The threat to bittern’s survival is downgraded following new study

A stunning Bittern at Minsmere. Photo: Frances Crickmore/iwitness24/citizenside

A stunning Bittern at Minsmere. Photo: Frances Crickmore/iwitness24/citizenside - Credit: citizenside.com

More than a quarter of the UK's bird species are in need of urgent help – but there has been good news for some of Eastern England's most recognisable wildlife.

That's the conclusion of the RSPB's latest assessment of the status of all of the UK's 244 bird species, Birds of Conservation Concern.

It found that 67 species are now under threat – with the likes of the curlew, puffin and nightingale joining others already on the red list such as turtle doves, cuckoos and starlings.

But three species of bird have been downgraded from the most at risk 'red' category, to an amber listing – the bittern, nightjar and dunlin. And another 22 species have moved from amber to green listing, meaning they are of least concern, including the red kite and woodlark.

Eastern England is home to more than half of the UK's bitterns – a type of heron extinct in the UK at the turn of the 20th century and famous for its booming call.


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In 1997, bitterns were heading towards a second extinction, with only 11 booming males recorded in England. This year, 150 booming males were counted in England and Wales, more than at any time since the early 19th century. Similarly, the nightjar – a nocturnal hawk-like bird of heaths, moorlands and woods – has benefited from a programme of concentrated and targeted conservation work, but while its status in the UK has improved, the report says more still needs to be done to achieve a stable population in its Eastern stronghold of The Brecks.

Woodlark, another species for which The Brecks is home to a significant proportion of the UK population, has moved from the amber to green lists and are joined on the green list by the bearded tit, which breeds in significant numbers in the wetlands of The Broads.

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John Sharpe, RSPB conservation manager for Eastern England, said: 'There is much more that we could and should be doing if we are serious about reversing the drastic decline in wildlife we are currently experiencing across all species, not only birds, but the success of targeted conservation in protected areas offers a ray of hope for saving species in the wider landscape and countryside.'

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