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!


Sunday 28 June 2015

River carp fishing - session one

I started this post well before leaving to go fishing; I've been intrigued by the concept of river carp fishing since I learned of a viable population which reside in the tidal R. Stour. I have gained access to a remote stretch of bank and it is now down to me to do the business, or not?
My first goal must be to catch a carp, any carp, but, ultimately, my desire is to land a decent upper-double/twenty from the venue. Is this a realistic ambition? I have to admit that I'm going on hearsay evidence - no photos, or other sources of confirmation, being available. This is, for me, the beauty of the challenge. I have no idea about these fish, or the population dynamics - I'm certainly not seeking "Fred" who came out last week at "blah, blah, pounds!"

Hemp on the left, Curried Chick Peas on the right - it's why kitchens were invented!
My initial approach will be fairly standard fare; a bed of particles with a neutral buoyancy pellet/flouro combi on one rod and, the trusted, curried chick peas on the other. Rigs are very similar to those I use barbel fishing, although I will be using running lead clips rather than my usual semi-fixed inline set up. As the project progresses, I will adapt my tactics accordingly. Rods are my Duncan Kay's, fitted with Mitchell 300's and my hook links will be Kryston Snake Bite, in preference to my usual Silk Worm - both rigs fished using 800mm lead core leaders. It should be rather enjoyable, nuisance species will be tolerated, due to my own lack of experience - I'm really looking forward to it! (written at 10.25 hrs on Saturday 27th June 2015)

My swim, nicely tucked away in the bankside vegetation.
Well, I arrived at the river just around 19.00 hrs., fishing through to 23.00 hrs - not a sniff! It was a real eye-opener, of a session. The tidal influence being something I'd not really considered. High tide, in Pegwell Bay was at 20.00 hrs. (give or take a few minutes) and when I left the water was still rising, flowing back upstream, just a quickly as it moves in the opposite direction when the tide is out. I got my feed out, using a bait dropper, but can now see that I'll require some big (4 oz.) cage feeders instead of my usual leads. A cracking evening, the highlight being a Barn Owl which flew directly over my head as I was sat, quietly, tucked away in my swim. Other birds around the area included a Cuckoo and a couple of Turtle Doves with a Long-eared Owl, flushed from the roadside telephone wires, as I drove back home.

This, rather spectacular looking, Summer Chafer was amongst the egg boxes as I checked the
contents of the trap this morning.
Bev and I bumped into Franny and Brenda, in Westwood Tesco's, yesterday afternoon, and had time for a quick chat about the local mothing before moving on. It would appear that I need to acquire a book on "micros" - available on line, apparently, for about £25! It had Richard Lewington's name associated, top illustrator - so a copy will be headed my way sometime shortly! Franny feels that this tome will assist, greatly, my efforts in id-ing some of the tricky little blighters that I've recently encountered.

Friday 26 June 2015

"Que Sera Sera"

I'm not sure if I can align myself with the sentiment of my post heading, or not? I have been made aware of a crime, which is so abhorrent as to beggar belief - but will refrain from comment until it becomes public knowledge! It has absolutely nothing to do with natural history, fishing, moths or pan-listing - it is about depravity and liberal "human rights" stuff. I don't know the victim but, am friends with their daughter; one of our neighbours, who is now attempting to come to terms with this traumatic experience. Watch this space - I've got loads to say about this crazy situation!

I start, my late-shift, an hour early on Fridays - finishing at 20.00hrs (rather than the 22.00 hrs of Mon-Thursday). I'd just prepared my lunch when I spotted a large raptor circling, distantly, over Newland's. I rushed into my study, grabbed  my camera and binos, and was back outside within a few seconds. However, the bird in question had drifted even further away, my binocular views revealing a Buzzard sp. - but circling on flat wings! A Honey Buzzard? I'll never know - close, but no cigar!

Straight off the pages of Barry Goater's "Pyralid" masterpiece. 
Phlyctaenia coronata
Moths are continuing to provide the bulk of my entertainment, although attempting to identify some of the individuals, from unfamiliar groups, is proving to be a challenge. The rods will be back in action (inaction?) on Saturday evening. I'm off to explore a new venue, carp being the target species, but chub, bream and roach could also play a role? I have a few ideas about my approach but,  as this is a completely new venture for me; carp from running water - you're having a laugh?

Udea prunalis (?)

Wednesday 24 June 2015

More moths from the garden

Work is impacting upon my ability to get out quite heavily at present, eleven hour shifts don't leave much time for other, more enjoyable, pastimes. I have no qualms about the situation; the pay is good and there's always the weekends. It is, therefore, of little surprise that the moth trap is central to the majority of my activities. I did hear a Greenshank, calling out in the gloom of the late evening sky, as I walked home yesterday (22.00 hrs) and there seem to be a few adult Black-headed Gulls about - four behind the plough on Monday, failed/post breeders?

The easily identified Tortrix - Lozotaenia forsterana
I've got quite a few micros which will require some time and effort if I'm to get an id, but plenty of other species have been added to the rapidly lengthening 2015 garden list. Frosted Orange was a nice surprise, on Sunday, with Mottled Pug, Least and Garden Carpet, Short-cloaked Moth, Riband Wave, Dark Sword-grass, Dark Arches, Cabbage Moth, L-album Wainscot, Light Emerald and Lozotaenia forsterana added since then. I'm enjoying garden moth trapping immensely and it has provided a much needed kick up the arse - get out there and do something!

Least Carpet
Short-cloaked Moth
Mottled Pug
Riband Wave
P.S. - Still no sign of any Bordered Straws but, there remain good numbers of Hummingbird Hawks visiting the Red Valerian in our front garden.

1/1600th sec - getting better?

Monday 22 June 2015

Just thinking about barbel

As with all subjects, individuals will see things from differing perspectives, purely based upon their personal view point. No big deal? It's what makes the world go round - opinions. The barbel of The River Stour (Kent) are central to all my thinking, at present. I've now had two sessions on the river and had absolutely no sign of these fish being present, let alone interested in what I'm offering as a hook bait! What will the 2015/16 season produce? If I am realistic, we (as a group) have never taken a single fish in June, Benno's 11.06, on 5th July 2013, is the earliest barbel we've had from this river. All of my captures have occurred during the period late July - early September (a total of seven fish in three seasons, the first of which, 2012/13, was a complete blank!) I think, therefore, it is a reasonable deduction that it is a very "difficult" river for anglers with limited time, i.e. anglers with a job and other commitments (family, mortgage, etc..)

I have found myself seeking additional information via the wonders of "You tube" and the various contributors who ply their wares on this social medium. Egotists and attention seekers abound but, thankfully, there are also plenty of honest guys who simply wish to exchange information and experiences. I still haven't found what I'm (exactly) looking for (cue U2) but there is an abundance of usable advice which might assist my efforts.

Spot the swim?
Thankfully, I've two other projects which will allow me to change venues, should this particular challenge become a chore? I remain confident that one of us will capture a very large barbel, in the next couple of seasons, but we will need to focus our efforts during periods of optimum conditions. Both Benno and myself feel that we might be a little early, having witnessed the spawning activity on the Sunday before the season opened. I'm happy to give it a couple more sessions before, if nothing happens, taking a break and seeking my alternative targets.
I've made quite a few tweaks for this season, especially to my terminal tackle, which I am hoping will prove to be productive. I've upped the size of my bait to 16mm and, correspondingly, my hook size is now an 8. I'm sticking with Kryston Silkworm hook links (approx 20") with a blob of tungsten putty about 6" from the hook but I've changed over to an 800mm lead core leader, thus removing the need to back lead. I still use a semi-fixed inline lead (anything up to 3 1/2 oz). I have also changed my main line from Diawa Sensor (a fantastic product which has never let me down) to Korda Sub Line, purely because the latter sinks quickly and, as such, gives me better presentation in the clear water of the river. My brother, Simon, is very anti lead core; he considers it to be potentially fatal should a fish be lost? I wouldn't use it if I had similar doubts, but until I learn otherwise, I can't see any problem with this approach in the swims that I fish?  Rods remain my Specialist Barbel 1.75 lbs t/c 12' and my reels choice is either my Match Aerial or a Matt Hayes (centre-pins are absolutely perfect in this situation) It's going to be an interesting Summer/Autumn with so many options open to me.

Saturday 20 June 2015

Not much happening

It is that time of year when patch watching (birding!) is in the "doldrums", the Spring migration is over, the breeding season, for most of the resident species, is at an end and it is left to the other inhabitants to provide the bulk of my interest/sightings. This said, I was completely taken by surprise when I flushed a Lapwing (post - breeding adult) from the parched, newly harrowed, potato field as I walked to work on Friday morning. June Lapwing records are very infrequent at Newland's Farm, to have one decked is unusual indeed.

A male Greenfinch on our sunflower feeder
The garden feeding station continues to attract a steady stream of customers, Greenfinches and House Sparrows dominate, but a few Blue and Great Tit family parties are still visiting the sunflower feeder as are a single pair of Goldfinches. The spilled seed, on the ground under the feeders, is food for Collared Doves, Wood Pigeons, Feral Rock Doves plus Dunnocks (two family parties around the garden) and Blackbirds. I nicked an idea from Jackie & Gus (over at Palm Bay) - putting apples in a fat-ball cage feeder. They are having great results with this approach - the local Rose-ringed Parakeets hammering their feeders. I'm fairly confident that I will be able to replicate their success, once the parakeets discover our offerings.

This morning it was the gulls that alerted me to an over-flying Grey Heron; again, not a particularly common June sighting in the skies above Dumpton. So, if my highlights are Lapwing and Grey Heron, birding must be pretty dire at present? Butterflies are neither numerous or varied - Small Torts, Red Admiral, Painted Lady and Holly Blue providing 90% of my records, of late. Bees, Ichneumons, Hoverflies and other, assorted, inverts are doing their bit to keep me looking. However, it is the contents of my moth trap which are providing the bulk of my enjoyment at present. Because I have decided to look at, and attempt to id, the micro's which I attract, there is a whole new dimension opening up before me. My camera technique and technology might not be all it could be - it hasn't stopped my enjoyment of discovering new creatures. I am finding it very contagious - almost like I'd started from scratch. The moths in my garden are a source of massive pleasure; I am incredibly fortunate to be able to have this alternative interest which dove-tails so neatly into my other outdoor pursuits.

A beautiful example of Green Pug - if only all pug sp. were this straight forward.
Looks likely that Sunday evening will provide an opportunity to get back down to The Stour - Benno and Luke are also hopeful of making an appearance. I have a few bits to sort out, Emily is in our custody and it's Father's Day tomorrow - that'll probably mean a meal out somewhere? I have bait, and my "munger" is already prepared and stashed in my garden freezer. I've couple of new ideas I'd like to try out - hopefully there will be time to make these adjustments before I arrive at the river?
Steve Gale (North downs & Beyond) has made mention of book writing and the incredibly high bench mark that has been set by our forebears? As an individual I take great comfort from the words of an old Carpenter's song; the lyric being something like "Don't matter if it's not good enough for anyone else to hear, sing, sing a song!" My limited abilities summed up in a (para-phrased) nut-shell! My own attempts at such an exercise are dawdling along, in the background. It is a very enlightening experience to attempt to put into words the adventures of a complete lame-brain. The project is on-going yet nowhere close to completion. Who's it aimed at? To my way of thinking it's my way of explaining to future generations of Wrathalls' exactly who I was and what I stood for - in my own language, warts and all! A literary master class it won't be - just one blokes slant on his journey through life - don't matter if it's not good enough for anyone else to read?

Thursday 18 June 2015


The first session of the new season was, as I predicted, a blank (save for sodding eels) no signs of barbel interest between the three of us. Bev told me, tonight, that there was a Facebook thread which depicted a Stour "double" - so someone is off to a flyer - fair play.
A magnificent insect - an Eyed Hawk-moth!
With work dominating my week, I won't be back down to the river until Sunday (at the earliest) - such is life! Birding has been dire, of late, just the two Common Whitethroats brightening my walk to, and from, Pyson's Road. Butterflies continue to taunt - a hairstreak sp. was glimpsed yesterday; couldn't nail it. Moths, therefore, provide the basis for my daily natural history fix. New year ticks are appearing at an, ever, increasing rate; although they are nothing out of the ordinary in my part of the UK. I must, however, be the only moth trapper in southern England who hasn't yet recorded Bordered Straw in 2015? Six more pug sp., Mottled Beauty, Eyed Hawk-moth, European Corn-borer, Udea olivalis, Udea ferrugalis, Swallow Prominent, Lychnis and Garden Pebble all made it on to the 2015 garden list, overnight, along with my first ever record of Celypha striana.

Toadflax Brocade - always a pleasure

Swallow Prominent - a stunning creature

Celypha striana - a micro which I've probably overlooked on numerous occasions?
The UV light from the MV bulb is not only restricted to moth disorientation - many other insects are equally drawn to the source. Last night was to see two examples of a, very common, Caddis Fly enter the trap. Mystacides longicornis - a striking little critter which, I have to admit, was also new to me.

The Caddis Fly, Mystacides longicornis, discovered on the egg boxes as I examined the contents of
my moth trap.

Monday 15 June 2015

Tight lines and wet nets

At the stroke of midnight the "traditional" coarse angling season will commence. For those guys fortunate enough to be abroad at that magic hour, I wish you every success. Sadly, in 2015, I am unable to partake in that ritual, first cast, but have plans to fish later in the day (when I've finished an eleven hour shift)
An illustration from my facsimile copy of The Compleat Angler
If you are out, then remember to offer a word of thanks to the memory of Izaak (Walton) and all that he did to popularise the pursuit of angling. His advice being as relevant today as it was back in 1653 - "Study to be Quiet".

Four new additions for the 2015 list, in the trap overnight, Square-spot Rustic,The Clay, White Ermine and a lovely Small Elephant Hawk-moth, plus there was a Hummer on the Valerian this afternoon, as I was watering the hanging baskets and window boxes. Red Admiral butterflies have started to appear in some numbers, over the past few days and a Hobby was scything across the Newland's Farm airspace as I made my way home yesterday evening (just before the footie started!)

Sunday 14 June 2015

A bit of this and that

Overnight the moth activity was frantic, with a decent mix of species this morning. Clouded Silver, Small Magpie, Freyer's, Tawny Speckled and Lime-speck Pugs all new for 2015. Some more micros for me to ponder over, although with fishing season rapidly approaching, I won't be dwelling too long on these un-id'd creatures. I have photos and the entire Winter to continue my learning process in this particular sphere!

Coptotriche marginea (?)

 Benno, Luke and myself took a wander along The Stour, this morning, looking for likely areas where we might be able to intercept a barbel, or two? Unbelievably, we actually saw nine fish during our sortie - a group of five engaged in some fairly hectic spawning activity; it's looking good. A great deal of other wildlife to be enjoyed included a decent variety of Dragons and Damsels, Scorpion Flies, a couple of singing Nightingales and best of all, singles of Slow Worm and Grass Snake. Great stuff.

An absolute privilege to get up close, and personal, with this creature.

Saturday 13 June 2015

That's more like it

Wow! My hopes for a decent night in the garden MV have been realised, although I have only added a three new macros to the year list - Clouded-bordered Brindle, Willow Beauty and Waved Umber (plus a pug sp. which needs some attention?)
Agdistis bennetii - a species described in The Kent Moth Report 2004 as "local"
Certainly far more striking than the usual E. monodactyla's that occur in the garden.

It was a night for micros and a "lifer" plume-moth. I've got loads of images to keep me occupied and will give you a sample of what's been going on in deepest Dumpton whilst the residents are slumbering. Enjoy.

I'm going with Monopis crocicapitella for this little chap

Celypha lacunana (?)
Cochylis molliculana (?)

Aethes francillana (?)
I've got a couple more to add - it was a very pleasant night's mothing

Cochyylis hybridella

Eudonia pallida

Friday 12 June 2015

It has all the ingredients to be a classic!

My second post of the day, just before 22.00 hrs! I'm about to set up the MV for the night and conditions are almost perfect. We've had some rain, early evening and the conditions now are muggy and overcast. Very little wind and temperatures in the mid-teens. To top it all, I've just been out the front and there are, at least, 50 Silver Y's nectaring on the Red Valerian.

Always learning

I finished my shift at 22.00 hrs and walked home having already heard the "tu-tu-tu" of a Greenshank passing over Pyson's Road during my final tea break. There had been a Whimbrel, heading east, the previous night as I'd been tucked up in my sleeping bag at Sandwich - this weather is certainly providing some interesting bird sightings? (There'd been an adult male Long - tailed Duck off the Western Undercliff, Ramsgate earlier in the week; I resisted the urge to "twitch" that individual, but it is also a very unusual occurrence)

The garden MV in all its' glory
Once home it was a quick set up of the moth trap before jumping in the car for a trip to Tesco's Manston. The nice (?) thing about late night shopping is there are very few other punters about and it is a relatively simple exercise of collecting together whatever is on my shopping list. I was back home just after 23.00 hrs and cracked open a San Miguel whilst keeping an eye on the moth activity around the MV. It was around 03.00 hrs that I finally decided that it was time for a kip - watching the moths around the light is almost hypnotic, although I had spent quite a while researching advice on carp fishing in running water (there's a project afoot that I'm getting quite excited about).

I'd switched the trap off and covered it to prevent moth trap carnage (House Sparrow predation) just after 05.00 hrs but didn't make it, properly, out of bed until after 09.15 hrs - lazy sod that I am. The selection of trap interns was all very predictable, but a couple of Silver Y's and a dozen, or so, Diamond Backs suggest that there is migration occurring. I get quite blasé about these species, yet wonder how I'd view them if I'd remained in Hertfordshire? (Not that I'd have been mothing at all - it was SBBO that provided the spark)

Argyresthia cupressella
The highlight was provided by a "lifer" - nothing particularly outrageous, just a very tiny micro which I'd probably overlooked on numerous occasions? Very closely related to the "Adidas Moth" of the tea room folly, Argyresthia cupressella is an adventive species, from North America, which was first discovered in the UK in 1997. I managed to get a few, rather poor, images which aided my search for an id.

Thursday 11 June 2015

Chick peas strike again

"When the wind's in the East, the fish bite least" an old proverb that has more than a ring of truth about it. At present, my little part of the world is being subjected to a sustained period of E/NE winds, up to 25 mph at times, so what possessed me to have another night at Sandwich Coarse Fishery? Just because I could, I suppose, plus the fact that it beats the arse out of going to work.

I got set up in the NE corner, on the back of the wind, because the SW corner of the venue has been subjected to sustained pressure, by three anglers, since Monday. They weren't smashing the place up, so I felt that the fish might have backed off and moved to an area without any angling pressure. At least that was my reasoning and at 21.00 hrs I got some reward for my theory, in the form of a stunning 18 lbs 15 oz Mirror Carp. It fought really well on my light tackle and is the heaviest carp I've taken since returning to this wonderful hobby. Alas, it proved to be my only bite of the session.
Not the most flattering image - a selfie using my Canon, on a tripod, with the timer setting of 10 second delay
Double, curry flavoured, chick peas - fished on a Kryston "Snake Bite" hook link with a size 11 Kamasan Barbel Maxx hook (barb crushed in to comply with the fishery ruling). I've changed to this hook pattern, from my usual Korda Wide Gape hook, because I am going to use them on The Stour and need to be sure that they are up to the job. My first impressions are very favourable.
They seem to be doing the job - so I'll happily stick with them
I continue to use the chick peas because I've yet to see any other anglers, at this venue, using anything other than boilies. My bait is, therefore, not treated with suspicion by this population of quite pressured fish. It's true that they require a fair amount of preparation, before they are a usable hook bait but, being that they are very cheap and very effective, I'll continue to go through the routine of soaking them for 24 hrs before boiling them, along with a couple of generous spoonful's of Sharwood's Madras curry sauce, for a couple of hours.

Not something that is stocked by the majority of carp tackle outlets.
Combined cost is under £2.50 and that's a lot of bait.

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Un-explainable - missing the un-missable!

The weather is all over the show, at the moment. We are bathed in glorious sunshine but, with a blasting E/NE wind, it is all rather unpleasant. Temperatures are struggling to reach 16 C, dropping rapidly, overnight, to around 11 C. Is it any wonder that moths have become a rather scarce commodity in recent days. Last night saw just four individuals, of three species! 1 Light Brown Apple Moth (a pesky Tortrix), 2 Heart & Dart (Noctuid - proper moths) and a Blood-vein (a Geometer - "wannabe" butterfly). A total waste of effort and electricity, or was it? Also within the confines of the "Robinson" were a couple of Caddis flies, not a group with which I am at all familiar, despite my obvious links with angling. They appeared to be of the same species, and I ensured I got an image, just for my records. Close up they are quite stunning little creatures, and worthy of further attention should I get a chance, at the various fisheries I will be visiting, over the coming months.

A Blood-vein - quite why such a dainty species would venture out in such dismal conditions is a mystery

I've tentatively id'd this creature as Limnephilus marmoratus - could be miles off the mark, but I ain't about to start
killing things; just to make sure!
A session at Sandwich, and I have another booked, proved to be a real roller coaster ride (although not as painful as a visit to Alton Towers) as my fortunes went from high to low - very quickly. Within an hour of setting up, I'd taken two fish (Commons) on chick peas, things could get hectic - had I brought enough bait? In the next 12 hours I had just two more bites, neither fish landed, but there were several other "occurrences" which might have been carp "getting away with it?"
Home from home - my CK collection of brolly, bed chair, sleeping bags and bite alarms. The rest of the gear is serious
tackle. Avid Carp un-hooking mat, Alan Brown (Hitchin) landing net, Duncan Kay's, 66X's on a KM rod-pod, with
Tring tench swinger indicators.
I have spent many long hours thinking about my terminal tackle, my rigs and the mechanics of my bait presentations. I don't profess to be a carp angler, of any stature, but surely I should have learned something during my angling career? I'm going right back to basics, starting at the reel, and examining every aspect of my approach to this particular situation. I have no issues with my bait, nor my fish location, so it is all down to how I go about my angling. Attention to detail because, after all, effort equals success.
A very welcome little Common (12 lbs 1 oz) that couldn't resist the "chick pea" set-up.