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Lesser Whitethroat

Summer visitor to scrubby areas and hedgerows

Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

The lesser whitethroat (Sylvia curruca) is a summer visitor to Dorset and whilst it breeds here it is not found in great numbers. It is mainly seen in Dorset as a migrant species passing through the county on its way to find territories elsewhere in south-eastern and central areas of England. Its preferred nesting environment is scrub and thick hedgerow and away from coastal locations this is not a frequently found habitat type in Dorset hence is scarcity here as a breeding species. They winter in north-eastern Africa and migrate across Europe via Italy and central Europe and they are much more common in these areas than they are here in Britain.

The lesser whitethroat starts arriving back on our shores from week 15 at the beginning of April and the main migration influx seems to be over by week 20 in early May. There are further reports through until week 25 in late June and some of these reports will be of breeding birds. It is in week 34 in August that the return migration starts and by week 40 in mid-October they are gone. 

There are reports from thirty seven locations in Dorset with Durlston Country Park and Hengistbury Head providing a good number and these are known breeding sites for the lesser whitethroat. Portland produces a high number of reports too but these are of migrant birds coming and going via the Bill. The other sites have fewer records; these are predominantly coastal and are generally evidence of passage through the county.

Head to Durlston Country Park in May if you need lesser whitethroat for your Dorset list.



Common Name Lesser Whitethroat
Scientific Name Sylvia curruca
Species Group Birds Warblers
Status Occasional
Interest Level
  • 04 - April
  • 05 - May
  • 06 - June
  • 07 - July
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
  • 10 - October
Look for

A greyer warbler with a very conspicuous white throat

Identification Notes
  • Has the same white throat as its relative, the common whitethroat, but is noticably greyer in colour
  • Prefers hedges and deep thicket with nearby trees to sing from
  • The song does not resemble that of the common whitethroat in any way 
Primary Habitat
Preferred Environment
Look for
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Birds Warblers