9 BIT­TERN

Bird Watching (UK) - - Destination London -

Ev­ery­body has a bo­gey bird; that one which you just can’t seem to spot. For me, and prob­a­bly many oth­ers, this was the Bit­tern. I spent time hunt­ing for this per­fectly cam­ou­flaged heron at At­ten­bor­ough Na­ture Re­serve in Not­ting­hamshire, with no luck. My grandma once man­aged to spot one while I was dis­tracted by, of all things, a Grey Squir­rel. It was the London Wet­land Cen­tre in Barnes where the curse was fi­nally bro­ken and this site has pro­vided mul­ti­ple sight­ings since then each win­ter. Bit­terns were de­clared ex­tinct in the UK in 1880 due to hunt­ing and wet­land drainage. Thank­fully, the species re­turned of its own ac­cord as a win­ter vis­i­tor, and in a few places in the UK does breed here again. Hope­fully, the sound of male Bit­terns boom­ing in the breed­ing sea­son will be heard in London once more.

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