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!

Followers

Sunday, 26 November 2017

This just might work?

After much soul searching and, very public, head scratching it appears that I might have come up with a plan by which bird watching can return to being a normal part of my outdoor life? Over this weekend I've had two very enjoyable dusk, into dark, pike sessions. Both produced fish, as I expected, when the light faded away although the Saturday session, on The Royal Military Canal, was plagued by bloody eels once it got dark. The only saving grace being an adjacent property having a bit of a party and playing the entire Travelling Wilburys album, at full blast. I was transported back in time to some very happy days!

A Coot out on The Levels - a pain in the arse when they are constantly diving on your
dead baits, but still count one on the list!
Sunday afternoon was spent out on the levels and I smashed it. Five pike in little more than two hours, either side of sunset (15.54 hrs according to the BBC). However, it was whilst I was out there that I hatched a plan. More years ago than I care to remember, Don Taylor had introduced the Kent birders to an American concept. It was/is called "The Big Sit". I have very fond memories of "Bird Race Day" as we cycled around East Kent attempting to record as many species, as possible, during a 24 hr period. The purpose of these days was to raise funds for The Kent Ornithological Society (don't even go there - they are a group of birders, not scientists!). The spin off was a competition for those of us involved - day listing. Don's variation was that you were restricted to one small area, the dimensions of which I have no idea. How many species could be recorded from a single place? Now there is a refreshing slant on this concept - I tried it this afternoon and found myself totally immersed in the challenge, whilst awaiting a bite alarm to sound. All of a sudden, there I am, once again constantly peering through my binoculars, ears straining for the next call of a flyover passerine. It was great fun and I found myself constantly active, my brain in overdrive as I searched for new species which had to be present, if I knew where to look. I managed to record 34 species, this afternoon, but know I could have done so much better. The best part of this activity is that it was good fun and that's got to be the key! I can't start choosing my swims because they offer a better chance of a day-list, but I do visit some amazing places on my angling adventures and this exercise might prove to be a very enjoyable distraction?

11 lbs 8 oz - the smaller, but better looking, of two
doubles taken today. There is definitely something
worth pursuing with this project.

14 comments:

  1. Smell the roses , as said by Rod Hutchinson, amongst others.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. BB - birds, bugs, butterflies and bull-shit, happy with all of that stuff. Flowers are only here to prevent your shoes getting dirty!
      Smelling roses ain't likely to happen any time soon - tasting the local brew might be far more appropriate? - Dylan

      Delete
  2. Dyl, the concept of restricting yourself to a smallish well-defined area to record has always ticked many boxes for me. It is more personal, relies on local knowledge and is deeply rewarding. You've been there and done that I know, but revisiting it will fulfill you, I'm sure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Steve, just finished watching Blue Planet II and found this comment - thank you. I really needed a spark to get birds back into the loop, so to speak. This very simple idea has already got me enthused, so something which hasn't happened fora long while. I think that a really good day in my garden would produce 40 - ish species (migration time!) so the fisheries I frequent should be able to better this, and more? It was a genuine thrill to be so enthused by this simple task - long may it continue. All the best - Dyl

      Delete
  3. Seeing your mention of Don Taylor you may be interested to know that, after countless years of service to Kent birdwatching, that Don will soon be leaving Kent to go and live in Somerset.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish him well with his relocation. Always good company, whenever our paths crossed, the first time I met him, 3rd May 1993, he pointed out a Marbled (Teal) Duck, asleep on an island, on the ARC Pit at Dungeness. Never got accepted as anything else than Catagory D - strange when that manky Hooded Merganser was given the thumbs up?

      Delete
  4. Nearly December and eels still a pain in the backside. Any idea of water temp ..? Brill read yet again

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nick, I don't do water temperature any more than I do moon phase. If I feel that I'm in with a chance I go fishing! What I can say is that the eels in the RMC were in much deeper water than anything the drains have to offer. My landing net and weigh sling had frozen, just after sunset, yet the eels were rampant. 6 oz mackerel sections not particularly effective in getting good hook holds? I'm back out there soon, and will have a check of the water temp, not that it will make the slightest difference to the slimy pests! This night-feeding pike project is developing into something rather enjoyable - The River Stour next! - tight lines Dylan

      Delete
  5. I give up on eels once the water temp goes below 50 ...or if your lucky and you can find some were over 25ft deep then it's that cold all year round and the eels don't know any different . Good luck tonight

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nick, why stop because of water temperature. This ridiculous notion that eels stop feeding when temperatures fall is based in an age when anglers also thought that carp "hibernated" and were un-catchable during the winter period. Something which we now know to be totally false.
      When I spent the entire winter of 2015/16 eel fishing, the average depth of the drain I targeted was little more than four feet with a maximum of six! January might have been mild, but February and March were bloody freezing and yet I still caught eels, by design. If you don't try, you'll never discover anything new and be restricted in your angling by the power of "Old Wives Tales" - Dylan

      Delete
  6. Dyl, do you ever try fishing your dead baits at different depths? I've heard that on flat moon lit nights that Eels feed just below the surface, maybe Pike might operate on multi levels also.
    As for the day listing in a small area. My own favoured patch measures only half a square mile. I can cover the entire range of habitat within that patch in just a couple of hours. It's enough and manageable. Average count is 40, and so far I've had 98 species.
    The last memorable birds were Hawfinches which I'd last seen on the site in 1989. Worth hanging around for.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ric, I happily fish my dead baits at whatever depth, with whatever presentation, I feel will offer me the best chance of a bite! I love using baits "popped up" off the bottom - any thing from a few inches to a maximum of 18" (the length of my usual traces). If I think that the pike are higher in the water I will used a sunken paternoster rig, Colin Dyson-style, or even, on extremely irregular occasions, fish a suspended bait using a roving vane float system.
      My night time pike exploits have been with dead baits laid hard on the bottom, deliberately mimicking the discarded baits of other anglers - particularly on a very pressured stretch of the Royal Military Canal. I've ruled nothing out, as yet, and will continue with this project well into 2018. Birding from the limits of my swim will be a return to fun birdwatching. As there are no rules, I have no way of going beyond the boundaries other than those I impose upon myself. I would imagine an average session to be capable of producing 40+ species without too much effort and could possibly top 50 if the birds play ball! Take care mate - Dyl

      Delete
  7. Dyl, I realised later that you would almost certainly rung the changes with depths. Come to think of it, don't Pike sometimes move into really shallow water?
    I was once at the shallow end of a lake when something caught my eye. It was a Pike with a Tench in it's jaws. Not only was the water only about two feet deep, but the Pike took it's victim into a submerged thicket of dead branches on a sunken island. It was about one foot deep in there.
    I also heard that the 30lb Pike that the late Martin Gay caught (might be the one in the Big Fish Scene) was taken in an 18 inch deep gully behind an island.
    Maybe silly shallows could be a trick. I used to catch Chub in places like that after dark.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ric - not too sure about depth, but margins play a very important part in this latest challenge. Lazy/inexperienced, pike anglers hardly likely to do little more than discard their un-used/un wanted bait into the margins, rather than sling them out into the deeper water?
      Martin Gay's "thirty" came from Johnson's Pit, Kent, as I recall. Can't think of any island margins which would fit that description on this venue, although time may have a great influence on my perception? - Dyl

      Delete