The Dungeness point maintained its silence this morning, and that resulted in practically every birder defecting to the RSPB reserve. Here at least there are birds - in fact, it is nothing short of a tremendous place to visit at any time of year. In late Autumn you can guarantee Great White Egrets, Little Egrets, Bearded Tits, Cetti's Warblers, Water Rails, Tree Sparrows and Marsh Harriers; there will also be Merlin, Bittern and Raven if you stay long enough. Wildfowl numbers will have swollen and the Lapwing flock harbours ever increasing numbers of Golden Plovers. And all that is just for starters and plenty of other notable species will be lurking.
One such species 'lurking' this morning was Scaup, with two immature females found by Mark H on Dengemarsh. These birds were the first at Dungeness for over two-and-a-half years, and prompted a mini-twitch. It didn't used to be this way. Back in the mid-1970s to the late 80s they were found easily on Scotney, Lade Pit and in St.Mary's Bay (the latter site holding 100-250 birds in hard winters). Rye Bay, just across the border into Sussex, was another regular site. Maybe our Western European winters are too mild now, and the ducks do not need to move as far. Maybe they are suffering on their breeding grounds. This fall in numbers is echoed by plenty of other species that use our shores to winter upon.