Page last updated at 16:57 GMT, Friday, 29 August 2008 17:57 UK

Rare bitterns continue their boom

Bittern (Pic: Courtesy RSPB)
The bittern is one of Britain's rarest species of bird

One of Britain's rarest birds has had its most successful nesting season for more than 130 years, the RSPB and Natural England have said.

Conservationists found almost seven times as many male Bitterns, which have a distinctive booming mating call, were heard this year, than the 11 in 1997.

The bird became extinct in the UK in the 1800s and a turn-around ebbed in the 1990s.

The bird is often found in East Anglia, with two-thirds in Suffolk and Norfolk.

The RSPB said conservation work to restore, recreate and manage the bird's freshwater habitat has enabled a change in the Bittern's fortunes.

Wet weather boost

The work had also led to the Bittern being found in eight more counties this year - Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, East Yorkshire, Somerset, Kent, Lancashire, Hertfordshire and Cumbria.

Dr Peter Brotherton, head of biodiversity for Natural England, said:"This year's figures are a fantastic achievement and show that we can bring species back from the brink of extinction.

"You should probably have to go back at least 130 years to find a better year for this booming bird."

Wildlife Minister Joan Ruddock said despite the success conservation work needed to be maintained and supported.

Ms Ruddock said: "This year's wet weather has helped the Bittern population which shows the real impact of small changes in our climate.

"Understanding the impact of these changes is key to conserving our wildlife and taking forward effective management of habitats."

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