Bittern News and 2013 viewing arrangements

Old Moor & Dearne Valley

Old Moor & Dearne Valley
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Dearne Valley

Bittern News and 2013 viewing arrangements

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Hi everyone

I'm very pleased to say that for the second year in a row, we have breeding Bittern at RSPB Old Moor. Activity clearly suggests that we have a female feeding young chicks.

This is clearly excellent news and we now need to instigate our plans to allow as many people as possible to have the opportunity to see a Bittern whilst at the same time ensuring the best possible chances of their success.

So, from tomorrow morning, we have taken the decision to again close the reedbed trail from the switch back just after the wildlife ponds.

This is very much a precautionary principle and is led by the fact that last year, the reedbed trail became so popular that the female started to amend her behaviour and this is the last thing that we would like to see happen again.

In time, I think the cache of a Bittern sighting at Old Moor will drop and the amount of reed at Old Moor and Bolton Ings will increase so as to make this decision null and void, but for now it seems the best course of action.

So, what are we doing to facilitate a sighting?

Firstly, last years gazebo and plastic chairs are being replaced by an altogether grander affair. Our wonderful reserve team are building a viewing screen complete with roof and seating to give you a semi permament base to sit and watch for feeding flights.

We will staff this from time to time but in general it will be unmanned. However, there will be sightings boards and interpretation and we will encourage visitors to record any of their sightings (which we will then note at the end of each day).

Given the nature of the species, this will again offer the best chance of seeing a Bittern as they fly across the reedbeds.

The viewing area should be in place and complete by the end of Thursday.

Secondly, and this is new for 2013, we are prepared to offer some special viewing opportunities.

Away from the public part of the reserve, we have a special Bittern monitoring hide, staffed every day, that allows us to track the Bittern activity throughout the breeding season. This hide is raised on stilts and provides an unrivalled view of the reedbeds and the birds.

This year, we have decided to trial a limited number of places to accompany one of our monitoring staff or volunteers to the forward hide to spend a shift with them and help to record any activity.

There are 20 slots available initially on a first come first served basis.

If you are interested, you need to be able to dedicate a morning or afternoon and be able to climb the ladder to the hide (I'm afraid it is designed for monitoring bitterns not public access!). You are more than welcome to bring camera equipment with you.

If you would like to put your name down, then you need to email and if you are one of the lucky ones, Katie will get in touch to discuss details and time slots.

Based on how well this initial pilot goes, we will see if it is feasible to release more slots as the breeding season progresses.

I hope that we can welcome you to Old Moor and Bitternwatch 2013 in the near future!



  • Proof once again, of a fabulous, well manged habitat and a staff and volunteer team who work hard to balance the needs of the wildlife with inspiring opportunities for visitors to see something really special. Well done Old Moor!!  :)

  • That explains the new wooden 'bus shelter' construction on the bank top.  A bit more robust than the gazebo! Great that there may be young chicks again this year. :-)

  • Thats great news..... :-)

  • Fantastic news! :)

  • Excellent news, well done Bitterns and staff!