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!


Monday 24 June 2013

Manston 2013 - memories and moans!

Two days on and the fall out from the utter shambles of the 2013 "South East Airshow" organisation continues. The local media have gotten into a right frenzy - disgruntled from Sittingbourne/Maidstone/Tonbridge/Dungeness; have all had their moan ups! "We want our money back!" Not the solution to the chaotic scenario, but it will help calm the ripples of discontent.
It would appear (to me) that the gig was a victim of its' own publicity - the Kent Online website reporting that 120,000 people attempted to attend the show; 40,000 vehicles being their guesstimated minimum. There would be no way that the organisers could have foreseen this - it's been 20years since the last airshow at Manston. Where the bloody hell are the parking facilities for this number of motors - they couldn't cope with that number at Heathrow on a single day!

Emily - my reason for being a Grand-dad
There are many legitimate and constructive criticisms of the failures of the organisers, yet it was still a fantastic airshow. The displays, that were able to fly in the ridiculous conditions, were superb. If only the sun had shone and the wind been less boisterous? Hang on - if it had been blistering hot the situation would have been compounded by sun-seekers headed for the beaches of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate, plus additional numbers of semi-interested plane spotters who might just bother if the weather is right. It was a no win situation - stuck between a rock and a hard place!

Well not really! Anyone, with half a brain cell, could have foreseen this if the requirement to purchase tickets had been made obvious. No ticket - don't come; simple. Use the same advertising channels - with the proviso that a ticket needed to be acquired. Numbers can be regulated and the logistics put in place to cater for a known number of visitors - two entrances might be a good start and equipping the hapless security/crowd control stewards with walkie-talkies might be something to consider?  I have no desire to stage an airshow; yet with my very basic understanding of business systems realise that there are some very simple processes which ensure that much of the shambolic organisation could have been avoided. (I owe Unilever - Sarah Frost - more than I realise)

The guy that flew this helicopter was "The Nuts" - An Apache - WOW!

Bev, Gary, Ron, Denise, Debbie, Emily and I had a great time - the effort to get to the venue at 10.00hrs being well rewarded.
Whoever the pilot? He needs serious medical help!
On a day when the "War Birds" needed gentle treatment - this guy demonstrated total disregard to the wind!
It was a magnificent advert for this agile little plane.

I took nearly 500 shots of the event  - I hope that I've managed to capture a flavour of what it was like?

Mitchell B-25
Mustang - "Jumpin' Jaques"
No excuses - quite simply the most important aircraft on display?
The Hawker Sea Fury of The Royal Navy Historical Flight.
The fastest piston-engined plane of its' era. A Bristol Centaurus "Sleeve-valved" radial enginne - it is a beast of a plane!

Sunday 23 June 2013

Manston Air Show - such a shame!

At 09.30hrs Gary, Ron & Denise were at our bungalow - we headed off to Manston, via Debbie's where she and Emily joined the gang. We were parking the cars on the grass before 10.00hrs. So far, so good? The fact that Ron & Denise are in their 80's and aren't as fit as they once were meant that Gary had to drive across the field to another area, closer to the entrance. No-one's fault, just what was required.

The centre piece for the whole show - XH 558
What a fantastic piece of engineering - "the pride of Great Britain"
Vulcan to the Skies - you've done yourselves proud
We assembled within the Manston boundaries and were confronted by a heady mix of static displays. There were planes, a fun fair, stalls, marching bands and umpteen other distractions. A cup of coffee and chips for £5 set the tone - it was rip off city!!!! I'm sure that the event organisers hadn't any input into the prices - the greed culture kicking in once more? (Why take an inch when a mile will do?)
The conditions were atrocious - as were the tanoy announcements - so several of the displays were cancelled without the masses being informed. 
P40 - Kittyhawk
P51 Mustang - "Jumpin Jaques"

The planes that did fly were superb - centre stage was the AVRO Vulcan - "The Spirit of Great Britain". The "peoples plane" she provided the focal point for the whole event - magnificent!
There were plenty of other planes to be seen, many airshow veterans recalling the airshows of yesteryear - Manston was always a "good-un"

There was always something going on, but the strong winds did nothing to aid proceedings. The Sea Fury pilot; Chris Gotke, came across to speak with the crowds - he was unsure if he would be able to display under the weather conditions? It was quite surreal - this guy was about to display a plane; he was just an ordinary bloke  - fantastic advert (anyone can have aspirations)

The star of the show (in my opinion) - the Hawker Sea Fury
This is one major league aeroplane -  every bit as important as the Spitfire and Hurricane in our history and heritage.

Airbourne - just why Chris was at Manston!
We live within a few miles of the venue - it took us less than 15 minutes to get home, once we'd found the car. There are stories of absolute chaos - organisation being anything but co-ordinated. Bev and I had a 30th wedding aniversary bash to attend in the evening and it was there that we heard tell of the complete chaos reported on the local radio station - such a pity that a positive, for Thanet, has been ruined (for many) by poor planning and infra-structure.

Is this the last time that a Vulcan leaves Manston?
Vulcan to the Skies

It was a fantastic event - spoilt by the weather and road chaos. There is abosolutely nothing more that the organisers could have done? Angie Sutton (AS Enterprises) and Charles Buchanan (Manston Airport) have to be praised for their efforts, but learn from this experience if the event is to become a regular occurence.

Mitchell B-25

Hawker Hurricane
Supermarine Spitfire - Mk HFIX (The Kent Spitfire)


Wednesday 19 June 2013

A return to form

Like so many others, who have been moth trapping for longer than a couple of seasons, I have been lamenting the poor garden catches being made for the past two years. Being lucky enough to have experienced some of the most spectacular insect movements over the last 17 years, the lack of numbers and variety of species makes for sorry reading by comparison. Last night, as I walked home from work, the moon was just visible through a thin layer of high cloud and it felt rather muggy. Ideal conditions for running the Milton Mk VII 125w MV trap. It was on by 22.15hrs, the first moths appearing almost immediately! There were several Silver Y's feeding on the Red Valerian in our front garden, so hopes were high for  reasonable catch. I wasn't to be disappointed; examining the egg boxes, this morning, revealed a nice selection of species (42) and a total of 137 moths.

Eyed Hawkmoth - always welcome
Three species of hawkmoth are always appreciated, Elephant, Small Elephant and Eyed, Peppered Moth, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Heart & Dart, BLBE, etc, etc.. Nothing particularly noteworthy, but a heartening return to garden trapping as I remember it. Pugs are always a challenge, particularly when they are a little worn yet, with a little effort can generally be id'd without resorting to dissection.

Freyer's Pug

Lime-speck Pug

Green Pug
Plenty of other insects were attracted to the light, a couple of Ichneumon Wasp sp.,a Crane Fly sp and several examples of Early Bumblebee (Bombus pratorum)

Light Emerald

Early Bumblebee (Bombus pratorum) a smart little male

Tuesday 18 June 2013

How did I overlook this?

Any excuse to post another image of XH558. I've just been looking back at my file from Saturday and have found this! Obviously I've had a play around with Adobe photoshop 7.0 - it is still a very pleasing image, in my opinion.
XH 558 "The Spirit of Great Britain" - Envy of the World?
This is our heritage; kept airworthy by a charity. How can this be allowed to continue?
This iconic aircraft should have the same funding as the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
It is a national treasure and something we, as a nation, should be proud of. It will cease flying in 2015 because
of P.C. bureaucracy - It was designed to be our atomic bomb carrier ;
 not something politicians want to align themselves with?

I couldn't make it three on the spin!

After finishing at 22.00hrs, on Monday, I had no intention of going fishing this morning. Instead I enjoyed the luxury of a lie in - I was up at 07.20hrs to make Bev her cuppa; she has to leave home at 08.30hrs.
The sun was shining, very little wind (a real bonus) and temperatures in the mid-teens; surely there had to be something worth photographing? I limited my efforts to the "Estate Boundaries" - our garden!

Woundwort Shieldbug (Eysarcoris venustissimis)
Female Large White Butterfly on Red Valerian
Zebra Spider on our front door - I know it needs a clean! (The door, not the spider)
I had a phone conversation with my brother Timbo, attempting to arrange dates for Dad's birthday flight with the Spitfire. 16th July looks favourite, my Nephew (Tim's son) Luke is playing in the "Junior Open" at Prince's GC around the same date, so everything should mesh together nicely?

Red Admiral - my first sighting of 2013!

Monday 17 June 2013

A journey of re-discovery?

The new angling season started yesterday, 16th June, on our rivers and some other venues where tradition still dictates that the coarse angling close season runs from 15th March -15th June inclusive.
Yesterday I was on the banks of The River Stour, just outside Canterbury, before 04.00hrs and this morning by 04.30hrs. Two sessions and I have yet to get a bite! This has nothing to do with the state of the river or the lack of fish; I am simply not good enough - yet!!
I am specifically targeting Barbel and have yet to see one in the river. They are certainly in there, a guy I met with yesterday had just landed a specimen of 12lbs 3oz (he showed me a photo) and told me of other successes he'd had along this section of the river. He had spent the entire close season period looking for swims and fish - his efforts being rewarded. I, on the other hand, have not spent a minute of my time wandering the banks, so my lack of fish is easily explained. I haven't put in the effort to locate my quarry, thus blanking will be something I will have to live with. I have found a few swims which look like they should produce fish, so now I have to see if any of these are actually holding areas or just "fishy looking"
My "joint" PB Barbel (9lbs 2oz) taken from The River Thames (Mapledurham, Berks) in September 1985.
The other fish was from "The Royalty Fishery" on The Hampshire Avon under the watchful eye of Fred Crouch.
It was September 1985 that I last caught a Barbel; and that was from The River Thames, I have also taken them from The Lea, The Windrush (both Thames tributaries) and the mighty Hampshire Avon. At that time I was fortunate to have Fred Crouch as my teacher. Not only was he a gifted angler, he was also a very generous mentor who took great pleasure in passing on his knowledge so as others could experience the thrill of barbel angling. It was Fred who introduced me to the delights of centre-pin fishing; the use of bait droppers and the importance of accuracy for optimum results. All these lessons have stood me in good stead but, now, I am having to start afresh on a new river. Past experiences will play just a small role in my quest for success on The Stour. New ideas, particularly in the areas of bait and hook link material have made barbel angling a little more sophisticated than the maggot feeder rig that was so productive 30 years ago.

My swim choice this morning. Only room for a single rod and that being
paired with an ABU Cardinal 66X

Just like Fred, the guy I met yesterday was equally forthcoming with snippets of advice which will aid my cause. He showed me a few areas where he had previously taken fish and even pointed me towards the swim where he had just taken the 12lbs 3oz fish. Very welcome input; let's hope that I'm able to use it to best effect. It might be that he just felt sorry for me as I was equipped with two 1lbs 12oz TC rods sporting two Matt Hayes centre-pins. He had just one rod fitted with a fixed spool/bait runner type reel. I clocked his rig and noted the semi-fixed lead set up (no good getting old if you don't get artful?) plus the 18mm pellet attached to his hook. Whatever the outcome, I am looking forward to this challenge with the same enthusiasm I had for the pike in that small drain out on the Worth Marshes.

Saturday 15 June 2013

XH558 - arrives at Manston

The Spirit of Great Britain - Vulcan XH558 on her final approach to Manston Airport
"Was she close?" I'd say so - this was taken with the lens at 170mm
As I had said in my last posting, the last remaining airworthy Vulcan bomber (XH558) flew in to Manston at 16.20hrs (approx) this afternoon. I was in pole position, along the Cliffsend road between Jentex and the Haine Road roundabout. The sun threatened to show, but thick clouds put pay the optimum photographic light. However, I mustn't grumble - the crew made a couple of approaches before touching down and I (and a few other enthusiasts) were treated to some fantastic views of this majestic aircraft. It wasn't a display; there were no roaring engines and vapour trails, just a very sedate couple of circuits - nice!

Wednesday 12 June 2013

I know so little - but still look

In the brutal world of factory life I was taken to task when, after The Red Arrows had flown over the factory - en route to Manston, I admitted that I knew nothing of aircraft mechanics, yet still found the sight and sounds of military aircraft fascinating. Steve C. (everyone who works at FSIS will know to whom I refer) gave me a hard time - "that's the first time I've ever heard you admit that you don't know about something - you know everything you "big-headed" c**t!" A charming man - no, really; this is how we pass our days - mutual disrespect and pig-headed rudeness. If you can't stand the heat?
A Typhoon Eurofighter landing at Manston - a fantastic sight and sound
The military aircraft of WW II are very dear to my heart, the sound of a Rolls Royce Merlin or Griffon engine being akin to Led Zep playing Stairway to Heaven. The Olympus engines of XH558 - our National Heritage - the last flying Vulcan Bomber, have the ability to rattle my inner soul. Childhood memories of an encounter with this iconic aircraft - I couldn't understand why we needed to paint Concorde in cammo?
XH 558 - at the Margate "Big Event" 2011
The sight of the Red Arrows fills me with pride - the finest advert for the RAF - the finest advert for the UK armed forces; Top Guns indeed!
The Red Arrows at Margate - an image I am rather proud of.
I'm more than happy to admit that this technology is way beyond my comprehension - my joy is very simple; the sight and sound (much like modern motorbikes) is capable of conjuring childhood emotions. It is the Manston Airshow next weekend, the first time in 21 years! - the big news being that the Vulcan (XH558) will be flying into Manston at 16.30hrs on Saturday 15th June and will  remain on site for the week leading up to the event. I have a plan! I will be at whichever end of the runway, wind direction dictating, I need to be in order to witness the arrival of this magnificent aircraft at our Thanet airport.

Obviously the history of Manston will mean that the BBMF will be taking part in proceedings - the airfield being the most attacked during the hostilities. I have been exceptionally privileged to be able to grab shots of a Supermarine Spitfire from the comfort of North Foreland - most others require a helping hand.

Happy birthday Dad!

Monday 10 June 2013

A bit more like it

I walked home from work, this afternoon, in glorious sunshine and temperatures that are, finally, more in keeping with the month of June. The biting northerly had abated and been replaced by a far more gentle SE breeze. With this change in temperature has come a change in the insect activity - all of a sudden there are butterflies along the footpaths and a few bumblebees as well. I got home and fed the birds before grabbing the camera gear and wandering back across Newland's Farm.

I'd seen a nice Ichneumon Wasp - Amblyteles armortorius - on my homeward journey and hoped that it would hang around? Luck was on my side and I relocated it (?) plus getting the opportunity to photograph many other species that were enjoying these "Spring-like" conditions.

I got a few images of Small White butterflies, but the white balance on my camera wasn't correctly set and they are hopeless. Better result with my second Painted Lady, of 2013, when a tatty individual posed on the exposed earth around the edge of a potato field. The tiny sawfly, Cephus pygmaeus, was found along the same field boundary - a very serious cereal crop pest, I photographed it on wheat stems - the female releasing pheromones?

I did the full circuit, with so much activity along the hedgerows it seemed silly not to. Diamond-back moths were everywhere - another agricultural pest species and one that is usually associated with insect migration. I will run the moth trap tonight and expect to see a massive increase in my catch. (It shouldn't be too difficult to improve on seven moths?)

It was just nice to be out in the sunshine again. Whatever the season, it always seems so much better when the sun shines from a clear blue sky.

Sunday 9 June 2013

A splash of Mediterranean colour!

I knew about the "Pegwell" Bee-eater yesterday afternoon - Keith Ross finding a bird in Stonelees NR and posting some very nice video on Youtube, plus a couple of images with Birdguides. I had another 06.00 - 12.00hrs shift today, so didn't find out that the bird was still present until I got home, around 12.15hrs - it had been reported as present at 11.50hrs. Bev and I had some stuff to attend to so it was after a lunch, in The Sir Stanley Grey, that I found myself with enough free time to make my way along the cliff top and down to Pegwell Bay.

Noon Fly (Mesembrina meridiana) - a beast of an insect.
I can't imagine that I've made a major discovery, for such a widespread and common species, it must
just be overlooked? How many people take time to look at flies?

As usual, I looked like an advert for a charity shop - full camo, bangles, beads and a necklace, plus a snide Rolex; is it any wonder that no-one ever speaks to me? With no more info than I'd gleaned from Birdguides, my intention was to head straight to Stonelees. One brave soul asked if I knew anything about the Bee-eater, as I passed the car park - I could only tell him that it was still present at 11.50hrs; it was now well after 15.00hrs! I wandered along the cycle track, encountering no-one; so arrived at a deserted Stonelees NR. That's funny, the car park was rather full, surely they weren't all dog walkers?
A slow stroll around the reserve, finding a very smart fly along the path towards the old Pfizer sports field. I fitted the extension tubes and fired off a few shots - Noon Fly (Mesembrina meridiana) being the result. New to me and new for Thanet (if the info I gleaned from the Internet is correct?), however, I feel that like many insect records, they are simply overlooked and under recorded.

My best effort - pitiful by any standards, yet the best I could muster in the grey conditions of a balmy Thanet afternoon.
With my head down and arse up, the distinctive dy-syllabic "purr-ip" of Bee-eater distracted my efforts as the avian quarry passed close by, without being seen. Had I mis-heard a call, no surely not, it had to be Bee-eater. I walked about 20m to be confronted by the sight of a Cuckoo and Bee-eater in the top of the same small dead Hawthorn. "SHIT" I still had the extension tubes fitted - I fumbled about with the camera gear and managed to grab a series of four shots before two passing dog-walkers flushed the birds. It would appear that the Bee-eater had been showing in the area directly behind the hide, at Pegwell, and that was where the "twitchers" had set up base camp. My sighting had coincided with a mass movement and I stumbled across the mob as I made my way out of Stonelees. Cameras and mobile phones seemed to be the tools of the trade, very few choosing binoculars as a way of locating their quarry; times they are a changing?

I stayed on site for a couple of hours, bumping into Heather Willis and Steve Ray, which was nice. However, my over-riding memories will be off the desperate behaviour of the visiting birders (twitchers) who harried the Bee-eater from pillar to post. I will make no more comment, I used to go twitching and am sure that I would have been no less enthusiastic. The Bee-eater looks very tired, I didn't see it catch any prey whilst watching it, the strong NE (20mph) wind and 11C temperatures will have done nothing to aid its' cause and constant disturbance by birders won't have had any beneficial effect.
Don't panic - I didn't get this shot at Pegwell Bay!
This is what a Bee-eater is supposed to look like,illuminated by the Mediterranean sun.
(Pefkohorri, N.E. Greece - May 2009)
There was a significant movement of Common Swifts, several hundred moved north during the afternoon, and I was happy to grab the chance to get an image of a male Common Whitethroat, spider's web still attached to its' beak - fantastic birding in comparison to the Newland's Farm patch. There were at least seven Song Thrushes singing between Pegwell Village and Stonelees - I think we have one in Dumpton!
Common Whitethroat - a male
I used my 170-500mm Sigma with a 1.4x converter - not too shabby?