Who am I?

My photo
An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to the see the natural world as a place for competition. I catch fish, watch birds, derive immense pleasure from simply looking at butterflies, moths, bumble-bees, etc - without the need for rules! I am Dylan and this is my blog - if my opinions offend? Don't bother logging on again - simple!


Friday, 21 October 2016

Forty-five years on - I'm still excited

We're off pike fishing on Saturday, I might have mentioned it? It was way back, in the early 1970's when I caught my first pike; a small jack (under 3 lbs) from Pixie's Mere, Bourne End, Hertfordshire. I still have vivid memories of the adrenaline moment when my "Fishing Gazette" bung plunged beneath the surface and of the steely-eyed monster which came thrashing to the bank as a result. Tackle and tactics may have changed dramatically over the intervening years, yet that raw excitement, when a back biter drops off or, a bite alarm sounds as, a monkey rises steadily up the needle, still remains. It's why I go pike angling; exactly for moments such as these. There have been many occurrences during my time on the bank and I have been blessed to have captured, or witness the capture of thousands of these magnificent fish.
Generally there is contempt once familiarity becomes established, yet, for me, pike have that ability to retain a certain aura, the unblinking stare and sheer perfection of design which befits such an awesome species. They are the evolutionary peak of freshwater, predatory, fish within Europe? Each and everyone of them demands respect, whatever the size - they certainly have mine. I have lost count of the times when a "jack" has done me up! Bloodied fingers are small price for such primeval encounters - pike have inhabited the earth far longer than mankind, respect!
I had half an idea that this post would develop into my journey through pike angling (well worthy of telling), but it's getting late and I have to be round at Benno's for 04.00 hrs tomorrow, so I'll leave it here. The Saturday social and further exploration of my pike angling journey might be high on the agenda when I return from darkest Sussex!

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

An evening session

Just one of those spur of the moment decisions - last night I went out onto the marsh and fished for eels. Simon, Benno, Luke and I have a, pike fishing, social planned for Saturday; when we're headed off to an inland sea in some, God forsaken, place beyond the Kentish border. How can these two events have anything in common? They're as alike as chalk and cheese - but, being me, I thought it prudent to see if my "Big Pit 70's" were still serviceable? So mounted them on a couple of Dragoncarp "Fusion Expert" 2.5 lbs t/c, 12 footers and headed off into the evening sunshine for a quick session after Anguilla anguilla.  Jim Gibbinson being a guiding light in much of my approach to eel angling - "they're most active in the first two hours after dark!" I stayed until 20.30 hrs and actually caught one. I also got bitten off by a pike. It was, therefore, not a complete waste of effort. What did I learn about the reels? Nothing new, they are, at best, adequate. Those rods, however, are a complete joke; something I should have realized when I purchased three (brand new) for less than £28! They are atrocious, even Runner Beans would feel ashamed of growing up these shambolic poles. I would have to seriously consider whether I will allow Bryn to use them, such is the bizarre taper and resultant action of these items - they really are the worst fishing rods I've ever held. No surprise in reality - you get exactly what you pay for.

Total over-kill? The drain is less than 10m wide, so why use kit that was designed for
120m plus? Because I can - I suppose!
I purchased these rods when the Ramsgate branch of Dragoncarp held it's closing down sale and thought that they would be OK for the kids to use, because it wouldn't matter if they got damaged/broken. What hadn't crossed my mind is the fact that the rods are of such poor design that they might impact on the ability of my grandchildren to learn about the techniques of angling because they'd be hampered by the inadequacies of the equipment. There might be three on E bay, very shortly, I'd happily take a tenner for the lot! (That's ten cans of Tyskie - Polish Lager - in our local corner shop!)

Benno, Luke & me - our pike fishing social in 2014
The pike fishing social will be a whole different ball game. It's very true that we're headed into Sussex for a gathering of the clan, but we're doing so with every intent of giving it our best shot. The bait boats are fully serviced, batteries charged and the fish finders being very latest versions we're able to obtain. Simon loves this aspect of angling technology and has made his own custom templates to enable him to manufacture these fiberglass items completely to our specifications. The use of these bait boats allows us to fish our baits, accurately and safely, in areas way beyond our casting capabilities, hence the requirement for my owning those hideous "Big Pit 70's" reels - loaded with 300m, 50 lbs b.s. of Berkley Whiplash Crystal braid. When we're fishing at these extreme ranges, there is no place for mono, and its' inherent stretch, when attempting to set the hooks at such distances. Benno is on the case for our bait supply and Sye has a few ideas for bait presentations which he's developed since our last Scotland trip. It's a big fish venue, thus we are going to use tactics aimed at these particular pike. It's always been my logic - big baits = big fish! I have had cause to reappraise this stance, just recently, but still feel that the basic facts are big pike are lazy and will take advantage of minimal effort for maximum return. In basic terms - a big dead bait is more likely to be picked up by a big pike than a small one! Obviously there are no rules, but statistics would support the theory, although I can recall plenty of occasions when it is a complete farce and a silly jack has picked up a whole Mackerel which is nearly as long as the pike itself.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

What goes round; comes round (a two post day!)

The majority of my Saturday had been spent, along with Simon, Benno and Sarah-Jayne, continuing to clear the crap (debris) from Dad's house. We did what was needed; there will be just one more session, required, to see the clearance completed and we are then able to put the house onto the market. A very sad day, but it has to be done in order for the family to move on. Scary thing is that I now find myself at the helm of the Good Ship Wraftie  - so God only knows where we'll end up?
Conversation yesterday was very diverse, but included some pike fishing plans and the introduction of my grandson, Bryn, to the joys of angling. This task being undertaken by Benno (his uncle) and would see a complete cycle achieved.

Benno at Loch Awe in 1990? He was around six years old and that is a
13ft 2.75 lbs t/c, fast taper, Bruce & Walker HMC carbon rod.

It was around 1988/9 that Benno first started his angling apprenticeship, around the shores of Loch Awe before progressing to the delights of The Grand Union Canal and Tring Reservoirs. How will Bryn find this hobby? It is Benno's challenge to enthuse his nephew - simple! They went to Sandwich Coarse Fishery, this afternoon, and Bryn did what was required. Using a whip to hand, he managed to get his first fish - a perch of around a pound - the seeds have been planted!

My grandson Bryn with a perch of around a pound.
An angler in the making? I have a feeling that it's in the genes!

The show goes on

There's a definite chill in the air, of late, as I take my pre-dawn wander across to work. The darkness is often enlivened by the piercing calls of Redwings, as they pass, unseen, high overhead or the sad lament of a Robin emanating from a garden hedge or factory compound. This annual occurence is the precursor to a period of birdless tedium around Newlands, so I have to make the best of it whilst it lasts. Yesterday was a beautiful morning with Fieldfares dominating the scene. There were several hundred out on the maize stubble, others were moving overhead in noisy flocks, whilst a few were happy to pose in the tops of the trees to the north and south of our garden.

What a difference this morning - horrible dark and damp, with a strong WSW wind. Not a Fieldfare to be seen! I made Bev her cuppa before heading out to do the circuit. Still very good numbers of Song Thrush and Redwing around the site; the fallow field still held small numbers of Linnets, Goldfinches and a handful of Brambling. Meadow Pipit numbers have risen significantly, probably 50+ around the stubble fields today along with 20, or so, Skylarks. The Scaffolder's Yard produced three Stonechat and a couple of Chiffchaff (of which there were many more around the main farm compound) A couple of Golden Plover flushed from the big field and the star of the morning was a Merlin which came flashing through, scattering finches and thrushes as it passed.

I feel a session with the rods is now much needed, chub, barbel, pike or eels? Decisions, decisions -  it's a tough life

Friday, 14 October 2016

Garden bird(s)ing

There can be no getting away from the fact that this past week has been one of the highlights of my year. The annual migration cycles have always resulted in some kind of avian spectacular during each of the sixteen, calendar years, we've lived in our bungalow. There have been couple of occasions which would have been the stuff of dreams even at an East coast bird observatory! So, by comparison, the events of this week must be taken in context. They haven't been phenomenal, but are still an experience from which I am able to derive great pleasure. It's just another Autumn on the Isle of Thanet. Birding, under these circumstances, has nothing to do with habitat; we're just very fortunate to live on a promontory which juts out into the base of the North Sea, at the head of The English Channel. The first, or last, landfall before/after a sea crossing for many weary, avian, migrants. Concrete, cauliflowers and geographical Utopia!

Something's not right here?
I swapped shifts today, so finished at 13.00, instead of 20.00, hrs. We had to pick Emily and Harry up from school, but it still meant that I had a n hour, or so, in which to spend in the garden. Fieldfares have now arrived, en mass, and there is a flock of 50/60 Skylarks out on the maize stubble beyond the garden hedgerow. I have been using the aviary sweepings to feed the back lawn, in the hope of attracting some of the finches away from the fallow field. Numerous House Sparrows and Collared Doves are filling their crops but, as yet, the migrating hoards have avoided the feast, thus far. Standing at the back door was not without reward, however, as a steady trickle of Redwing and Fieldfare passed overhead plus a couple of Brambling and several Goldfinches came in to dine at the feeding station.

Two different male Brambling? - look at the pale marks around the eye
As dusk started to fall there was a massive amount of activity above the strip of un-cut maize. Huge, swirling, parties of Linnets, Goldfinches and Bramblings descended into the foliage seeking overnight refuge, just as the Swallows had done earlier in the year. A marauding Sparrowhawk caused a, fleeting, moment of panic before, the resumption of normality and, the birds were able to return to their roost.

ISO 1600 - 1/320th sec - no wonder the images are a little grainy?
Oh, yeah - they were taken through the glass of a double glazed back door!

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Still buzzing and blogging

Out early this morning, attempting to get as much from this period as possible. Migration on this scale is a magnificent spectacle and something to be cherished, especially as it's taking place on and above the place I call home. It will only take the weather to change, or the stubble to be ploughed in, and that'll be my lot until next Spring.

So, this morning, I headed straight across to the fallow field where Linnets and Goldfinches dominated, huge numbers of birds present, yet no Chaffinch or Brambling? Still a few Meadow Pipits and also a small number of Chiffchaffs (half a dozen - ish) plus several Song Thrush and Redwings flushed from the deck as I wandered around. Best sighting was of a pair of Stonechat, the first here this year! Never approachable, I did my best with my aging camera kit and am happy enough with the results considering they're only used to support my blogging.

Never in the running for POTW - my images are perfectly adequate to support this rambling nonsense.
Nicely done Dyl - seamless! On to blogging and the recent upsurge in posts (by other blogsters) about why it is a diminishing format within social media. I can only offer my thoughts, from a very individual perspective, and will attempt to explain why I feel blogging is still relevant, how it enhances my experiences, keeps me looking, thinking about the life I lead and the people, places and wildlife encountered along the way.
Before I started "Of Esox" there'd been two previous blogging attempts which came to shuddering halts when I discovered that my posts had caused "ripples". It hadn't been deliberate, well OK it might have been, but to encounter such venom as a result of an opinion was too much. With the start of this third incarnation, I already had an idea of what I wanted and how I was going to do it. My expectations weren't high and the realization that it is not mandatory to read my posts was key to me getting on with my critics opinions, however different they were from my own.  The blog title was chosen to allow me as wider scope of subject matter as I felt fit. Observations can fit a whole gambit of definitions, in many differing fields of experience, thus I am well within the remit of this blog to post my opinions on any subject I like - they are my observations, be it about Jihadist terrorism, Brexit, birding, the flagrant abuse of wildlife legislation or my angling exploits; jobs a good'n!
I accept that there are times when my posts are little more than a few words and pictures of fish, there is no defining template to which I must adhere, therefore some of my more obscure ramblings have taken several days to complete, thus a result of very time consuming effort. Why do I do it? For me it's my attempt to share my world with others, it is my diary, my thoughts and my wishes as time passes. One of the benefits is that it keeps me thinking and using the gift of writing, which was so generously given me during my period at school. A gift that I didn't recognize at that time in my life, but am now extremely grateful for. The bottom line is that I write this blog for myself, if others see fit to look in, then it's a bonus. I'm not about changing opinions or challenging the world, I simply enjoy writing about the experiences I have as my life moves forwards, although I'm not adverse to looking back should the whim take me. How others perceive the role of a blog is entirely up to them - I'm happy with my choices and will continue until I come to the end of my enjoyment of life!

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Newlands is buzzing

It looked ideal conditions, early doors, for there to have been a few birds decked around the farm. My early morning coffee session, out in the garden, confirmed a substantial number of Song Thrushes were present and small groups of Redwing and Fieldfare were moving overhead. A lone Common Snipe flew through, adding to the spectacle and a party of Long-tailed Tits came flitting along the hedgerow. Time to grab the camera and head off to see what else I could locate.
Fortunately the sun started to break through the heavy clouds and I was able to add two Chiffchaff and a Reed Bunting quite shortly after leaving home. However, I wasn't prepared for the fantastic numbers of birds that were feeding out in a small area of fallow ground, just beyond the maize stubble. It was difficult to get anything like accurate counts but my best guess would be around 40 Brambling, 220 Goldfinch, 370 Linnet and 70 Chaffinch plus more Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Redwing, Song Thrush and Blackbird. It was a joy to be outside in their company. As is normal, my camera work was very lacking; but hope that it gives a feel for the morning's excitement.