Identification: When a Bittern does show itself, it appears as a rather chunky brown heron with somewhat owl-like plumage. In flight it has the pointed head and bill and long straggly legs of a heron but its broad, brown arched wings again recall an owl.
Habitat: Breeds in reedbeds. Winters in marshes and reedbeds around lakes and fishponds.
Distribution: Now a very scarce bird in the UK. Probably the best site to see them is at Minsmere RSPB Reserve in Suffolk, where birds can sometimes be seen flying over the reedbeds. It is now much more difficult to see at previously reliable sites on the north Norfolk Coast, such as Cley and Titchwell.
Easily heard at many wetland areas scattered throughout Europe, but difficult to see due to its secretive habits. One place where they are regularly seen, at least in May/June is from the tower at Siikalahti, Parikkala (Finland).
Population: Currently there are currently about 20 pairs in England. Wintering birds swell this to 50-150 birds.
The European population is estimated at 10,000-12,000 pairs. Russian population 10000-30000 Turkish population 30-500