Boom boom, shake the reeds

by ANTONY CLAY

A bittern. Picture by Ben Andrew,

IT’S boom time at a popular nature reserve where Britain’s loudest bird has been making its presence felt, or rather heard.

As the breeding season approaches, bitterns at the RSPB’s Old Moor site in Manvers have been producing their distinctive ‘booming’ calls from the reedbeds.

Three bitterns have been heard this year and conservationists are delighted at their continuing success in helping a species which was on the verge of extinction just two decades ago.

Graham Figg, site manager at RSPB Old Moor, said: “It is really exciting that we are starting to hear the bitterns again this year, and to have three separate males confirmed is excellent.

“We have been working tirelessly to create exactly the right habitat for bitterns and this is a brilliant result.

“The call is the loudest of any bird in the UK. It sounds like the noise you make when you blow across the top of a glass bottle. The low boom echoes and can be heard up to five kilometres away.

“The male bittern booms from a calling place within his territory to attract a number of females to mate with, after which he has very little to do with raising the young.”

Anyone wanting to hear a bittern can visit the reserve, or attend one of the guided walks which take place every first Tuesday or third Sunday of the month.

More information is available at http://www.rspb.org.uk/RSPBOldMoor.

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