Rare bird sighted at Aylesbury Riverside Walk
Archived press release
Date Published: 21/07/09
The Grasshopper Warbler
One of Britain’s rarest birds – the Grasshopper Warbler – has been spotted at a popular riverside walk in Aylesbury Vale.
It is the first ever sighting of the bird at the Aylesbury Riverside Walk, which borders Meadowcroft and the River Thame. This species has only been spotted in Buckinghamshire a handful of times over the past two years.
The secretive Grasshopper Warbler is more often heard than seen, identified by a mechanical-sounding song that has been compared to a spinning reel on a fishing rod. They had been lost from many areas by the 1980s, and are red-listed by the RSPB due to population declines and concerns about their future.
Matt Dodds, Aylesbury Vale District Council’s biodiversity officer, was amazed to see the bird at the Riverside Walk. “Sightings of the Grasshopper Warbler are nationally rare, so we are really excited for one to be paying us a visit,” he said. “It goes to show what a great environment the Riverside Walk is for all kinds of birds.
“Since we started habitat changes to the Walk in 2000, the number and variety of birds continues to grow. Sightings such as this help maintain the Walk’s reputation as one of the best sites for birds and bird watching around Aylesbury.”
The Riverside Walk, managed by AVDC, is home to many plants, flowers and wildlife and the work of local volunteers is important to ensure it continues to be a haven for nature. The Aylesbury Riverside Walk Volunteers have planted more than 5,000 trees and laid approximately 1,000 metres of hedgerow in the area over the past eight years.
Councillor David Thompson, Cabinet Member for Leisure at AVDC, said: “It’s wonderful news to hear about the Grasshopper Warbler. It is testament to the work of our biodiversity team and local volunteers in creating the excellent habitats along the Walk and shows what can be done to help our wildlife.”
For more information about the Riverside Walk, visit the council’s website at
www.aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk or call the biodiversity team on 01296 427972.
About the Grasshopper Warbler:
• The high, insect-like reeling song of the Grasshopper Warbler is the best clue to its presence. Even when you hear one it can be difficult to locate it due to the ventriloquial effect of its singing. If seen on migration it moves like a little mouse, creeping through the foliage. Dramatic population declines have made this a Red List species. Red is the highest conservation priority, with species needing urgent action.
• Found scattered across the UK in summer, although less common in Scotland. Likes areas of scrub, thick grassland, the edges of reedbeds, new forestry plantations and gravel pits with plenty of scattered bushes.
• Birds arrive from mid-April and leave again in August and September. Best listened for between April and July when they perch and sing from songposts, mostly at dawn and dusk but often through the night.