In answer to the oft-asked question, “What is your favourite bird”, I can usually only narrow it down to three families; Rails, Cuckoos and Owls. To that three, I would add a fourth, if only they really existed.

KEN 09Feb16 Great Bittern 07

Bitterns are birds of fable. Existing photographs are grainy and out of focus. Like all good Bigfoot or Yeti pictures, distance is the key. The subject should be far enough away to induce camera shake on high-zooming lenses and squinting in review.
KEN 09Feb16 Great Bittern 17

In keeping with the fraud that is the “Great BitternBotaurus stellaris (ha!), I have perpetrated a set of photographs to fool the unwary and sucker the gullible. Conspiracy theorists, here is your proof.

KEN 09Feb16 Great Bittern 05

No-one has ever seen more than one bittern at a time. A widely held belief amongst Bittern Believers is that the animal is hermaphroditic and reproduces autogametically. Strange, since legends associate it with love and fidelity. How appropriate that it should suddenly appear just before Valentine’s Day. Mind you, Hallmark has just announced renewed funding for expeditions into the Kent marshes. Coincidence?

KEN 09Feb16 Great Bittern 14

It is said that they feed almost exclusively on cheese, preferring the soft, French varieties when in season.

KEN 09Feb16 Great Bittern 16

The creature has many noms des mensonge; Boomer, Necker, Reed Creeper. The names are supposed to pertain to various odd behaviours observed by cold, wet bittern hunters.

KEN 09Feb16 Great Bittern 11

This set of pictures will surely be quickly dismissed by the sceptics and even the more lucid advocates. Bitterns do not stand out from the reeds in full sun. They are birds of cold, grey days. Rain, shadow and ice are integral parts of any bittern picture if the author wishes to be taken seriously.

KEN 09Feb16 Great Bittern 09

Photoshop is a wonderful thing. Don’t ever believe anything until you have seen it with your own eyes.

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Written by Redgannet
Redgannet has been working for over 33 years as a crew member/flight attendant and enjoys the well-ventilated air of the outdoors. The nom de blog, Redgannet, was adopted to add an air of mystery and to make himself more attractive to women. His father first whetted Redguga's appetite for all things natural by buying him his first pair of 7x35s and a copy of Thorburn's Birds. Having no mentor beyond an indulgent parent, he spent the first season hoping for an Egyptian Vulture at the bird table in his English garden. His most memorable birding moment is seeing an Egyptian Vulture with those same binoculars 26 years later. Redgannet is married to Canon, but his heart and half of his house belongs to Helen and their son Joseph. He is looking forward to communicating with people who don't ask if he is searching for the "feathered variety" of bird.