Call that says the bit­tern is back

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Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page -

THE start of the breed­ing sea­son has brought the sound of a boom­ing bit­tern back to RSPB Dun­geness – a wel­come re­turn af­ter last year when they were recorded for the first time in the re­serve’s his­tory. The dis­tinc­tive mat­ing call of the male was heard reg­u­larly on the re­serve in mid-April but it has since gone quiet, rais­ing hopes he has found a fe­male mate. Bob Gomes, RSPB site man­ager, said: “They are very hard to spot be­cause of their fan­tas­tic cam­ou­flage so the male’s boom­ing call is the best way to lo­cate one. We’ll know if they have nested suc­cess­fully if we see the par­ents fly­ing to a nest with food, or if young start to ap­pear.” The ap­pear­ance of bit­terns fol­lows a five-year project to en­hance the re­serve’s reedbeds – the bird’s main wa­tery habi­tat. Bit­terns dis­ap­peared from Bri­tain as a breed­ing bird in 1886 and drainage of wet­lands means they have en­dured a che­quered his­tory since, plum­met­ing to just 11 boom­ing males in Eng­land in 1997. Mr Gomes added: “We’ve had bit­terns win­ter­ing here be­fore, but they al­ways left for Europe to breed. Now it looks like they are stay­ing here for the breed­ing sea­son which is great news.”

For more in­for­ma­tion on RSPB Dun­geness call 01797 320588 or visit www.rspb.org.uk/re­serves

Pic­ture: Andy Hay (rspb-im­ages.com)

An adult bit­tern wad­ing in reedbed

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