BITTERNS have been recorded breeding in Oxfordshire for the first time in 150 years.

Baby bitterns have been discovered at RSPB Otmoor just north of Oxford by volunteers.

The bittern, related to the heron, is a rare breeding species in the UK, nesting only in big, wet reedbeds.

They are superbly camouflaged and very secretive, however in the breeding season the males make a distinctive booming sound which can be heard more than a mile away.

While the first ‘booming’ bittern was recorded at the Otmoor reserve in 2013, it was only recently proved that successful breeding had finally taken place, with the discovery of two nests.

The RSPB and the Environment Agency have been working together to bring bitterns back to Oxfordshire at Otmoor for years.

An army of volunteers invested countless hours to transform bare mud islands into a wildlife haven, planting more than 150,000 reed seedlings by hand over seven years.

Now the reedbed has matured, it is the centrepiece of the reserve, home not only to the elusive bitterns but also otters, marsh harriers and cranes.

David Wilding, RSPB Site Manager at Otmoor, said: "We are delighted to finally have bitterns breeding in Oxfordshire once again, and with the amazing habitats created at Otmoor we hope to hear bitterns booming here for years to come.

"We owe much of this success to our brilliant team of volunteers. Otmoor has also benefitted from generous funding and we are extremely grateful to each of our funders as, without their support, this achievement would simply not have been possible."