations and other records, particularly for woodlarks, will relate to birds heard singing and there will be no requirement for the birds to be observed.

Those tetrads for which volunteers are being sought are listed at To check the location of any tetrad use and type the tetrad grid reference into the darker blue panel; the tetrad will appear outlined in pink.

Please contact Helen Crabtree at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or on 01444 441687 if you would like to volunteer to take part in this survey, or if you have questions or comments or would like further information.

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