Monday, 28 December 2009

Eurasian Bittern (Botaurus stellaris)

  Adult Eurasian Bittern (subspecies B. s. stellaris) at Rutland Water, Rutland - December 2009

OTHER NAMES: Great Bittern, Bittern
Featured Subspecies: Botaurus stellaris stellaris
Weight: 865-1900g
Length: 64-80cm
Wingspan: 100-130cm
UK RED LIST / IUCN Red List: Least Concern

At the time I first saw this species, the Bittern was a fairly tricky species to see, however, it has been getting commoner due to the success of conservation, and can now be seen at an increasing number of locations, particularly in Winter.  It is a large heron, but unlike the other species found in the UK it is very secretive - its camouflage is designed specifically to blend in with their reed-bed habitats - particularly when they maintain they distinctive bolt upright pose.  However, when the bodies of water they are on freeze around the edge, they are often pushed to leave the reeds a bit more, enabling them to be seen more easily.   They are a scarce bird in the UK, but conservation has seen the number of breeding males increase by a significant percentage over the last 10 years.  In the breeding season, it can often be heard if not seen from it's distinctive booming mating call.

Related Species:
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Ardeidae
Genus: Botaurus
Subspecies: B. s. stellaris, B. s. capensis

- Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - A rare breeding resident (80 males) and widespread but rare Winter visitor (600 birds)
 - A single bird seen at Rutland Water in December 2009,

Further Information: RSPB, Wikipedia, BirdGuidesBirdForum Opus, Arkive, IUCN Red List

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