If you live in the village of Over, or the surrounding area, you might have heard some mysterious booming noises over the past couple of months. It may have sounded a bit like someone blowing over the top of a bottle. You have probably been listening to a booming bittern!

Bitterns are small, brown herons found in large reedbeds. They are very secretive and difficult to spot as they stalk silently through reeds looking for fish. However, they are not difficult to hear! From as early as late January and throughout the spring, males make a loud, far-carrying booming sound to establish territories and attract mates.

Bitterns are one of our conservation success stories – in 1997, there were just 11 booming males in England. There are now an estimated 80 booming males in the UK. This year, at Ouse Fen alone, there are 8 boomers and by 2030 there could be as many as 20 booming males at the reserve! This is thanks to the Hanson RSPB Wetland Project which is turning a working quarry into one of the largest wetlands in Europe!

On Saturday 4 June, you can join Ouse Fen Wardens for an evening walk around this magical reserve and learn more about the cryptic behaviour of the bittern. Dawn and dusk are the best times to hear the booming call of the bittern and potentially see one of these amazing birds!

For more information and to book your place, call 01954 233260 or visit rspb.org.uk/ousefen

Photo credit: Andy Hay (rspb-images)

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