Feathery claims

January 25, 2002

A rare bittern, a medium-sized brown heron, was spotted last week at a campus of the University of Lincoln, at the same time as an influx of bitterns was recorded on England's east coast.

But the university's claim that the bittern was nesting in reeds was surely premature - the birds' fancy does not turn to procreation until spring has sprung just a little more emphatically. Bitterns are early breeders, but the Lincoln bird is more likely to be part of the influx of continental refugees fleeing the freeze.

If the bird does remain to breed, protecting its nest from egg collectors may prove a drain on scarce university resources.

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