Little Bittern at Lower Moors

I was lucky enough yesterday to get a tipoff from Spider, a resident birder on Scilly who told me that there was a Little Bittern at Lower Moors on St Mary’s. Little Bitterns can be very skulking but this adult female was very obliging.

Little Bitterns are very small herons – the Collins Field Guide describes them as being smaller than a Moorhen. They are agile climbers. Here the female is in hunting mode.

She has seen a fish and pounces

Head right up to swallow

Here is a second sequence of her catching a fish



A head on shot

At last she come right out into the open

This is probably my favourite photograph

Until pretty recently Little Bitterns were considered very rare passage migrants in the UK. In 1984 a pair bred in Yorkshire. Then in 2010 they bred in the Somerset Levels for the first time and have bred there again since.

The Somerset Levels have seen a concerted effort by RSPB, The Wildlife Trust and Natural England to create new and extensive wetland areas and this combined with climate change has attracted Little Bitterns to the UK.

It will be interesting to see how their colonisation develops and whether they spread to the large habitat creation projects in the East Anglian Fens at places such as Wicken Fen, Lakenheath Fen and the Great Fen.

4 thoughts on “Little Bittern at Lower Moors

  1. First cuckoo heard today on Sunday 23 April coming from Cuckoo rock above Burrator. We were standing by Crazywell Pool, which had wild swimmers, with wind blowing from Cuckoo rock! Approx 2 pm. Sorry no photos!

  2. 20/4 in the black mountains. Saw first swallows today (noted their absence yesterday). Fly hatches on the rivers are well out of sync this year. Everything seems 7-14 days early in normal numbers except the grannom (Brachycentrus subnubilis) which was a complete non event on the Usk.

    Fabulous photos of the bittern, would love to see one.

  3. Superb set of photos – green with envy – never seen a bittern, let alone a little bittern.
    There was a skylark singing yesterday over Little Staple Tor – my first of the year.

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