Rare bittern boost in East Anglia

EAST Anglia is at the forefront of a dramatic rise in numbers of the rare bittern.Research results published yesterday show that UK population of the birds, on the verge of extinction only six years ago, is now likely to be in the region of 100.

EAST Anglia is at the forefront of a dramatic rise in numbers of the rare bittern.

Research results published yesterday show that UK population of the birds, on the verge of extinction only six years ago, is now likely to be in the region of 100.

A total of 43 males – each of which emits a distinctive booming sound, were identified in a survey conducted by the RSPB and English nature. Last year only 31 males were found. Females are much harder to locate.

About 75% of the bitterns live in East Anglia, along the Suffolk coast and on the Norfolk Broads.

Eight of the male "boomers" were identified at Minsmere. North Warren, near Aldeburgh, had two nests.

Bittern numbers has plummeted during the last century as large areas of reedbed habitat were drained, destroyed or neglected.

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However, intensive work to create new reedbeds and better management of existing area has helped reverse the decline.

A new £4 million project, lunched in May this year, is expected to build on the success story.

Gillian Gilbert, RSPB bittern ecologist, said the results of the latest research were "very encouraging" and were based on the achievements of recent conservation work."

Andy Brown, English Nature spokesman, said other wildlife, including the bearded tit, marsh harrier, water vole and otter, were benefiting from reedbed restoration.

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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