The RSPB has officially released news today that the Little Bitterns are back at Ham Wall and breeding again.
While I would not want to speak for them in terms of their reasons for releasing the news now, I suspect that it is at least in part recognition that after three years (four for the male) the birds' presence is now both expected and assumed by the wider birding community. And anyone else with a less healthy interest. So the news is effectively out anyway.
The usual species protection measures are in place, including a wardening presence, and the Twitter announcement today also mentioned that a viewpoint has been set up. Some paths on the reserve will be closed for the summer, but often the main track has been the best place to view from anyway. Please don't attempt to access the closed paths, and be very circumspect about posting any more precise details about the birds' activities.
But in the end, as the RSPB's announcement today said: Enjoy!
It seems that activity has increased noticeably over the last few days, suggesting that the pair of Little Bitterns is now feeding young. This, then, is the period when the adults are most visible, with frequent flights over the reedbed. Views are still mostly brief and relatively distant, but it offers the best chance of seeing them. If you haven't been, the watch point is along the main track and well marked. Good luck!
The Little Bitterns have been showing frequently, especially in the mornings in recent days. Views are usually brief and in flight, but occasionally perched on reedstems or low willows out in the reedbed, from the designated watchpoint along the main track. This weekend it has also become clear that there is a second male present.
Sorry to be pedantic Julian but its been well over a week since there's been known to be a second male present.
Birdguides has a posting that refers to 4 LB's (3 males) at Ham Wall (Walton's Marsh) this afternoon!
Visited yesterday from Surrey, was assured by a RSPB staff member that there are in fact TWO nests and another male making five birds in total. Congratulations to the RSPB on a fabulous reserve where we also saw Great Bittern, Great White Egret and Marsh Harrier we will come back
This morning, just after I arrived at the view point overlooking Walton Heath, I had five sightings and saw 2, probably 3, males including one in long pursuit of another, between 07:00 and 07:15; also a single sighting at 07:40, but none after this up to 08:50 when I left. Maybe early morning offers the best chance?