Mini bittern boom in Suffolk

A MINI bittern baby boom at a Suffolk nature reserve has been greeted with delight by conservationists.For the first time, two of the rare birds' nests – famous for the male's distinctive booming call – have been discovered at the RSPB's North Warren nature reserve, near Aldeburgh.

A MINI bittern baby boom at a Suffolk nature reserve has been greeted with delight by conservationists.

For the first time, two of the rare birds' nests – famous for the male's distinctive booming call – have been discovered at the RSPB's North Warren nature reserve, near Aldeburgh.

A single bittern's nest was found at the site in 2000 following extensive restoration work to the reedbed, and the pattern of one nesting bird has been repeated each year since then.

The appearance of a second nest has made conservationists more confident that the species is there to stay.


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"We are pretty well certain that bitterns are fairly well back to stay," said RSPB marketing and publicity officer Ian Barthorpe.

Provided conditions are kept right, the birds should flourish, he added.

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There are two booming males at the site, but it is not clear whether each have a nest or whether they both belong to one of the males, he said.

The birds returned to the site after a 50 year absence, and conservation work continues to be carried out to try to ensure conditions are perfect for them.

There are estimated to be about 40 booming male bitterns in the UK this year, including eight at the nearby Minsmere RSPB reserve.

Bitterns are very secretive birds who require large areas of wet reedbed in which to breed.

The appearance of the second nest is significant because the North Warrren reedbed is only about 22 hectares, and research suggests that each male bittern usually requires about 20 hectares of reedbed in which to attract a mate.

The reserve, which is one of several in the UK to receive grants through the EU Life-Nature programme, said the successful breeding is proof of funding.

Rob Macklin, RSPB Suffolk Area Manager, confirmed there are now two females flying around the reserve to find food for their young. Each nest can contain around three chicks, but not all will necessarily survive.

"This is wonderful news for such a small reedbed, and confirms once more how important the Suffolk coast is for bitterns," said Mr Macklin.

"It is extremely pleasing to see success come from all the hard work that the RSPB has done at North Warren."

The North Warren reedbeds have also become home to a range of other wildlife including water rails, bearded tits, reed and sedge warblers, reed buntings, marsh harriers and otters.

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