Spot the bittern!

April 27, 2012 • 3:49 am

It’s Friday, and your job is to spot the bittern (Botaurus stellaris) in this photo. You may give your answer in the comments below, but DO NOT READ THEM until you’ve given this a good look-see. You can click to enlarge this (twice in succession to make it really big), drag the picture to your desktop and zoom in (it’s high-res), or go to the original photograph by Lisa Lawley, which is huge.

You’re going to have trouble, for natural selection did a great job with this bird’s camouflage.

Oh, and leave your answers on this page, not on the picture pages (two readers have already made this mistake).

h/t: Ollie

62 thoughts on “Spot the bittern!

  1. Oh wow. On the image page, I zoomed in, found it, then zoomed out and lost it, several times before I was able to make it out in the smaller image size that fits on the screen. I know my eyes aren’t what they used to be, but man oh man, that’s good camouflage.

    1. Yeah…you really need the image in full size to find it. Or it gets lost in the pixels at smaller resolutions.

  2. I was going to say “behind the elephant”, but I did manage to spot it at a lower resolution, and blew it up to confirm. It’s just to right of centre, facing left, about mid-height in the grass.

  3. Got the full size image into Paintshop Pro and found an interesting feature at 2278, 1400. I couldn’t resolve it into a Bittern … and then my colleague Karl pointed out the beak above! Awesome.

  4. So much for excellent camouflage – I saw it right away. Then again I used to spend a lot of time as a child spotting such birds in the wild.

  5. Found it! It’s looking to the left of the picture, near the middle. Just to the right of the middle, above the dark patch.

    Nice camouflage. Nothing that good could have just evolved, it was obviously designed! (joke!)

    Wonder what it does when the reeds are green though! That would be a much easier bird to spot.


  6. Bottom right of the photo, up an over a bit from the two bits of green among all the light brown of the plants.

  7. Dang, that’s tough! I was able to find it at
    full resolution, but kept losing it when I
    shrunk the image down. I STILL can’t see it at the smallest resolution, and it’s still difficult even at the medium resolution, but
    it’s about 55% across the image (left to right), and about half-way between the top and bottom. If I was the hunter and that bird was
    my prey, I’m sure I’d go home hungry!

  8. Just found it. Amazing camouflage, for sure. But this is definitely not Botaurus lentiginosus (American Bittern), it’s its european counterpart Botaurus stellaris (Eurasian Bittern or Great Bittern or even simply Bittern)…
    Anyway, great shot!

  9. Found it at highest resolution. Looking back at the smaller image, gee it is very hard to find.

    Vertical centre, horizontal a bit to the right of centre (about 1/6th) Directly above the triangle made by the reed seed pods.

    1. Well, I seem to be better at hunting for snipe than for bittern.

      Look near the waterline directly above the “e” in Lawley. I think it’s a snipe. I saw that right off, but didn’t see the bittern until looking through the comments.

  10. I see it – the barred feathers are obvious once you see it! The point is, in a static picture this is much harder. Our brains try to spot changes so depth & movement however slight help.

      1. because you looked at the comments on the page with the expanded photo, not this original. Click on the photo above, then look at the comments under that, you will see the comment at #2.

  11. I couldn’t find it without the help in the comments.

    Of course, it might have helped if I had known what the heck a bittern was when I started looking.

  12. I found it quickly, but only by luck. When I zoomed in on the high resolution image, I happened to pan right, and out it popped. Fantastic!

  13. About 10% down, 65% across, there’s a tan blip in the greenery. It’s the only tan blip on that horizontal. Scroll straight down from that to find it in the rushes.

  14. I enlarged the picture, and my cursor just happened to be right on its beak, with the bird looking up and to the left.

    Even knowing where it is, I can’t actually resolve it from the smaller photo in the post.

  15. I had spotted it but my level of confidence was very low until until I read the other observations. I can see it, but even so, it’s damn good camouflage.

  16. But, can you find the bent reed that is pointing at the bittern?

    It’s not my fault, jesus, one of them christs, made me do it!

  17. I assumed the photo-taker would have centered the subject, so I just zoomed in the middle of the photo and found the bird almost immediately. Still damn good camouflage, though. I wouldn’t have found the bird unless I knew I was looking for one.

  18. Just right from dead center. Ha, I zoomed in to full resolution, found it, zoomed out, lost it, zoomed back in, found it, zoomed out, lost it… I imagine I would have had similar problems with binoculars 🙂

  19. There certainly has been a lot of bird activity on the website as of late…

    Perhaps Jerry will be picking up a new hobby in the near future? The Chicago area does have an excellent birding community.

    Just sayin’!

  20. First I had to Google “bittern,” I mean it could have been that gator thing I first imagined.

    Once I knew it was a boid I had to zoom all the way in to find the little feller.

    Zooming out I lost it. I’d be a lot thinner on a diet of bittern.

  21. Finally found it – just to the right of center and just above 2 cattails. I kept losing it till I looked for the characteristics of the reeds above it so I could pinpoint it when in reduced size. Very cool camouflage!

  22. Why is everyone only spotting the one near the middle of the photo which has its head clearly exposed? I guess it’s more difficult to make out the other one – in fact I can’t even tell if I see an eye or if that’s a coincidental black spot that looks like an eye.

  23. Tried to find it using my iPad 2. Now I’m going to be out $800 for the new iPad. Tis low resolution screen is an outrage!

  24. Wow, that’s cool. I had to go to the giant size to find it. But central image, midway from water line to top of grass facing left.

  25. Well, having studied that picture at the max resolution that seemed to improve things, I will say that, if you all reckon there’s a bird there then I will believe you, but I really can’t see anything I could honestly call a bird.

  26. Wow, I was expecting the standard ‘beak straight up, ventral view’ pose; that’s a new angle.

    Re snipe: yeah, could be, but why not just a random bent reed?

    MadScientist’s other bittern: pics or it didn’t happen.

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