Boom time for bitterns at reserve

It's boom time for bitterns at the RSPB's Lakenheath Fen nature reserve.One of the country's most threatened birds, the bittern has returned to the fens of west Suffolk for the first time in 150 years.

It's boom time for bitterns at the RSPB's Lakenheath Fen nature reserve.

One of the country's most threatened birds, the bittern has returned to the fens of west Suffolk for the first time in 150 years. A number of birds were discovered nesting at the RSPB's Lakenheath Fen nature reserve earlier this year and have now been seen breeding on the same site.

The bittern - a relative of the grey heron - is confined in Britain to tracts of extensive reedbed, especially sections of East Anglia.

In 1995, the RSPB bought the land at Lakenheath Fen with the primary aim of creating a wetland reserve suitable for breeding bitterns.


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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.”

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Research by Natural England and the RSPB reveals that the bittern, with its distinctive booming call, has enjoyed its best ever year, continuing this formerly extinct British bird's dramatic recovery.

The survey found that the number of calling male bitterns across the UK had increased from 75 last year - also a record year - to a record minimum of 82 this year, with the eastern region holding the greatest numbers of booming males: 28 on the Suffolk coast, 19 in the Norfolk Broads and 12 in the fens.

Dr Tom Tew, chief scientist for Natural England, said: “We look forward to future booms in numbers as we realise our joint Wetland Vision project which, with �6m of funding from Natural England, has begun to create extensive areas of new wetlands.”

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