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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 May, 2003, 14:40 GMT 15:40 UK
Helping the bittern boom again
Bittern
Male bitterns make a loud, booming noise

Work is to start at two South Yorkshire nature reserves to encourage a rare bird to breed again in the area.

It is part of a 4m project to develop extra British habitats for the bittern which lives in reeds.

More than 600,00 will be used to develop and restore reed beds at reserves in the Dearne Valley and at Potteric Carr near Doncaster.

It is hoped the reserves will becoming stopping off areas for the bitterns as they move between their only two English strongholds in East Anglia and Lancashire.

Shallow water

It is more than 100 years since bitterns regularly bred in South Yorkshire.

The national project is a partnership between the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), English Nature and the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (YWT).

Nesting bitterns rely on large reed beds with areas of open shallow water nearby.

It is thought the reduction of this kind of habitat is the main reason behind the bird's decline.

Breeding pairs

Last year just 31 males - who make a booming noise like a foghorn - were recorded.

Victoria Chester-Kerr, the chief executive of YWT said: "The bittern is still one of Britain's rarest birds and if we don't take action now they face a bleak future."

The funding will allow YWT to buy farmland alongside the existing Potteric Carr nature reserve and start work on a 58 hectare reed bed.

When all the work is completed it will give an area of reeds large enough to support at least three breeding pairs.




SEE ALSO:
Boost for Britain's bitterns
12 May 03  |  Science/Nature
Bittern boom for birdwatching
16 Jan 02  |  UK News


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