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Distribution and population size of the bittern Botaurus stellaris in lower Saxony results of a state-wide census in 2004 Verbreitung und Bestand der Rohrdrommel Botaurus stellaris in Niedersachsen Ergebnisse einer landesweiten Erfassung 2004

, : Distribution and population size of the bittern Botaurus stellaris in lower Saxony results of a state-wide census in 2004 Verbreitung und Bestand der Rohrdrommel Botaurus stellaris in Niedersachsen Ergebnisse einer landesweiten Erfassung 2004. Vogelkundliche Berichte aus Niedersachsen. Dezember; 381-2: 25-37

A state-wide census of the Bittern was carried out in Lower Saxony in 2004. The results are based on reports of more than 50 ornithologists and own observations. Additionally, data from 2000 to 2003 were analysed. Over the period 2000-2004 there were 15 breeding-populations known. Ten territories in nine populations were recorded in 2004. Because of deficient data for some sites the current population size in Lower Saxony is estimated at appr. 10-15 territories. After a decline of more than 50 % from 1975 to 1999 the population size is presently stable on a very low level. Currently the Bittern is only locally distributed in the regions 'Watten and Marschen', 'Weser-Aller-Flachland' and 'Borden'. Approximately 60% of the population in Lower Saxony are in Special Protection Areas. Reedbeds are most commonly used as breeding habitat, mostly associated with man-made standing waters. In the fluvial plains of the Weser and the Elbe only few observations of breeding Bitterns were made in the past years. Most of the populated reedbeds are full of structures such as pools and shrubs. The majority of the populations are in areas not or rarely visited by the public and free of water-sport. The destruction of natural habitats was the main cause of the decline in populations in the past decades. Possibly the decline in populations in the last century could not be compensated due to lack of suitable breeding habitats. Availability of food and predation may also be factors, but there is too little data on this. Due to the current low population, the negative trend in the records, uncertain reproduction and multiple threats the Bittern in Lower Saxony has an unfavourable conservation status.

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