The former I.C.I. Ardeer site plays host to eight breeding species of warbler, from the uber-rare lesser whitethroat to the much commoner willow warbler.

Variety and quality of habitat is key to supporting high breeding numbers of warblers and this is especially applicable to the sedge warbler.

In a 900m square study area, containing old munitions silos and fire retention ponds, in Ardeer, approximately 130 breeding territories are clustered around a mosaic of wet and dry habitats.

Extensive aquatic vegetation such as bulrush and sedge beds are enclosed by raised embankments, containing dense mixed patches of bramble, nettles, gorse and broom, interspersed with taller hawthorn, goat willow and elder.

This site holds the highest breeding concentrations of sedge warblers anywhere in Ayrshire and is of high conservation value.

Sedge warblers are summer migrants and arrive in late April with numbers peaking around mid-May.

With most early Scottish arrival dates occurring in Ayrshire, it has been suggested that our migrating warblers arrive via the Irish Sea coast.

Males show strong fidelity to their Ardeer breeding sites and males with a wider song repertoire make far better parents, therefore far more attractive to arriving females!

The song is a complex medley of loud trills and harsh notes, mixed with imitations of other bird species.

Territories are very small, around 0.1-0.2 hectares - hence the high density in Ardeer.

Nests are normally in bramble or nettle and birds lay between 5-6 eggs. Incubation and fledging each last 13-15 days with young being fed mainly on flies, caterpillars, and other soft bodied insects such as aphids.

Ringing studies in Ardeer indicate peak movement of juveniles by the end of July, invariably heading for the south coast of England.

Sedge warblers there will gorge on blooms of plum-reed aphids to fatten up in vital preparation for autumn migration.

Previous research has shown that sedge warblers which have doubled their body weight are capable of flying non- stop from the English south coast to the Sahara Desert - 3,800km away.