The elusive bittern, which was once extinct in the UK, has enjoyed a record year. Thanks to an EU conservation programme, more bitterns were recorded this year than any other since the 1800's.
As bitterns are shy and well-camouflaged, they are difficult to find. For this reason, their numbers are calculated by the number of males heard making their characteristic "booming" sound. In 1997, when the bittern project began, just 11 booming males were heard at seven sites. In 2014, this number rose to 140 across 61 sites. RSPB's director of conservation Martin Harper said: "The bittern success story should give hope that it is possible to recover threatened species and that it makes sense to protect the laws that protect nature." (Image Wikimedia Commons/US Fish & Wildlife Service/CC BY-2.0)