Spot the bittern!

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), orĀ 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 Comments

  1. Louis
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 3:55 am | Permalink

    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.

    • Ken Pidcock
      Posted April 27, 2012 at 4:26 am | Permalink

      Exactly my experience.

    • Utakata
      Posted April 27, 2012 at 9:58 am | Permalink

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

  2. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 3:56 am | Permalink

    I looked for the nest, then I found the bird.

  3. Mike W
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 4:01 am | Permalink

    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.

  4. BigBob
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 4:08 am | Permalink

    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.

  5. MadScientist
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 4:14 am | Permalink

    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.

  6. Posted April 27, 2012 at 4:19 am | Permalink

    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.

    Cheers,
    Norm.

  7. Nadeen
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 4:23 am | Permalink

    It is to the right of the middle. Even at high resolution it was hard to spot.

  8. Chris Slaby
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 4:23 am | Permalink

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

  9. Paula Kirby
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 4:26 am | Permalink

    There isn’t one. It’s been killed by a cat.

    • Mike W
      Posted April 27, 2012 at 4:32 am | Permalink

      Which cat? There are several in the photo.

      • gbjames
        Posted April 27, 2012 at 5:29 am | Permalink

        lol

  10. Posted April 27, 2012 at 4:27 am | Permalink

    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!

    • Posted April 27, 2012 at 4:42 am | Permalink

      Not worth eating. They taste “bitter”n! ;-)

      Cheers,
      Norm.

  11. Tommy the cat
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 4:46 am | Permalink

    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!

  12. Don
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 4:47 am | Permalink

    yes, spotted on enlarged version…great

  13. Naked Bunny with a Whip
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    You spot it. I’m bittern.

    • Dominic
      Posted April 27, 2012 at 5:25 am | Permalink

      I thought you were twice shy…

  14. Posted April 27, 2012 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    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.

  15. Achrachno
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 5:23 am | Permalink

    How is a bittern hunt different from one for a snipe?

    • aspidoscelis
      Posted April 27, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      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.

      • aspidoscelis
        Posted April 27, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        Specifically, the bit in the center of this:

        Just the head & bill are visible…

  16. Dominic
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 5:25 am | Permalink

    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.

  17. gbjames
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 5:28 am | Permalink

    Wow. In the middle (vertically), right of center. Way Cool!

  18. Greg G
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    I found a bird, Waldo, and several people that I’m sure oare out to get me.

    • Posted April 27, 2012 at 5:31 am | Permalink

      When I opened this page, your comment was one of the first three. Now a few minutes later it is #18. How did that happen?

      • chebghobbi
        Posted April 27, 2012 at 7:12 am | Permalink

        Jesus.

      • Jeff Johnson
        Posted April 28, 2012 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        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.

  19. John K.
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    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.

  20. Matt G
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    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!

  21. joe piecuch
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    it’s only visible to those educated enough to know what to look for in the papyrus.

  22. Hempenstein
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    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.

  23. catsto
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    Found 2 beaks though! Or was the second beak a figment of may imagination?

    • catsto
      Posted April 27, 2012 at 6:53 am | Permalink

      Crap! Should proofread (for someone who works in publishing – may s/b my

      • catsto
        Posted April 27, 2012 at 6:54 am | Permalink

        and again! insert closing )

        I’ll shut up now

  24. Zugswang
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    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.

  25. Posted April 27, 2012 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    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.

  26. chebghobbi
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Did anyone else jump out of their skin when they suddenly saw it?

    • Another Matt
      Posted April 27, 2012 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      Yes. “What is that ripple-like ‘The Predator’ disturbance in the image? OH!”

  27. Notagod
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    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!

  28. JBlilie
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Slightly right of dead-center.

  29. H.H.
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    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.

    • Reginald Selkirk
      Posted April 27, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      It’s a good thing the photographer didn’t know the “Rule of thirds.”

  30. Posted April 27, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    For those who still don’t know what to look for:

  31. Mary - Canada
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Found it! Had to blow the pic up and zoom in. Spectacular!

  32. Pete
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Two-third to the right, not quite half-way up.

    Very difficult to pick up.

  33. Strider
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Amazing! It’s at center right.

  34. Posted April 27, 2012 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    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 :)

  35. Cody Porter
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    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’!

  36. Posted April 27, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, this one drove me crazy. :)

  37. docbill1351
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    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.

  38. kansaskitty
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    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!

  39. MadScientist
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    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.

  40. earlycuyler
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Hiding that well, how did Noah ever find 2 for the ark in time?

  41. M Evans
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    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!

  42. Cremnomaniac
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    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.

  43. Marella
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    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.

  44. Rudi
    Posted April 28, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Bloody hell!

  45. John Scanlon, FCD
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    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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