07:00Saturday 11 June 2016
For those who missed it last year there is another chance to see a rare visitor.
A male little bittern is back at the RSPB’s Old Moor reserve near Barnsley. It was first seen early on Saturday morning and since then, true to form, in brief flights across the reedbeds. It has also been making its spring call, a muted dog-like barking.
Little bitterns, the smallest of Europe’s herons, are summer visitors to Europe from Africa including wetlands along the coasts of France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Last year the first sighting was on June 30 and the fact that this year the male is back about a month earlier raises hopes that he might be joined by a female. A pair has bred in South Yorkshire before, at the Potteric Carr reserve, Doncaster in 1984 and successfully reared three young.
Good numbers of birders are arriving at Old Moor in the hopes of seeing the little bittern from the Bittern Hide or the Bus Stop, with varied success and often after a lengthy wait.
There are more sightings and booming calls from its larger relative the Eurasian bittern with two nests located on the reserve this year.