Page last updated at 19:16 GMT, Monday, 23 June 2008 20:16 UK

Rare bird back at nature reserve

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

One of the rarest species of birds in Britain has nested at the RSPB reserve on the Somerset Levels, for the first time in 40 years.

A pair of bitterns, a bird closely related to the heron, have nested at the Ham Wall RSPB nature reserve.

In 1997 there were a mere 13 pairs in the UK, said a RSPB spokesman.

Fifteen years ago the Ham Wall reserve was a deserted peat bog, but volunteers reclaimed it, and planted reed beds to encourage the bittern back to Somerset.

Tony Whitehead of the RSPB said: "We've got birds coming over from Europe in the wintertime chancing across places like this.

"They find it to their liking and because it is managed with birds like bitterns in mind, they stick around.

"I could really see a population building up."

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