Booming breakfast!

Bittern breakfast volunteers booming bird counting

The reedbeds of the Avalon Marshes are nationally important habitat for the elusive Bittern.  In the spring the first “sign” of activity is the sound of heavy breathing! This is the male Bittern starting to build up its muscles to produce a loud almost errey booms. The deep  boom sound is the way the males attract their mates.

Each spring the early morning booming of the bitterns also brings out volunteers  and staff from Natural England, RSPB and Somerset Wildlife Trust. They are there to count the number of booming males and identify their locations. The first of these early morning counts took place today . Early? Yes, really early at 5.00am the teams were out in the reedbeds. Whilst it might be cold at this time of the morning the compensation is that  reedbeds are a wonderful place to be with the sound of nature all around you.

The reward for that early start? The “grand breakfast” cooked by the reserve teams back at base! There is nothing better than a cooked breakfast and a large mug of tea or coffee after an early start.  Added to this is the joy of being part of a great team working to conserve the wildlife of the Avalon Marshes.

So what  were the results?  Here is the Ray Summers’ report:

“Thank you for helping out with our first bittern listen of 2015. We were lucky to have such a mild, still and dry morning. Throughout the Avalon Marshes it looks like the total is around 36, with the breakdown as follows:
Ham Wall and other RSPB land: 14, RSPB neighbours: 2
Shapwick Heath, Natural England: 12
Westhay Moor, Somerset Wildlife Trust: 6
Westhay Heath and Westhay Level, Godwin Peat Co: 2
There was an additional bird recorded at RSPB Greylake
I’m sure you will agree that this is a pretty healthy first count. To put it in context the UK held 140 confirmed boomers last year and yesterday’s total is virtually one quarter of this! Definitely something to be proud of! Thank you.”

If you would like to get involved in volunteering on the Avalon Marshes go to our Volunteering page. The next count is on 14 April.

Bittern bird count volunteers

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