Can you hear the beckoning bitterns boom ?
Birders and twitchers keen to get a glimpse or to hear one of the UK's rarest birds can now do so in Somerset.
Thanks to conservation work at the RSPB's Ham Wall reserve on the Somerset Levels, the bittern has been saved from extinction.
Visitors can listen to the bitterns 'boom' from the hide at Ham Wall, which has the highest number of bitterns in the UK. This very rare bird is a camouflage expert so it requires plenty of time and patience to spot them. They were almost extinct before the successes recorded at Ham Wall.
A thickset heron-like bird with all-over bright, pale, buffy-brown plumage covered with dark streaks and bars, it was extinct in the UK by the end of the 19th century but numbers are now rising, with 140 'booming' males counted in 2014. However, it still remains on the Amber List as a species.
If you are lucky, you can spot the bitterns best in the spring time, as well as hearing the male's foghorn-style boom then too. This highly secretive bird is very difficult to see, as it moves silently through reeds at water's edge, looking for fish.
Ham Wall is a newly created wetland with reed beds in disused peat pits that provides a safe home for many rare species and is part of the Avalon Marshes, which have been described as the best place for wildlife in Britain.
A good time to see the bittern in Somerset is in the winter months from October to March and we're 10-15 minutes from Ham Wall by car so a perfect place to stay for anyone wishing to see or hear the bitterns this winter and next spring.
RSPB Ham Wall can be accessed via the A39 near Bridgwater at Ashcott. Free parking and toilets are available.