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Birdwatchers amazed by rare bittern visit at Low Barns, Witton-le-Wear
YOU wait for one rare bird, then three turn up at once.
Low Barns wetland nature reserve near Witton-le-Wear, County Durham, is currently home to three bitterns.
The secretive birds are difficult to see as they move silently through reeds at water’s edge looking for fish.
Their dependence on the decreasing number of reedbeds and a very small population make them a Red List species and despite a recent recovery in numbers, they remain one of the most threatened birds in the UK.
Now three of them have been spotted at Low Barns, sparking much excitement among bird watchers.
Two arrived several weeks ago but now a third has joined them.
Mark Richardson, reserves manager at the Durham Wildlife Trust who run the 50-hectare site beside the River Wear, said: “We do get the occasional bittern on our reserves but to have three at the same at the same one is a first.
“A lot of work has been done to improve Low Barns and the presence of bitterns is a huge encouragement.
“We would not expect the reedbeds to be large enough to support breeding bittern at Low Barns but you never know.
“It would be fantastic to see them breed at Low Barns in the future.”
The RSPB rates bitterns as one of the rarest birds in the UK and said they are more usually heard than seen, with the males having a distinctive booming cry heard in the spring.
The RSPB’s red-rating means urgent action is needed to ensure their long-term survival.