Bittern - Botaurus stellaris


A thickset heron with all-over bright, pale, buffy-brown plumage covered with dark streaks and bars. It flies on broad, rounded, bowed wings.

Identification difficulty

Wetlands with large reed beds, especially RSPB reserves at Minsmere, Suffolk and Leighton Moss, Lancashire. In winter it can also be watched at viewing sites in the Lea Valley, Hertfordshire.

When to see it

All year round but the majority of records are from November to February at certain sites.

Life History

The males make a remarkable far-carrying, booming sound in spring.

UK Status

Its dependence on reed beds and very small population make it a Red List species - one of the most threatened in the UK.

VC55 Status

Uncommon Leicestershire and Rutland.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map