An ‘extremely rare’ bird with a boom described as being ‘like a foghorn’ has been spotted on one of the coastal nature reserves near Louth.
The bittern, a wading bird and member of the Heron family, features in a new report from the Greater Lincolnshire Nature Partnership (GLNP).
At one point in the 1990s there were just 11 ‘booming’ male bitterns in the UK giving it the EU’s priority species rating, though now there are believed to be around 75 breeding males.
Louth bird surveyor John Clarkson, who wrote a book entitled ‘Birds of Louth’ in 2007, said such sightings were ‘extremely rare’ in this part of Lincolnshire.
“They were perilously close to extinction at one point and are now heavily protected,” he said.
“But if you go to the right place and be very patient, you can see them , but they are very easily disturbed.
“They often give themselves away with their loud boom, which is their mating call. This can be heard usually in the early morning or towards dusk.”
Speaking to the Leader, John recalled in his book that there had only been one sighting of a bittern in the Louth area.
In 2004 a bittern was a brief winter visitor at a pond in the corner of a field near Julian Bower, off London Road, in Louth.
The bittern became all but extinct in Britain in 1886 after becoming a popular target for taxidermists, before slowly returning.
Numbers again fell though and by 1997 there were believed to have been only 11 in the UK.
Rachel Shaw, PR officer for the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, explained the bittern’s unusual mating call. “The call of the male bittern in spring is called booming, some people describe as being like a foghorn or like a cow, it is quite distinctive,” she said.
The sighting of the bird comes as new records show sightings of bittern, bats and newts for the first time in Greater Lincolnshire.
Other rare findings include the great crested newt (pictured left) which is a protected species, and the Brandt’s bat of which there are only 30,000 in the UK.
Smooth newts, whiskered bats, Natterer’s bats, Noctules, Common pipistrelles, Soprano pipistrelles and brown long-eared bats have also been seen in our area.
The GNLP want to build up a more accurate picture of the distribution and population status of a wide range of species in our area but need the public to help them record sightings.
“This sounds really obvious but we only know where animals are if people actually tell us,” said Rachel Shaw.
“We’d like to hear from people if they have newts in their garden pond, if they know where there are bat roosts or if they ever see bitterns or hearing them booming.”
People can submit their sightings of wildlife to Lincolnshire Environmental Records Centre by clicking here.
For any record it is important to include as much information as possible, in particular:
• What – the species (and number if more than one)
• When – the date seen
• Where – the location of the sighting (a grid reference or postcode is best)
• Who – contact details in case any further details are needed