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April 10, 2011 / hhsiegrist

Eurasian Bittern

The Eurasian Bittern or Great Bittern (Botaurus stellaris) is an elusive migratory bird that comes to Switzerland only during its migration in the cold winter months. It lives on lakeshores where it hunts for fish and molluscs and hides in the reeds aided by its plumage.

Lake Neuchâtel is my home ground for bird photography. Some of my photographic colleagues mentioned that they had managed to see the birds on the frozen surface of one of the lake’s lagoons and taken pictures. This encouraged me to try to find this bird on 30th December 2010, a very cold day indeed with temperatures around -10°C.

On arrival in the bird hide I found this at a distance of 6 metres:

Within two hours three birds were walking around the frozen water surface looking for openings in the ice where they could fish for food. One caught a small shellfish:

Another one skimmed the water surface:

…or had to plunge deeper:

A few weeks later the ice had melted and the birds kept their distance well camouflaged:

More pictures to be found at



Leave a Comment
  1. Linda G. / Apr 11 2011 17:19

    Nice pictures of the Great Bittern. Your blog is laid out nicely; it is informative; and it has good pictures.


  1. Hans H. Siegrist’s Nature Photography « heavensgraphix
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