A NATURE reserve on part of the old Manvers pit site is home to a bird on the brink of extinction.
A booming bittern is seeking a Yorkshire lass at the Old Moor RSPB Reserve, but another (non-feathered) lass is suffering sleepless nights as he makes his distinctive mating call.
The bachelor bittern’s call sounds like someone blowing over an empty bottle, and he sounds out at dusk and dawn, close to the farmhouse occupied by assistant warden Katie Thorpe.
Katie said: “While it is fantastic to have such a special bird, it’s no lullaby he’s singing! A bittern’s call can carry a long, long way – and when you have him for a near neighbour, there’s no escape from his booming love song.”
Staff and visitors to the reserve have fingers crossed that they will soon hear the splashing of tiny bittern feet in the reed bed.
Bittern numbers in the UK crashed to a low of just 11 booming males in 1997 and the reserve is part of a nationwide programme to bring the bird back from near extinction.
The birds are entirely reliant on reedbeds, now a very scarce habitat in the UK. At RSPB Old Moor, staff and volunteers have developed the reedbed habitat to make it more attractive to the bird, and put in several hundred rudd – a fish it relishes.