Bittern  Botaurus lentiginosus


Weston Turville Reservoir - 28th December 2009

Photo copyright Mark Harris

Over the years Weston Turville Reservoir has regularly turned up Bitterns during the Winter, in particular during very cold periods.  This was no exception with up to two birds seen from 23rd December.

To view a chart of Bittern records in the county click on See Chart.


Calvert - February 2009

Photo copyright Tim Watts

A wonderful photo showing the reflection and the feet underwater. 25th Feb.


Photo copyright Mike Collard
A Bittern swimming is certainly a very usual sight.  Mike was fortunate to be called back to the hide to witness this bird taking a short cut between reedbeds.

Photo copyright Tim Watts

Photos copyright John Sheppard

The Calvert Bitterns showed well throughout the month for those with patience!  At least four birds were present.   The brighter conditions on some days enabled these superb photos to be taken.

Good numbers of Bitterns have been recorded across the UK this winter, in particular in the more southerly counties.  Bucks has seen exceptional numbers this winter.

Caldecotte - 26th January 2009

Photos copyright Keith O'Hagen

This Bittern being pursued by Black-headed Gulls drew the attention of photographer Keith O'Hagen.  The bird eventually found safety in the reeds.  This is the first Bittern seen at Caldecotte this winter, although many others sites have recorded multiple sightings of the species.

Calvert - 25th January 2009

Photos copyright Martin Ansley

January saw more Bitterns at Calvert with up to four present.   Bitterns were more frequently seen in the open allowing photographic opportunities.

Calvert - 24th January 2009

Photo copyright Tim Watts

A more typical photo of a Bittern partly hidden in the reeds.

Calvert - 6th January 2009

Photos copyright Nick Foxton

December 2008 and January 2009 were much colder than in recent years and this may have been instrumental in producing a bumper crop of Bitterns across the county.  Two were reported at Calvert, two at Weston Turville Reservoir, two more at Willen Lake, one at Walton Lake (M Keynes) and one or more at Marsworth, just into Hertfordshire. 

The above photos show how differently Bitterns behave when the lakes are frozen and it is not uncommon to see Bitterns away from the reeds in these conditions.  The lower photos gives an excellent idea of what to look for if you flush a large brown bird from the reeds!

Calvert - 19th February 2008

Photos copyright Tim Watts

This Bittern has been seen regularly at Calvert since mid January.  Inevitably it is only seen at dusk just before it goes to roost.  Many visits were necessary in order to get these excellent photos.

Linford - 25th February 2006

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Photo copyright Ken Plows

For a Bittern this individual is showing exceptionally well.  This is a scarce but increasing species and is becoming a regular winter visitor to several lakes in the county.  This photo was taken from one of the hides on this permit only reserve.

Calvert - 18th December 2004

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Photo copyright Tim Watts

The above picture was taken at 4:12pm in virtual darkness and has been enhanced by adjusting contrast and brightness, to get the end result.

Calvert - 2nd December 2004

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Photo copyright Tim watts

As I said below, more fairly typical Bittern views!  This species is clearly not easy to photograph.  This is one of the best of about 50 pictures taken of this bird as is sat in the reedbed.  It did climb up the reeds late in the day but presumably too dark for any photographs.

Willen Lake - 2nd March 2004

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Photo copyright Mike Wallen

More fairly typical Bittern views!  This individual was present between 22nd Feb and 12th March although only reported occasionally.  The upper picture shows how the position of the Bitterns eyes allows it to see forward, even when it's neck it pointing upwards.

Tongwell Lake - 15th February 2004

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Photo copyright Ashley Beolens

Never an easy bird to see clearly and the above picture is certainly a more typical view than the one below.   The Tongwell bird was seen intermittently between 30th Dec 2003 and 13th March 2004.

Wendover Canal - 15th February 1986

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Photo copyright Dave Ferguson

An unusually cold spell froze most reedbeds in the county except for the small reedbed on the Wendover Canal. This was occupied by a Bittern from 14th Feb to 10th March 1986 where it afforded exceptionally close views.

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