Savi's Warbler nests in Wales for first time


Savi's Warbler has nested in Wales for the first time ever, according to RSPB Cymru.

Following the discovery of a singing male at the RSPB's Cors Ddyga reserve, Anglesey, on 14 June, a second individual was seen there a month later. Volunteers kept a close eye on the birds and saw behaviour that confirmed they were breeding, including carrying food to an unseen nest.

The male Savi's Warbler arrived at Cors Ddyga RSPB in mid-June (J Martin Jones).

Savi's Warbler, known for its long, buzzing song that carries across reedbeds, is a rare visitor to Britain, with most appearing in the south and east of England. There are only eight previous records in Wales – including one at Cors Ddyga back in 1999. While common in southern Europe, they are at the very limit of their range here and breeding attempts are sporadic, though perhaps under-recorded given the species' shy and retiring nature. Most records are of singing males that stay just for a few days, which makes confirmed nesting an exciting result for the staff, volunteers and birdwatchers on the reserve.

This follows the successful establishment of other rare species on the reserve – Eurasian Bittern and Western Marsh Harrier have both nested for the fourth consecutive year. Prior to 2016, neither species had nested in Wales for several decades.

Ian Hawkins, RSPB Cors Ddyga Site Manager, 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 wetlands in the Cefni Valley, creating a mosaic of reedbeds, wet grassland and wet woodland. As a result, RSPB Cors Ddyga is now home to a suite of wetland species including Grasshopper Warbler, Water Rail and Pillwort, a tiny fern that lives in muddy areas where livestock graze. The site also boasts the largest breeding population of Northern 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."