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!


Friday 5 April 2013

"If ever I stop shaking!"

My title is a quote from Richard Walker. Fred J Taylor had passed comment upon his physical state at having landed an (other) large fish - Dick's comment being approximate to " Cock; If I stop shaking, then it's time to give up!" Adrenaline and excitement - the underlying factors to why I bother going out. The chance encounter, be it with a fish, bird or insect/arachnid-type, is fundamental part of my journey through life.
So, sitting at my laptop, on this cold April night; I find myself looking back through files, on my external hard-drive, that record sightings and discoveries from my past. I am frustrated that my ability, with the English language, is unable to accurately describe the feelings that I have at that initial moment of discovery/encounter. That my body is subjected to adrenalin overload, sometimes resulting in bouts of uncontrollable shaking, especially after a prolonged battle with a large fish, is not up for question - just as Dick Walker had said to Fred J - if ever I get so complacent that new discovery becomes mundane - I will quit (life itself!)

Roddy Hayes and his crew - hanging on to a 800lbs+ Atlantic Blue Marlin (The recovery position!)
This was a very familiar sight during the Madeira trip - all fish being tagged and released.
Ever since I was old enough to remember, wildlife has played a massive part in my existence. It might have been on the T/V or something as simple as a mouse in the coal shed - I can't remove myself to a place where natural history has no role in my being me. In July 1993 I was fortunate enough to part of a group of "very good mates" who hit the "jackpot" - we fished for, and caught, Atlantic Blue Marlin off Madeira under the guidance of Roddy Hayes - skipper extraordinaire!  My first fish weighed in at 760lbs and took around 2hours 45minutes to get to the boat - when the deck-hands had got the "leader" in their grasp, I was a crumpled mess! Not some silly school kid - I was mentally exhausted; physically drained, that fish had taken me way beyond anywhere I'd previously been - a few tears are a small price to pay for such an encounter. What is really weird is the reaction of those guys on the boat - not one of them made any comment? These are the same crowd that frequented The Top Of The World in Warner's End - a proper pub, full of proper blokes! Each and every member of that group experienced, at least once, the adrenaline overdose produced by tangling with these monsters of the deep ocean - each encounter leaving a permanent mark on the captor; all dealing with it differently! It speaks volumes, of that particular trip, that whenever I go back to Hemel, if I bump into any of my fellow "marlin gang members" the conversation is as lively and vivid, as it was when we came home, in August 1993!

Scarce Bordered Straw - the garden 250w MV moth-trap - June 2006
I have been catching, and recording, the moths around my garden(s) since the summer of 1994. I am very fortunate that id assistance has always been close at hand - Andy Johnson (ex-SBBO), Tony Harman, Francis Solly and Phil Milton; so quite a formidable reference team. The thrill of the unknown is never better experienced than when emptying a MV moth trap - it isn't until that last egg tray has been examined that the job is done. I recall my first Tree Lichen Beauty, Scarce Bordered Straw, Pine Hawk-moth (a Franny tick!), Gem, Vestal, etc, etc.. fantastic memories! (and many more to come, hopefully?)

A fantastic surprise - this was the first bird I saw on opening the flap in the "old" hide at
Restharrow Scrape - was I excited? You bet!

Birding, within a UK context, is rather predictable (twitching apart) - there are very few encounters that are, so unexpected to be, able to cause the pulse rate to rise. Lifting the flaps on the Restharrow Scrape, at Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory, to find myself staring at a Stone Curlew was certainly an example of the exception to the rule! Autumn is always capable of producing the goods - living on Thanet means that I'm close to the best, geographical, sites on the east coast. I have to admit that it has produced some spectacular birding -  a Dartford Warbler is always a nice discovery!

Tree-lichen Beauty - an incredibly rare UK visitor before 1995 - a species which I now expect to record annually.
In 2009 there were 19 records from our garden trap - three being the best, one night, total.
My holidays are always much more "layed back" (horizontal - if that is possible?) where my chance of discovery is always increased, yet doesn't take president - the holiday being more important than the "list". My personal slant being that if I can't find it for myself, then it won't be missed? There is always another day, another opportunity. I recently posted about the enjoyment of my first Cretzschmar's Bunting; it was equally applicable to the Ruppell's Warbler and Kruper's Nuthatch that were also "lifers" on that Turkish holiday of May 2010. What did I miss? Loads of species possibly, but as no one else was out there birding - then placing the information into the public domain via the wonders of the Internet; I remain blissfully ignorant. I didn't see it, it doesn't matter! It makes no sense, to me, to dwell on stuff that you've missed when you should be enjoying that which you have seen.

My Alpine Swift in company with an immature Herring Gull - just how Thanet is that?
I think that the best example of a UK birding discovery is a tale of two swifts - on November 27th 2003, I found a Pallid Swift out on the Ash Levels, whilst Gadget and I were out there watching Short-eared Owls. Not a brilliant view, nor a particularly spectacular bird, yet a rare,and  very unexpected, discovery none the less. (My honesty in the written description, I'd never seen an autumn Pallid Swift previously, was to get the sighting rejected - IT WAS A PALLID SWIFT - end of!) I was shouting at Gadget to get his bins on it, he was having none of it - there were two Shorties having a tussle within 40m and a far more exciting spectacle. Gadget being new to birding, at that time, so rarity not having a hold over enjoyment. I rang the news out to SBBOT and a couple of guys who I knew would be birding the Stodmarsh/Grove Ferry area but, sadly it wasn't seen by anyone else. Move on to 29th March 2010 and an after-shift trip across to North Foreland. I found an Alpine Swift patrolling the golf course and my excitement was uncontainable. I had hoped for this moment, even dreamt about it - an Alpine Swift in Kent. It's not like they are particularly rare, or that I hadn't seen the species before, yet that sighting is one of the most precious memories. I know that I emitted a few profanities as I raised my bins - I punched the air as my suspicion was confirmed. Adrenaline and excitement - you can't beat it. Luckily this individual hung around for a couple of days and was enjoyed by many others - my lack of description not stopping it being accepted (strange that?)
We're back off to Scotland, at the beginning of May, for another bash at Loch Awe. I have set my sights on a single fish, a Scottish 20! If it comes to my rods I will have drawn a line through another of my wish list, and have no doubt that I will be a quivering wreck once the fish has been photographed!
A Dartford Warbler always brightens up a Thanet autumn morning - exciting stuff, but not adrenaline pumping encounters

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