Who am I?

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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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Thursday, 22 June 2017

Tenerife reflections

The dust has now settled and I've had time to think about my time wandering around the arid, and incredibly steep, hillsides (they might just qualify for mountains?) that surround the resort of Los Gigantes. Did we have a good holiday? Yes; and no - we enjoyed being away from our daily routine, but Los Gigantes wasn't on a par with our normal sunshine destinations, so I would be unable to recommend the location; if asked. That's not meant as a downer on Tenerife, but more an indication of what Bev and I expect from a holiday in 2017. We're not looking for noise, bars, entertainment and kids! We're too old for that shit - been there, seen it, got the tattoo! Should have known better? Bev's never been to Tenerife, previously, and my last visit was before they built Los Americas! I think the best summary is "glad we made the effort, but won't be going back!"

This is Los Gigantes - it could be any resort on Tenerife. The buildings are a copy-book, stereo typed, design from a
 single architectural thought process. Absolutely lacking in individuality; no soul!  
So what did I discover on my travels? Birds were very much at a premium, only seventeen species recorded during the seven days we were on the island; and that included (Feral) Rock Dove! I found it quite surreal, therefore, that two species were actually "lifers". Monk Parakeet is a bit lame, but Barbary Partridge was a belter and worth all the effort involved. Insect life around the resort was minimal, the authorities must be using some fairly radical insecticides to keep the pesky bees, hover flies, wasps and mossies away from the paying public. The down side of this tactic is that many other, non-target, species are also effected. There are very few butterflies or moths to be seen and you can forget beetles and spiders, they just aren't there to be found?




It wasn't until I'd discovered a footpath, just beyond the resort boundary, that invertebrates became a realistic subject for study. I say footpath? The reality is a route along a valley, which rapidly rises and takes you through vast Banana plantations and other agricultural crops before posing some very serious fitness questions. It's only 8 km between Puerto de Santiago and Santiago del Teide, but it's also about a 3,000 ft in altitude between the two, that's serious climbing and I failed dismally. I am very grateful that I'd taken my hiking boots, because without the ankle support, feel sure I would have come a cropper on the loose scree and irregular levels of the route.

Not for the feint hearted!
I admitted defeat in my quest to reach Santiago del Teide, but still had the stupidity to take a side track which lead to a high point, over looking the resort, which entailed some ridiculous terrain. Going up was arduous, coming back down was verging on suicidal! How any tourist bumf can advertise such dangerous footpaths is beyond comprehension; it certainly wouldn't happen in the UK! The up side is that the views were awesome, the counter argument is that you could fall off the cliff and be in serious trouble, if not dead?  Health and Safety regulations and compensation chasing law suits - not applicable in Tenerife apparently?


Plain Swift - the best I got, unfortunately!

Did I learn much? Not really. However, it was nice to be out wandering, looking at whatever caught my eye. Great fun trying to get a decent image of Plain Swift and many happy hours looking at the dragonflies which used the plantation reservoirs. I took nearly 700 photos, the majority being pants, but there are a few which make the grade?

Grey Wagtail, at an irrigation reservoir, collecting insects for a hungry brood

A proper, "f-ck off". spider ! There were hundreds of these around the banana compounds - awesome creatures!




An Atlantic Canary - male!

I would love to say that our time on Tenerife had been wondrous. It wouldn't be true! We'd gone with a Thomas Cook package, via Love Holidays, and got exactly what we'd paid for. Brits abroad are embarrassing, socially dysfunctional, chariactures - we had the whole spectrum at El Sombrero. I'm no saint, but I do know how to say please and thank-you without the need to put an expletive in the sentence!


Monday, 19 June 2017

Small, Scarce or, maybe, something else entirely?

Whilst wandering around the arid hillsides of Tenerife I came across a small moth which I thought I recognized as a Small Marbled (Eublemma parva)? I'd tempted an individual of this, rare (?), UK migrant some years back to the garden MV and had felt rather pleased with myself, as I remember. It was important back then! However, something about this Tenerife insect didn't quite fit my gut feel, yet I didn't know what it was. Only when I got back to the comfort of my study was I able to pursue this line of inquiry and seek further assistance.

The moth that is causing the head scratching
My reference material is very basic, the masterpiece by Waring, Townsend & Lewington, and, as such, not particularly helpful. The UKmoths website was similarly unable to assist my cause, there being no images of Scarce Marbled (Eublemma minutata) to be found. I mention Scarce Marbled because that is the other option I had considered. Why? Well the images of Small Marbled all show the insect to have dark/brown/black eyes; a feature that is very prominent in all the images I have been able to access. The moth that I'd encountered had pale green eyes, visible even in shadow! It might be possible that cameras play tricks and all those images available on the web are a consequence of some quirk which has produced this dark eyed portrayal.


Happily, none of this stuff has any relevance in my enjoyment of looking at natural history, I am able to continue along life's pathway blissful in my ignorance. Strange how age effects the understanding of what is important? One thing's for sure - id'ing live moths ain't in my world! (How sad are those souls who feel the need to kill their unknown insects in order to tick another box on an Excel spreadsheet?)


Sunday, 18 June 2017

Home

Back home safely after a very relaxing week in Tenerife. I'll say more about the trip, and the wildlife I encountered on my wanderings, when I've had chance to get sorted out! A few pics to set the scene.







A really fantastic way to enliven a week's break in Los Gigantes. It was quite arduous at times but, ultimately, a very rewarding experience as I explored the barren landscape beyond the resort boundaries.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

A French spam-bot! If only that was all I had to worry about?


Blogging is great for the ego - the stats, that are generated by Google, warm the cockles of your heart when things are going well. For whatever reason, of late, Of Esox has been subjected to a systematic surge in popularity with the same group of posts getting identical "hits" every 25/30 minutes. For every page view I receive from the UK there have been seven from France - merci beaucoup!

Graph of Blogger page views
I know not how, and care even less, about such cyber shenanigans -  the graphical evidence looks great!

Strange, as it may seem, I love maths, the interpretation of statistics and the way they can be used to derive answers from apparent chaos. All this said, I don't see much sense being made of the current electoral process being played out on national and social media in the run up to Thursday's General Election? The major players have provided an embarrassing display. The only reason they've not become a global laughing stock is because that "fake tanned buffoon", on the other side of the Atlantic, has the monopoly on incompetence/stupidity in public office in 2017.
I have the added problem of being a voter in South Thanet. Our standing MP is the only one that hasn't been cleared of electoral expenses fraud from the 2015 election. A ploy which meant that Nigel Farage has been beaten by a cheat - he should be my MP. It is beyond doubt that he voices many things that the ordinary man worries about, although I concede that he is not the greatest diplomat ever walked! The thing about UKIP is they aren't ever going to be the government, yet they represent the disenfranchised Labour voters who can't align with the "Socialists" since the (War Crime escapee) Tony Blur, blur, blar, blarrrrrrrrrrrrrrr "New Labour" fiasco!

Do any of our party political leaders instill a feeling of confidence in their ability to negotiate our way out of the EU?  Is there one amongst them who you'd trust to look after your budgie, let alone the NHS? We vote on Thursday - cum Friday morning our destiny (as a Nation) will be more chaotic than before because the paucity of the candidates we have to vote for - so few are fit for purpose. A strong, stable, government? - not on the evidence of this election campaign!

Monday, 5 June 2017

Waters new

It was July 1985 when I caught my first twenty pound plus Wels Catfish and September 1991 when I had my last. At that time all the catfish, which were, legally, in the UK fisheries, could be traced back to the original stock at Woburn Abbey - the home of The Duke of Bedford. My PB is a fish, one of eight (?), which was given to Leighton Buzzard AC by the Woburn estate in recognition of the efforts, by their club members, in netting the main lake, prior to the opening of the safari park. As such, it is a fish of which I am very proud, although by modern standards it is a very modest specimen.
I've not used this image previously. My PB Catfish (25 lbs 2 oz) from
Claydon Middle Lake - July 1985
Once Kevin Maddocks had screwed up carp angling, with the publication of "Carp Fever", he then set about catfish. The original aim of The Catfish Conservation Group was to promote the species within UK angling. Kevin, however, had bigger plans - he used the CCG to promote his own vision of an angling travel agency and covert stocking of waters with catfish from "dubious" origins (mainland Europe?) He purchased Withy Pool, next to Henlow Greyhound Racing Track, and, surprise, surprise, the record cat was caught there shortly after. The captor had seen it swallow a Mallard - yeah right! A visionary entrepreneur, without any dispute, Kevin has played a major role in shaping the way freshwater angling, within the UK, evolved. It doesn't matter what my personal thoughts are - he has provided a lot of opportunities for others, to develop and exploit, which have resulted in many more anglers being able to experience the thrills of big fish angling both here and abroad. Some legacy; but not one I'd like to be associated with!

I looked like an advertising feature for "Dragoncarp" - the CK logo emblazoned on much of
the kit that was visible on the bank. What a "Noddy"!
So what's this all about? Benno. Luke & Skunk had arranged an over-nighter at a superb little commercial fishery. The big twist was that we were going there to fish for cats, not carp, a whole new ball game. They got there well ahead of me and stayed after I left, but that's by the by. Benno lost (got destroyed by!) the only catfish hooked. Luke, Skunk and I plagued by weird occurrences. Cats were almost certainly responsible for the twitchy takes and full blown screamers, yet somehow avoided getting hooked. It's a distraction I could do without but, feel sure that, I'll be back there shortly attempting to rectify the situation. I'm fairly confident that all it will take is a bit of tweaking rather than a complete change of tactics.

Red-eyed Damselfly
The weather was kind and there was plenty of wildlife to keep us amused whilst we awaited our bite alarms. Almost as soon as I arrived, there was a Red Kite soaring overhead, quickly followed by a Common Buzzard. Nuthatch, Bullfinch, Lesser Whitethroat, Reed Warbler, Song Thrush vied for our attention as the went about their daily chores. I played around with the extension tubes on the 170 - 500 mm lens trying to get some images of the Odonata (dragonflies to you and me!) that call the fishery home.

This rather impressive male Black - tailed Skimmer was patrolling the bank right under my rods.
I'm rather pleased with this one


One dumb fish!
However, I didn't blank because a dopey scamp common took a fancy to a piece of luncheon meat on a size 2 Fang X hook and hung itself. I got a photo because I needed all the help I could get to ensure enough material for a blog entry. One more week of work before we're headed to the sunshine, with much to do, I don't see too many opportunities to get out before we leave!