Bittern Monitoring in the UK: Summary of the 2009 Season


Key Results

  • A further increase in the number of booming male Bitterns to 82, up from 75 in 2008.
  • No change in the same number of active nests, with 39 confirmed.
  • A slight increase, by two, in the number of sites occupied by booming male Bitterns, up from 41 in 2008.
  • A decrease in the number of sites with nests, with 18 occupied sites in 2009, two down on 2008.
  • Booming confirmed at ten new sites (but nine 2008 sites were unoccupied in 2009).
  • Nesting at Lakenheath Fen for the first time, with four nests confirmed.
  • Seven confirmed nests in the Somerset Levels, up from two in 2008.

Bittern, Fen Drayton Lakes RSPB, Cambridgeshire (Photo: Garth Peacock)

2009 Results

It has been encouraging that there has been another increase in the number of boomers this year, following on from the 47% rise between 2007 and 2008. However, the coldest spell of weather since the mid 1990s, in January and February, did appear to delay booming at sites across the country and no booming was recorded at nine sites that were occupied in 2008. On a more positive note, the ten sites where booming was confirmed for the first time were widely scattered. Reedbed restoration and creation work was undertaken at three of these new sites through the second EU LIFE Bittern project, which ran from 2002 to 2006.

Download the whole report (PDF, 745kB).

Contact Us: The Bittern Monitoring Programme will continue in 2010, as a joint project between Natural England and RSPB. RSPB field staff will be starting to monitor booming Bitterns from early March and will be contacting landowners, site managers and other contacts from this time. With reedbed creation throughout the UK and an expanding Bittern population, we are increasingly reliant on landowners, site managers, wardens and local birders to report booming to us. Please keep an ear out for them next spring, even at sites where they have not been heard for many years. To report an observation or for more information on the best survey methods and when to listen, please contact Simon Wotton.
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Written by: Simon Wotton