Yorkshire Bitterns

The bittern is a small member of the heron family. It has striped plumage in shades of brown that provide effective camouflage in the wetland habitats where it moves silently through reedbeds hunting fish and frogs. It is quite rare. Only 80 breeding males in the UK supplemented by around 600 winter visitors. The male has an extraordinary booming call that you are more likely to hear than to actually see this elusive bird but you will be lucky to experience either.

This is one of my few sightings of this elusive heron from a hide at Potteric Carr, one of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserves near Doncaster. The gunfire like noise is the furious clicking of camera shutters trying to capture this fleeting moment in February 2013.

These pictures were taken at the RSPB Old Moor Reserve, also in Yorkshire. It was our first visit for a long time because I had only just had my driving licence restored after it being suspended 20 months for health reasons. It was a bit of a disappointing visit as there was not much about. Strolling back to the car for a cuppa before we drove home we noticed the gulls mobbing what we assumed was a bird of prey. Then someone shouted ‘Bittern’ and there it was not 20 feet away with its beak pointing skywards beautifully illustrating its concealment strategy and melting into the background. so it wasn’t a wasted trip after all.


  1. Aubrey · February 18, 2021

    Never seen one


  2. beestonbirdman · February 18, 2021

    I think you are in the majority. I have seen them only on rare occasions


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s