All photographs copyright Paul Gale Bird Photography

I saw my first Bittern at Minsmere bird reserve at the age of ten. A large brown, owl-like bird glided silently across a small pool in the reed bed as I walked along that path from the warden's hut to the beach one day in early September. I just saw it out of the corner of my eye. Bitterns have always been one of my favourite birds. Secretive and blending in to the reeds, they are unique. With their large green feet grasping the reeds, they hunt fish by holding their beak just in the water, neck outstretched. I remember putting in every weekend at Minsmere's Island Mere Hide in spring/summer 1994 hoping to get a photograph. Ironically I got more pictures of a purple heron, albeit it distant. Eventually though a bittern did come out of the reeds in January 1995, and I got the photo published in Bird-watching magazine. Then someone told me that Lea Valley in Essex was the place to go. As many as four bitterns, probably from continental Europe wintered there, often sitting right in front of the hide. Where else could one get photos of a bittern catching fish at 10 yards range? And there was always the chance of a kingfisher.

Bittern, Titchwell Bittern, Slimbridge Bittern Lea Valley with fish

Bittern, Minsmere, Suffolk

American Bittern, nr Wadebridge, Cornwall Bittern Titchwell 2

Bittern, Minsmere, Suffolk

Bittern, Lee Valley, Essex

Bittern Lea Valley Essex

Bittern, Minsmere Reedbed, Suffolk

Bittern booming, Minsmere

Bittern Lee Valley, Essex

Bittern, Lee Valley

Bittern Minsmere, Sufflok

Bittern Lea Valley Dec 95
Bittern Minsmere Oct 94 Bittern Minsmere Sep 94 Bittern Minsmere, May 94
Reed Beds, Lodmoor    


Bittern Lea Valley in the mid-1990s

Bittern Minsmere


Birds of Europe

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