Less than 20 years ago, Bitterns were on the verge of extinction in Britain. The males’ low booming call can carry more than a kilometre. With just 11 males in 1997, it was feared we would lose this reedbed-dwelling heron.
The shock figures triggered a huge habitat restoration effort, led by the RSPB with significant funding from the European Union. New reedbeds were created away from the east coast, vulnerable to rising sea levels. Other reedbeds were made wetter, with better access to fish.
This year, wardens counted 140 booming Bitterns, including 40 in Somerset where until recently no Bitterns had bred for decades. New reedbeds have been established on Anglesey, where RSPB wardens heard a Bittern booming this Spring, a positive sign for the future.
Another bird almost lost from our shores is the Roseate Tern, a seabird that winters off West Africa.
Over 100 pairs nested on Anglesey in the late 1980s. Now they are scarce visitors, though two were at NWWT Cemlyn Bay at the weekend, along with a Little Gull. A count of Little Terns at Gronant recorded 72 pairs settling down to nest on the beach.