Bittern Bird (Botauris stellaris)

 

The bittern bird is now considered the rarest bird in the UK.  The bittern is a member of the heron family and is extremely shy and elusive.

Before fenland was drained to form farmland, the bittern was once common and vast numbers of booming bitterns in Spring would have been a glorious sound.

Bitterns only live in reed beds, beautifully camouflaged with their golden brown feathers mottled with darker browns. Every now and again the bittern among the reeds strikes a pose with his neck stretched and head held high revealing his black cap and moustache.

Vast efforts have been made to save the bittern.  Man nearly exterminated them all until there was once only one nest left in 1868. Fortunately continental bitterns recolonised the Norfolk fens and numbers have slowly increased. The bittern population numbers have ebbed and flowed precariously due to hard winters and even coypus have jeopardized their survival.  Coypus are large beaver-like rodents native to South America.

The bittern’s long-term survival may not look hopeful. The loss of bitterns are another legacy from man’s thoughtless impact on nature without first considering the consequences and how to then mitigate any losses.

I have painted this bird in watercolour and some ink to capture the rather drab plumage. The shape of the bittern in flight is a most attractive bird. The paints that I have used, as always in Windsor and Newton quality paints to ensure that I get the beautiful translucent colours of nature.

If you would like to purchase this signed limited edition print please visit shop bittern bird artwork.