I arrived on the seawall of the reserve this morning just as it was half light from the dawn and was struck by two things, one it was incredibly mild and two, there were no wildfowlers present, which is pretty much unheard of for Boxing Day. In fact there were no visible signs of anyone shooting on the whole of Harty, something I've never known before in this Christmas holiday period.
While its nice that there is no disturbance, etc. from the wildfowlers it has to be tempered with the fact that the reason that there are no wildfowlers is because there's nothing to shoot and if there's nothing to shoot at, there's also nothing for us to see on the reserve, which this morning was pretty much the case. On Boxing Day last year the reserve was covered in snow and completely frozen up except for one small patch of open water in the seawall fleet and yet I saw a few hundred ducks, over a thousand geese and fifteen wildfowlers - today I saw just five Mallard! Talking to various wildfowlers recently it seems that the dearth of wildfowl is pretty much the same throughout much of North Kent this winter, lets hope that it is simply just a case of the mild and dry weather and not an indicator of anything more serious.
Staying on the quiet theme there really were few birds to be seen on the main reserve this morning. Now I don't want to get into the same trend as a few blogs have recently - you know, where they produce an enviable list of birds seen on a particular day and then smugly complain about how quiet it is, but have a look at my main sightings in an hour or so this morning.
2 Grey Heron
1 Little Egret
2 Marsh Harrier
1 Lapland Bunting
OK, if I'd of stayed for several hours I could of added to that list but a wetland reserve at the end of December should have large numbers of wildfowl, plovers and waders viewable the minute you arrive there. It was a strange visit, it was mild enough to grace any March day and eerily quiet as though something had sucked all the birds out of the sky and moved them somewhere else.