Who am I?

An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to see the natural world as a place for competition. I catch fish, watch birds, derive immense pleasure from simply looking at butterflies, moths, bumble-bees, etc - without the need for rules! I am Dylan and this is my blog - if my opinions offend? Don't bother logging on again - simple!


Friday 4 September 2015

Newland's news and related stuff

I went for an early morning saunter around the farm, today, not particularly confident of discovering anything out of the ordinary. Just as well really - cos I didn't! I spent a while, yesterday evening, going through the archived posts and looking at what had been present during the previous two autumn periods. As everyone knows, no two years are the same but, 2015 has been a shocker. Not a single Wheatear, thus far into the return migration, and I only connected with Whinchat, four of them out in the caulis, for the first time this morning.

Fantastic views of Whinchat - NOT! As un co-operative as they could possibly be.

Here's one that I took earlier - 2012 in fact!
Cracking little birds.
There are two ways of looking at this, I think? I can despair at the continual degradation of the local habitat and bemoan the effects of modern monoculture farming practices and how they have impacted upon "my patch" or, being far more realistic, see it for what it is - a working farm with the requirement to produce food items at a profit. It is not a nature reserve; no part of my chosen area has any higher status than "public footpath!" The only birds that matter are the ones that I see, because if I don't find them, they can't be missed - there is no-one else looking! I remain convinced that it is geographical location, and not habitat, that has resulted in the fantastic array of species that I've been privileged to see/discover during the past fifteen years.

Juvvy Red-backed Shrike - this one photographed in Asparan (Turkey)
I've two patch records of this species, one an autumn juvenile, the other is
a spring adult male

Of course there are a great many more prolific UK "local patches" than Newland's; there are quite a few within Thanet, but that's not what it's about for me. My pleasure is derived because it is such an ordinary farm, doing its' bit to provide food for the nation, employment for the workforce and profit for the owners. I suppose it does help that I live on site, Vine Close sits along the eastern boundary, and have to walk across the fields on my way to, and from, work - which is beyond the western boundary; Pyson's Road. In line with all other patch watchers, sightings can take on a whole new dimension when placed in such an intimate and local context. I've seen more Red-backed Shrikes and Long-eared Owls (two of each) than Coal Tits (only one in 15 years!) It is this crazy ability to produce adrenaline rushes from the most ordinary of species which keeps me enthused, for ever hopeful of new discoveries.

If I didn't have such tight definitions, of my patch boundaries, Pied Flycatchers would be an annual
occurrence and the thrill of my garden discovery lessened because of this?
There is no coastline, no open water, yet I have Sandwich Tern and Fulmar, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Greylag, Taiga and Tundra Bean, Dark-bellied Brent and Pink-footed Geese records. There have been Red-footed Falcon, Goshawk, Montagu's Harrier, Purple Heron, Lapland, Ortolan and Little Buntings, Dartford and Marsh Warbler - it goes on and on. Thanet is an exceptional place to watch birds, purely because of the geographical location. Concrete and cauliflowers hardly warrant SSSI status? Yet, even during this present stint of blogging, I've managed to add Great Grey Shrike, Osprey, Grasshopper & Garden Warbler and Pied Flycatcher (four out of five photographed) to my ever growing list. Don't get too excited, this is the condensed highlights of fifteen years worth of effort - so it isn't too often that I experience the thrill of the unexpected!

I found both of these Great Grey Shrikes - the top image being the individual I discovered on my
walk home from work - a patch tick!
The other bird was digi-scoped along the railway embankment at Reculver - means jack shit by comparison!
The boundary definitions are of my own making, I could, if I so wished, have included Ramsgate Cemetery and King George VI Park, therefore the coast at Winterstoke - but no! The farm does for me, it's probably less than two square miles (I don't have a clue as to how many hectares/acres that is?); I'm extremely comfortable within these limited spaces. It's mine and I love it - dog walkers, joggers, cyclists, school kids, warts and all!

This is what the maize field looked like in 2014 - potato stubble and home to the first successful breeding
Yellow Wagtails in five years
Not a particularly fair comparison shot? Two extremely different images due to the choice of lens!
The autumn 2015 view along our garden hedgerow.
I see what I find and have absolutely no idea as to what I've missed; so can't get gripped off! It is a wonderful place where I have the unrestricted freedom to please myself. I've got the moth trap in our garden and the fields, tracks and hedgerows beyond - what more could a passionate observer wish for?

How much longer before I manage to add Wryneck to my "patch list"?


  1. I can share your enthusiasm Dylan. On my random bit of Northumberland coast this year I have recorded 140 species so far, each and everyone self found, because I never see another birder here! Other mates patches in the county are mainly centred around hotspots and reserves with many pairs of eyes and subsequently more birds found. I do get a bit frustrated by this but I do prefer the solitude....

  2. Absolutely dead right Dylan, it's no good some people expecting farms to be nature reserves just because they want to be continually bumping up their personal year lists. Many farmers provide what wildlife areas that they can, often associated with their shooting interests, but at the end of the day they have the many other considerations that you have listed.It should be about simply enjoying a particular patch for what it is, not what you would like it to be.

  3. Cheers for the comments guys - I'm not too sure where this post came from? It sort of developed a life of its' own as I was writing. The one thing that's not up for discussion is the very real feelings of joy I experience when something a little unusual turns up. An ordinary bloke, with a very ordinary patch - so I'm easily pleased?
    Very much enjoying both your blogs - all the best Dyl