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!


Wednesday 17 December 2014

2014 - as I saw it

It's that time of year again - all "Bloggers" will be doing it? A review of the past twelve months. Some of the finer exponents of the art will have logical and eloquent sequencing, copious supporting images of stunning quality - but not here! This is an "as I write it" sort of effort - cobbled together as I attempt to look back through the jumbled mass of ramblings that make up this nonsense. So here goes......!

The blog stats went off the radar right from the off. The cause of this interest was a small bird which took up residence (over 14 weeks!) in Ramsgate Cemetery. That I had the audacity to question the id was akin to kicking a wasp nest. I didn't like it then - I liked it even less when it started singing in late March! But there you go - if Hume's Leaf Warbler is what you wanted then Hume's Leaf Warbler is what you got - no one died and it really doesn't matter. That one, highly intelligent, birder made a statement that there were no inter-grades between Yellow-browed Warbler and Hume's was of such staggering arrogance as to beggar belief and keep me out of the fray from that moment onward.

This is the cause of all the fuss! Call it whatever you want!
Instead of providing a learning opportunity - it became a battle ground - such a waste!


Benno and I had been on a mission; we went in search of perch at Sandwich Coarse Fishery. As seems to be a recurring theme these days, Benno gave me a lesson in "how to do it" with a series of decent fish to a top weight of 2 lbs 11 oz (he also fluked a 15 lbs carp whilst he was about it) I had one moment of glory when I captured a specimen of 2 lbs 6 oz - well pleased with the fish. They are a wonderful species which I have not spent enough time with.

A superb fish in wonderful condition
The ridiculous amount of rain that had fallen over the winter period ensured that the RMC had been, for the most part, unfishable. With the season almost at a close, and access restored, I had one last attempt for a decent pike. I came up with a low double (11 lbs 12 oz) for my efforts and the English pike season was over for yet another year.
A pleasing way to finish the pike season

My personal life had been turned upside down by the temporary custody of two grandchildren. I am happy to report that the situation has been resolved and the future is looking bright for everyone involved. However, it took its' toll on my mental health and I am forever grateful for the support I received from the guys at work.
Having Emily on hand, 24/7 meant that we spent a lot of time together - it was her ever inquiring mind that got me into looking closely at some of the invertebrates we found. Using the extension tubes on my camera resulted in a nice collection of images of insects that would have normally been overlooked.
Incuvaria masculella - a micro moth which Emily and I discovered beside the playground in Ash

A month where only one thing matters - Scotland and pike fishing! Once again Benno, Simon, Luke (his first trip!) and I sallied forth to do battle with the fish of Loch Awe. The weather was horrendous, the fishing and company first class. Davie Robertson joined us for a couple of days, but his time cut short by a family bereavement. As usual, we caught a few pike, drank loads of "tinnies", watched Red Deer, Ospreys and Black-throated Divers and generally chilled out - just what a holiday is all about?
I can't help myself - the CK logo of Dragon Carp speaks volumes about my
utter contempt for the modern angling "fashionistas"
Angling is about method and approach - not what is on display on the bank!
The end of the month was to see me capture the largest carp I've taken in 30 years. A magnificent old warrior, of a Common Carp, which tipped the scales at 18 lbs 2 oz. Taken on a Tring Tench rod, Match Aerial Centre-pin reel, 7 lbs b.s. line and a floating crust - angling heaven!
Longshaw Farm - happy daze
This was the month when Anne Sawyer passed away - a sad loss to all that knew her. Gadget was knocked sideways and struggled, big time, to accept her passing. Forty years is a long time in any relationship!
Bev and Anne at a BBQ in our garden.
10th June - Anne left us to embark on the next stage of her journey - she's left a huge void

The trials of barbel fishing continued to cause me intense frustration - the fish in The Kentish Stour have proven to be the toughest angling challenge I've ever faced. I have no idea as to the hours per fish ratio that I could use as a measure of success - it would be in the 100's? Yet, if I were to use the bare facts, it appears that I am very successful - 7 barbel; 5 doubles! Between the four of us (Benno, Tom, Luke and myself) - 17 fish; 9 doubles - incredible stats which distort the whole picture and demonstrate just how unreliable such measures can be. My seven fish have taken three seasons to catch - I blanked for the first year!
27th July 2014 - a year to the day that I caught my first Stour barbel, I landed my first fish of the season.
At 12 lbs 10 oz it was a fish which I can finally claim to have taken by design. Everything that I did, on that particular session, was done for a specific purpose and that barbel is the direct result. Silly me - I thought I'd cracked it!
A barbel which I feel that I had deserved - how wrong can any man be?

Gadget suffered a stroke - almost certainly a direct consequence of the stress of loosing Anne? Fortunately, the swift medical attention he received ensured that it had minimal impact on his long-term health. He remains independent and mobile - much is owed to the medical staff at QEQM Margate. Anyone who needs proof of why the NHS is the best in the world need look no further - go have a chat with Gadget!
A month after my first - I land my second barbel of the year! 11 lbs 4 oz! 

Probably the hardest fighting barbel I've ever taken?
A short, stocky, incredibly powerful, fish - I had to drag it out of a weedbed using the full
test curve of my 1.75 lbs t/c barbel rods. Even better because it was taken on the Match Aerial!
It was also the month when we saw an incredible arrival of Humming-bird Hawkmoths. It was in the summer of 1995 that I last remember them in such profusion?

Being the dumbo that I am - I thought that given a week on the river I'd catch more barbel - I had a three day blank before admitting defeat and heading for the relief of Sandwich Coarse Fishery. Kevin, the fishery owner, allowed me to spend a couple of nights, carp fishing. What joy - seven carp to 17 lbs 4 oz!
It wasn't, however, to be fish that made my month so memorable - patch watching during this autumnal period was to produce two new bird species for my list! Grasshopper Warbler and Osprey (which I managed to photograph)
A species which I'd long predicted - it came during a large scale movement of
 Common Buzzards and was very nearly missed!

More of the same at Sandwich Coarse Fishery - carp fishing made comfortable! I caught a few, nothing big, but enjoyed myself all the same.
A bent rod at Sandwich Coarse Fishery - why else would you bother?

My laptop finally gave up the ghost and I was unable to blog for much of the month - how sad? It was a period of great relief - un-burdened by the desire.requirement to make the effort to contribute to blog-land. I found myself writing a diary again. A fantastic experience which makes me very happy. I also lost the biggest carp I've ever hooked - a feeling akin to swallowing a whole orange! Gutted - and it was all of my own making. I used the wrong knot on my Kryston hooklink - that simple! (Although I'm confused as to how I've managed to land so many barbel using this same rig?) Salvation came in the form of long lost box of slides - a nostalgia trip of epic scale.
Sye with a Tiddenfoot catfish - so many happy daze relived via this surprise discovery!

My birthday bash in Manchester - who'd have thought it? An experience that was completely beyond anything I could have imagined!

Something beyond my wildest expectations - and I was getting paid to attend!
How good is that?

Christmas is fast approaching - I'll make that post in due course. Until then, many thanks for making the effort to log onto this crazy journey. As Vinnie Jones said, at the end of Lock Stock - "It's been emotional!"

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