Welcome to the Bittern Photo Gallery
My first interest, or for that matter, knowledge of the Bittern Botaurus stellaris came from an encounter with the late Col Bob Sankey, the warden of Hickling NNT (now the NWT), when he was giving a talk during one lunch time, whilst I was a student at Martham Secondary Modern school.
I was invited to visit the reserve and this started a long association with Hickling Broad, going back to the age of 11 when I first met Bob Sankey, biking 10 miles every Saturday for over 2 years to visit and record the nesting Grey Herons there.
My first encounter with a Bittern was in the warden’s office (now the classroom), albeit a stuffed one. However, Col Sankey told me that whilst I was out on the reserve, to check every heron, because if it was brown it was a Bittern! Sound advice by the bespectacled warden and whilst out in a canoe one day (just before Rush Hills), I saw a ‘brown heron’ flying over. This was my first ever Bittern and I can still recall that moment, even though it was a long time ago!
More encounters with the ‘mystical’ Bittern came during late March when a Bittern could be heard booming on the way to the boat house along Whiteslea track. One day whilst out in a canoe, I came face to face with a Bittern as it stood up, head erect in the reeds, a few metres away.
In the early 70’s when I began visiting Hickling, the Bittern was still a very rare bird in this country, as it still is, although numbers have improved. Its’ secretive nature, still enthrals whenever an encounter with this bird is had and once again, my interest and enthusiasm for this bird stems from the time I spent with Bob Sankey.
Due to the cutting back of the reeds and creating bays in the reedbed, Bitterns were seen regularly in the Spring. This particular bird was booming, which was witnessed three times during one day.