2022 has been a historic year for Langford... for the first time ever, two bittern nests were found on site! Bitterns have nested on site for the past couple of years, but this is the first time that we’ve had two nests running simultaneously, it represents the next important step in our journey to becoming a bittern-filled, reedbed paradise. The nests were close together, probably indicating that although we had two males on site, both females probably chose to mate with the same male. Clearly his powerful Barry White style booming was more alluring. No youngsters (bitterlings??) have been seen, but the fact that the site now has the habitat and presumably the food resources to support two nesting females is excellent confirmation that we’re heading in the right direction. Fish numbers continue to increase, more amphibian ponds are being dug this year to provide additional feeding opportunities and reed planting continues on Phase 3, expanding the priority reedbed habitat, with 12000 seedlings planted out so far this year.
Bittern photos below taken by regular visitor Andy Richmond, excellent illustrations of both the bitterns ability to hide in the reed and of its large feet, used for grabbing hold of clumps of reed stems as it stealthily skulks through the reedbed... Unfortunately uploading to the blog has reduced the definition of Andy's beautiful photos.
The habitats at Langford have been designed and are managed with bitterns in mind, lots of reed edge for feeding and larger blocks for nesting, open channels and pools, willows are controlled to prevent them taking over, water is managed to mimic natural seasonal fluctuations, new feeding ponds are being dug, water lilies are being planted to provide more cover for small fish... these bitterns are demanding creatures! Reed cover will continue to increase over the years, as will the size of the fish population and so bittern numbers should only increase. Do not fear though, as the reedbed expands, key niches will still be maintained within and around it for the benefit of other species; wintering wildfowl, waders (lots follow the Trent during their annual migration) and various heron species which enjoy sauntering through the knee-deep shallower waters. Located inland, well away from the coast, Langford represents a key and expanding site for a host of reedbed species, a haven safe from the threatened sea level rise, which looks likely to impact on reedbeds located on the east coast.
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