After decades of decline, Britain’s loudest bird is booming. The latest bittern count recorded 228 calling males at 103 sites – not bad considering it previously went extinct in Britain.
The bittern’s British tale is one of boom and bust. Wiped out by hunting and habitat loss in the 1880s, the birds returned under their own steam only for numbers to dwindle again – by the 1990s there were just 11 calling males.
Now they are thriving again thanks to efforts to restore their wetland habitats, led by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Natural England.
“Rewetting these spaces also helps prevent flooding and fights the climate crisis,” said Simon Wotton, RSPB senior conservation scientist. “Wetlands are incredible carbon sponges, with coastal wetlands locking in more carbon than forests.”
Image: Bob Frewin