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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Wednesday, 30 December 2015

It might just work?

As I write, this post, the latest in a procession of storms (this one's called Frank!) is blasting in from the south/south-west. Thankfully, in our little corner of the UK, the chaotic amounts of associated rainfall has missed us for the most part. Air temperatures remain between 8 - 12C, day and night, but are forecast to take a sharp dip tomorrow night. So, with all this going on, my plan is to get out for an eel session this afternoon/evening - packing up around 19.00 hrs when a belt of heavy rain is predicted to arrive. I pre-baited my chosen swim on Monday - this will be my final session of 2015; can I end the year with a fish?


Adult Fulmar photographed from the cliff-top path between Winterstoke Steps
and The Granville Cinema
I had a stroll down to Ramsgate Harbour, yesterday, to check the gulls and have a scan around for a Great Northern Diver that has been reported a couple of times this week. Failed with the diver, good numbers of Great Black-backs on the pontoons, but couldn't locate any C-R's, a couple of Rock Pipits, 4 Dark-bellied Brents (W) and several Fulmars, prospecting their nesting ledges, were as good as it got. It isn't an issue, I just fancied a walk which didn't involve thick mud - something Newland's has in abundance at present.

My kit is sorted, rigs prepared, bait defrosting. I am travelling light, with minimal clutter, and if the weather proves to be a major problem, I'll pack up early - no great shakes; there's always another day.
Whatever the outcome - I will post again when I get home.

Part Two

I'm back and I've caught an eel, so a success! I got on site before 14.30 hrs and was fishing within 15 minutes. Straight away I experienced a series of short pulls, none of which developed into anything more. Then I got bitten off by a pike - didn't feel any resistance at all, my mono cut as clean if I'd used a Stanley blade. I missed a couple of absolute screamers before nailing a small eel, on a bluey section. There is so much more I have to learn about these fish and the finer details of rigs and bait presentation.
 
 
I have a real problem with the Albright Knot; I love the concept of the combi-rig, but have lost all faith in this particular knot. I've bench tested it, in my study, and had it break over 14 lbs - then used the same rig, same materials, and had the knot unravel once it had been in the water for a few minutes. It hasn't yet cost me a fish, but I can't risk that outcome now I am aware of this issue. I am going to experiment with a similar hook link tied using the four-turn water knot. I'll have a play around tomorrow with the hope of getting out again on New Year's Day. I have a number of ideas to try out as this project moves forward. January and February were always going to be the problem months; what I experienced this evening has really aided my thought processes as I look to the future.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Legend and Warrior



A true Giant of Heavy Metal - RIP Lemmy you lived your dream and never waivered in your beliefs.
There are few who can claim to have never sold out - he is certainly one; who brought a lot of happiness to masses of music fans around the globe. I am but one of millions who have been touched
by his thunderous bass playing, gruff voice and incredible volume.
A sad day for all fans of the genre.

Monday, 28 December 2015

A pleasant morning out

I returned to the drain, that I'd fished on Boxing Day, purely because I'd deposited the remaining dead baits into the swim(s) before I left on Saturday - thus I had pre-baited? It is something I haven't used with my passed pike angling efforts, although Neville Fickling was extolling the benefits of such actions, way back in the 1980's - he actually used these tactics to create his own "hot-spots" in some of the gravel pits he fished.
Any how, I struggled today and yet feel that I can answer most of my own questions? As I stated, on Boxing Day, the venue is not one where I expect to catch any really big fish, thus I might have already given this population of pike more food than they require - it being unfair to expect continued action when the fish have recently fed. The wonderful clear blue skies and bright sun-light didn't help and then there was the general lack of a breeze, thus rendering the surface of the drain glassy calm, although a breeze picked up later in the day. I saw two Barn, and a single Short-eared, Owls; obviously taking advantage of the calm conditions to go looking for a meal in the half-light of the pre-dawn period.


Pike monkey, on an angled needle - Optonic bite alarm.
This is my idea of pike angling perfection - Duncan Kay and a Mitchell 300 -
what else could I desire (apart from a big pike?)
 
I had three rods fishing before 07.30 hrs but didn't feel particularly confident, for the reasons I've already mentioned. With my binoculars around my neck, I spent the vast majority of my morning watching the local birdlife - un troubled by any action on the rods. A superb adult male Marsh Harrier drifted past, causing a mild panic amongst the Tufted Ducks which were settled on the drain to my south. Little Egrets, Fieldfares, Kestrel (2), Stonechat - a pair and my first of the winter, Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Gadwall (4), Common Snipe and two Common Buzzards - it was all rather enjoyable. By 11.00 hrs; I made the decision to pack up and had already got two rods away when the remaining rod indicated a bite, via the electronic alarm. It was a spirited battle with a lively little "jack" (probably that fish that I "bumped" on Boxing Day?) - and so I avoided the dreaded blank.


A scrappy little jack!
My journey home incurred a slight detour as I used the remnants of my bait to pre-bait another drain, in the hope of getting a session after eels on Wednesday evening. The unseasonal mild temperatures are all assisting in my quest - the lowest temperature during the past week has been 8C! The coming week has predicted highs of 14C and lows of 6C - of little comfort to those in the northern counties of the UK?

Saturday, 26 December 2015

A Boxing Day result

It was just after 06.00 hrs that I drove off, into the darkness, headed for a small drain out on The Ash Levels. I've taken a few pike from the venue, in the past, and felt that it would be a good bet for a bite, or two, although the fish were unlikely to be big.
The dawn was a drab affair, cloudy skies masking the rising sun and a there was a boisterous wind blasting across the marsh, although it remains very mild: 13C! As the light intensified, a few Fieldfares left their roost, noisily passing overhead towards the distant orchards. I got three rods out before 07.20 hrs and sat back to watch the dawn. Within the hour, I had a couple of bleeps from the middle rod (red dyed trout) and a short lift on the monkey - bloody eels! Twenty minutes later and my left hand rod was away - 1/2 mackerel, dyed yellow, was picked up by a pike and, after a spirited battle, found itself engulfed within the folds of my 30" barbel net. A nice plump little fish which registered 10 lbs 4 oz on the Avons - result! I've got hold of a tiny tri-pod, on which I used my camera to obtain a series of record shots.


The rest of the session saw a "jack attack", on the mackerel again, but it was very quiet and I watched a distant Short-eared Owl battling against the wind. Why an owl would attempt to hunt under these conditions is a mystery - although hunger might play a part, these winds have been blowing for a prolonged period and owls will have struggled to find food recently. A  few distant Greylags and a soaring Common Buzzard were about the best of the rest. Nice to be outside and very happy with the fish.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

My 2015 - it's been emotional!

As is normal, for this time of year, Blogland is awash with reviews of the past twelve months. Some of these postings are of an extremely high standard - polished and accompanied by stunning imagery. Sadly I am unable to compete in this cyber demonstration of technological wizardry - what you see is exactly what you'll get! So I apologise, in advance, for any short comings.
The year of 2015 - it's been epic from my perspective. So much so that it's very difficult to know how to start?  I could easily compartmentalise the experiences into fish, birds, moths, butterflies and other stuff - but it wouldn't do justice to the journey during the last twelve months. Bev and I are into our sixteenth year in our bungalow, we have five grand-children which were not a consideration when we first met. Life, and times, move on at ever increasing pace as we grow older?

JANUARY
 


The first double of 2015 - January 1st
I got off to a flier - a, scraper, double on the first day of the year! Whatever next? It was a month of high drama with the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo premises in Paris, taking centre stage. The subsequent reaction from the Parisian populous and the massed protest which followed, was awesome and spoke more about humanity than any religious or political leader could ever hope to do. I try to steer clear of politics and religion when blogging, but this atrocity was just too much to ignore. I said my bit and life, for me and mine, went on.

A superb cartoon that says it all
A chance conversation, at work, with a carp angler resulted in my gaining ownership of two, more, Mitchell 300's and a Heron bite alarm - classic tackle from an era that, a return to which, increasingly appeals and offers me a challenge.
 
 
 
FEBRUARY
 
It was a rather quiet month. Emily and I had an encounter with a 1st winter Glaucous Gull, which we discovered on the cricket pitch, at Goodnestone, on the 8th. It was probably the individual that subsequently relocated to Dover Harbour later in the month. Looking back, it would seem that the rest of my blogging revolved around theories and nostalgia - I wasn't getting out much, that's for sure!
A session on the Royal Military Canal did produce a nice pike for Luke - 18 lbs+ and about sums up my February.


 MARCH
 
A month when any reason was left behind in an all out attempt at being stupid! With my lack of success, pike fishing, I thought that a radical departure from tradition might be worthy of effort. Little did I realise how significant this decision was to prove. The final day of the 2014/15 season and I land a superb little carp from an East Kent drain - the adventure had started.
 
I didn't realise at the time - this fish was probably the most influential capture of the year? 
APRIL
 
Things started to "hot up" as the month progressed. I had a couple of over-nighters, at Sandwich, which resulted in a few carp visiting the bank. The Spring migration had taken hold and I recorded some decent birds around Newland's Farm.
 
A Ring Ouzel in the Vine Close hedgerow - a bit of "Patch magic" and hugely enjoyable, but not really that unusual; from a
Newland's perspective - they are annual visitors to my little part of Thanet
 
But April wasn't about much other than Loch Awe? After a wait of thirty-three years I finally land that Scottish "twenty". 26th April 2015 - I'm on the piss from 06.10 hrs - 24 lbs 10 oz of pure joy. That I caught it using a centre-pin just put the "icing on the cake" - it was an incredibly intense moment which I was able to share with Benno and Luke -  very happy daze!


One of the best experiences of 2015 - a fish of my dreams

MAY

To be brutally honest, a bit of a nothing month. We played around at Long Shaw before discovering that we weren't welcome - jealous anglers and a duck loving owner. I can take my money elsewhere, so no big deal.

Absolute joy - double hook up at Long Shaw Farm
What a pity that attitudes exist which impact, so directly, on the enjoyment of others.

I started to run the moth trap with increasing regularity, resulting in some nice moths appearing on the blog - yet nothing out of the ordinary. My wood & Perspex, Robinson-like, contraption was brought out of retirement as the Milton Mk VII finally gave up the ghost. It was a nice distraction and gave me renewed enthusiasm for a hobby that I'd allowed to fade away.



As is usual during each and every Spring, there was a passage of migrant raptors in the skies above Thanet. It was never hectic around Newland's but I did get a few bits - Common Buzzards dominating the proceedings as expected.

Always a pleasant distraction when a Common Buzzard appears over the garden
 
JUNE
 
A time of high expectation; the 16th being the start of the "Traditional" coarse fishing season. So, like I do, I manage to capture my heaviest carp - since 1984 - from a commercial fishery before the off. I did an all nighter at Sandwich, on the 10th, and had the great fortune to spend an extended period in conversation with a lady, named Janet, an encounter of Zen-like quality. The carp weighed in at 18.15 and was very welcome, although my thoughts were already focused on the coming river campaigns.


Mothing was becoming rather interesting, as I started to delve into the dark art of "Micros". There was a massive influx of Hummingbird Hawks and I had plenty of opportunity to play around with my camera gear - all good fun.

 
Any efforts at river carp and barbel were very half-hearted. I had the desire, yet lacked confidence and my results were to be expected - I blanked consistently. I needed, a kick up the arse, to find a project that fired my enthusiasm and imagination.

JULY

The month that changed my year! On the night of the 1st I ran the garden MV and amongst the regular species were three Red-necked Footmen! I'd only ever taken one previously and that was way back in the mid '90's when I lived in Ash.


This was the start of a prolonged period of migrant moth action in our little garden - my enthusiasm returned as the moths kept coming. Micro moths were also starting to assert their influence as I became drawn to this group of previously unexplored (by me) insects. It was action on all fronts as I also became fascinated by an angling challenge. That silly little carp, that I'd captured in March, proved to be the precursor of a sensational period of discovery.
I am very privileged to have access to several drains which criss-cross the East Kent marshes. Three in particular, have formed the basis for my entire season since that fateful evening of the 5th! I'd gone out onto the drains, because Benno & Luke had been on the river and told of big problems with upstream weed cutting. I went tench fishing as a result - my landing of an 18 lbs 2 oz Common Carp being an insane moment. I was on the phone, to Benno, when the bite occurred - it was totally mental how things panned out.


Just a few days later I was back again, this time, very, early morning as part of a pre-baiting campaign. I dropped in for a short, pre-work, session and ended up with a superb brace which comprised of a 12 lbs 6 oz fully scaled and a 20 lbs 10 oz common - the stuff of my dreams? My first twenty pound carp since Feb 1984! Was I happy? Delirious would be a better description - caught using a Duncan Kay and a Mitchell 300, only a centre-pin could have improved the experience further.



Things just kept on happening. I was at another of my drains when a European Beaver swam through my swim! I didn't manage a photo on that first encounter - the next time it swam past I was ready and waiting! Not the greatest image ever, but it does the job - a bloody Beaver in an East Kent drain.


I changed the Mitchell 300's for a couple of my Matt Hayes centre-pins, a 16 lbs 4 oz wildie being the best of the rest - it was some month!

 
AUGUST
 
It was moths all the way, as new species (for the year) were being encountered on a regular basis. My collection of images, of the "micro's" I was catching, continued to grow at a steady rate and their identification should give me something to do during the dark nights of Winter? The sheer numbers of migrant moths was superb, and yet it was a resident species which took all the plaudits. I caught my first Garden Tiger-moth since August 2009 and was made up. They used to be a very familiar species in the MV traps around East Kent - sadly, today, this is no longer the case and every sighting is one to be savoured.
 



 
A bizarre event occurred when Harry and I were out in the garden and a blue budgie landed on the garden fence - a patch tick? Just as likely, a natural occurrence, as the Margate Dusky Thrush intergrade - probably from the same aviary?
 
 
The month ended with a wonderful reunion - I was contacted by, then able to have a phone conversation with, one of the guys who I grew up with in Hemel Hempstead. Paul Elborn was the most successful pike angler in our little gang and we had a fantastic chat recalling those bygone times. I sincerely hope that we can get together when I next go up to visit my brothers?
 
SEPTEMBER
 
 A wonderful month of variety and extremes. The early days were to see a Newland's (and garden) tick in the form of a Pied Flycatcher plus a notable influx of Vestals (a migrant moth). The weather was good and my time well spent looking around the "patch"
 
 
 
The main focus was, however, Bev and my holiday to Kefalonia - our first trip abroad in three years and did we need it? That things turned out so spectacularly well is purely down to chance - next year we have removed that element by already booking our return - it really was that good! Lourdas, not the first resort name that springs to mind when planning a trip to the Greek Isles.
Our two week stay was enough to confirm the part that birding plays in my appreciation of being outdoors - I had a superb time, pushing my limits within this very specialised habitat. I returned home, humbled by the experience - no way am I as good as I thought I was!
 
 
The final week of the month and Chiffchaffs ruled! No possible chance to make accurate counts - birds moving through the garden at a steady pace. I remain confident that our two bird baths play a key role in this attraction.
 
One of the best images I managed all year?
 
OCTOBER
 
A month of extremes. I learnt that Tony Harman had passed away, at the end of September, and it was a sad loss to both Benno and myself - he being an integral part of our early mothing attempts. I have difficulty remembering Tony without a smile on his face, or a beer in his hand, sometimes both - he was a huge character in a diminutive frame - my recollections will always be happy ones.
I embarked upon a project to catch an eel by design, rather than by accident, and achieved my goal relatively easily. Several sessions resulted in fish  to 3 lbs 1 oz - my best. I caught on every occasion I went out. So a resounding success and it spurred me on to further my challenge which developed into a project to catch an eel, by design, in every month of the Winter (October - March!)


It was also the month which saw the final flight of XH558 - The Spirit of Great Britain; our last airworthy Vulcan Bomber. I was in position by Jentex, at Cliffsend, to grab one last photo before this iconic piece of our aviation heritage was consigned to become a museum exhibit - a shameful dereliction of duty by those empowered with such decisions.


The rest of the month was about Newland's Farm and the awesome spectacle of avian migration. Winter thrushes arrived, en mass, and there were a couple of large finch gatherings/movements yet, for me, the month will be remembered for the influx of Short-eared Owls - I recorded five in total, two of which, were decked, out in the cauliflowers. It was an exciting time to be out and about.


 
 

 NOVEMBER
 
 
I started my pike fishing campaign for the 2015/16 season and managed to winkle out a couple of low doubles as reward. Tom Spence, from Hemel Hempstead, joined Benno and I for a morning out on the drains and caught his first Esox - so things were good.


Then it all went "tits up" -  scum-bags from the extremist criminal movement (Islamic State) delivered another hammer blow to western democracy with a display of utter contempt for civilised culture. Paris again, the carnage of that single act of terrorism says everything anyone, with a brain cell between their ears, needs to know about this gang of wankers! Deluded, and extremely dangerous, clowns - masquerading, with their "Jihadist spiel", behind a book of rules (The Koran) that expresses the complete opposite to such taking of innocent lives. How will it, where will it, when will it, end? I fear for the generations to come - my grand-children will live through some troubled times before things get sorted out?


In my own little existence, the eel project continued with a positive outcome to my quest for a November fish. The weather remained unseasonably mild and was obviously a major factor in this result. Birds and moths played a very secondary role at this time.

DECEMBER

On the evening of the 1st, I catch an eel, thus fulfilling the December section of this project. On the 4th I make it to my 60th birthday, much to the amazement of many who have travelled a similar route. The following day, at a family get together, I received a gift of such thoughtfulness that I was completely "blown away". A 1959 B. James & Son - Richard Walker Mk IV split cane fishing rod - a thing of beauty and history. Now in my custody, I seek to add to the story of this iconic angling artefact.
I managed to add Barn Owl to my ever growing Newland's list when I encountered one on my way to work, early one morning. So I'm now right up to date!

The fireplace in the "East Wing" of Dumpton Manor - suitably attired for the festive period ahead
All that remains is for me to wish everyone who has bothered to look in on my garbled musings a "Very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous, Peaceful and Happy New Year" I sincerely thank you all for the continued interest in my inane drivel. I find myself humbled by the sheer number of people who bother to log on, from so many far away places. To all of those who have made the effort to offer comments, I am supremely grateful - I realise that my efforts are not in vain.

The indoor tree - Bev's handiwork.
Off pike fishing on Boxing Day - so more to come before 2016 and the start of yet another chapter.
Take care, enjoy the holiday and keep safe - Dyl



Monday, 21 December 2015

A Blogger's perogative

This blogging lark has many facets, I personally see it as an arena where my opinions can be shared with anyone interested enough to log on. My opinions; on my blog - surely nothing too radical in this concept? This I do, with no doubts about the rights of other individuals to hold differing view points. As with almost every subject I can think of, there will be no right and wrong way of looking at them, it will all come down to personal opinions, hopefully based upon knowledge and/or experiences.
Although I have never deliberately gone out of my way (The Non-conformist blog excepted!) to seek confrontation, there is no way that I would shy away from saying something about a situation that caused me to think - good or bad.
Some of my stuff could certainly have been worded better, but seemed to fit the bill at the time of writing. What Google need to offer us guys is a calm down app. Before you hit the publish button; take a deep breath and think is this really what you wish to say? On the other hand, after six cans of Stella - who gives a toss?
Steve, Gavin, Derek and I are involved in a round of comments, on our various blogs, which only helps to demonstrate the common ground held by four very different individuals. As for bottling it - I missed the post, but get the drift. I'd have done similar if, on reflection. I felt unhappy with anything I had posted. Four more shifts till Christmas and a decent break, the Annual Review is taking shape, in the draft folder and I'm confident that there will be a few other offerings before 2016. It has been my most prolific year, so far, in terms of blogging and I've really enjoyed myself. One or two rants along the way - hey ho; such is life! Toodle Pip - Dyl

Saturday, 19 December 2015

One of football's greatest assets.

It was with real sadness that I learnt of the passing of Jimmy Hill. I never had the privilege of seeing him., in all his pomp, during his prolific spell at Fulham (boo - hiss) My memories of this wonderful character are as front man for the BBC Match of the Day program. What he achieved in his time on earth are a mind-blowing list of vision over adversity - RIP Jim - you did good!

A truly inspirational character in a world full of deluded clowns.
Every player, in the modern era, owes Jimmy a great debt - it was due to his efforts that
resulted in the abolition of the maximum wage!

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Making the most of it

Following on from yesterday's post, I have found myself thinking about other encounters, with natural history, which have been catalyst to elevating an ordinary situation into something a bit better.
Obviously, many times when I've been angling, the sighting of a hunting Osprey, a Kingfisher landing on the rods, or a Beaver, swimming through my swim, will have the desired effect. But what I'm alluding to is a little more subtle than that - it those unexpected, you had to be there, moments when something occurs; which is less dramatic, yet still causes a smile and a warm glow.

Not why I was there - enjoyable all the same
I think that a nice illustration is the up close and personal insight into the antics of a Wood Mouse, foraging around my feet looking for spilled pellets whilst I was barbel fishing, the capture (by Benno) of an Emperor Moth, whilst sheltering from a howling gale on the shores of Loch Awe or simply being there to witness the reaction when Harry(aged two) flushed a cock Pheasant from stubble, whilst out walking with my grand-children.

Not the bird responsible for Harry's reaction - just an excuse to use the image
These are examples of simple things, which make my life more enriched, and then there are those occasions which elevate everyday into the surreal! It will recall two events, one ancient, one modern, which serve to illustrate how differently individuals can view the world in which we live! I need to travel back in time to the mid-80's for my first tale. I was working for Kodak Ltd, at this time, in their Distribution - Southern Region warehouse (DSR - for short). They were crazy, happy times, when Health & Safety meant jack shit and anarchy ruled - it was a bloody mad-house! We were earning good money and the vast majority of the staff were young and totally irresponsible - the recipe for disaster. Somehow - we all came through this period un-injured, although some didn't make it un-scathed? John ? (I will stop here - to avoid a court case) was driving a fork-lift, on a particularly warm day, when a Wood Wasp (I know now to be an Ichneumon) dropped, exhausted from flying around in the sky-light, into his lap. Like a demented, screaming, school-girl, he leapt from the truck, swiping repeatedly at thin air and disappeared, rapidly, up the truck aisle - a classic example of over reaction, or is it?

Impressive - yet harmless!
Let's get this right up to date - "Middle Easton" - I don't think that this title is worthy of legal action? So there I am, along with a whole bunch of my colleagues, packing ink into the various packaging our customers require. It was around lunch time when said young man (all attitude, gym membership and tattoo's) ran out of the packing bay, waving his arms and squealing like a punctured pig! My immediate reaction was "Fucking hell - what's he done?" Yet there was no blood or floods of ink! It transpired that a "Money Spider" was on one of the boxes he had picked up - priceless! What a hero?

I understand that there are people who have a problem with these creatures - but really?
A pathetic display by my way of thinking.
Keeping things relevant - there are a few Redwings moving overhead, tonight, the first I've encountered for a while - horses for courses? It'd be a very boring world if we were all the same!


Wednesday, 16 December 2015

A Newland's moment to savour

I am doing eleven hour shifts, right up to Christmas Eve - my choice and "big bucks" come the New Year! I left home, just on 05.30 hrs this morning, walking the main footpath across to Ellington Girls School, rather than the field margins ( they're more direct, but very muddy at present).
I'd just reach Burbridge's Wood Yard when I became aware of a bird flying down Pyson's Road, illuminated by the street lights. Bloody hell; it was a Barn Owl! It didn't fancy the Newington Estate and the massed lighting of Thanet suburbia, instead, choosing to fly across the darkened wood yard, towards St. Luke's beyond and so, in my direction. I squeaked it (sucking air in through my closed lips) causing a momentary alteration in flight path, before it continued on its' way. It is a patch tick of sorts? I have a record of a Barn Owl, perched on my garden fence - illuminated by the glow from my 250w mv moth trap! It was in the summer, a good few years back, and I never felt happy with the sighting - my thinking being an escaped falconer's bird or a recently released re-introduction individual. I included it, but my tick wasn't with any great conviction. The sighting, this morning, has elevated the status of Barn Owl to fully paid up member of the Newland's Farm "patch listings" The bird wasn't hunting, having probably just reached Thanet after a sea crossing from some far-flung European shore. No camera, no bins, it made not the slightest difference to my pleasure of the encounter - my eleven hour stint within the factory was so much easier because of this totally unexpected sighting - I'm still smiling now! Patch watching - can you beat it?

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Much happening?

Newland's Farm is the central hub to a regular group of dog walkers, with whom, I share the footpaths and field margins of this space. Over the passed 15 years I have made acquaintance with many of these individuals and enjoy casual banter whenever our paths cross. We're not on first name terms, yet have the manners, and common courtesy, to exchange "hello", "Good Morning/Afternoon", or make an obvious statement about the weather - after all we are British!
The usual encounter will include the most frequently asked question whenever someone is carrying binoculars "Anything about?" After the excitement of the autumn period, of late, my general response has been rather negative, with an explanation of the impact that weather plays in avian movements. Birds are very much at a premium around the patch, at present. There are a few highlights, which are bucking the trend, and keep me going back for more. There is a Chiffchaff wintering in the rough ground between Ellington School and Burbridge's wood yard, two Rock Pipit and a Grey Wagtail around the Pyson's Road Industrial Estate (quite often in the Fuji factory compound). Walking home, at 22.00 hrs, after my shift, Tuesday (two) and Thursday (one) foxes were watched feeding on the grassy verges of the roads around the factory units - catching worms?
I suppose it is all about familiarity? To me, these type of experiences are, now, rather routine after a lifetime of "looking" yet to others they appear as wondrous gifts from the natural history gods. I'm not, in any way, belittling these encounters - they still make me very happy; I'd much rather be aware of these creatures, than not!

Not quite how Dick would have imagined?  Perched on a Kevin Maddocks rod pod with digital Optonic alarms.
The Mk IV and Match Aerial - a tackle combination close to perfection?

Benno and I had a morning session at Sandwich Coarse Fishery, today, the weather being almost textbook perfect for a spot of perch fishing. As is usual these days, he gave me a lesson in how to do it - I fished like a twat! I did manage to get a few fish on the Mk IV - bream, and little ones at that! Twice I hooked carp only to loose them in snags: lesson, don't use 3 lbs b.s. hook links! Rick, one of the Sandwich regulars, came round to pay homage to the "Dick Walker" - he's a very successful carp angler and of a similar mind-set to myself. We chatted about loads of stuff - he was present when I hooked, played and, eventually, lost the second carp. Tactfully beating a retreat when it came off - he didn't have to. I was perch fishing so, to my way of thinking, it wasn't too much of a big deal. I lost a carp that I wasn't after in the first place - my tackle being completely unsuited. It was probably just a scamp anyway, as we were fishing the match lake!


Not being satisfied with giving the old man a lesson in how to go perch fishing, Benno then went on to land a carp on his 10' Bruce & Walker Mk IV (glass fibre) and a Grice & Young centre-pin. Has he no shame? The difference being he was using 6 lbs b.s. mono straight through - none of that poncy lightweight stuff! A great morning, in good company - my time will come.

A chunky little mirror of 6 or 7lbs. Benno's Mk IV and Avon Royale Supreme centre-pin - quality!