What does the great bittern find at Sebes Nature Reserve?
One of the rarest birds in this country and also one of the most difficult to watch at a short distance is the Great Bittern (Botaurus stellaris). Due to their puzzling habits and the way they move through the dense reed beds, it is complicated to see them, even in the places they frequent most. That is why it is extraordinary, in a natural place so small as Sebes nature Reserve that three examples have been seen simultaneously in the lake from the observatory. Furthermore, these are not one-off sightings, but steady observation during the period from November to March.
So what is so special about this area of Ebro wetlands that you can regularly see examples of the Great bittern during the winter each year?
In recent years, there has been active management of the 60 hectare area of reed beds by means of pasturing Camargue horses, to open areas with lower vegetation alternated with denser areas. During flooding, these areas are home to a multitude of invertebrates and small fish which are the food source for various species of birds. The population of exotic fish is also being controlled, especially those which influence the laying of eggs of other fish and predators. At the same time, manual control of the vegetation at Sebes lagoon, with the help of volunteers, has meant that canals have been preserved with openings and areas prepared for fish to lay eggs.
Thanks to this action we can enjoy continuous observation of this exceptional bird, and obtain some spectacular images from a short distance, like the ones shown. Having said that, the next step is to make sure that as well as finding a great area for feeding and resting during the autumn and winter, they also start nesting.
With this in mind, we have asked the Foundation of Biodiversity and the Generalitat de Catalunya to begin a project to improve these actions and management including the preservation of the canals and old lagoons on the Reserve. When this action takes place, we hope to enjoy the Great bittern throughout the year at Sebes Nature Reserve.