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The year 2003 was declared the Year of the Bittern (Botaurus stellaris). This beautiful bird lives solitary in marshes and fringes of reeds. His sound is impressive, like a distant foghorn. Click here for a short video. In the European Coutries, between 2000 and 4000 pairs breed. Thanks to Poland entering the EU, European figures rose substantially.Eastern Europe still has a vast area of natural marshes, whereas in Western Europe wetlands suffered from large-scale land reclamation. On top of that, rivers lost their natural course, which made the surface of reedbeds decrease. Other environmental conditions effecting the bittern's habitat negatively are land fragmentation, eutrophication and static water levels. The European Union launched the Species Action Plan Bittern. In the seventies, 700 pairs bred in the Netherlands. Nowadays the breeding population fluctuates around 300.
Annemieke VAN ROEKEL is freelance journalist
Photo: Landschap Noord-Holland/Ger Tik