Posted 1st May 2018 by Peter Byrne
11 booming Bittern males have been recorded on their Westhay Moor, Westhay Heath and Catcott Nature Reserves, Somerset Wildlife Trust have reported
This represents the highest number to be recorded since surveying started on these sites, bringing the total for the Avalon Marshes to 50 Bittern, and 55 for the county.
This news acts as further evidence of the success of the land and water management that has occurred over the years, along with the other wetland bird and wildlife species that call these places home.
Mark Blake, the Somerset Wildlife Trust's Senior Reserves Manager, said: "It seems unimaginable now that there was only a total of 11 males across the whole of the UK when the population of this elusive bird’s population reached its low point in 1997 - with most in East Anglia and Lancashire and just one other pair found in the Chew Valley for a time in the 1990s. It is fantastic that the numbers of these heron like birds continue to remain strong, and is testament to the incredible amount of work that has invested by us and others in the Avalon Marshes partnership (who also report excellent numbers on their reserves) over the years to ensure that the feeding and nesting habitats that support them are kept in perfect health and remain resilient. Somerset really is the stronghold for this amazing bird."
To carry out the study, and to identify exactly how the species was faring, a large number of volunteers were paired up at 5am to survey different points of the Avalon Marshes reserves, to listen out for the distinctive boom of the bittern. Each time a boom was recorded, the location would be plotted on a map of the area, and split into grid squares. This information was then collected and correlated to identify exactly how many individuals were present based on the booms heard.
Image courtesy of Tim Stenton