Eurasian bittern

The Eurasian bittern or great bittern (Botaurus stellaris) is a wading bird in the bittern subfamily (Botaurinae) of the heron family Ardeidae. There are two subspecies, the northern race (B. s. stellaris) breeding in parts of Europe and Asia, as well as on the northern coast of Africa, while the southern race (B. s. capensis) is endemic to parts of southern Africa. It is a secretive bird, seldom seen in the open as it prefers to skulk in reed beds and thick vegetation near water bodies. Its presence is apparent in the spring, when the booming call of the male during the breeding season can be heard. It feeds on fish, small mammals, fledgling birds, amphibians, crustaceans and insects.

The nest is usually built among reeds at the edge of bodies of water. The female incubates the clutch of eggs and feeds the young chicks, which leave the nest when about two weeks old. She continues to care for them until they are fully fledged some six weeks later.

With its specific habitat requirements and the general reduction in wetlands across its range, the population is thought to be in decline globally. However the decline is slow, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its overall conservation status as being of "least concern". Nevertheless, some local populations are at risk and the population of the southern race has declined more dramatically and is cause for concern. In the United Kingdom it is one of the most threatened of all bird species.[4]

Eurasian bittern
Bittern - Botaurus stellaris
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Ardeidae
Genus: Botaurus
B. stellaris
Binomial name
Botaurus stellaris
  • B. s. stellaris Linnaeus, 1758[2]
  • B. s. capensis (Schlegel, 1863)[3]
Botaurus stellaris map
Range of Botaurus stellaris:     breeding     year-round     nonbreeding

Ardea stellaris Linnaeus, 1758

Taxonomy and etymology

This species was first described as Ardea stellaris botaurus as early as the 1660's by the ornithologist Thomas Browne [5] and as Ardea stellaris by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in his Systema Naturae of 1758. It is placed in the subfamily Botaurinae, and its closest relatives are the American bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus), the pinnated bittern (Botaurus pinnatus) and the Australasian bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus).[6] Two races of Eurasian bittern are recognised; the nominate subspecies B. s. stellaris has a palearctic distribution and occurs across a broad swathe of Europe, North Africa and Asia, while the other subspecies, B. s. capensis, occurs only in southern Africa.[7] The name capensis was used for species found in the Afrotropics for which no exact range was known.[8]

The generic name Botaurus was given by the English naturalist James Francis Stephens, and is derived from Medieval Latin butaurus, "bittern", itself constructed from the Middle English name for the bird, botor.[9] Pliny gave a fanciful derivation from Bos (ox) and taurus (bull), because the bittern's call resembles the bellowing of a bull.[10] The species name stellaris is Latin for "starred", from stella, "star", and refers to the speckled plumage.[9]

Its folk names, often local, include many variations on the themes of "barrel-maker", "bog-bull", "bog hen", "bog-trotter", "bog-bumper", "mire drum[ble]", "butter bump", "bitter bum",[11] "bog blutter", "bog drum", "boom bird", "bottle-bump", "bull of the bog", "bull of the mire", "bumpy cors", and "heather blutter".[12] Most of these were onomatopoeic colloquial names for the bird; the call was described as "bumping"[13] or "booming". Mire and bog denote the bird's habitat.[14]


Eurasian Bittern (Botaurus stellaris) skull at the Royal Veterinary College anatomy museum
A Eurasian bittern skull

Bitterns are thickset herons with bright, pale, buffy-brown plumage covered with dark streaks and bars As its alternate name suggests, this species is the largest of the bitterns, with males being rather larger than females.[15] The Eurasian or great bittern is 69–81 cm (27–32 in) in length, with a 100–130 cm (39–51 in) wingspan and a body mass of 0.87–1.94 kg (1.9–4.3 lb).[16]

The crown and nape are black, with the individual feathers rather long and loosely arranged, tipped with buff narrowly barred with black. The sides of the head and neck are a more uniform tawny-buff, irregularly barred with black. The mantle, scapulars and back are of a similar colour but are more heavily barred, the individual feathers having black centres and barring. The head has a yellowish-buff superciliary stripe and a brownish-black moustachial stripe. The sides of the neck are a rusty-brown with faint barring. The chin and throat are buff, the central feathers on the throat having longitudinal stripes of rusty-brown. The breast and belly are yellowish-buff, with broad stripes of brown at the side and narrow stripes in the centre. The tail is rusty-buff with black streaks in the centre and black mottling near the edge. The wings are pale rusty-brown irregularly barred, streaked and mottled with black.[17] The plumage has a loose texture, and elongated feathers on the crown, neck and breast can be erected.[18] The powerful bill is greenish-yellow with a darker tip to the upper mandible. The eye has a yellow iris and is surrounded by a ring of greenish or bluish bare skin. The legs and feet are greenish, with some yellow on the tarsal joint and yellow soles to the feet. Juveniles have similar plumage to adults but are somewhat paler with less distinct markings.[17]

Distribution and habitat

The breeding range of B. s. stellaris extends across temperate parts of Europe and Asia from the British Isles, Sweden and Finland eastwards to Sakhalin Island in eastern Siberia and Hokkaido Island in Japan. The bird's northern extent of occurrence is around 57°N in the Ural Mountains and 64°N in eastern Siberia. Its southern limit is the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, Iran, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Hebei Province in northern China. Small resident populations also breed in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.[18] It typically inhabits reed beds (Phragmites) and swamps, as well as lakes, lagoons and sluggish rivers fringed by rank vegetation. It sometimes nests by ponds in agricultural areas, and even quite near habitations where suitable habitat exists,[17] but for preference, chooses large reed beds of at least 20 hectares (49 acres) in which to breed.[1]

Botaurus stellaris Gosforth Park
A bittern, well camouflaged in typical reed bed habitat

Some populations are sedentary and stay in the same areas throughout the year. More northerly populations usually migrate to warmer regions but some birds often remain; birds in northern Europe tend to move south and west to southern Europe, northern and central Africa, and northern Asian birds migrate to parts of the Arabian peninsula, the Indian sub-continent, and the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Inner Mongolia in eastern China.[17] Outside the breeding season it has less restrictive habitat requirements, and as well as living in reed beds, it visits rice fields, watercress beds, fish farms, gravel pits, sewage works, ditches, flooded areas and marshes.[1]

The subspecies B. s. capensis is endemic to southern Africa, where it is found sparingly in marshes near the east coast, the Okavango Delta and the upland foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains. This population is sedentary.[18][19]


Große Rohrdommel, Botaurus stellaris 1b
In defensive pose with elongated feathers spread

Usually solitary, the Eurasian bittern forages in reed beds, walking stealthily or remaining still above a body of water where prey may occur. It is a shy bird, and if disturbed, often points its bill directly upwards and freezes in that position, causing its cryptic plumage to blend into the surrounding reeds, an action known as bitterning. While in this position, the shield of elongated feathers on throat and breast droop downwards and hide the neck, so that the outline of the head and body is obscured. Sometimes it resorts to applying powder down produced by patches of specialist down feathers at the side of its breast. This white dusty material seems to help it to rid its head and neck of slime after feeding on eels. It then removes the excess powder by scratching vigorously before applying preen oil from the gland at the base of its tail.[17]

The bird has a secretive nature, keeping largely hidden in the reeds and coarse vegetation. Occasionally, especially in hard winter weather, it stands in the open beside the water's edge, although usually close to cover to facilitate a hasty retreat. In flight, its wings can be seen to be broad and rounded, and its legs trail behind it in typical heron fashion. Its neck is extended when it takes off, but is retracted when it has picked up speed. It seldom flies however, except when feeding young, preferring to move through the vegetation stealthily on foot. Its gait is slow and deliberate and it can clamber over reeds by gripping several at a time with its toes. It is most active at dawn and dusk, but also sometimes forages by day.[17]

Botaurus stellaris MWNH 0909
Eggs, Collection Museum Wiesbaden

Eurasian bitterns feed on fish, small mammals, amphibians and invertebrates, hunting along the reed margins in shallow water. British records include eels up to 35 cm (14 in) and other fish, mice and voles, small birds and fledglings, frogs, newts, crabs, shrimps, molluscs, spiders and insects. In continental Europe, members of over twenty families of beetle are eaten, as well as dragonflies, bees, grasshoppers and earwigs. Some vegetable matter such as aquatic plants is also consumed.[17]

Males are polygamous, mating with up to five females. The nest is built in the previous year's standing reeds and consists of an untidy platform some 30 cm (12 in) across. It may be on a tussock surrounded by water or on matted roots close to water and is built by the female using bits of reed, sedges and grass stalks, with a lining of finer fragments. The eggs average 52 by 38 mm (2.0 by 1.5 in) and are non-glossy, olive-brown, with some darker speckling at the broader end. Four to six eggs are laid in late March and April and incubated by the female for about twenty-six days. After hatching, the chicks spend about two weeks in the nest before leaving to swim amongst the reeds. The female rears them without help from the male, regurgitating food into the nest from her crop, the young seizing her bill and pulling it down. They become fully fledged at about eight weeks.[17]


Male booming

The mating call or contact call of the male is a deep, sighing fog-horn or bull-like boom with a quick rise and an only slightly longer fall, easily audible from a distance of 3 mi (4.8 km) on a calm night. The call is mainly given between January and April during the mating season. Surveys of Eurasian bitterns are carried out by noting the number of distinct male booms in a given area. Prior to modern science, it was unknown how such a small bird produced a call so low-pitched: common explanations included that the bird made its call into a straw or that it blew directly into the water. It is now known that the sound is produced by expelling air from the oesophagus with the aid of powerful muscles surrounding it.[20]


Botaurus stellaris -Minsmere RSPB reserve, Suffolk, England-8
Foraging in shallow water

The Eurasian bittern has a very wide range and a large total population, estimated to be 110,000 to 340,000 individuals. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its overall conservation status as being of "least concern because although the population trend is downward, the rate of decline is insufficient to justify rating it in a more threatened category. The chief threat the bird faces is destruction of reed beds and drainage and disturbance of its wetland habitats.[1] It is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.[21] The southern race has suffered catastrophic decline during the 20th century due to wetland degradation and, unlike the northern race, is of high conservation concern.[22]

In the United Kingdom, the main areas in which the Eurasian bittern breeds have been Lancashire and East Anglia with an estimated 44 breeding pairs in total in 2007.[23] However, the Lancashire population at Leighton Moss RSPB reserve has declined in recent decades,[24] while bitterns have been attracted to new reed beds in the West Country.[25] In Ireland, it died out as a breeding species in the mid-19th century, but in 2011 a single bird was spotted in County Wexford and there have been a number of subsequent sightings.[26] In the 21st century, bitterns are regular winter visitors to the London Wetland Centre, enabling city dwellers to view these scarce birds.[27]

In literature

The Bittern Thomas Bewick 1804
Wood engraving "The Bittern, Bog-Bumper, Bitter-Bum or Mire-Drum" from A History of British Birds, Volume 2, "Water Birds", by Thomas Bewick, 1804

Thomas Bewick records that the bittern "was formerly held in much estimation at the tables of the great".[11]


The Eurasian bittern is proposed as one of rational explanations behind the drekavac, a creature of the graveyard and darkness originating in south Slavic mythology.[28] It is mentioned in the short story "Brave Mita and Drekavac from the Pond" by Branko Ćopić.[29]

The 18th-century Scottish poet James Thomson refers to the bittern's "boom" in his poem "Spring" (written 1728), published as part of his The Seasons (1735):[30]

The Bittern knows the time, with bill ingulpht
To shake the sounding marsh[30]

The species is mentioned in George Crabbe's 1810 narrative poem The Borough, to emphasise the ostracised, solitary life of the poem's villain, Peter Grimes:[31]

And the loud Bittern from the bull-rush home
Gave from the Salt-ditch side the bellowing boom:[31]

The Irish poet Thomas MacDonagh translated the Gaelic poem "The Yellow Bittern" ("An Bonnán Buí" in Irish) by Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna.[32][33] His friend the poet Francis Ledwidge wrote a "Lament for Thomas MacDonagh" with the opening line "He shall not hear the bittern cry".[34]

In the Sherlock Holmes novel The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the naturalist Stapleton proposes the boom of a bittern as an explanation for the howl attributed to the mystical hound.[35]

Because of its secretive and skulking nature, it was for long unclear exactly how the bittern produced its distinctive booming call. A Mediaeval theory held that the bittern thrust its beak into the boggy ground of the marsh in which it lived, making its vocalization which was amplified and deepened as it reverberated through the water. A reference to this theory appears in 1476 in Chaucer's The Wife of Bath's Tale, lines 972-73:[36]

And, as a bitore bombleth in the myre,
She leyde hir mouth un-to the water doun[36]

The English 17th century physician Sir Thomas Browne disputed this claim, stating in his Pseudodoxia Epidemica, Book III, Ch.27: "That a Bittor maketh that mugient noise, or as we term it Bumping, by putting its bill into a reed as most believe, or as Bellonius and Aldrovandus conceive, by putting the same in water or mud, and after a while retaining the air by suddenly excluding it again, is not so easily made out. For my own part, though after diligent enquiry, I could never behold them in this motion".[13] Browne even kept a captive bittern to discover how its "boom" was produced.[37]


The artist Abbott Handerson Thayer argued in his ill-advised[38] 1909 venture into zoology, Concealing-Coloration in the Animal Kingdom, that animals were concealed by a combination of countershading and disruptive coloration, which together "obliterated" their self-shadowing and their shape. On the disruptive effect of bittern plumage, he wrote:[39]

I was watching a standing [American] Bittern at a distance of about ten feet. The light stripes on the bill were repeated and continued by the light stripes on the sides of the head and neck, and together they imitated very closely the look of separate, bright reed-stems; while the dark stripes pictured reeds in shadow, or the shadowed interstices between the stems.[39]

On the Eurasian bittern's markings, he wrote:[39]

Reed-like patterns occur also ... on the necks of some of the true herons ... The beautiful European Bittern has kindred markings with a strong admixture of richly brindled grass-pattern—a pattern at once bold and subtile, whose obliterative effect is the bird's normal environment must be consummate.[39]

The zoologist Hugh Cott, in his classic 1940 study of camouflage, Adaptive Coloration in Animals, cites William Palmer's account of seeing a bittern:[40][41]

he once marked the place in a marsh where one of these birds had alighted: on reaching the spot he had the 'greatest difficulty in finding it clinging motionless, with bill almost erect, to a stem of wild oats'.[40]


  1. ^ a b c d BirdLife International (2012). "Botaurus stellaris". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2012: e.T22697346A40250901. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2012-1.RLTS.T22697346A40250901.en. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  2. ^ "Botaurus stellaris stellaris Linnaeus 1758". Avibase. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  3. ^ "Botaurus stellaris capensis (Schlegel, 1863)". Avibase. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  4. ^ "Bittern". RSPB. Retrieved 2015-12-26.
  5. ^ The Miscellaneous writings of Sir Thomas Browne edited by Geoffrey Keynes pub. Cambridge University Press 1931 where Browne writes, 'The Ardea stellaris botaurus, or bitour, is also common & esteemed the better dish.In the belly of one I found a frog in a hard frost at Christmas. Another I kept in a garden 2 yeares, feeding it with fish, mice, & frogges; in defect of whereof, making a scrape for sparrowes & small birds, the bitour made shift to maintaine herself upon them'.
  6. ^ Myers, P.; Espinosa, R.; Parr, C.S.; Jones, T.; Hammond, G.S.; Dewey, T.A. "Botaurus: Brown bitterns". Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  7. ^ "Great Bittern: Botaurus stellaris (Linnaeus, 1758)". Avibase. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  8. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  9. ^ a b Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 75, 365. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  10. ^ "Bittern (1)". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 16 May 2016.(subscription required)
  11. ^ a b Bewick, Thomas (1847) [1804]. A History of British Birds, Volume 2, Water Birds. Newcastle: R. E. Bewick. p. 49.
  12. ^ Cocker, Mark; Mabey, Richard (2005). Birds Britannica. London: Chatto & Windus. pp. 40–44. ISBN 0-7011-6907-9.
  13. ^ a b Browne, Thomas (1646). Vulgar Errors. Pseudodoxia Epidemica. p. 92 (Book 3, Chapter 27).
  14. ^ "Bittern Images".
  15. ^ Hancock, J.A. (1999). Herons and Egrets of the World: A Photographic Journey. Cambridge: Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-12-322725-6.
  16. ^ Brazil, Mark (2009). Birds of East Asia: China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and Russia. Princeton Field Guides. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-13926-5.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h Witherby, H. F., ed. (1943). Handbook of British Birds, Volume 3: Hawks to Ducks. H. F. and G. Witherby Ltd. pp. 156–160.
  18. ^ a b c Voisin, Claire (2010). The Herons of Europe. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 371–. ISBN 978-1-4081-3582-2.
  19. ^ "Eurasian Bittern". The Internet Bird Collection. Retrieved 16 February 2009.
  20. ^ BBC Radio 4, Tweet of the Day, 8 April 2014: Bittern
  21. ^ "AEWA Species". Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  22. ^ Allan, D.G. (1997). Harrison, J.A.; Allan, D.G.; Underhill, L.G.; Herremans, M.; Tree, A.J.; Parker, V.; Brown, C.J. (eds.). Bittern Botaurus stellaris (PDF). The Atlas of Southern African Birds. Vol. 1: Non-passerines. p. 79.
  23. ^ Avery, Mark (2009). "Torrential downpours – a blow to bittern recovery". Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  24. ^ Birdlife International. "Important Bird Areas factsheet: Leighton Moss". Retrieved 30 December 2014.
  25. ^ "Booming bitterns are thriving on Somerset Levels, survey shows". Western Morning News. April 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  26. ^ "Shy bittern returns after 150 years". BBC News. 1 January 2011.
  27. ^ "Bittern sighting at Wetland Centre". Richmond & Twickenham Times. 1 November 2007. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  28. ^ "Drekavac". Mythical Creatures Guide. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  29. ^ Ćopić, Branko. "Hrabri Mita i drekavac iz rita". U svijetu medvjeda i leptirova. Archived from the original on 16 June 2007. Retrieved 1 May 2007.
  30. ^ a b Thomson, James (1735). The Seasons.
  31. ^ a b Crabbe, George (1810). The Borough.
  32. ^ "Thomas MacDonagh (1878–1916)". Ten Favourite Poems.
  33. ^ "The Yellow Bittern (An Bunnan Bui)". Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  34. ^ Ledwidge, Francis (1922). Colum, Padraic (ed.). Lament for Thomas MacDonagh. Anthology of Irish Verse. Boni and Liveright.
  35. ^ Conan Doyle, Arthur (1902). The Hound of the Baskervilles. George Newnes. p. 45.
  36. ^ a b "Chaucer's Works, Volume 4 (of 7) — The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer".
  37. ^ The Miscellaneous Writings of Sir Thomas Browne Cambridge University Press, 1931
  38. ^ Roosevelt, Theodore (1911). "Revealing and concealing coloration in birds and mammals". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 30 (Article 8): 119–231. Roosevelt attacks Thayer on page 191, arguing that neither zebra nor giraffe are "'adequately obliterated' by countershading or coloration pattern or anything else."
  39. ^ a b c d Thayer, Abbott H.; Thayer, Gerald H. (1909). Concealing-Coloration in the Animal Kingdom. Macmillan.
  40. ^ a b Cott, Hugh (1940). Adaptive Coloration in Animals. Oxford University Press. p. 137.
  41. ^ Palmer, William (1909). "Instinctive Stillness in Birds". The Auk. 26: 23–36.

External links

American bittern

The American bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) is a species of wading bird in the heron family. It has a Nearctic distribution, breeding in Canada and the northern and central parts of the United States, and wintering in the U.S. Gulf Coast states, all of Florida into the Everglades, the Caribbean islands and parts of Central America.

It is a well-camouflaged, solitary brown bird that unobtrusively inhabits marshes and the coarse vegetation at the edge of lakes and ponds. In the breeding season it is chiefly noticeable by the loud, booming call of the male. The nest is built just above the water, usually among bulrushes and cattails, where the female incubates the clutch of olive-colored eggs for about four weeks. The young leave the nest after two weeks and are fully fledged at six or seven weeks.

The American bittern feeds mostly on fish but also eats other small vertebrates as well as crustaceans and insects. It is fairly common over its wide range, but its numbers are thought to be decreasing, especially in the south, because of habitat degradation. However the total population is large, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its conservation status as being of "Least Concern".


Bitterns are birds belonging to the subfamily Botaurinae of the heron family Ardeidae. Bitterns tend to be shorter-necked and more secretive than other members of the family. They were called hæferblæte in Old English; the word "bittern" came to English from Old French butor, itself from Gallo-Roman butitaurus, a compound of Latin būtiō and taurus..

Bitterns usually frequent reed beds and similar marshy areas and feed on amphibians, reptiles, insects, and fish.

Unlike the similar storks, ibises, and spoonbills, herons, egrets, pelicans, and bitterns fly with their necks retracted, not outstretched.

The genus Ixobrychus contains mainly small species:

Little bittern, Ixobrychus minutus

Australian little bittern, Ixobrychus dubius

New Zealand little bittern, Ixobrychus novaezelandiae (extinct)

Cinnamon bittern, Ixobrychus cinnamomeus

Stripe-backed bittern, Ixobrychus involucris

Least bittern, Ixobrychus exilis

Yellow bittern, Ixobrychus sinensis

Schrenck's bittern, Ixobrychus eurhythmus

Dwarf bittern, Ixobrychus sturmii

Black bittern, Ixobrychus flavicollisThe genus Botaurus is the larger bitterns:

American bittern, Botaurus lentiginosa.

Eurasian bittern or great bittern, Botaurus stellaris

South American bittern, Botaurus pinnatus

Australasian bittern, Botaurus poiciloptilus

Botaurus hibbardi (fossil)The genus Zebrilus includes only one species:

Zigzag heron (or properly Zigzag bittern), Zebrilus undulatus


Botaurus is a genus of bitterns, a group of wading bird in the heron family Ardeidae. The genus name Botaurus was given by the English naturalist James Francis Stephens, and is derived from Medieval Latin butaurus, "bittern", itself constructed from the Middle English name for the Eurasian Bittern, Botor. Pliny gave a fanciful derivation from Bos (ox) and taurus (bull), because the bittern's call resembles the bellowing of a bull.The genus has a single representative species in each of North, Central and South America, Eurasia, and Australasia. The two northern species are partially migratory, with many birds moving south to warmer areas in winter.

The four Botaurus bitterns are all large chunky, heavily streaked brown birds which breed in large reed beds. Almost uniquely for predatory birds, the female rears the young alone. They are secretive and well-camouflaged, and despite their size they can be difficult to observe except for occasional flight views.

Like other bitterns, they eat fish, frogs, and similar aquatic life.

Brabrand Lake

Brabrand Lake (Danish: Brabrand-søen or Brabrand Sø) is a lake in the district of Brabrand (Gellerup), west of Aarhus city, Denmark. The Aarhus River passes through Brabrand Lake and it is possible to canoe all the way to the inner city from here. The lake is oblong-shaped.

Since 2003, Brabrand Lake has been steadily extended 3–4 km further west, with the new lake of Årslev Engsø (lit.: Årslev meadow-lake). In 2001–2, it was politically decided to abandon the artificial draining of the meadows and as of 2013, Årslev meadow lake has a surface area of around 100 hectares (250 acres). The total area including adjoining meadows and reed beds totals 240 hectares (590 acres). It is hoped that Eurasian bittern and otter will find themselves a new home here with time. In everyday parlance, "Brabrand Lake" is a general term including the surroundings as well, indicating a total area of around 560 hectares (1,400 acres) with 253 hectares (630 acres) for the lake alone.

A special Natura2000 protected area under the European Union, Brabrand Lake is home to a large variety of birds and an important resting place for migrating birds, with several towers built to facilitate bird-watching. A public hiking trail surrounds the lake, whose landscape varies from wide meadows and reed beds to dense woods. Privately-owned pastures almost completely surround the lake and are not publicly accessible, but public paths leading to the lake are scattered in between. There are several garden allotments ("kolonihaver" in Danish) near Brabrand Lake and it is a popular recreational spot. It is a statutory goal of the Aarhus municipality to make the area publicly accessible and attractive to the public.

Cefa Natural Park

The Cefa Natural Park (Romanian: Parcul Natural Cefa) is a protected area (natural park category V IUCN) situated in Romania, on the administrative territory of Bihor County.

Dragoman Marsh

The Dragoman Marsh is the biggest natural karst wetland in Bulgaria. It is situated only 35 km north-west from Sofia and covers a valley between the limestone hills Tri Ushi and Chepan.

Getterön Nature Reserve

Getterön Nature Reserve (Swedish: Getteröns naturreservat) is a nature reserve at Getterön in Varberg Municipality, Sweden. It consists of parts of the peninsula Getterön and an area to the north. It has an area of 350 hectares, of which 235 are land. The reserve was established in 1970.

Getterön Nature Reserve is protected as a Natura 2000 site and included in the Ramsar list.

Getterön Nature Reserve is one of northern Europe's premier birdwatching sites. In the reserve's wetland nesting species like gadwall, garganey, black-tailed godwit, ruff, dunlin, little tern, and pied avocet. The pied avocet also serves as a symbol for the nature reserve. Also in the winters there are many different species at Getterön, for example little grebe, water rail, common kingfisher, Eurasian bittern, bearded reedling, whooper swan, and smew. Also birds of prey, like the peregrine falcon, are common.

Glamorganshire Canal local nature reserve

The Glamorganshire Canal local nature reserve is a nature reserve in Coryton, Cardiff, Wales. Formed in 1967, it comprises a disused section of the Glamorganshire Canal (constructed 1794), the Long Wood (designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest) and an area of the flood plain of the River Taff. The reserve is also known as Forest Farm, and the old farm buildings are used to support the reserve.The water in the canal is relatively clean for an ex-industrial area, and supports several species of waterbirds, including kingfishers and herons. It is one of the few British nest sites of the Eurasian bittern. The Long Wood is chiefly oak and beech, with several trees over 200 years old.In 1992 the reserve was extended to approximately 150 acres (60 ha) and was designated as Forest Farm Country Park.The reserve is supported by the Friends of Forest Farm, who organise educational events and support Cardiff Council in the protection and maintenance of the nature reserve.

Gwernydd Penbre

Gwernydd Penbre is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in Carmarthenshire, Wales. Official sources - DEFRA and Natural Resources Wales - list the SSSI as Gwernydd Pembre; the spelling used in the SSSI Citation is used in this article.

Krokų Lanka

Krokų Lanka is the only lake of marine origin in Lithuania and the largest lake in the Šilutė District Municipality. It is located in the Nemunas Delta Regional Park on the Baltic Sea shore near Nemunas Delta and Ventė Cape. It covers a territory of 788 ha. Aukštumala bog, covering 3018 ha and used for peat production since 1882, is located just north of the lake and Mingė village is located on the western bank. In the south a narrow strip of water connects the lake with Atmata, a branch of the Neman River.

Krokų Lanka was created when alluvial deposits from the Neman River separated a part of the Curonian Lagoon. The lake is very shallow, with greatest depth of only 2.5 meters, and overgrown with water plants. It is poised to eventually turn into a bog but now it is a paradise for a variety of water birds, including Eurasian bittern (Botaurus stellaris), greylag goose (Anser anser), Montagu's harrier (Circus pygargus), black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa), Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata). In spring and fall the lake attracts large groups of migratory birds. Krokų Lanka is also important area for spawning fishes. To protect this environment botanical and zoological reserve, covering 1214 ha, was established in 1992.

Lake Karamık

Lake Karamık is a lake in Turkey.

It is situated to the south of Çay ilçe (district) of Konya Province at 38°25′N 30°50′E. It is a very shallow lake and in some sources it is called a "marsh".

Its elevation with respect to sea level is about 1,000 metres (3,300 ft). It feeds Lake Eğirdir a bigger lake to the south by means of an underground creek. The total area of the marsh area is about 40 square kilometres (15 sq mi).

Lawrence Shove

Lawrence Clive Shove (5 November 1923 – 2 April 1995) was a British sound recordist, specialising in field recordings of wildlife.

The "Shove collection of British wildlife" at the National Sound Archive (NSA), part of the British Library comprises 243 reels of his recordings, on magnetic tape. In 1969, Shove was one of the first contributors to the NSA's wildlife collection, and their wildlife recording number 00001 is his 1966 recording of a Eurasian bittern at Hickling Broad, in Norfolk. The NSA acquired his complete collection of wildlife recordings in the mid-1990s.In 1968, he was described by the BBC as "the only full-time freelance recordist of wildlife sounds in Britain". He was the subject of a BBC television The World About Us episode, screened on 9 April 1972, and appeared on several other BBC television and radio programmes in the late 1960s and early 1970s.In the 1970s and 1980s, he was manager of the Minack Theatre, Porthcurno, Cornwall.

The NSA have put most of Shove's recordings online, and as of November 2013 will extend access as part of a Europeana project.

Mikołajskie Lake

Mikołajskie Lake (Polish: Jezioro Mikołajskie; German: Nikolaiker See) is glacial lake in Masurian Lake District in Poland.

Mikołajskie Lake covers 5 square km and is 5.8 km long and 1.6 km wide with a maximum depth of 25.9 meters.

In the north, Mikołajskie Lake is connected with the Tałty Lake under the road bridge in Mikołajki. To one of the pillars of the bridge, on a spring, is chained the King of Vendaces (Fish King, in Polish: Król Sielaw, Rybi Król, legendary king of Masuria). In the south-east, Mikołajskie Lake is connected with the Śniardwy Lake by the Przeczka strait within Dybowski Róg and Popielski Róg. In the south-west, Mikołajskie Lake is connected with the Bełdany Lake. On the west bank extends the Pisz Forest.

On the shore of the lake are the towns: Mikołajki, Dybowo, Kulinowo, Wierzba.

Notable wildlife:

Eurasian bittern (Botaurus stellaris)

Common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)

Black-throated loon (Gavia arctica)

Little gull (Larus minutus)

North Warren RSPB reserve

North Warren RSPB reserve is a nature reserve run by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in Suffolk, England. It lies on the Suffolk coast on the north edge of the town of Aldeburgh and to the south of Thorpeness and includes the Aldringham Walks area of heathland to the north. It is within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the Suffolk Heritage Coast area. Noted for its populations of Eurasian bittern, European nightjar and other bird species, it covers a range of coastal habitats and is protected with SSSI, SPA conservation status.

Oare Marshes

Oare Marshes is a 71.4-hectare (176-acre) Local Nature Reserve north of Faversham in Kent. It is owned and managed by Kent Wildlife Trust. It is part of The Swale Nature Conservation Review site, Grade I, National Nature Reserve, Ramsar internationally important wetland site, Special Protection Area under the European Union Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds, and Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Slapton Ley

Slapton Ley is a lake on the south coast of Devon, England, separated from Start Bay by a shingle beach, known as Slapton Sands.

Slapton Ley is the largest natural freshwater lake in south-west England being 1.5 miles (2.4 km) long and has two sections; the Lower Ley and the Higher Ley. The ley is fed by streams and a small river, The Gara, that flows into the Higher Ley. The site is a National Nature Reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Geological Conservation Review site. The nature reserve covers over 200 hectares (490 acres).The A379 between the Ley and the sea runs along the shingle ridge and was rebuilt after damage by coastal erosion in the early 2000s.


Vanhankaupunginselkä (also called Vanhankaupunginlahti, Swedish: Gammelstadsfjärden) is a bay area which together with parts of adjoining Viikki district constitute a natural conservation zone near downtown Helsinki in the southern part of Finland. The area is listed in Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, is part of European Union's Natura 2000 program and is also listed as BirdLife International's Important Bird Area.

Geographically the area lies east of Helsinki peninsula and is surrounded by the districts of Hermanni, Arabianranta, Viikki, Herttoniemi and Kulosaari. The Vantaa River ends at the north end of Vanhankaupunginselkä.

Although the area appears to be either land or water on various maps or satellite pictures, it is largely marsh-like, impassable either on foot or on boat. Most parts of the area are covered with man high reeds, which will prevent use of boats, while the subsoil beneath the reeds is soft and muddy, thus preventing passage on foot.

However, for the purposes of walking between the reeds the City of Helsinki has constructed some duckboards, which permit the visitors on the area to walk between the reeds. While these duckboards permit the visitors to walk between the reeds, the duckboards are just two to four planks wide, which require the visitors to apply appropriate caution in general and while passing other visitors. During times of higher water, the duckboards can be submerged in whole or in part, while in winter, the boards can be warped or destroyed by ice.

As for the bird species in the area, 285 different species have been observed on the area. Out of these species, 114 have nested on the area during last 10 years.[1]

When the species of area are considered, certain species rare in Finland nest at the area. Examples of these are western marsh harrier, Eurasian bittern, white-backed woodpecker, red-backed shrike, ortolan bunting and black woodpecker. [2]

As for other species, various predators like hawks and owls are frequently observed on the area.

The rules applicable to visitors of Vanhankaupunginselkä are fairly strict. As per the instructions printed on the signs all over the area, visitors on the area are not permitted to move between the reeds while the area is unfrozen, collect or damage the foliage or distribute animals in general. In addition, fishing is not permitted at the area, nor is walking unleashed dogs or horse riding. Furthermore, as Vanhankaupunginselkä is frequently visited by persons interested in nature, informal social control is strict. Littering, loud behavioural and comparable activities are typically strongly condemned.

The visitors can commute to the area either by cars, trams or buses. The trams number 6 and 8 have stops less than a kilometre from the area and various locations near the area offer ample parking space.

WWT London Wetland Centre

WWT London Wetland Centre is a wetland reserve managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in the Barnes area of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, southwest London, England, by Barn Elms. The site is formed of four disused Victorian reservoirs tucked into a loop in the Thames.

The centre first opened in 2000, and in 2002 an area of 29.9 hectares was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest as the Barn Elms Wetland Centre.The centre occupies more than 100 acres (40 hectares) of land which was formerly occupied by several small reservoirs. These were converted into a wide range of wetland features and habitats before the centre opened in May 2000. It was the first urban project of its kind in the United Kingdom.

Many wild birds which have now made their home in the Centre cannot be found anywhere else in London, and there are nationally significant numbers of gadwall and northern shoveler. Other wild birds include Eurasian bittern, northern pintail, northern lapwing, water rail, ring-necked parakeet, Eurasian sparrowhawk, sand martin, common kingfisher, little grebe and great crested grebe. The centre also holds a collection of captive wildfowl.

It is host to regular lectures and events concerned with preserving Britain's wetland animals and was featured on the BBC television programme Seven Natural Wonders in 2005 as one of the wonders of the London area, with a focus on the region's parakeets, in an episode presented by Bill Oddie. The site contains a large visitors' building which is occasionally used as a wedding venue.

In 2012 London Wetland Centre was voted Britain's Favourite Nature Reserve in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards.


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