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.
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.
In keeping with the fraud that is the “Great Bittern” Botaurus stellaris (ha!), I have perpetrated a set of photographs to fool the unwary and sucker the gullible. Conspiracy theorists, here is your proof.
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?
It is said that they feed almost exclusively on cheese, preferring the soft, French varieties when in season.
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.
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.
Photoshop is a wonderful thing. Don’t ever believe anything until you have seen it with your own eyes.