Thanks to Jen Walker who sent me this latest release on the fortunes of Bittern up at Leighton Moss and elsewhere.
The stonking pic is by Keith Kellet.
INCREASE FOR ONE OF BRITAIN'S MOST THREATENED BIRDS
Research by Natural England and the RSPB reveals that the Bittern - one of the UK's most threatened birds - has enjoyed its best ever year for at least 120 years [note], continuing this formerly extinct British bird's dramatic recovery.
The survey found that the number of calling male Bitterns had increased from 75 last year - also a record year - to a record minimum of 82 this year, with one of the sites being at RSPB Leighton Moss nature reserve in Silverdale. The number of wetland sites with booming males across the UK has also increased from 41 to 43 this year.
The Bittern - a relative of the Grey Heron - is confined in Britain to large areas of extensive reedbed, especially sections of East Anglia, pockets of northern England and, more recently, the Somerset Levels and Moors.
David Mower, RSPB warden, said "Leighton Moss is famous for Bitterns and this year we have continued to hear one booming male. It's wonderful news that this rare bird has done so well! With all the hard work we've put in to conserve them, we are looking forward to seeing an increase in their numbers in the future here".
"Leighton Moss is an ideal place to try and see this special bird for yourself. Although it is normally very secretive and prefers to stay well hidden amongst the reeds, over the summer many visitors have been treated to great views. We are also pleased to report that the Bittern that was released here after being found starving in Preston, has settled in well and is still here, which is great news!" added David.
Dr Tom Tew, Chief Scientist for Natural England, said: "Extinct by 1886, the bittern only returned in the early twentieth century - coming near to extinction again in the mid 1990s. Since then, concerted efforts by the conservation community to restore dry reedbeds and create new areas of wet reedbed have paid dividends, with the population now as large as it has ever been during the twentieth century.
"We look forward to future booms in numbers as we realise our joint Wetland Vision project which, with ÃÂ£6m of funding from Natural England, has begun to create extensive areas of new wetlands."
Dr Mark Avery, the RSPB's Conservation Director, said: "When we feared the Bittern would hit the buffers again, the conservation community rallied to its cause by managing or recreating extensive tracts of habitat. We didn't believe at the time, that we'd see the bittern population bounce back to record levels in just 12 years."
Since 1990, Bittern researchers have estimated the UK Bittern population by listening for the male Bittern's booming song, which the birds use to establish territories and attract females. The boom can be heard up to three kilometers or more away.
The Bittern - a protected species in Europe - has been subject to two EU Life projects, funded by the European Commission, since 1997. The funding allowed Bittern habitat to be created at a number of sites across England and Wales, including at two satellite sites nearby Leighton Moss (as well as the major rejuvenation work that was carried out in the main reedbed). Bitterns are now nesting at several of these sites, including the RSPB's Ham Wall reserve in Somerset, and the Society's Lakenheath Fen nature reserve in the East Anglian Fens. And at two coastal National Nature Reserves managed by Natural England, Bitterns have recently nested again for the first time since coastal floods two years ago affected their nesting areas.
The annual Bittern monitoring initiative is a partnership between Natural England and the RSPB under the Action for Birds in England programme.
Hey, let's hear it for the flying carpet bags,
Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies...