Page last updated at 13:15 GMT, Monday, 12 January 2009

Bird watchers spot 'rare' bittern

Bittern  (picture - Rachel Brooksbank)
The bittern was photographed through a car window

Bird watchers on Anglesey have been treated to an unusual sighting of a bittern - a member of the heron family.

Bitterns are on the RSPB's "red list" because they are so rare, and the organisation has recorded the sighting at Llaneilian, near Amlwch on Saturday.

Birdwatcher Rachel Brooksbank said it was her first sighting of a bittern in 45 years.

There are about 55 breeding pairs in the UK, but none of those are in Wales, the RSPB said.

Ms Brooksbank said: "I was walking with Cefni Walking Club by Llaneilian car park when we saw a brown bird being mobbed by crows.

"We knew it wasn't a buzzard, but couldn't think what else it could be because of the light markings."

'Pleased'

After arriving back in the car park she said she saw the bird at the side of the road, adding: "In 45 years of bird watching I've never seen one, and I'm so pleased to get a picture."

Ian Sims, the RSPB's north Wales wetlands warden, said the birds feed on fish and may have suffered during the recent freezing conditions.

He added: "This bird is probably one that's struggling because they would normally be hidden in reed beds - it's unusual for it not to fly away."

Mr Sims said there were "five or less" bitterns overwintering on Anglesey.

The breed is on the RSPB's Red List as one of the most threatened in the UK.



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