Saturday, 12 October 2013

117. Eurasian Bittern (Botaurus stellaris)

Eurasian Bitterns are known for being secretive characters, preferring to skulk around in their reedbed habitat for the most part remaining unseen. Their cryptic plumage is the perfect camouflage; in flight they can look somewhat owl-like, with their brown barred feathers and rounded wings. The strange booming song of the male in spring sounds like someone blowing over the top of a glass bottle, but louder - it can carry a long way. If you are standing close-ish, sometimes you can hear the male breathing in before he booms. During the breeding season, Eurasian Bitterns are completely restricted to large reedbeds, but at other times they are more mobile and may visit a wider range of habitats in search of food.

Eurasian Bitterns populations in the UK are now recovering after intensive conservation efforts to restore reedbeds, but they are still scarce.

Eurasian Bittern, ©Marek Szczepanek, via Wikimedia Commons.
Eurasian Bittern sketch.
I spent longer than usual on this one, quite pleased with it. I was originally intending to try it in watercolours but then realised I didn't have any black left, doh. So watercolours will wait until I've been to the art supplies shop in town next week.

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