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!

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Monday, 30 June 2014

Up - date



One, of a number of grasshoppers, that Emily and I encountered on
Saturday morning.
Since the funeral of Anne, life has started to regain some sense of normality for Bev and I. Gadget has popped in a couple of times and seems to be coping reasonably well; "good and bad days" is how he described it. It was a well attended service, showing the extent to which Anne impacted on so many others lives. It was particularly nice to see Graham Crick (representing SBBOT), Franny and Dave Mairs. The latter two joining us for a couple of beers in The Racing Greyhound after the service.  Dave is always good value and humour is always present during any type of conversation, Franny spoke of "this and that!" and pointed out that my "silvella" wasn't, although he hadn't seen it. Obviously I'd screwed up and made a bad call - Franny knows and I don't; and that's the bottom line.
So in future I will refrain from labelling my images with anything more than a simple "Micro sp." it will save a lot of trouble.
A grass-moth sp.
Emily and I went "bug hunting" on the marshes of the Little Stour early on Saturday morning. The weather was superb, but due to deteriorate by mid-morning and so it did. Before the rain came, we had seen a nice selection of damselflies, a couple of dragonflies, umpteen grasshoppers and a nice array of common butterflies. A pair of Little Owls greeted us, as I parked the car and couple of young rabbits were hopping about nearby, much to Emily's amusement. A quick stop at my Dad's, on the way home, allowed Emily to get a chocolate fix and continue the "bug hunt" in the still erected marquee. The high-light being a Cucumber Spider (Araniella cucurbitina ?) which was discovered on one of the metal poles.
 
The striking Cucumber Spider - Araniella sp. (possibly cucurbitina)
Sunday was a day of relaxation, a breakfast in The David Copperfield, a quick trip to Tesco at Westwood Cross to pick up some much needed provisions (Tesco Value sweetcorn at 35p/tin and some insect repellent) as I was going fishing on the Stour in the evening. The weather was perfect, as it could be, heavy cloud, bouts of rain and a river carrying a couple of inches of extra water and associated colour. I had the place to myself and headed straight for the best known swim on the section. I baited with a decent carpet of particles (using a bait dropper) and fished an 18mm pellet, glugged in Tutti and Shrimp, over the top.
 
A Wood Mouse foraging for spilled particles right by my feet. Taken using the 18 - 55 mm
lens and flash - so it was very close!
I'd love to report my first barbel of the campaign, but I can't. The whole session saw me plagued by sodding eels. Savage, reel spinning, slams on the rod-tip as these poxy fish grabbed the pellet and engaged reverse in the swift current. I stayed until 23.30 hrs, but should have packed up as it got dark - I was completely wasting my time.
 
An angler's nightmare - if we had more of these creatures in our rivers, Otters wouldn't be seen as
 the enemy by many anglers. Otters love to eat them, so let's hope they colonise the Stour
soon and thin these slimy pests out. Eels are a protected species; why?
 Because the water quality in many of our rivers is so poor that these fish have succumbed to
 the high levels of pollutants that the water companies are legally pumping into our waterways.
This lack of eels and the ridiculous re-stocking policies, of many angling clubs/Environment Agency
 has led to a situation where artificially high densities, of non-native species, are mistakenly
seen as indicators of the health of our fisheries.
 Otters are not the villains of this scenario, but the victims of their own success. Get the
natural balance back into these eco-systems and, by doing so, get the water companies to clean up
 their act, then and only then, will our fisheries be a true indicator of the state of our environment.
Rant over!
 
I've been reading some other angling blogs whose writers are eel anglers - going on about roll-over bite indicators and resistance free rigs! Not on The Stour - these bloody nuisances are quite capable of steaming off with a 3oz semi-fixed, in line, and a tightened down clutch on a centre-pin, producing the type of bite that any barbel would be proud of.

Monday, 23 June 2014

The bash in Ash!

My daughter, Sarah-Jayne, had organised a late birthday, cum Father's Day, celebration at my Dad's house in Ash. Tim and Julie couldn't make it, but the rest of us were there, including Luke and Josh (Tim and Julie's kids - my nephews!). Emily tagged along with Bev and I - into the "Nerf Gun" war zone that was Dad's back garden. It was a fantastic afternoon, all the kids running wild, most of the adjoining gardens being showered with "Nerf" bullets as the hostilities raged. A cracking BBQ and a few "light ales" ensured that the time flew past and everyone enjoyed themselves.

Emily (looking like an angel) and Bryn during a lull in "Nerf War"

Emily won't thank me for this, when she gets a little older.
Acting the clown inside Dad's marquee, as we were getting set up in the morning
Dad has acquired (from Denmark! - the wonder of the Internet) a marquee - type, tent, thing, which Berne had erected in the garden. It was just the job and a fantastic insect trap to boot. I had my camera gear with me and secured a few reasonable images of a couple of "Crambid sp." moths which had found their way inside the structure. I was under instruction to get some photos of the kids, but hadn't expected a fly pass by The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight ( two Spitfires and the Lancaster) which came straight over the garden - Oh; how I wish I could claim some credit for this fantastic coincidence.
 
It wasn't so much the sight, but the sound of those four magnificent Rolls-Royce engines which
made the occassion so special.
Benno had come straight from fishing The River Stour, in Canterbury, Sye and Yve had travelled down from Aston Clinton, with the boys, Sarah, Berne, Bryn and Evelyn - from Goodnestone, Bev, Emily and I the short drive from Dumpton; plus "Whisky" Brian (who walked around the corner!) all assembled to belatedly celebrate my Dad's birthday. A fantastic afternoon in the superb sunshine of a June afternoon in Kent - Happy days!
 
Crambus silvella - a really stunning insect when seen up close

Chrysoteuchia culmella

Yet another Humming-bird Hawk in our front garden - just a different angle from the norm?

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Doldrums?

It has been a fairly hectic week in the little world in which I exist. Work has been "interesting" whilst the passing of Anne Sawyer has been in our consciousness/thoughts as Bev and I try to come to terms with her death and the funeral which is planned for Tuesday 24th June. Gadget is doing OK; but obviously he has a massive emotional roller coaster ride before anything close to normality can return to his life. His family and friends are close at hand whenever he needs  them - and you can be sure he will in the coming days.
A very tatty adult Red Kite - high over Newland's Farm and our garden.
So things like blogging, listing and chasing the barbel of the River Stour really pale into insignificance when put into a context like this. However life goes on and, despite the sadness, there have been quite a few highlights as I've meandered my way through the week. Humming-bird Hawks are being seen on a daily basis, the Red Valerian in our front garden is past its' prime yet still has enough attraction to keep a few "Hummers" interested. It won't be too long before the Buddliea of our back garden starts to flower and the real show begins.
 
Red Valerian along our drive. It must be like a Mc Donald's to any passing hummer?
 
I was outside early this morning, cleaning the car, when there was a bit of a commotion amongst the local gulls. A rather tatty adult Red Kite drifted in, very high, from the North, hung around for nearly fifteen minutes before heading back from whence it came. I had plenty of time to grab a few crappy record shots before returning to my task. The gulls never settled and I kept an eye on the sky. My reward was an immature Peregrine, with prey, which came skimming over the bungalow roof-tops before dropping down onto the field beyond our hedge. My images were taken into the sunlight and with the settings as were already programmed. Under the circumstances they ain't too shabby.
 
Immature Peregrine, with prey
 
A moth that was flitting around the bedroom ceiling, yesterday night, looked interesting enough to pot up and store in the fridge until this morning. Teleiodes vulgella - nice!
 

Teleiodes vulgella - a nice surprise encounter, having been potted on the bedroom ceiling!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

They're your lists - so you make the rules!

Steve Gale (North Downs and Beyond) has posted a very well-worded blog on the subject of "fridge ticking" moths. It is basically exactly the same as twitching a rare bird, but with a guarantee that the moth, in question, will still be available due to it being potted up and stored inside a fridge. This could be in a kitchen of an urban street or the remote island Bird Observatory and/or any place in between? Moths have no allegiance to a particular habitat preference or location.

Bedstraw Hawk-moth in a Broadstairs garden - not ours!
I have to admit that, over the years, I've been fortunate enough to have shown some exceptionally rare examples of moth species which have turned up in local moth traps that were not my own. Added to that Francis Solly and Phil Milton, in particular, have ensured that my Clearwing, micro-moth/tortrix list has been boosted by their daytime excursions into the remote habitats of East Kent - pheromones, net and pots to hand. So, no I didn't catch them but, in no way can that detract from the fact that I've actually seen them. It is what I choose to do with the sighting that seems to be the issue for others?
 
Spurge Hawk-moth - I've never been lucky enough to take one of these magnificent insects
in one of my traps, but have seen four in Kent, thanks to the generosity of others.
 I don't give a toss about league tables or official lists, nothing I see or catch gets reported - so I may as well not bother? Well yes, and no! I don't do what I do for anyone else but myself; so if I decide to include "captive" moths on my lists - so be it.
 
Adult Short-toed Eagle
I have no desire to travel to East Sussex to twitch a species which I have spent so many happy hours
observing in the Pyranean foothills, of Southern France, and mainland Greece.
This is in no way meant to be disrespectful of those birders who've made the journey to see that individual but,
for me, those days are now past.
 
I have the same approach to birds and birding - I've been twitching and seen some fabulous species, enjoying some crazy times as part of that process. That I am now no longer part of that "scene" doesn't mean that I've become "holier than thou" - I've just decided to do things differently!
My exploits with rod and line almost mirror my other obsessional journeys - flat out and full on when I first get interested then gradually change tack to a point where it is the enjoyment, not adrenaline, that dictates the direction I take.
 
My PB bream - 11lbs 2oz
Taken from Brogborough Lake, Beds
If it were not for the information provided, by other anglers, I would not have caught this fish.
The angling equivalent to twitching?
I don't suppose, for one minute, that everyone will see it from my perspective - but if you have to have a list, then ensure that you are Lord and Master. Stick to your guns, yet be prepared to accept your own mistakes and make changes accordingly, as your knowledge base expands. As they are your personal lists - no one else will ever need to know if you've f**ked up!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Tight lines!

Well the waiting is over; at the stroke of mid-night the coarse season starts, on the UK rivers, for the 2014-15 season. My shifts fall perfectly and I am able to be there at the off, get a mid-night to dawn session in, and still get home for a decent kip before the call of FSIS require my presence at the factory.
A nice portrait of a barbel from the River Severn - June 30th  2013
My first session is quite likely to be a blank (always look on the bright side?) as the river has taken a right hiding during the winter floods and many of the fish holding features have been washed away and, as yet, there is very little weed growth. I had a recce on Thursday evening and found a few decent chub and also saw a couple of barbel in the one "known" swim. I didn't see much else, but that doesn't have any significance - pound to a pinch of salt there will be eels waiting in the wings for any fish meal-type baits that I attempt to introduce into my swim.

The best, so far, at 13 lbs 14 oz. It is not my target to beat this fish (although there will be no complaints
 should it happen!) I simply hope to get a better understanding of the behaviour and feeding patterns
of the barbel that live in this superb little river.

I wish all my brothers in angling; who still hold the traditional season in some esteem, all the very best on this night of nights. May Isaac smile upon your efforts and you be successful in your chosen quests. At the magic hour I'll be raising a glass to the memory of our piscatorial forefathers and embarking on the next chapter in the saga of Dylan v's the barbel of the Kentish Stour. Tight lines guys!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Just being there - all I can do!

At 03.55 hrs, yesterday morning, Anne Sawyer passed away. For the vast majority of humanity it means very little but, to Bev and I and many of our friends it is a very sad occasion. Anne was Gadget's (Dennis) wife and soul-mate for the past forty years, we only coming into the mix when we moved to Dumpton in November 2000. We have been friends since day one - they attending many of our family gatherings and we theirs. That Anne is no longer with us leaves a massive void in our world, as it does for many others.
I finished work at 14.00 hrs, knowing that Den was coming round. We ended up in The Racing Greyhound for a couple of beers and a chat. Den needed some sleep, but he also needed to talk and I provided the ears to listen. We spoke of many things, past, present and future and were joined by Craig Sammells, which was a nice touch.
Anne, with Bev, at a BBQ in our garden. Happy memories of good times and a wonderful lady
Den has been swamped by messages of sympathy and support from far and wide - which is always good. Our couple of beers developed into several more, as they do, but didn't descend into the morose and self-pity that would have been entirely understandable. Instead we laughed about the good times, the happy events that we'd shared and the realisation of how precious time is as a commodity. Craig has been out of the loop for far too long - we will work at fixing this. It all ended up in the back garden of our bungalow - three of us as silly as sheep. Bev was a diamond - taxi service and deliverer of common sense (which was seriously needed at times) work was a casualty this morning. I did walk across to the factory, but only so I could fill in a holiday form and return to my bed. Small price to pay for being a mate, amongst mates, when the situation dictates.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Hummers and other things


This blogging stuff is becoming increasingly difficult - I have very little to post; work and reality mean that there are far more important issues to address than the folly of a rambling post?

Painted Lady - part of a small influx

Adult male Greenfinch on our garden feeders
However, I'm not about to throw in the towel, just yet, but I might have to be a little more selective in my choice of subjects on which I make comment. This blog is purely an indulgence - not an excuse to kick a wasp's nest!


Love 'em or ignore them - micro moths are great fun if they float your boat!
Today has seen an influx of Humming-bird Hawkmoths into our garden - there have been a minimum of 8 individuals and possibly as many as 12? The incredible world,, that is opened by the use of macro technology, continues to reveal sights (and species) which are capable of total bemusement - I've got no idea, but it detracts not one iota - it's better that I look, and enjoy, than to walk around with my eyes shut!





An Aethes sp. - netted in the back garden

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

One thing leads to another

I finally got around to looking at the photos that Simon had taken on our recent Scotland trip (he'd burned them onto a disc - proper high tech stuff!) and straight away my mind was back up in the Scottish highlands; wandering the banks of Loch Awe. Such is the power of a photo; in similar fashion to a piece of music, that it has the ability to transport you back in time to a period of significance (good or bad, happy or sad) - luckily on this occasion all my emotions are those associated with enjoyment.



This, in turn, has coincided with Benno giving me a reminder of his progress as an angler, and the importance that he places upon the quality of the technique involved rather than the basic statistic of how heavy the fish. He has been using a fly rod at Long Shaw Farm and has taken three double-figure carp in two outings - I've managed just the one! In 1993 (June 12th edition) I wrote a piece for the Angler's Mail about my approach to Tench fishing at Wilstone Reservoir, Tring. It was part of a series of articles, by various individuals, under the dubious heading of "The Specialists". The format was fairly basic - What species, where do you catch them, how do you catch them? - followed by a quick portfolio of your PB fish, a short quote about your ambitions and a photo. I think I got paid  £25 for the effort. I had a quick look at it this morning and am amazed to recall what I'd written way back then - my dislike for competition, as a measure of ability within a hobby, being as obvious then as it remains to this day. My desire to be as good an angler as Simon still remains, although I think Benno has surpassed my wildest expectations - the red-tape associated with angling (enjoyment of our natural history) will never go away.

Angler's Mail - June 12th 1993

A very nice Common Carp of 16lbs 12oz - Benno ensuring that the fly rod is part of the image.
Good to know that some of the lessons have paid off? Not too sure about the shades!
A quick tap into Birdguides reveals that the Burnham Overy Spectacled Warbler is still present; so a look at the Iris photo link was undertaken. Several contributors have posted images of the bird which is sign of the times, I suppose. This species is bound to be a magnet for those "rabid" souls who consider the list to be of more importance than the content. I've looked at several images and have come to the conclusion that it is not the finest example of the species. They are called Spectacled Warblers because they, in prime breeding condition, are in possession of stunning white orbital eye-rings. This individual is sadly lacking in this department and, therefore, looks very similar to a Common Whitethroat! Once again the power of the photo is able to take me back to another time and another place. Bev and I spent our honeymoon on Gran Canaria where I was able to spend a while in the company of Spectacled Warbler. Always elusive, I did manage to grab a few, digi-scoped, images of the species. Using a 2 mega-pixel Nikon CP 775 means that the images are very basic, by modern standard, but they can still take me back to those happy times.

Even when the bird was partially hidden, the eye ring was still obvious!

My usual attempts at digi-scoping were as the bird retreated into the thorny depths

I did manage to nail one image - happy days, great memories of a superb place.


Sunday, 1 June 2014

These times

Bev's been really poorly, of late, Emily and Harry stayed over for Saturday night - not a recipe for family harmony; but we will overcome - as would every other family in the world, when push comes to shove!
In the bigger picture, these are but ripples in a pond, not waves upon an ocean. 
Emily - "go higher!"
The most precious thing in my world

Harry - An England rugby player in waiting
Quality time with very special children
I took the kids over to Staple, so they could run around in the superb playground, before we continued our journey to visit Sarah-jayne, Berne, Bryn and Evelyn. 

Bombus hypnorum - The "New" Garden Bumble bee
We had a great time together - Sarah-jayne is a fantastic mother figure (that's me boasting!) and the kid's love the world in which she riegns! Ice cream, biscuits and fruit juice - seems simple enough to me? At least three Turle Doves singing around the garden, Buzzards mewing on high, there were Corn Buntings singing around the playground, at Staple - it was a good to be alive sort of day!

I'm going with Epiblema cynosbatella ?
I've got loads of images of "inverts" that I've encountered along the way - some very spectacular; but of no importance beyond the fact that they grabbed my attention - so very simplistic.

I'd thought that this was Codling Moth - now I'm not so sure!