Lindow Manchester


Birds and Lindow Man
September 5, 2008, 9:07
Filed under: Lindow Man Exhibition

One of the exhibits in the Lindow Man exhibition is a bittern, a shy and reclusive bird, which once lived in the mosses of the North West. Dr Melonie Giles, who lectures in landscape archaeology here at the University of Manchester, emphasises the importance of wetland habitats in prehistory in her section of the Lindow Man exhibition. A bittern specimen,  a beaver skull and various beetles typical of peat bogs (all from the Museum’s natural sciences collections) support the conclusion that wetlands were important ecologically and valuable to prehistoric people in all sorts of ways. The bittern attracted some interest at the exhibition preview back in April and one of our guests mentioned that the bird had recolonised parts of Lancashire. It became extinct in the Victorian period because of the draining of wetlands and pollution. Attempts have been made to encourage the bird to recolonise regions where it has become extinct by providing funding to recreate and manage reed beds. For example, the bittern has been heard at Wigan where the reed beds or flashes have been improved. This indicates that birds are advertising for a mate, and hopefully breeding successfully. In the Daily Telegraph (August 29th) it was reported that there has been a 47% increase in numbers of the male birds, which have to be counted on the basis of their distinctive booming call (it is nicknamed the boombird)  because they are otherwise extremely hard to localise. Apparently the very wet summer has been good for the birds, providing them with plentiful food and good breeding conditions. It is good to know that museums are not the only ones to have benefited from the inclement weather. The Manchester Museum’s visitors are up by a number of thousands over the summer as parents look for somewhere sheltered to take children during the summer holidays. We are seeing a steady stream of visitors to the Lindow Man exhibition, where, of course, one of the exhibits is the beautiful bittern.

Bittern in the Lindow Man exhibition

Bittern in the Lindow Man exhibition

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