Monday, 27 February 2012


After keeping you all waiting for so long, this post is going to be dedicated to Bitterns, possibly my favourite bird. At the London Wetland Centre we had 3 this year, but last year we had up to 7! They come over from the continent at about the end of October, and will have left by the middle of March. I have spent a huge amount of time trying to get decent images of them, and all the waiting is made worthwhile when you get one enounter that you would have never expected! First I will share a couple of my Bittern images from last year, taken during the Big Freeze in December.

This last image from last year was taken the day after these. Heavy snow was forecast, so I managed to persuade my Dad to drop me off and pick me up later. However, soon after he left the snow started to come down thick and fast, and so he told me that he wanted to take me back now. Just before I left the hide, I turned around and saw this bird walking out onto the ice. To me it shows its habitat and the extreme weather conditions it was experiencing.

This winter, as it has been much warmer than last winter, we have had 3 Bitterns present (there were 7 last winter), and they have remained fairly elusive and distant for most of the winter so far. That was until a couple of weeks ago. I was on half term, and was talking to someone who told me that the day before, a Bittern had flown to just in front of one of the hides in the afternoon. Given my previous experience of discovering that they are somewhat habitual creatures, I went to that hide in the afternoon, and sure enough, at pretty much the same time, a Bittern flew and landed about 25 feet away about a metre above the water.

After the bird had landed in the reeds, it clambered down them and then disappeared for 15 minutes. I assumed that it had gone back into the reeds, but after I saw some movement in front of me, I realised that is had come through some more reeds and was only about 15 feet away!
It then climbed a bit higher up the reeds, before flying off into the reedbed.

After this experience, I was back on Sunday, when I heard that it was showing from the same hide. Needless to say, I legged it to the hide where I found it packed with people. The Bittern was concealed behind a line of reeds, and did very little for about an hour and a half, during which time many people got bored and left the hide. The wait was worth it though, because it then started coming closer as the previous one had.

One of the things that is good about photographing Bitterns is that when they are going to fly, they usually give you quite a bit of warning as they cannot just launch themselves out of the middle of the reeds, but instead usually gather together several reeds in their feet, before clambering up them, and taking off from there. 

That's all the Bittern images, and I doubt that I will better them this year, but who knows! If I do want to better them though, I don't have much time as by the middle of March they will be back at their breeding sites in Europe.

Thanks for reading


  1. Some nice images, although maybe be slightly more selective of the shots you put up. But AMAZING photos, where are you thinking of going to uni?

    1. Thanks; yeah I normally am, but I just wanted to show all of these ones! Can you post another comment with your email address in? Don't worry, I won't publish it.

  2. Superb series of shots, Oscar, second image in is a beauty.

  3. A great little portfolio, Oscar. A good range of shots.

  4. lovely images and very informative text - thank you!