I was leafing through my 1979 diary this afternoon, looking up what that particular year's June had to offer, when I came across an entry from June 24th. I was then acting as assistant warden at Dungeness Bird Observatory, and had gone out into the recording area where...
"I conducted a survey, plotting singing Reed Buntings and Yellowhammers. The trapping area provided 4 Reed and 6 Yellow; the lower long pit 6 Reed and 2 Yellow; the upper long pit 11 Reed and 5 Yellow; revealing totals of 21 pairs of Reed Bunting and 13 pairs of Yellowhammer."
Any current shingle-lurker will know that if you repeated this survey now, you would find no Yellowhammers at all. They've long gone. The last DBO report (2014) records just four single birds each on a single date - and that was considered a 'good' year!
Back in 1979, the ever-present song of Yellowhammers and the almost daily capture of them in the mist nets were an expected part of my summer / early autumn stay at the observatory. I took it all for granted. In 2016, not only have they abandoned the greater Dungeness area, but most of the inland Walland Marsh as well.