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 31 August 2015

An incredible event - wow, where did time go?

Yesterday I was to witness the power of the Internet at its' best; the very reason for which it was conceived. Paul Elborn, a guy with whom I grew up in Hemel Hempstead, contacted me and left his mobile number in an, un-published, comment! He was right there at the very start of my speccy hunting journey - he took over the R/O role, from Andy Windmill, at The Luton PAC whilst I was R/O of NASA Chiltern Region. Paul was the best pike angler in our gang, he caught more, and bigger, fish than the rest of us put together.

Paul with a magnificent pike of 23lbs 3oz from Marsworth Res,Tring - 28th Feb 1984
I think the last time we fished together, at Tring, was October 1987 and we (Baz Adams, Paul & myself) made the front page of Angling Times with our combined catch - The sensationalised headline read "Pike Trio Top the Ton!" I've still got a copy somewhere in the loft - I'll dig it out sometime, never? (P.S. We did also have two boats on Llandegfedd the second year, 1989, it was opened for pike fishing, and Paul took a fish of 38 lbs 10 oz!  - that was the last time we fished together!)

This was May 1983, our second trip north of the border - Paul landing a pike, Geoff Barker with the landing net, whilst a very young Ronnie Macqueen (?) looks on.
Paul, Simon (my youngest brother) and I had, in 1982, travelled up to Scotland - in an Austin Allegro! We fished Loch Ascog, on the Isle of Bute. We had hoped to fish Loch Fad - but it had been turned into a trout fishery and only the very fortuitous encounter with, a very young, Ronnie Macqueen, who was perch fishing with a mate, rescued our first venture into the pursuit of Scottish pike. No bivvies', we slept in a proper tent, bought our fish & chips from Lena Zavaroni's dad's chip shop in Rothersay - wonderful times, great memories!

Paul with a Pixie's Mere tench of 4lbs 6oz - June 1983
We tench fished at Pixies Mere, went carping at Kodak's Water End fishery, Bridigo Pond - it was Paul who took the photos of my first twenty! and Stanborough. Tring Res's were where we honed our skills as bream, tench and pike anglers. We went our separate ways as adult life dictated other priorities - kids, mortgages, careers - you know the score?

On the banks of Loch Ascog,  May 1982, Paul & myself posing with, what was then, a large catch of perch.
I rang him yesterday afternoon - it was a priceless experience. The rapport was instant, the memories flooding back as if it were yesterday! Time is a very precious commodity; only when something like this occurs does it become very apparent. In keeping with my recent thought processes, post Uncle Bill's funeral, I need to work harder at keeping in touch with those who have gotten me to where I am today - Elbs! - welcome back!

Saturday 29 August 2015

Up close - it's getting personal

Cream-bordered Green Pea is a small macro moth which played a significant part in my early developing moth trapping. Although not a rare moth, in East Kent, it was one of those species which, at the time (mid 90's) was always a very welcome discovery on the egg boxes either at Sandwich Bay Obs or in our tiny garden, in Ash. My subsequent move to Thanet and general lack of interest has meant that I'd not seen one for a few years now, until today. With Emily staying, overnight, I ran the trap so that she could help me examine the contents, this morning - helping to sow the seeds of interest for the next generation? It really was a very pleasant surprise to reacquaint myself with this smart little creature.

A blast from the past - most unexpected, yet very welcome, discovery this morning.
There were few signs of immigration, just a handful of Silver Y's and a lone Scarce Bordered Straw (my third this season) along with the regular mix of expected garden visitors. A couple more micro species which, although very common, were new to me. Being well marked; thus ensuring I could be reasonably confident with my identification.

Agriphilia geniculea - a common "Crambid" species

Argyresthia goedartella - another common species, apparently?
Whilst I was out on Thursday evening, fishing for want of a better description? I knew that I had fish in my swim, the ground bait was doing the job it was intended to do - why couldn't I get a bite?  What is even more frustrating is the fact that, when I did, my rig didn't function as I hoped! I had thought that the Heron alarm might have been responsible, due to the increased drag caused by the line passing behind the antennae - but surely this would have aided, not hindered, my cause? I am going back for another session, all pop-ups and halibut pellets removed from the equation. The combi-rig is something which I have absolute confidence in - the anti-tangle properties ensuring that my bait will be presented as best as I know how. I might just as well admit that carp are my target species, any thoughts of Tench and Barbel long forgotten. What is it that I'm actually seeking? A decent fish on that old Mk IV will do for a start - a PB carp would be the icing on the cake! Both of these things are achievable before the end of September, given the right approach.
Not much else to report. The first Common Buzzard of the autumn spiralled over Pyson's Road yesterday, as I was on my break, and another was being harassed by the local gulls as it left its' roost site at Newland's Farm, early this morning. A Whitethroat was in the Vine Close hedge and a couple of Swallows have headed south, over the maize field - apart from that it is very quiet!

Friday 28 August 2015

In pursuit of an angling dream

I was back out on "The Levels", yesterday, accompanied by the complete ensemble of my yesteryear challenge! The Bruce & Walker 10' Mk IV glass fibre rod, a Mitchell 300 reel, with my, recently renovated, Heron bite alarm - the head being fixed to an original "Efgeeco" steel and aluminium adjustable rod rest - classic stuff.

Only a very select band of "Old farts" will appreciate the significance
of this image - angling history in 2015?
I was very happy with my two chosen spots (the intimacy of the venue dictating the number of rods that can be fished effectively) and baited up accordingly. I had arrived at around 16.30 hrs and was fishing within fifteen minutes - I gave it five hours before packing up! The sum total of my efforts - a fast six inch lift on the Mk IV indicator - I got done! I reeled in to find nothing amiss, no weed on the hook or marks on the baits; very strange - but I knew that I'd been had over!

This image is not all that it seems! It is my version of the combi-rig - Korda Sub-line attached, via the Albright knot, to
Kryston  Silkworm super soft braid. The hook is a size 10 Korda wide-gape, tied knotless knot.
My 10mm flouro pop-up is above (a rather dried out) chick pea - the whole rig given balance by the small split shot below the hook.
I've spent all day, today, going through what I'd done and what can I change to rectify the problem, if there is one? It was the first bite I've had on the combi-rig - was I presenting it properly? There are masses of questions floating around in my head. I'm not entirely sure that the Heron bite alarm wasn't partially to blame for the aborted take?
It certainly wasn't a wasted trip, the wild life was excellent. 19 Common Swifts went south, accompanied by hoards of Sand & House Martins. I recorded two Common Buzzard, a Peregrine, several Reed Warblers and a "barking" Fox whilst I was sat in my swim. There are plenty of worse ways of spending a few hours?

With the camera gear close to hand, I was able to get a few shots of a Caddis Fly sp. - which was doing it's best to convince me that it was a micro moth!

Tuesday 25 August 2015

An interesting micro - possibly?

The rain is beating against my study window and echoing, drum-like, inside the conservatory as it splashes down on the corrugated plastic roof. Not the conditions to fire my imagination, or enthusiasm, for leaving the comfort of my desk and seeking outdoor adventures. I've started to make tentative steps into the world of micro-moths and am assembling various folders of photos which will provide the material for my early learning activities.

If I've made a complete "pig's ear" of this id - please feel free to correct me; with an explanation why.
On the night of 27th June 2015 I took a moth which, on close inspection of my images, looks a good candidate for Elegia similella - a very similar individual displayed on UKmoths (http://www.ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=5741), where it is described as a scarce resident. Micro moths, my recently acquired reference book, uses the term "very local" - possibly an occasional immigrant? I have not done much other research, so don't know what the current status is - it's made me smile, whatever. It must have been a little bit different for me to bother getting a photo in the first place! It'll be an interesting project going through the rest of these images - seeing what else I've managed to entice onto the egg boxes of my garden MV trap?

Sunday 23 August 2015

Surprises at every turn - this rambles on a bit!

Mothing has been a very "hit and miss" pursuit, thus far in 2015. I'd cobbled together the 125w electrics, of my Milton Mk VII, with the Robinson-like plywood & Perspex construction of my original 250w system. It worked, but only after a fashion - it needed a few tweaks and some TLC. With the forecast being somewhat dodgy, I have made an effort to get the system back into some sort of order. I've tidied up the electrics and cut a Perspex square to act as a rain-guard - I've already blown two bulbs this season! I think that I'll get another two nights before the weather turns and mothing will, again, become a struggle. (written on Friday 21st August)

Small Mottled Willow - yet another one! 2015 has been a very good year for this migrant.
The garden buddleias have almost finished, so their influence (drawing power?) is much reduced and I am, once again, reliant upon the attraction of the UV light, our geographical location and the whimsical nature of the Thanet weather. Having spent many hours looking at the "micros" which have been discovered upon the egg boxes within the confines of the "Robinson"; only now do I realise how little data was gathered during my early experiences - Sandwich Bay Obs, and the vast majority of the other observatories, I would imagine, simply collected the records of macros, with one or two exceptions. I can but guess at what was overlooked/ignored during that wondrous period. Knowledge and technology have come a very long way since 1994 - the use of social media and the infinite resource of the Internet, ensuring that modern, casual, moth-ers are better equipped, than ever, to solve those tricky id conundrums.

Twenty years ago; Tree-lichen Beauty was a major league rarity - in 2015, they
are a "gimme" in any Thanet moth trap during the late-summer/autumn.
I, as an individual, have finally woken up to the fact that micros hold every bit as much fascination, as their larger cousins, once the flicker of interest had ignited the flame. I am genuinely intrigued by the whole complexity of this massive group. The requirement to name everything I see is not, has never been, a concern - yet I readily acknowledge that a correct id adds something to the process, eventually?

Acrobasis mamorea (?)  - a local species associated with coastal habitat in the south-east
I know what I know and yet, continually, push the boundaries, to see what else I can find? At this very base level, I've become an explorer - delving into the (personally) uncharted territories; simply to discover what else is out there? The beauty of this approach is that the concept of rarity plays no role. I have absolutely no idea as to the "national (global) status" of anything which comes into my focus. In this format, my voyage of discovery is a very child-like journey, full of wonder and not a manifestation of obsessive list building (not that I have any objection to those individuals who get their enjoyment from such activity) - so nothing like my early specimen hunting or Kent "twitching" exploits. I still get the excitement, but without the negative bit; borne from failure to achieve a target.

Psuedargyrotoza conwagana - a common species associated with Ash and Privet. I'd never
knowingly seen one until this little chap was discovered on the egg boxes.
Of course I still harbour the desires to catch "big" fish from the venues I frequent; I remain fascinated by the birds which are attracted to my tiny garden and Newland's Farm beyond. My only serious birding, however, is done when I'm away from my comfort zone and there is a real likelihood of finding something different? Doesn't matter if I'm in Scotland, or Greece, the birds are way outside of my regular encounters and well worth that extra effort. My recent flirtation with garden moths has rekindled an interest which had very much dwindled. I find myself looking at macros which I know that I know, but for the life of me can't get a name without thumbing through the dog-eared plates of my original copy of Skinner. Yesterday it was a pristine example of Straw Underwing that had me somewhat confused - how much stuff have I forgotten? If I have become a little rusty with my macro id's then, it stands to reason, I will be lacking in my birding? Only by being constantly involved can I remain sharp. I now accept that I'm out of practice, I'll miss the obvious and am bound to screw up. Does it matter? Of course not - one bloke, unable to spot a juv Yellow-legged Gull amidst the throng in Ramsgate Harbour - the odd man out is the one who can!

Agriphilia tristella - I'm really starting to enjoy these Crambids
It is only now that I am able to see the incredible absurdity of the whole data gathering process, when applied to our natural world, especially the statistics involving our understanding of the invertebrates which share our space. No-one gives a toss as to the id of that fly they just twatted, the moth on the car number plate or the spider which went up the hoover. The populous of the entire globe couldn't care a monkey's about any of this stuff - but there are, thankfully, people who do. From the very off, their data gathering is skewed due to individual preferences. They are passionate about their subjects and will endeavour to use this to promote a certain viewpoint - "Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics!"
I love playing around with mathematical data, it's almost an art form? Don't see it? - Speak to an accountant! Playing games with numbers will produce whatever result you desire - just look at the spirited defence, offered by the tobacco industry, to counter the anti-smoking lobby! One, in eight, smokers die of lung cancer - turn it around? Seven out of eight don't - genius. Russian roulette with cigarettes - don't smoke & never have, thankfully! I wonder what the stats are for Stella Artois drinkers?
Harry in bed in my study (our spare room) the effects of "Chicken Pox" still
very apparent.
Cynicism or realism? You make the call based upon your own beliefs - dress it up however you like; very little changes? Harry was in our care, overnight, and on Saturday morning we took a stroll around the Newland's Farm footpaths. Didn't see anything to cause the slightest increase in my pulse rate - out in the back garden, on our return, a flash of "electric blue" was the start of a ridiculous encounter! Dylan only had a Kingfisher in his garden! - Oh no, much rarer than that! A bloody Budgie was perched on the fence - calling loudly as Harry and I were clearing some Ivy from the decking. There has been bat sp. (Pipistrelle at a guess) hawking above the moth trap, my latest angling exploits have been plagued by sodding eels and I watched two Common Swifts fly south, on Friday morning. An exciting life isn't it?

All the way from Alice Springs - you're having a laugh!
Quite likely from the same aviary as the Margate Cemetery
 (Redwing - the initial id)  Dusky Thrush intergrade?
There's no point in "bigging" things up - it is a struggle, at the moment, to find anything of interest. An Ichneumon Wasp, in the moth trap, is about as good as it gets.

An Ichneumon Wasp - beyond this I'm out of my depth. In the moth trap this morning!

Thursday 20 August 2015

What am I ? - two

Way back, in my early blogging, as "The Non-conformist", a guy from Alice Springs, Australia, took great offence at my stance on Pan-Listing League Tables and wrote a lengthy comment which finished with the sentiment that he couldn't take me seriously as a naturalist if I didn't like snails and slugs! I replied in true "Non-conformist" fashion - it went something along the lines of I couldn't give a fuck as to the opinion of a guy living in a, former, penal colony! Outrageous, as it is true, that was my stance during that particular period of my being. What I simply should have said is that I'm not a naturalist, and never have been! I'd describe myself as a passionate observer, and there is a very big difference, despite the fact that we derive our enjoyment from the same sources.

Do you need to be a naturalist to gain enjoyment from this creature ?
As I rapidly approach sixty, there is a definite mellowing taking place. I am now in a place where I pick my battles - no longer rushing headlong into confrontation, just because I can! If something causes offence, then I will react, but not without reason - I'm tired of the fight, I've had enough of the rebellion. Yes, I still remain true to myself - I won't be getting my hair cut or stop listening to Jimi & Led Zep. If I think you're a cunt then you'll be made aware - no middle men - (funnily enough, as offensive as it is perceived, it's a term of endearment within Fuji!) So I'm very sorry if I have become a deep, and thoughtful, individual, on my blog. It's entitled Esox & Observations for a reason; The musings of an ageing hippie - with attitude!

Why I go on holiday - exploration of new possibilities

So what am I? In line with my desire to recreate those bygone days of creaking cane and centre-pins, I would align myself with the countrymen of yesteryear, the all-rounders, Gilbert, Dick and Fred J, et al. In modern parlance I consider myself a generalist? "Jack of many, Master of none!"
I offer no apologies for the subject matter of what I post - "musings" covers all aspects of my thought processes. If I wanted to limit the scope I'd have called it "Nature Notes" - "Dumpton Mothing" - Newland's Patch Watching, Look at me - I'm the best Angler!,  you get the drift?
I don't go out of my way to seek confrontation, controversy, but would never shy away from offering an opinion on a subject that is within my interest base.
Have a nice day and remember "It's nice to be nice!" - Dyl

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Thinking time (in my own space)

Just before I finished my shift, on Friday, Eric (my supervisor -Team Leader?) asked if I would be prepared to swap shifts this week and help him out by manning the "filter fence". Makes no difference to me, eight hours is eight hours - as long as the dough remains on offer, I'll do whatever is required. Within FSIS Digital Dept., the filter fence is a key area in the manufacturing process, ensuring that our finished inks are within a very tight tolerance for usage by the modern ink-jet printing platforms. So I find myself back on earlies for a second week on the spin - so I'll be off fishing on Thursday evening again! On Saturday night (15th August) Bev and I, joined Dad, Tim & Julie, Sye & Yve, plus extended family and friends to celebrate my cousin, Ruth's, 50th birthday. A 1970's themed disco at the Kingston Lodge Hotel, in deepest Surrey (North Downs territory - we actually passed close to Banstead on our homeward journey). It was an absolute blast - Ruth stole the show with an outrageous mime performance to McArthur Park - a wonderful time spent reminiscing with my brothers, cousins, Uncle Pete and Dad. We had a fantastic journey through our childhood - family being the overriding factor in amongst so many other influences. The disco music was brilliant and Ruth had even gone to the effort to resource some traditional 1970's sweets to add to the nostalgia trip.
Whilst we were all together I had the chance to seek answers/opinions on the subject of "what have we (you - as an individual) done, today, to make a positive impact on those around us (you)?" Dad had his I-pad handy and I was able to show others what I'd written following the funeral on Wednesday. It was great to sit around a table and talk about this stuff, 1970's music as a soundtrack, and realise how varied individual opinions can be on such a (any) subject. I came away from this celebration no more enlightened than before I sat in St. Mary's Church and the Revd. James Fields posed that original question. What I did have, however, was a better understanding of the power of faith; the un-questioning belief and comfort that can be derived from this stoic mind set. Still can't buy into it, but have absolutely no doubts about the authenticity of those who have - Mum was as devout as any and her belief allowed her to pass, peacefully, from this world into the next. Although I'm sure that Uncle Bill's trip was just as easy - he didn't have that faith, but he wasn't a "Bad Guy" - you only had to be in The Eel Pie Club on Wednesday to see that. The spontaneous reaction from, so many, exceptionally talented guys and girls suggesting that Bill had, indeed, impacted very positively on many people that he encountered during his unique journey through this world.

Back down on The River Stour - I fished like a "dude"
I'm sure that I could have done more? I blanked!
I am, therefore, still exploring the crazy implications of that question - at a very individual level, quite possibly never to be shared, should I actually discover an answer? The very fact that I've bothered looking suggests that I will actively seek to be a better individual as a consequence of the experience? Having been given a week of earlies, working on the "filter fence" has allowed me time and space - it is a very specialist and individual role, within the complex manufacturing process of a digital ink, so, as long as I don't screw up a batch/process, I am at will to explore my thoughts with very few interruptions. It is not only these complex personal conundrums that are given president, what bait/rig will be used on Thursday? Will the drain be coloured, or should I go barbel fishing on the river? With so much other stuff going on in my head I'm not sure how I find the time to, concentrate and, process any of our inks? You could always ask Eric - he'd know - minge! (private joke, please don't take offence)

Saturday 15 August 2015


There was a juvenile Cuckoo in the Vine Close hedge as I wandered home on Tuesday - the first Newland's record of 2015. Other signs of migration are very subdued - odd Black-headed Gulls and pulses of Swallows moving through. Passerines are conspicuous by their absence. What with the funeral and a Thursday evening deluge, of biblical proportions, the moth trap has been redundant for the majority of this week. With Emily staying over on Friday, I made the effort to run it and what a good decision it was.

I must be the only moth-er who hadn't taken one of these insects, thus far, in 2015?
My first Bordered Straw of the year, there were three, a Tree-lichen Beauty, thirty-four Silver Y (attracted by the buddleia which is dominating the garden at present), a Rush Veneer and several Diamond Backs suggesting some migration taking place?

Apple Ermine

Pyrausta aurata  A regular garden visitor

Plenty of tricky little chaps to keep my camera busy - the winter exploration of the world of micros looks like it will be rather enjoyable as I struggle to get to grips with the various family groups.

Something to keep me amused when I start to delve into this complex group of creatures

Thursday 13 August 2015

What am I?

Bev and I have been away, overnight Tuesday, along with Dad, Tim & Julie, Sye & Yve. We stayed in the Holiday Inn, at Brentford Lock, in order to attend the funeral service and burial of Dad's brother Bill, on Wednesday. The service was held in St. Mary's Church, Ealing, with the burial taking place in the family plot in South Ealing Cemetery. Uncle Bill was a very talented individual, a great model maker, he became a BBC film camera engineer whilst also pursuing a career as a professional musician. He played with many of the most talented musicians of the "big band era" and, due to his expertise, not only as a virtuoso saxophonist/clarinettist but also in musical instrument repairs, was held in high esteem by his peers. At the church, although held in a religious venue and conducted, superbly, by the Rev. James Fields - the overwhelming message was one of what a decent guy he had been and how he had made such a positive impact on those who were fortunate to meet him.
The celebration of his life was continued in Twickenham, at The Eel Pie Club - the jazz rooms belonging to The Cabbage Patch PH. We were treated to a musical master-class, by some of the most talented musicians of the big band/jazz genre who are plying their trade in, and around the pubs and clubs, of London and the South-east (possibly even further afield?) It was sensational and a fitting tribute to such a genuinely nice guy. Bev was blown away - she'd never seen Bill play live and the 20+ musicians, who made up the ensemble were there giving it all they'd got - Bill, being so modest, might have felt flattered, but would have approved, I feel?
The God Squad played no part in Bill's life, and the service reflected this, within reason. Obviously, anyone born in the 1920's and brought up in a working class home would have been christened, but that's as far as it went with Uncle Bill. His music is what under-pinned his existence - when he suffered a stroke and lost the ability read music - he lost the purpose of his being. He died, at home, after a massive heart attack - having been out listening to his beloved music, as played by his mates, the evening before. Something rather fateful, yet poetic, for such a great bloke!
Whilst we were sat in the church - a magnificent building - James asked us all to spend few moments thinking about Bill and then also ourselves. What do we bring to the table? Do we enrich the lives of others, as Bill had done?
I make no secrets of my cynicism of this religious twaddle - if you, as an individual, find comfort in your faith; then you have every right and I will never questioned this belief. It just don't work for me - simple! I am not an atheist, I want to believe that there is more to my being than life on earth, but I just can't buy into this man-made fairy tale, which has been the cause of more bloodshed than any other single factor in modern history. But "wow!" What a question - there's gotta be a blog post in this? So whilst I was sat, small light ale to hand, listening the wonderful sounds emanating from those unbelievably gifted musicians, who'd turned up to pay their respects, I found my mind wandering down different avenues. What have I done which could possibly be construed as a positive by others? Catching big fish, seeing more birds in a year than anyone else in Kent, attracting a scarce moth to the garden MV - doesn't cut it; as enjoyable as these events are, they are selfish and won't be remembered when I'm gone?
I'm going to spend some time thinking about this and see if I can get an answer? It was such a "bolt from the blue" type of event that I'm bewildered, shell-shocked, by the complexity of what a lifetime is capable of being? There's more to come - of that I'm sure - but I am going to take a step back and give it a serious amount of thought.

Monday 10 August 2015

Worth waiting for

The 125w MV has seen a bit of action over the weekend, a total of four Tree-lichen Beauties have been taken (they're all in the fridge - or were!) so no re-captures. I've been whinging on about not getting a Bordered Straw! Well, I still haven't, but I have managed a Scarce Bordered Straw to ease the pain. I've taken quite a few of these insects, during the last twenty one years, but never have I been more surprised than I was this morning, when I discovered it on the outside of the Perspex dome. A Small Mottled Willow, three Diamond-backs and a lone Silver Y made a meagre supporting, migrant-type, cast, but I did manage to get another nice addition to the garden year list, in the shape of a Lunar-spotted Pinion - only my third or fourth garden record.

Scarce Bordered Straw - not before time?
One of those species that you know what it is, but can't quite nail it without diving into Skinner.
There are loads of micros which I have photographed, their identity being a project for the long, dark, winter nights.
Looking along the back garden hedgerow, to St. Luke's College (Hogwart's) beyond!
The maize crop stands over 2m high and backs right up to our garden boundary - the hedge on the left.
I have no idea of how long this crop will remain, before harvesting, but it certainly looks good as a holding area for
passerine migrants, as the autumn movements get under way.
Fishing has been a bit of a struggle, of late, and I'm seriously thinking of spending time back down on the river, just by way of a change. Birding has been pants, although that Garden Warbler hung around for a couple of days and there have been a few Swallows hawking insects around the farm buildings, but that is it. The maize field cries out as a magnet for avian waifs and strays - my garden feeding station and water availability should ensure I get a few extra visitors? We are fast approaching the most exciting period of the year - doesn't matter whether birds, moths or fish are the primary focus?

Looking over the garden fence, via Magda & Lucas's garden. The maize crop
dominates the sky line - there is a flint barn, horse paddocks and huge, mature, trees
 over there somewhere!

Saturday 8 August 2015

Derek's right

Calm down you twat! Not often I find myself in total agreement with Mr Faulkner, but his comment on my rant, of yesterday, is spot on. So I'll end this here! It's off my chest and I've said what I needed to say.
Marbled Green - a regular garden visitor
The Ladybird Halyzia 16-guttata - a garden first (Also found inside the moth trap this morning)
I ran the moth trap last night, the first time this week, and had a couple of nice surprises when I inspected the contents this morning. Not to be outdone by Banstead, Dumpton also produced the first Tree-lichen Beauty of 2015 - bang on cue. However, from a Thanet perspective, the moth of the night was a beautiful Garden Tiger, my first here since August 2009. Plenty of Dark Sword-grass, Silver Y and two Rush Veneer being the only migrant types, not a single Diamond Back?

The first Tree-lichen Beauty of 2015. Nowhere near as well marked as the
specimen that Steve took in his Surrey garden - but they're always welcome.
It was to get better; as I was examining my catch, a jumbled, gabbled sub-song was being uttered from the large Elder at the bottom of the garden. I grabbed my camera, changed the lens, and went to discover who was the culprit. I had my suspicions, which were quickly confirmed, as a Garden Warbler flitted about in the sun-dappled canopy. I managed to grab one, very poor, record image before it was off into the maize field beyond our hedge. A garden tick and I'm fairly confident of a few more if the maize remains un-harvested during the autumn migration period.

Can you tell what it is? I said it was a poor image!
The "Star of the show" - the first garden record of Garden Tiger since August 2009.
The decline in this species has been very dramatic and almost mirrors, in reverse, the upsurge
in Tree-lichen Beauty records.

Friday 7 August 2015

What if ?

On 26th June 2015, I made a post which contained reference to a crime. For the time being let's just assume that I'm in the business of writing plots for the T/V soaps. I've got a character who's a proper scum bag! In trouble with the law, and out on bail, awaiting trial for some misdemeanour, or other!
The scene starts with this guy (it has to be a bloke!) causing trouble in the local shopping mall - the constabulary get involved and "caution?" the individual before ushering him on his way. Some time later, that same day, the police are once again called to deal with this individual - who is now kicking off outside his (ex) girlfriends house! Same scenario - a caution and on your way! Now this is where the plot moves from every day to unbelievable (much like East Enders - never been in an East End Pub and not heard a swear word!) This character is so screwed up that he's aware of an elderly lady, living alone, and has planned to break into her home. He doesn't do this for any other reason than to rob her? Oh, no - he breaks in to beat and rape her - some soap plots just beggar belief,  except this isn't a soap opera - it happened! The individual was arrested within 24 hours - DNA evidence and a guilty plea never in doubt. Then the "human rights (we, the UK tax payers, pay their huge fees) legal bods" get involved and suggest that this guy (and I use the term very loosely) enter a guilty plea, but claim insanity!
You what? He wasn't insane when the police intercepted him twice, on the very same day, he wasn't insane when he'd previously been in court, and allowed out on bail. What are the UK tax payers funding a legal system for when such depraved and abhorrent individuals are given a defence at our expense? I'd pull the trigger myself, and consider it a service to the community, to rid the gene pool of such an individual. But no, we all have ensure that his human rights aren't infringed, just like he considered his victim, and pay to keep him locked up in some safe environment where he can avoid the wrath of civilised society.
I know what I think, but I will ask the question - "What if that had been your mum?" Human rights - I'd swing first. Now let me point out, like all good soaps do - that any similarity between this post and real life is purely coincidental - so I am in no way prejudicing a legal case, perish the thought!

Thursday 6 August 2015

Time to lighten up

I fear that I've become very political and polarised in recent weeks. If I'm not harking on about the East Kent drains, then I'm groaning about Hen Harrier persecution on the Grouse moors of Northern England.  As important as both these subjects are to me, as an individual, they're probably not the most interesting topics which will arouse attention from third parties - i.e. my blog visitors (back to statistics again!) So, this morning, whilst await the start of my shift, I find myself at a lose end and browsing through the archives.
In spite of my "oft-quoted" opposition to pan-listing league tables, there can be no getting away from the diversity of natural wonders that await discovery by anyone with a desire to look. Bev and I have decided that we need a holiday; somewhere warm. No destination, no dates, as yet - but a holiday is on the horizon. When we first got together, our destinations were chosen with birding potential as one of the factors. In 2015, with my WP list doing OK, birds are no longer a key consideration - what habitat am I surrounded by, what else is out there to be discovered (butterflies, dragonflies, reptiles, etc.....) and will it be safe to wander around alone? So as a pre-cursor to this next adventure, I'll post a few photos of non-avian subjects that I've encountered on my travels, both at home and abroad.

I have managed to identify some of these varied creatures, but that is not the purpose of this post. I simply wanted to share the pleasure of discovering new avenues of opportunity which exist all around us. If it were not for those "pan-listing" fiends - I'd never have bothered looking. Clouds and silver-linings spring to mind.

Wednesday 5 August 2015

One in Sixty -one!

One of the most exciting encounters that a Kent birder could hope for. A "blue" male Hen Harrier drifting
into an evening roost site. With the current levels of persecution, I wonder if my grand-children will
ever witness this spectacle?

One in sixty-one! What's that all about? I'll attempt to fill in the gaps! I love maths and what numbers can do; it all stems from my statistical process control stuff whilst working for Unilever. The RSPB have come under attack from a pro-Grouse shooting lobby group who go by the unlikely banner of "You Forgot The Birds" - mischief makers, nothing better. A classic distraction tactic in the run up to "Hen Harrier Day" - it's political "old hat" The claims made by this organisation (?) are as about as believable as a Margate Cemetery Bird Report - and that's saying something!

However, I've been reading the comments posted, in response to the article, on the Birdguides website - as unhappy, as I am, with this persecution of my natural heritage, the views expressed by some, in support of the RSPB, are as outrageous as anything offered by the pro-shooting crowd. We all need to get a grasp of reality here - if the RSPB is over a million strong, as claimed, 200,000 members are too young to vote (again taken from their website) This grouse-shooting debate is a battle of wills, and political clout, the CLA (Country Landowners Association) might not boast as many members, but has influence in political circles way beyond the average RSPB member  - money talks, big money talks very loudly!

I looked on a Bing search thingamy and discovered that the UK population is estimated to be 61.4 million people. So the RSPB membership consists of  just one in sixty-one of the populous. Hardly the basis to be making statements on behalf of the "silent majority"? Let me make an assumption, at this point. I'm not an RSPB member and nor are the vast majority of Thanet birders with whom I have contact. If this is also reflected across the whole of the UK (?) then there might be as many as one in twenty of us who are very dissatisfied with the current spate of blatant disregard for the UK and EU laws protecting our wild birds of prey. This by a powerful group of multi-national businesses, employing blood thirsty fuck-wits to carry out their dirty deeds, whilst purporting to be caring, custodians of our countryside and defenders of our natural heritage and traditions. The RSPB going head to head with this powerful bunch is not the only option. There are a couple of other ways in which to approach this situation. Firstly is to use negative advertising - guilt by association - embarrassing the big multi-nationals who masquerade as supporters of our laws and traditions. Full page ads in the national dailies - "Did you know that -blah blah co ltd are systematically in breach of our wildlife laws - don't agree? Don't buy their products!"

Then there are the wealthy punters who pay to "enjoy" the sport (?) of driven grouse shooting. They come from around the globe, bringing with them hefty sums of foreign dollars. No political party, of any clout, is going to stand against this situation with any conviction - Great Britain Co Ltd. does very nicely out of this type of business. The punters, themselves, couldn't give a toss about Hen Harrier persecution - they just pay to shoot grouse and experience the life style of well heeled aristocracy , for a short while. American businessmen or oil rich Arabs, are blissfully ignorant of the situation in their cosseted worlds. Possibly it is now time to target these people, who pay to shoot driven grouse, instead of battering ourselves silly, and wasting money and effort, against these bastions of smug, aloof, politically corrupt institutions that control the moors on which our Hen Harrier population rely? The only thing that any business understands is the end of year balance sheet. Only if profit comes under threat will any actions be taken, not until!

Saturday 1 August 2015

Autumn already

Well that's it - Autumn is already upon us! My walk home from work, yesterday afternoon, revealed the first, Newland's Farm, juvenile Willow Warbler flitting about the hedgerow beside the footpath. Much in keeping with the vast majority of fellow bloggers, the passage of south-bound Common Swifts had been witnessed. My personal peak count being 300+ in little more than 10 minutes on Monday 27th July, whilst I was on my main break (around 10.00 hrs)

A Common Swift photographed earlier this morning. Good numbers moving south, but not with such purpose as
had been noted previously. Probably due to the abundance of food present today?
 Swallows have also been a feature during the week, but only because their complete absence as a breeding species, has made any record a welcome bonus! Numbers have been very low, although Meadow Pipits have started to become a regular feature again. A Lapwing flew north as I was examining the contents of the moth trap, earlier this morning and I've heard both Curlew and Whimbrel calling in the darkness as I've been outside, watching the activity around the light.

Carcina quercana - the moth straight off the cover of Micro Moths.
I got done over, again, somewhere out on The Ash Levels - I missed an absolute screaming take on a flouro pop-up. I have to assume carp, but wrong rig set-up? The three drains are centre of all my activity at present - I'm baiting regularly with a light scattering of munger and hook baits. My "Bruce & Walker" challenge may well be coming to a finale? The last piece in the jig-saw will be in place on, or possibly before, 15th August. Simon has got that Heron bite alarm back into working order - it will be a very special moment when I realise that dream of a carp on a Mk IV, Mitchell 300 and Heron alarm. A project with it's roots firmly based in an era before I'd even picked up a fishing rod.

The reason why our garden is planted - a superb insect and always welcome.
A Humming-bird Hawk was feeding on the buddleia in the front garden, mid-morning and the local gulls are in a feeding frenzy as there is a major emergence of flying ants, today. Butterflies are numerous, but not varied, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Large & Small White and the first, of the 2nd generation Holly Blues providing the bulk of sightings. Odd Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral and Painted Lady adding to the spectacle, but it is a fairly dismal reflection of the habitat that the area provides these wonderful insects.