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 February 2016

Getting back to basics!

The Herring Gull colony, utilising the roof-tops of the various factory/business units of Pyson's Road Ind. Est, is already gearing up for the coming breeding season. Raucous aerial displays and territorial disputes are a daily occurrence as pair bonds are re-established and prospective nest sites secured. The first returning Lesser Black-back was seen on Friday, there are about a dozen pairs present during the season. For the vast majority, of those who work in this industrial hub, the birds are little more than a noisy, messy, nuisance. However, to one, long haired, member of the FSIS digital team, they are a source of great amusement, interest and learning. Not only do I enjoy watching them, as they go about their daily routines, but they also provide an incredible early warning service as Spring raptor migration gets under way. The noisy spiralling flocks being a dead give away to the approach of a Common Buzzard, Red Kite or Marsh Harrier. Being alert to this behaviour has resulted in many a sighting which would have otherwise been missed?

The massive upsurge in Red Kite sightings, around Thanet, is a direct consequence of the
spectacular success of the various reintroduction projects around the UK.
They are now an expected annual feature on my Newland's Farm list - sightings being
 assisted by the local Herring Gulls, their incredible eyesight and spectacular reactions
 when a large migrating bird of prey passes over my patch.
When we moved, to Thanet, I already knew of the ability of gulls to forewarn of the approach of an over-flying bird of prey but unable to capitalise on this because I didn't understand the mechanics of their actions. It's only since discovering a pattern to this behaviour that I've managed to utilise the early warning system to maximum effect. By spending time watching the Pyson's Road birds I have gained a better insight into this particular aspect of gull etiquette; once the alarm has been sounded, the first reaction of the flock is to fly directly away from the source, at low level, before noisily forming the typical kettle of protest and spiralling up into the sky. Therefore, by seeing the direction which the gulls have departed, I know in what general area I need to scan the skies for the imminent arrival of a migrating bird of prey (or Grey Heron?) Obviously, it is not 100% reliable, as with all things involving wild creatures there will be exceptions, but it ain't a bad starting point and is far better than simply scanning the sky in frustration, rather than expectation?

One of the very last "Kent twitches" I attended. October 2008.
Strange thing is that I was probably the only birder present who was aware of the
huge amount of pike activity in the immediate area around West Hythe Dam?
The parallels between birding and angling, as I've experienced, are all too obvious - my journeys in both disciplines following very similar routes, due in part to my obsessive character, not until I've collected the numbers will any real learning begin? It was only after I stopped twitching that I really started to look at birds and, similarly, only after my list of PB's was to stand me in good stead with my peers that angling has reverted to an enjoyable pastime. One where it is now me against the fish, using techniques and watercraft that were gifted to me, but regularly ignored, during my early years. In the past, my venues were selected because they had the potential to provide me with another statistic - I was doing the "circuit" for want of a better description. The other tool in my armoury, during that period, was time - and I used it by the bucket load. Whatever I lacked in ability could be easily disguised by my long stay tactics - even a clown will get lucky, and so I did!

All the tell-tale signs of another extended period of living like a tramp! (March 1993)
My return to angling has been a fantastic chance to put things back into the sport. I am able to share sessions with Benno and Luke (and sometimes my brother Simon) during such times we are able to exchange ideas about many topics. However, unlike my early years doing the rounds, I spend much of my time alone; short session angling where I now have the chance to study fish behaviour and watch for signs without distractions or, self imposed, pressure to succeed. I cannot deny that my objective still remains to capture "big fish", but size is not the only consideration. Having been there and done it, I am now at a pleasant stage in my life where I can please myself.  So, just as I am now able to gain great satisfaction watching the Herring Gulls of Pyson's Road, I can also derive pleasure from a small jack, taken from a local drain, because I have relegated (not totally removed) the importance of numbers in my outdoor hobbies. I still harbour ambitions, set myself challenges, but they are purely for personal reasons, to provide me with a focus and, as such, failure is no longer a problem, just an incentive to push myself harder.


  1. All seems a typical description of the ageing process Dyl. All you need now is some arthritis or other affliction to start affecting you and you'll start to feel how some of us do and the frustration will start to kick in.

    1. Already in that club mate! My arthritis is causing me much discomfort, arms, shoulders, hands and feet - the legacy of a mis-spent youth and a working life of manual labour? Just as you say, the frustration created by the restrictions caused by this condition will only become more intense as the years tick by but, I have every intention of delaying such a date for as long as possible!

  2. Blimey, you do sound like me. Mine's the result of 12 years unloading frozen meat boats in the docks, combined like you, with too much time spent on damp marshes.