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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 May, 2003, 13:58 GMT 14:58 UK
Cash to boost bittern numbers
By 1997, there were only 11 breeding males left in England

One of Britain's rarest birds, the bittern, is to benefit from a 180,00 project at a nature reserve in Kent.

The money will pay for a huge reedbed and 13 shallow lagoons to be created at the RSPB reserve in Dungeness.

It is hoped they will attract more of the birds from the heron family to breed.

RSPB head warden at Dungeness, Bob Gomes, said: "Bitterns are in trouble in the UK. By 1997, there were only 11 breeding males left in the whole country.

'Perfectly camouflaged'

"Concerted conservation efforts since then has allowed bittern numbers to increase to 31 males by 2002, but this still makes them incredibly rare and endangered.

"We already have several bitterns using the reserves each winter, and hope this will now give them the incentive to breed."

A total of 60% of the funding has been given from the European Union's Life Nature programme.

The project at Dungeness is one of 19 being carried out around England.

Bitterns live almost their whole lives within reedbeds where they are perfectly camouflaged.

Helping the bittern boom again
13 May 03  |  South Yorkshire
Boost for Britain's bitterns
12 May 03  |  Science/Nature
Vanishing bitterns worry birdlovers
11 Oct 99  |  Sci/Tech

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