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Photo reveals rescued rare bird's happy ending

The bittern's ring is just above its foot in David Gowing's picture (2528354)
The bittern's ring is just above its foot in David Gowing's picture (2528354)

A photograph taken at Lakenheath Fen has proved that efforts to save an injured rare bird 70 miles away worked.

A bittern wearing a metal ring was photographed at the RSPB reserve on May 7 by Dawn Balmer from the Thetford-based British Trust for Ornithology, who was intrigued because so few are ringed.

Then regular reserve visitor, David Gowing, sent in a picture of the same bird.

Dawn said: "My photos weren’t quite good enough to read the ring. David Gowing’s excellent photo enabled us to read part of the ring and identify where and when the bird had been ringed."

The female bittern was one of only three ringed in 2016 after being found injured beside a road in Hertfordshire. It was cared for by Caroline Huxtable at Wildlife Welfare, near Stevenage, then released at nearby RSPB Rye Meads.

RSPB Lakenheath Fen (2528356)
RSPB Lakenheath Fen (2528356)

David White, Lakenheath Fen's visitor experience officer, said: “Bitterns are not known for flying very far so it is incredible to think that this bird has come all of this way.

"What could have been a sad ending for a scarce and beautiful bird has now been turned into a wonderful story, as this bittern is now happily skulking around in the reedbeds at RSPB Lakenheath Fen.

"This year, we know that there are at least 10 booming males on the reserve, so hopefully, this bird will breed on the reserve with one of those males."

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