Numbers of one of the UK’s most scarce and elusive birds, the Bittern Botaurus stellaris, have increased dramatically during recent years. Once considered extinct across the country, conservationists now believe that the UK population of these enigmatic herons has reached an all-time high: with a minimum of 164 booming males recorded at 71 sites, compared to 162 boomers at 78 sites in 2016 and only 11 individuals during 1997. The success of the Bittern testament to the hard-work and determination of the conservationists and NGOs striving to protect it.
A master of disguise and an inhabitant of wetland sites boasting expansive reed cover, the Bittern has been subject to extensive conservation efforts over recent years to safeguard its preferred habitat. Much of this work has focused on sites outside of the Bitterns core range and, funded in part by EU initiatives, aims to facilitate the spread of this iconic species outside of historic haunts in East Anglia. To date, conservation efforts have taken place at over 80 reedbed sites across the length and breadth of Britain; focused on the expansion of existing reedbeds and the creation of new sites themselves ripe for colonisation. As a result of this, breeding Bitterns are now distributed scantly yet widely across the UK.
For more information about Bitterns, their monitoring and current success, see: http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/ourwork/b/biodiversity/archive/2017/11/09/another-record-year-for-booming-bitterns.aspx#0UTK7clSVACucxsz.99
Cover image – Jo Garbutt, licensed under Flickr Creative Commons. https://goo.gl/aBXeVs