New Years Eve - grim and grey - 1000hrs - A mild but overcast weather note on which to finish 2016. A circuit of the local patch, for the benefit of anyone attempting a NYDay Birdcount tomorrow (we`re delaying ours until Monday due to the weather) delivered a Slavonian Grebe, Great White Egret and two Pintail on south lake, plus a supporting cast elsewhere around the lakes of Water Rail, Kingfisher, Chiffchaff and Cetti`s Warbler. On a flood tide eight species of waders were noted on the beach with only Redshank and Ringed Plover absent from the usual ten.
And so it ends, another year in which the human population continues to spiral towards disaster for planet Earth and our ever diminishing biodiversity. Currently there are around 7.5 billion of us (with 11 billion predicted by the end of the century) and the impact we are having on the natural world is catastrophic. Everywhere you look human activity has forced mega-fauna into ever more isolated pockets as they desperately try to escape the insatiable appetite of mankind for land.
The levels of decline in so short a time period are quite staggering: for example, before colonisation by Europeans, Africa held 20 million Elephants, now there are less than 400,000, while big cats are predicted to be extinct in the wild within 20 years. Even though most of us will never see such fabulous animals in their native lands, it would be good to know that they are still there for the health of the planet as a whole.
The Holocene epoch, or Sixth Extinction, has already claimed many species. The Quagga and Passenger Pigeon will soon be joined by many more unfortunates as they fall foul of the ravages of this human induced extinction. Looking around the planet at our world leaders doesn't give much hope for the future either. There`s a warmonger in the Kremlin and a climate change denier about to take up the presidency in the USA, and all the while the religious zealots in the Middle East continue their tribal savagery.
On the hopeful side there is a far greater awareness of environmental damage and the long term effects it can have, particularly in the so called developed world. Although, far too often we dismiss these portents if it impacts on our rampant consumerism for the latest must-have item, often produced in some impoverished sweat shop in the Far East.
Anyway, rant over for another year! So, things can only get better, and being a glass half full kind-of-a-bloke I`m sure 2017 will be full of surprises and positive tales more locally, regarding the flora and fauna of Dungeness and Romney Marsh.
To finish on I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our guests that have joined Pat, myself and Barney this past year at Plovers and we look forward to seeing many of you again in future. And finally to the many kind words of support I`ve received from readers of this blog throughout the year, a sincere thank you. I`m most humbled and I will attempt to keep it regularly updated in 2017.
A happy and peaceful New Year to one and all.