Rare bird in residence as Newcastle nature reserve opens to public

Gosforth Park nature reserve holds an open day on Saturday, just in time for visitors to get a glimpse of a rare bird

Paul McMullen A Eurasian bittern pictured at Gosforth Park nature reserve
A Eurasian bittern pictured at Gosforth Park nature reserve

A rare bird has taken up residence at a nature reserve - just in time for its public open day.

Gosforth Park nature reserve in Newcastle opens tomorrow (Saturday) from 10.30am-3.30pm.

The reserve is run by the Natural History Society of Northumbria, where members have been boosted by the appearance of three rare bitterns at the site over the winter.

The reserve has extensive reed beds, which are the bittern’s favoured habitat. The bird will stand erect and stretch its neck upwards to merge with the reeds around it.

The “booming” call of the male bittern seeking a mate in the spring is the giveaway to the presence of what is an elusive bird.

“We are trying to manage the reserve habitat to encourage bitterns to stay on and breed,” said a society spokesman.

That did not happen this spring, but a bittern has now returned and is living in the reed beds.

Last month there was another surprise with the visit of the smaller, and even rarer, little bittern.

It is believed to be the first record of a little bittern in Newcastle.

In the week that it stayed on the reserve, the society raised £500 from selling entry permits to bird watchers who flocked to see the rarity.

At the open day, local experts will be on hand to talk to visitors about birds, plants, mammals and sects.

The reserve is off Old Salter’s Lane, off the A189 between South Gosforth and West Moor.

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