Boultham Mere
Where to Watch Birds in Lincolnshire

Boultham Mere - seeing Bittern in Lincolnshire
by Steve Botham.

Lincolnshire Bittern Photographs

Many Lincs birders will be unaware that its possible to see Bittern in the county every year without to much trouble and within a mile of Lincoln City centre. For 23 years now Kev Durose and the Warden have consistantly seen at least one Bittern every winter since 1979 and recently upto 2.

Historically Bittern breed in the area when fenland extended from the City out to Saxilby and beyond with records from the 1950's onwards, this was probably the most productive site in the whole of Lincolnshire. Nowadays, birds generally arrive late October onwards with the occasional second birds in mid December. If it remains mild seeing a bird can be difficult but if by mid November the lake freezes then it becomes easier, and on a sunny days observers will be rewarded with good views as the Bitterns like to stand on the edge of the reeds sunning themselves. In 1999 and 2000 several visiting birders were able to watch 2 Bitterns standing on the ice for long periods of time sometimes up to 3 hours and with at least one bird showing well every day a little patience was soon rewarded.

In 1994 the first bird of the second winter period arrived on the 20th November and showed most days by the 20th December two birds were present and on the 21st 3 Bitterns flew up from the roosting area and flew to various parts of the lake though only a single bird was seen after this initial sighting its interesting to note, a few days later single birds were seen at Whisby and Burton pits which are both within 5 miles of Boultham Mere.


Boultham Mere - winter.

Bittern - Boultham Mere 1995 ©sbotham

Boultham Mere.



Seeing the Bittern when the lake is not frozen requires abit more work and braving the cold evenings, generally arriving two hours before dark should pay off as Bitterns tend to have roosting sites for the evening and it appears to be in the same reed bed year after year, usually standing on the viewpoint and watching over the main reed bed will give good views especially if it has been feeding in a reed bed on the south shore as they fly past you heading for the main bed.

Though two birds were present until March 2000, only a single bird has been seen 2000/01, with it probably arriving as early as late September. A report of one flying over Hartsholme park heading for Boultham Mere must relate to our bird, at the time of writing the Bittern is still present and was seen well on the 25th January 2001 flying into the main reed bed at 4:45pm.


Finding Boultham Mere can for visitors be harder than seeing Bittern, located at grid ref SK9571. From Lincoln High Street head West down Dixon St following the road over the first set of traffic lights as you approach the BMW car showroom on your left-hand side, go into the middle lane were it splits from one to three,at the traffic lights go straight across onto Valentine Road and follow it round past B&Q and MFI to the Odean and turn into their car park.

On foot head for the railway at the back of the car park crossing through the gates onto a dirt road which you follow for half a mile along a wide drain at the sluice cross over and walk back on your self until virtually opposite a steel gate you past on the other side climb up the bank and stand on top looking over the lake the Cathedral will be in front, the reedbed on the other side of the lake is the roosting area arriving two hours before dark and scanning over the reeds should produce good views.

Large Scale Map - Boultham Mere

Recent sightings of the Bittern in the evenings have all been between 3:15 and 4:45 pm.

Good hunting Steve Botham Reserve Warden. Please report all records from Boultham Mere to Steve.

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