Bittern booms in local wetland

Britain's loudest bird, the ‘booming’ bittern, has been recorded in a Bracknell Forest wetland. This will come as exciting news for local wildlife enthusiasts, as one of the UK’s most sensitive species has chosen the borough as its home.

The bittern was recorded at a wetland in Winkfield, whose specific location can’t be disclosed, to protect this highly sensitive species from disturbance.

Bitterns are stocky members of the heron family. They are very secretive birds, spending most of their time in amongst the reeds, where their feathers help to keep them well camouflaged.

The ‘boom’ refers to the distinctive loud noise the males make to establish territories and attract mates.

Bitterns are a species who have almost disappeared twice from the UK. A common bird in Europe prior to the nineteenth century, modernised agricultural practises led to a dramatic decline and suspected extinction from the UK by 1870. Their population suffered another great crash in 1997 when there were only 11 booming males in the UK.

The rarity of the bittern means that its population size and breeding success is closely monitored by organisations such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). The good news is that in 2021, bittern populations were showing some signs of recovery, which the RSPB attributes to the conservation work being carried out to restore wetland habitats.

Cllr John Harrison, Executive Member for Culture, Delivery and Public Protection said:

“We are very excited about this discovery, which was made by our parks and countryside rangers.

“While we can’t disclose where the bittern has been recorded, to protect it from disturbance, we can describe the work we have been doing there to attract wildlife.

“Bitterns are very selective about the territory they live in, and they will only choose truly thriving ecosystems in which to live. Over the past seven years, our rangers have been working with contractors and volunteers to significantly improve the health of the reedbed at this wetland location.

“Cutting and removing sections of reeds on a planned rotation helps to create more channels and pools for feeding. It also promotes healthy new growth and a varied age structure of the reedbed. Removing invasive scrub, also helps to prevent the reedbed from drying out.

“This success story is just one of many examples of how we’re working in partnership to preserve and enhance biodiversity across the borough.”

More information

Bitterns have very small, reedbed dependent populations, which make them an Amber List species. This is used to highlight birds whose conservation status is of moderate concern. It is also a Schedule 1 species.

Information about UK breeding pairs is available from the RSPB:

Contact information

Parks and Countryside

Make an enquiry