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.

Written by Redgannet
Redgannet worked for more than 35 years as a flight attendant for an international airline. He came to birding late in his career but, considering the distractions, doesn't regret the missed opportunities. He was paid to visit six continents and took full advantage of the chance to bird the world. He adopted the nom de blog, Redgannet, to avoid remonstrations from his overbearing employer, but secretly hoped that the air of mystery would make him more attractive to women. Now grounded, he is looking forward to seeing the seasons turn from a fixed point.