Who am I?

An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to 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!


Thursday 31 January 2013

It really isn't that important

Bev thinks that I need to buy some new gear - obviously the pike are offended by my "vintage" tackle
Benno with his 11lbs 4oz fish (note the scarring)
The same fish as he took on Sunday, at 11lbs 2oz - same swim and same bait (John Bailey - what a prick!)
With some serious stuff to attend to, I took a day off and crammed in as much as I could. I met up with Benno at 07.00hrs on the RMC where he proceeded to continue with the piking masterclass - he took two; including another double 11lbs 4oz, whilst I had to content myself with a jack (of 4lbs-ish!)

Jack attack - playing my smallest fish from the RMC
A Water Rail played games with me - on show continually along the grassy bank - I couldn't get within 30m. A 1st winter Black-headed Gull was far more co-operative and allowed a nice series of images as it perched on the bridge railings.

1st winter Black-headed Gull
People seen and decisions made, provisionally, I was back home in plenty of time to pick Bev up, from work. Birds fed, we went over to Debbie's so that I could baby-sit Emily whilst Bev & Debbie went shopping (with Harry!)
Emily and I went out for a wander - Ramsgate Harbour and a stunning Great Northern Diver (that had been found by Craig and Phil the previous day) which put on a fabulous show - to within 2m at times. I had no binoculars or camera, so just enjoyed the fact that Emily was on her first "twitch". Seriously, if any local photographers want something to do, this bird will be right up your street. It was in the outer harbour, just beyond the dividing sluice and bridge.
Just as an aside - may I thank those who have recently joined my "blog followers" - I am truly flattered by your interest. Please don't expect any great things from this latest venture - I'm fed up with fighting and now want nothing more than the simple life. Not too much to ask? Love, peace and lentil soup - man! (Oh, and a can of Stella perhaps?)

Tuesday 29 January 2013

So many questions - are there any correct answers?

A single stab-mark; not the type of injury expected from crude
 unhooking techniques by inexperienced pike
anglers or recent spawning activity.
As I keep harping on about; this world revolves around the individuals right to an opinion, however different from the one you hold - so how's this for starters? Cormorants - successful colonists or vermin? Before you make your decision - what if I'd asked Mink/Grey Squirrels/Edible Dormice/Wel's Catfish, etc, etc..? I make this statement due to recent events, whilst pike fishing, on The Royal Military Canal. If you have spent any time following my blog, you will have spotted that Benno (my son) is absolutely caning me at this venue, he's caught 9 doubles to my 2! We make it a part of our ritual that we photograph both sides of any pike, we capture, as this allows for individual id to be made and recaptures spotted. As a direct result of these efforts we have picked up on a worrying trend - the fresh scars that are apparent on our pike.

That's some tooth-pick! Is it the same weapon that is inflicting these puncture scars on the RMC pike?
I have eluded to the problems that inexperienced anglers have in the condition that pike are returned to the water - my time on the East Kent drain (last winter) was to see some disturbing signs of human maltreatment of these magnificent fish. I also reported the other side to this problem - vast amounts of debris left behind after these anti-social goons had gone home. On the Royal Military Canal, apart from one very popular section, we have seen no other anglers (pike or otherwise) apart from the regular guys we fish with. These pike are not being subjected to any sort of continuous pressure from anglers. However, they live in a fishery where there is angling pressure during every daylight hour - Cormorants in their 100's are supplementing their diets by working the RMC.

An adult "sinensis" Cormorant  - a southern race which specialises in freshwater habitats
That they are now breeding in the UK - a direct result of climate change?

When I started chasing big fish; way back in the mid-70's, seeing a Cormorant on an inland water was a "red-letter day" yet before I moved to Kent the bailiff at Tring (Bernard Double) was waging war on these fish snatchers - he used a .22 rifle very successfully; as he did with the Mink! (Don't bother contacting the RSPB bird crime unit - he's long gone and the reservoirs are owned by the Rothschild family - and I didn't see anything! - so it's just hear-say)

Red T/O is from a massive inland colony in Holland and
helps explain the current trend for Cormorants to
use Kent freshwater sites in preference to their
marine habitat. (I took this photo in Ramsgate Harbour)

The Royal Military Canal can hardly be described as an inland water - the Seabrook end would allow a decent match angler to cast a 2AA Waggler onto the beach! (Where's Roy Marlow when you need him - God rest his soul!)

I can offer no other explanation for the scarring on this fish - Cormorants are the most likely culprits
 - I was unable to recruit a CSI team!
Cormorants don't actually target these fish, I feel that they are a result of a feeding response triggered by movement - the cormorants stabbing at the fish, not knowing what size the prey item is in the muddy water of the RMC. Don't take my word for it - just look at the IRIS files on Birdguides to see the size of the prey species that Cormorants will, on occasion, tackle (and have been photographed doing so)
I think my point is that if you are a birder, then you'll see this colonisation as a positive, our resident population of Greater Cormorant - P.c.carbo being forced further north by the encroachment of these southern invaders - P.c.sinensis
A farmer doesn't need permission to shoot a fox that is attacking his sheep. so why should a fishery owner require special licences to be able to protect his livelihood when Cormorants are involved?
I don't want all out war on Cormorants, just the right of a fishery owner to protect his investment against these birds - much the same as the farmers are now able to protect their orchards against the damage inflicted by the Rose-ringed Parakeets (didn't hear too many arguments against this legislation!)

Sunday 27 January 2013

That's more like it!

Benno and I were at our chosen swims, on The Royal Military Canal, by 07.00hrs - baits in the water some 15 minutes later - Benno having the first bite within 20 minutes of casting out. The action, for Ben was non-stop - he'd had five takes within the first hour, landing just two fish - both under 7lbs! His sixth bite - on the same rod and bait (1/2 a mackerel) resulted in a superb fish of 16lbs 9oz. This type of situation is usually the result of the angler dropping in on a "hot-spot" - transient or otherwise.

Benno with a 16lbs 9oz pike from The Royal Military Canal
The weather that greeted us was awful; with driving rain borne on a stiff SW wind - luckily it wasn't cold - air temperature was around 9C. However, the rain had ceased by 08.20hrs and, although the clouds lingered on, we enjoyed some welcome sunshine by 10.30hrs. At 09.55hrs Benno had a take on his other rod, an 11lbs 2oz pike being the result, but before we had a chance to grab any photos, my rod (that was closest to the swim Ben was fishing) was also away - my fish weighing in at 10lbs 15oz - my third fish and third double from the RMC!

Benno with his 11lbs 2oz pike

My 10lbs 15oz pike - christening my personalised "Dylan" Christmas present (A PAC gilet)
Fish on - keeping low, my stock man's coat also getting a baptism: 13ft Tri-cast 2 3/4 lbs TC &  ABU Cardinal 155

Benno doing his stuff on The Royal Military Canal - double on!"
The session still had more surprises, Benno's other rod all of a sudden became the focus for all the action, he ended the session with six fish from eleven bites - a third double of 11lbs 9oz - on a bluey!

Benno - 11lbs 9oz - in the late morning sunshine

I don't remember a better session; especially as it was a completely spontaneous affair - we had originally planned to fish another section of the RMC but used the BBC 5-day weather forecast to influence our plans, at very short notice.
Several Mediterranean Gulls, two Chiffchaffs and many other bird species ensured that I had something to look at whilst I awaited another (not forth-coming) bite. It was a pleasure to be out today, even our trips to Scotland haven't managed to provide action on this scale - a "good to be alive" sort of day!

Friday 25 January 2013

Winter weather = wildfowl movements

Adult White-fronted Goose at Grove Ferry - when you could see from the ramp! (autumn 2003)
Ever since moving to East Kent I have been made aware that certain weather patterns would result in specific bird movements. These are generally associated with peak migration periods of autumn and spring and are, generally, the effects of exceptional winds/weather systems, however, the onset of freezing conditions in the Low Countries (Holland in particular) will produce large scale cross channel movements of wild swans and geese during the winter period.

A Tundra Bean Goose that spent several weeks around Newland's Farm in January 2004.

Although it would seem that our little corner of the Kingdom is coming out of the snowy chaos, mainland Europe and other areas of the UK (to the north) are still in the grips of these icy conditions - perfect for seeing a movement of wildfowl across the English Channel; to the relative comfort of the East Kent marshes. Benno and I have plans to get out with the rods, on Sunday, my long lens will travel with me as we make another attempt for the Royal Military Canal pike. It's quite likely that the camera will see more action than the fishing tackle - yet I live in hope!

One of the most spectacular of our winter visitors - an adult Whooper Swan - near Wye during Feb 2006

I have been scouring the archives for images of swans and geese, finding that my most successful efforts have been obtained using my ancient digi-scoping equipment (A Kowa TSN 823/30x eye- piece and a Nikon CP 7600). Very cumbersome, and wholely unsuited to flight shots, these large birds provide the perfect subjects for this type of digital imagery.

Adult Bewick's Swan at Pluck's Gutter along the Little Stour (2006)

Thursday 24 January 2013

My small contribution to real science

Yesterday I read a short article, by Chris Lamsdell, which was hosted by Birdguides and urged all birders to send in their C-R (colour ring) sightings to the various projects which reside under the umbrella of EURING. I have been doing just that since I found my first Swedish C-R Black-headed Gull nearly twenty years ago! The range of species involved in these projects is as diverse as the number of species found within the Western Palearctic - someone, somewhere, wants to study it, using colour rings as a source of accurate data collation.

Just how close do you need to get before a metal ring code can be deciphered? This Herring Gull was in Ramsgate Harbour and the complete code was not readable - thus a waste of effort on two counts - the ringer and the ring reader!
From my own perspective, the use of colour ringing allow birds to be recorded whilst going about their daily routines, without the need of re-capture. I did hold a trainee ringers permit, many moons back, when I frequented the dilapidated H-block that was a fully functional Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory - under the guidance of one Rab Morton. Let's just say that ringing is not for me, although I concede that others get great satisfaction from this aspect of bird study. Paul. A. Brown and Wesley Attridge would go to extraordinary lengths to get "their" bird - Brownie caught the first Lesser Grey Shrike ever ringed in the UK and that's a story in itself!
I was never comfortable with the use of mist nets and fitting silly BTO metal rings - basically the data that is gained revolves around where the bird was captured and where it ended up dead/re-captured and how many days and kilometres were involved between these two dates. Any attempt at a life history is purely speculative.
A nice advert for the RSPCA Malydams wildlife rescue centre - this Herring Gull was taken into care as a displaced nestling - three years later it is still going strong thanks to the efforts of Richard and his team
Colour rings (coded or in combination) allow for the details of an individual bird to be read in the field, and as such, allow for a detailed picture of their movements to be built up over the period of the sightings. Obvious species like Gulls, Cormorants and Swans have provided masses of scientifically sound data which is able to aid conservation and educate those whose task is to plan for our future. However it is a technique which has helped unravel many mysteries of bird behaviour/movements involving many species of small passerines. I have personally photographed/recorded C-R Stonechat, Tree Sparrow (Dearne Valley RSPB - South Yorkshire), Twite and Waxwing plus several species of wader (Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Sanderling Turnstone and Avocet).

One of the most significant sightings I have reported - this bird is a female that nests on Ellesmere Island, Canada.
I found her at Walpole Bay, Thanet, where she had been originally ringed by Kevin Webb (a SBBOT ringer) two years previous. The first Canadian C-R Turnstone reported in Kent - the white flag on the left leg is the project signature.

The nice thing about these colour ringing projects is that the finder/ring reader is able to contact the project team directly, via the wonders of the cyber system, and get a rapid reply - very unlike the BTO snail mail when reporting metal ring details. It all goes pear-shaped, however, when the project is part of a student project and the sighting is long after they have gotten their qualifications and are off doing something else. I have several experiences of this type of C-R project - Twite of a Lancashire Reservoir was my first.

The Aberdeen Ringing Group were quick to send details of this bird - they had ringed it less than two weeks before I photographed it along the Ebsfleet Road (Pegwell Bay)


Sadly - I am still waiting for details of this Brent Goose - Reculver 2007


It seems unbelievable that I am unable to get any details of this adult Egyptian Vulture
- photographed on Menorca (Oct 2010) The bird has a C-R and an electronic tag.
I have reported this bird to several agencies - still no joy


A Norwegian C-R Great Black-backed Gull in Ramsgate Harbour - a very well co-ordinated project


An adult Herring Gull, on our bungalow roof, wearing a North Thames Gull Group C-R.
One of the most successful projects within the UK - the group are superbly equipped to get info back to the ring reader - usually within a few hours!

Tuesday 22 January 2013

A twenty minute window

I made the effort to take my camera to work, this morning, but it soon became clear that the berry supply in Booker's car park (where I had been hoping to use it) had been given a right hammering and very little of the crop remains. However, on the opposite side of the road, in The Old Rose Garden, there are still several heavily laden trees on which the hoards of Blackbirds and Fieldfares are feeding. I couldn't get out during my shift, so had to wait for it to end. The thaw has set in and everywhere around the farmland tracks is that slushy mess of snow-melt water and mud!

I left work just after 14.00hrs and had a period of twenty minutes, whilst the sun shone, before the clouds rolled in to provide a grey back-drop for the chilly easterly wind. I managed to get a few decent images of the Fieldfares, the bright light giving proper detail to their intricate plumage, plus I recorded my first Stonechat of the year, when a female popped up briefly on a cauliflower stalk that was poking through the snow. Six Golden Plovers provided further evidence of cold weather movement and a couple of Lapwings were probably birds that I'd seen yesterday. I have a feeling that the network of footpaths will become a muddy nightmare before they get better; so my route to and from Pyson's Road, for the foreseeable future, will follow the direct and far less interesting footpath that passes the entrance gates of the new school.

Monday 21 January 2013

If only they were rare?

A Fieldfare in the garden hedge - the stark lighting
providing a very contrasting image.
The reflected light from the laying snow gives another dimention to the surroundings - today providing a nice demonstration of the power of lighting has over perception, especially of the grey mantle colouration of our local Herring Gulls. I walked across to work, in the dark (well in the weird light of a street light reflected pre-dawn) seeing two foxes as I made my way across the fields towards, The Old Rose Garden and, Pyson's Road.
The berries of the Booker's car park have now become a focal point and 8+ Blackbirds vied with a flock of 20+ Fieldfares and occassional Redwings, in gathering sustainence in these harsh conditions. The traffic of Pyson's Road being enough to cause frequent disturbance and send the feeding flock across the road into the tangled shrubs of The Old Rose Garden. I spent all three of my breaks watching the activity - ever hopeful that a Waxwing would appear; so regretted that I'd not made the effort to take my camera to work (I'd thought about it!) - maybe tomorrow?
I finished my shift at 14.00hrs and made my way back home, three Lapwings flushing from the cauliflower stubble of Burbridge's field - their plumage giving a stunning contrast of black and white in these overcast conditions. Two adult Common Gulls glowed, dark headed and steel grey backs, against the winter sky - how I wish my cameras skills could capture the image. Back home, feeding the Java Sparrows, a Fieldfare was feeding in the hedge and I was able to grab a few shots in these challenging conditions. A Redwing alighted in a neighbour's tree - alas my best efforts are not up to much; these Scandinavian thrushes being absolutely wonderous creatures. If they were rare it would be easy to understand why birders go "twitching" - simply beautiful and always worthy of a prolonged view when the opportunity arises.

A Redwing in a neighbour's tree - if only they were rare! (ISO 1600 - 1/320th sec)

Sunday 20 January 2013

More stuff about (what I don't know about) gulls!

The view from my study is of a very snowy scene, the Newland's Farm, traditional flint built, Kent-peg tiled, barn, clearly visible. The most obvious feature in our garden is the Norway Spruce that Gadget & Anne gave Bev and I as a wedding present in 2003. I hope that this explains why Benno & I didn't bother going piking today and why I've not bothered scouring the fields of Newland's Farm.

Looking west from our kitchen door, the snow covered roof of the Kent-peg, tiled, barn can be seen in the distance
I didn't fancy the drive down to the Royal Military Canal, so Benno didn't take much persuasion to give it a miss. My offering today, therefore, is from the archives and revolves around my love of gulls, and their geographic populations, which I have been privileged to encounter during our holidays around the Mediterranean.

Adult Yellow-legged Gull - Gran Canaria (January 2004)
I have been fascinated by the gulls (larids) of our region since I received a copy of the (2nd edition) P.J. Grant  - Poyser - Gulls; it was around 1990 - I know that I was still living in Hemel Hempstead and spent many hours looking at the winter gull roosts at Brogborough/Stewartby (Beds) and Wilstone (Herts).Some of the most perceptive birders, I've ever been lucky enough to meet, plied their trade around these inland waters - nameless, yet I have to be thankful for the time I spent within their company.

Lesser Black-backed Gulls - but where do they come from? Gran Canaria - Jan 2004
Moving to the coast, ensured that my interest was re-kindled, and my focus was again on the subtleties of the plumage phases of year groups within a single species - Herring Gulls being particularly easy to get involved with. It was great to be able use the literature and clinch an id; Herring Gulls being the most numerous species around our area. Being able to use the various components of bare part colouration and plumage features, I became quite comfortable with my ageing skills. However, all of this went to rat-shit when I encountered winter visitors to our area, or travelled to the east, nothing made sense any more! I quickly found that the various populations of "common" gull species all exhibited traits that allowed recognition away from their natal area. I don't mean that I knew where they originated, but I certainly was able to recognise plumage features which meant that they hadn't been from a local breeding colony. I even got into an E-debate with a guy from Northern Ireland about the wing-tip pattern of an adult Herring Gull in Belfast Harbour (it was chasing an Iceland Gull) - how sad is that?

An adult C-R Auduoin's Gull - Mallorca June 2007 (The best looking gull in the Western Palearctic?)
 The enjoyment of gull observation is not in what we know, but instead, the realisation of how little we understand this complex group of species. I have encountered many individuals which caused me much head scratching - some have eventually provided answers, others remain in the "pending" file!

A white-winger - found by Barry Hunt at Joss Bay. Is this a coarsely marked 1st winter Iceland Gull or, as I suspect,
 a 1st winter Kumlien's Iceland Gull?


The most frustrating gull of my time at Ramsgate Harbour. It turned up during a period of cold weather in 2006.
Very obviously a Herring Gull (type) it was the size of a large Common Gull, with bright ,bubble-gum pink legs and a very attenuated horizontal profile. I have seen nothing similar before or since - so just one of those mysteries gull watchers have to be aware of. Not everything will fit neatly into a specific box.

Saturday 19 January 2013

Harbour mastering?

Over the past couple, or so, years the Dover Harbour complex has been the focus for a very active group of birders/photographers - their results being a dazzling array of images of what can be discovered in these most bustling environs. My mate (and soul blog follower) Mark Chidwick has a blog (The Harbour Master - I would post a direct link if I had the first clue about such things!) in which he recalls his adventures and sightings from the various points around this incredibly busy Channel port.

A juvenile Great Northern Diver which spent nearly three months around the life-boat station - 2003
I make these references because I have also had reason to be appreciative of the facilities offered by the Royal Harbour at Ramsgate. An international ferry port and a commercial harbour, Ramsgate has so much to offer the birder who has time to look beyond the obvious. In 1993, when I first moved to Kent, Ramsgate Harbour was a location that was visited very rarely, however, when I relocated to Thanet, it took on a whole new dimension and my visits became very much a part of my weekly routine.

An adult Shag - ringed on the Isle of May - returned for three
successive winters to the same pontoon in the Inner Harbour
I make no claim to have made discoveries beyond the knowledge of current science, but I did regularly find myself amazed by the diversity of birdlife that could be found within the boundaries of this, most, industrial site. Could this pattern still continue? I am no longer able to offer an answer - I haven't visited the harbour in over a year! What I can say is that the fishing fleet and ferries still operate and the off-shore wind farms have added to the craft which ply their trade from this historic port. I do not have a "harbour list" - although I feel I probably should, but can recall many highlights from the start of the new decade. I think the first real star was a juvenile Great Northern Diver, which remained around the lifeboat station for much of the winter - my photos were digi-scoped using a 2-mega pixel Nikon CP 775.
Yellow-legged Gull - Ramsgate Harbour
1st winter Caspian Gull - Ramsgate Main Beach (right behind the Casino building)
Over the years I have had many opportunities to discover birds that were "out of range" - mostly of the gull family, but odd Shore Larks, Snow Buntings, Black Redstarts and waterfowl ensured that I kept a close eye on what was about. My fascination with gulls is as a direct consequence of my time spent in this place. The numbers and variety being a result of the activities of the remaining fishing boats and a bi-product of the geography (Thanet sticking out into the base of the North Sea!) I really feel that gulls are a group/family of birds that you either love or hate - there being no in between?
Because the birds are familiar with the comings and goings of the human visitors, they tend to be at ease with close approach - a fantastic opportunity for the naturalist/photographer.

One of the most important discoveries I have made - an adult winter "ommissus" Herring Gull (Marsh Gull)
(The first individual ever photographed in Kent?)
From my own point of view, I have had so many enjoyable sessions around Ramsgate Harbour as for it to be impossible to define what it is that makes it so special. I studied the beak patterns of Cormorants, looked for colour-ringed gulls and had the chance to take the first photograph of an "L.a.ommissus" Herring Gull in Kent.
So please make an effort to search your Google "thingame-bob" to locate Mark's Harbour Master blog, but even more importantly, if you ever find yourselves at a loose end - check out the wildlife that shares the industrial sites where you are - I'm sure you'll be surprised by the diversity to be found.

Thursday 17 January 2013

No guilt in innocence

Ever since I can remember, I have been attracted to, and amazed by, the wonders of the natural world. I have so many influences, and heroes,who have gotten me to my present position - I am able to enjoy the many aspects of being a "human being" that seem to be lost on others. I remain as guilty as any other - I judge people using my own values - big mistake! In a free world the various opinions are what makes for the democracy in which we are able to exist. What I am trying to express is that there are so many facets to a situation as to make it impossible to be right or wrong (you see it as an individual and make your opinions accordingly).

In February 2011 I made a post on my "Non-conformist" blog which caused so much disquiet as to cause me much soul searching. That I had the gall to question the "Pan-Listing league table" is an opinion that I am entitled to - at no time did I attempt to stop people getting involved. My point of view being  simply that, whilst I fully understand an individual pushing their knowledge to the absolute limits, I couldn't see any benefit of a league table of who's best and who's not! Plenty of others see another side to this particular way of enjoying our natural history - fill your boots! (just don't ask me to join in) They, and I, are neither right or wrong - we're just different.

I would no more expect everyone to appreciate Jimi Hendrix and Steve Vai than I would Take That and East 17 - it is for the individual to make that call. So how is it that I am able to find pleasure in simply looking at things? It could be a steam train, a world war 2 fighter or an insect - I would find something of interest in the simple pleasure of observing. I care no more for history than I do for natural history - yet both subjects are within my comfort zone. I know enough to ensure I'm able to have an opinion, without sounding like an expert. I do not not need to know the valve settings on a Rolls Royce Merlin engine to appreciate the sight and sound of a Supermarine Spitfire - nor do I need to identify every insect that I discover on a holiday to Turkey, just to say I enjoyed my time in the Eastern Meditteranean.

Wednesday 16 January 2013

So quiet

The snow has ensured that, work apart, I've done very little. No waxwing sightings for nearly a fortnight, but still plenty of blackbirds around Newland's Farm and The Old Rose Garden. I walked up to meet our newest family member and was surprised to find a chiffchaff in a garden beside Vale Square. It didn't look particularly happy - foraging in the cold.

As I walked home, this afternoon, several flocks of fieldfares passed overhead, flying in a westerly direction. The total number was probably around 100 individuals, the most I've noted since the invasion of the early autumn. There has been a single fieldfare, with blackbirds, regularly feeding on the berries of the Booker's car park along Pyson's Road.

Monday 14 January 2013

Grand-kids 1 - Pike 0

The "Factory of the Year" 2011 champagne that was
awarded to celebrate our achievement.
Grandchild v's a 20lbs Pike
The votes are now in - Grandchild winning by a contry mile! 
Harry Micheal Usher arrived at 15.40hrs, today - Bev being in close attendance, as Debbie gave birth! This is our third grand-child and yet another excuse for Bev to go OTT at birthdays and Christmas. I rang Benno - his take was that it was another opportunity to corrupt a member of our family. I hadn't thought of angling in such light, but he has a point. It could be worse, he might turn into a "twitcher" - God forbid!

Whilst awaiting the phone call, I had been perusing my archive, looking at photos from my time on Tring, some of the happiest days of my life; spent on the banks of these famous reservoirs, I caught loads of big fish, but it was the company that make the memories so special. It would appear that the 1980's was a period when angling was rife with characters - mega personalities whose company could lift the darkest of days!

So I make no excuses for re-living the past - happy days, indeed!

On Sunday I was trying to explain to Benno how tight the Tring Syndicate (of the 1980's) was. I think it came from a reaction to Bob James getting caught fishing the River Wye on 14th June - what was he thinking of? The guys on Tring were sticklers for tradition - midnight on the 15th June was it, no sneaking a bait out after it got dark - we'd waited 3 months, two hours wouldn't make a difference. I am proud to say that I was part of this mind-set - they were a fantastic bunch of anglers

Lester Strudwick with a Wilstone "double" - a great friend and mentor - a founder member of the "Carpike Specimen Group" - his influence is still a major factor in my angling today!
I have some nice images of the guys - some famous, others not, but all of us were keen as mustard to get a decent lump into the waiting net.

Alan Wilson with a double figure tench - quite simply the "Tring Master"

An 8lbs + tench from Wilstone Res. - 1985-ish - Cyanide Strait

My PB Bream - 11lbs 2oz - guesting at Brogborough Lake, Beds. - Sept 1991


The King is dead - Long live the King!
Alan Wilson was one of life's great gentlemen.
As an angler, he stood head and shoulders above us mortals.
I very much doubt that we'll see the like again?