One bittern, quite shy - rare bird spotted at RSPB reserve

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BIRD-watchers will be flocking to RSPB Frampton Marsh after a rare and elusive bird was spotted at the reserve for the first time ever.

The special visitor was sighted among developing reedbeds at the marsh last Monday, when an eagle-eyed visitor from Lincoln saw it lurking among the reeds, which have been planted recently, and managed to get the great picture, shown above.

Staff and volunteers at the reserve are now hoping that the new reeds will bring more bitterns to the area and this sighting will become the first of many.

RSPB Visitor and publicity officer Simon Wilson said: “Everyone has been very excited by this wonderful news. Without the hard work of staff and volunteers, the reedbed would not exist and there would be nowhere for this spectacular bird to hide.”

The elusive animal, was spotted by Alison Baldwin, a regular visitor to the marsh.

It is thought the bird may have travelled from Europe, on the hunt for somewhere to stay for the winter.

Bitterns, which only feed on fish, are only found in the cover of dense reeds, which have previously been rare in this area and other parts of the UK, meaning there have been few areas for bitterns to live and raise their young.

In 1997, there were just 11 pairs of bitterns nationally, but now, thanks to work to create more reedbeds, the population has increased once again - though it is still a rare bird.

RSPB Frampton Marsh began work on its new reedbeds as part of a major redevelopment in 2009.

Since then, over 20,000 reeds have been planted at the site, in a bid to form a habitat for birds such as bitterns, similar to those which were in place around the wash during the 1600s, before the fens were drained.

As the reedbeds expand, it is hoped that more and more wintering bitterns will visit the area, and breed in the area for the first time in 400 years.