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 31 July 2016

Natural England? Outrageous dereliction of duty.

Somewhere within the chaotic layers of wildlife legislation, exists a Government funded organisation called Natural England (formerly known as English Nature) They exist to provide protection for our natural heritage, or so we are led to believe. However, yesterday the news broke that this auspicious bastion of wildlife protection had taken the decision to issue a licence to kill (ten) Common Buzzards in order to assist a pheasant shoot protect it's poor little poults, so that they can be grown on in order to be shot, at a very high cost, by individuals who have no requirement to feed a starving family but, instead, have more money and, therefore influence, than sense.

Our most widespread large raptor within the UK - magnificent birds which have made an
amazing recovery since the bad old days of DDT and persecution.
It would be nice to discover the identity of that individual who has put the signature of approval on this particular document and see what other links to this industry, borne of blood-lust and not country pursuits, he (she/they) have? The whole situation stinks of money riding rough-shod over all wildlife legislation, of whatever origin, in the corrupt, secretive, corridors of government which now runs our country. Don't blame Brexit, we've not left yet and the current EU directives have been deliberately flouted as have any UK based laws. Natural England are nothing better than puppets - get rid of this expensive farcical body before they set any other presidents for the persecution of an indigenous predator in the cause of money and protecting an introduced alien species.

I have absolutely no problems with pheasant shooting, or shooters, when it is done for the table.
Mass murder, masquerading as a field sport, has no place in modern society, let alone at
the expense of a naturally occurring bird of prey.

Saturday 30 July 2016

A result

I don't know what I was expecting to happen, but it certainly wasn't a very local pyralid on the first night. In amongst the regular species that all garden moth-traps will be attracting was a very eye catching little micro. Camera quickly pressed into service as I sought to get enough images to give me half a chance of a positive id.

As it turned out, the moth was an example of Pempelia genistella; a very local species confined to SE England and very much a coastal bias to the records, plus its' lava feed on gorse (of which there none close by). Why such an individual should turn up in Dad's garden in a mystery, but I'm very grateful that it did and was able to spend some time studying it - happy days!

Friday 29 July 2016

Stop pissing about - fire up the 125w MV!

I had a nice comment from "Chiddy", yesterday, concerning the micro moth id of those species which had been attracted to the porch light. As he is just starting to explore the hobby, everything is exciting as new species are discovered on an almost daily basis - happy days, I remember them with much fondness. Sadly, I have lost my enthusiasm and come to the conclusion that this particular aspect of, garden based, mothing, can (over time - I began in 1994) become a very predictable, thus tiresome, exercise. Obviously there are times of, undoubted, adrenaline filled excitement when mass insect migration is a phenomenon that is hard to comprehend - I've been lucky to have experienced many over the past 22 years. Bev and I were stood in the garden, awaiting the orbiting Space Station, when our first Convolvulus Hawk-moth smashed into the side of the trap.

My home made Robinson's trap. It is over 20 years old, yet still has the capability to deliver
the goods and, whatever the outcome, it has to be better than checking the walls around
the porch lights?
Mothing has always been most exciting when it is in a new venue - France, Menorca, Ramsgate? It is the exploration of the unknown that is key. I called in at home and collected the 125w MV kit - I'll be firing the "old girl" up, as dusk falls, just a few hundred yards south of that original site of 1994. Let's see what tonight brings?

Thursday 28 July 2016

Little things

Still looking at the moths which are attracted to the porch light - bloody amazing! The few macros have included Nut-tree Tussock, Iron Prominent, Marbled Green, Brown & Yellow-tailed, Buff Ermine, Dusky Sallow, Ruby Tiger and Common Footman; yet it is the micros which have provided the bulk of my entertainment.

I readily accept that this is a group of insects of which I have very little experience, or genuine interest, yet, under the circumstances, are providing me with a huge amount of pleasure and distraction from the reality of my current situation. Some of the images are better than others, purely because of my complete lack of ability with the kit I have at my disposal - hey ho! I'll get over it. I've id'd three (top, middle & bottom), of the five, so there's still hope?

Monday 25 July 2016

Mothing by porch-light

Least Carpet
It's quite amazing what can be discovered when the situation looks, at first, hopeless. With Dad's deteriorating health dominating our lives, Bev and I are taking it one day at a time. With nothing better, to hand, I have taken to leaving the outside lights on and regularly checking on what moths have been attracted - potting the odd micro for further investigation should it require such measures.
Nothing particularly unusual, thus far, but enough to keep me interested.

Riband Wave

Eudonia lacustrata

Swallowtail Moth

Celypha striana

Single-dotted Wave
There aren't huge numbers of species, or individuals, involved, but it does provide a nice distraction from the reality of our current situation and that's got to be a positive?

Dingy Footman

Eudonia mercurella

Friday 22 July 2016

Autostichidae = tricky!

With the situation as it is, the best I can do is to keep an eye on the moths that are attracted to the outdoor lights. I've got plenty of pots and my camera "macro" gear with me, so I'll try to make the best of it.
A small and, very, strikingly marked, micro, turned up yesterday night, as we were awaiting the appearance of the "district nurses" to give Dad some assistance - which they did with aplomb and professionalism as befits/defines the NHS, they were superb! This tricky little blighter didn't want it's portrait taken, it took three attempts, thus three sessions in the fridge, before I got an image worthy of mention.

I'm going with Oegoconia caradjai for this one
It was almost exactly a year ago that I captured a very similar moth, of this same family, and, although I believe it to be a different species will never know because I won't resort to genitalia details (only obtainable from dead specimens) - how will I cope?

This one is from 9th July 2015, I'm guessing Oegoconia quadripuncta ?
So there you have it - two very similar moths which can only be identified, reliably, by killing them! This is the same situation as Gilbert White found when trying to differentiate Chiffchaff, Wood and Willow Warbler way back in his Selborne vicarage - 1789! That's how far behind our knowledge of invertebrate id is lagging - humanity is now flying a man to Mars!

Thursday 21 July 2016

Never boring

I am really struggling to find anything to post about, of late. My life is in limbo as the care of my father takes president over all other matters and is a situation about which there is no room for debate. So more old pictures, I'm afraid, but this time I promise no fish.
Since Bev and I met, we have travelled widely, mostly around the Mediterranean, enjoying some fabulous holidays as we seek the joint criteria of sunshine, for Bev, and somewhere to wander, for me. Menorca, Mallorca, Southern France, Corfu, Halkadiki, Icmeler and Keffalonia have delivered just these dual requirements, in copious amounts, over the past sixteen years and I have accrued many fond memories during these excursions. Although birding has always been the mainstay of my attentions whilst abroad; there are birds and butterflies which, should they appear, are considered "mega" in the UK yet are resident in these climes and I do my best to "learn" a species whenever the opportunity arises. However, I am not so tunnel visioned as to avoid the multitude of other fauna groups that also inhabit these holiday destinations - I'm like a spoilt kid in a sweet-shop!

A butterfly which is an occasional visitor to our shores - on mainland Greece it is a very common and widespread
creature, so I make the most of it! 

There are a few relatively regular immigrant species, e.g. Crested Lark and one resident (Cirl Bunting) that are not on my UK list purely because I have seen them on numerous occasions in my past and, therefore, never had the inclination to "twitch" them over here. My choice, because they're my lists!

Kentish Plover. I much prefer the chance to spend quality time, in close proximity to these smart little waders, than
peering at a distant pale blob on the tide line at Pegwell Bay, or similar.

One, of three, resident species which doesn't appear on my UK list - I've seen hundreds abroad.
Not on the UK list, at present, although a breeding record was removed in a previous list cleansing exercise, they are easily seen at theS'Albufera Natural Park on Mallorca.
 With climate change being a well documented phenomenon, the chances of one these turning up in the future is very possible. Only by learning the species, in a habitat that allows multiple, & prolonged, observation, will anyone become well enough acquainted with the id  to confidently get a sighting accepted by "the great & the good!"  Otherwise it's a Sedge Warbler with a sore throat?

One of the bonuses of these sunny climes is the wonderful light; great for photography if you have half an idea how to use the settings on the camera? The beauty of digital is that it doesn't cost anything, other than time and effort, to record multiple images, Select the best and delete the dross - easy. Unsurprisingly, I've deleted huge numbers of images over the years it's those which remain that provide the memories and research material when such occasion arises. These holiday encounters can provide a massive confidence boost when confronted with an odd, lost, waif during an autumnal stroll around the coastal fringe of East Kent. The real beauty of this situation is that you haven't had to tick a dowdy, looking, juvvy for your "life list" - you've already seen the real deal. How many listers added Masked Shrike to their life lists with that drab/ dreary Scottish bird? My first sighting was an adult pair, discovered on a dusty hillside in mainland Greece, bloody brilliant! To my way of thinking (thus a very individual perspective) those birds I see have no comprehension of international, let alone county, borders, so why should I? The over-riding driver, in all these encounters, is to enjoy natural history at whatever level of involvement.

This is what a Masked Shrike is supposed to look like - Greece 2008

Why would I want to drive miles to twitch a lost individual when these birds are so readily available in the holiday destinations of any popular UK travel agent? The longest flight will be four and a half hours! Just to demonstrate that it's not all birds - my final offering is of a dragonfly - enjoy?

Trithemis festiva (Indigo Dropwing)

Tuesday 19 July 2016

Pottering around

Bev and I spent the weekend away in Redbourn, Hertfordshire, so we could join in with the celebrations for the 60th birthday of my great friend, Steve Baron. It was a fabulous break from the reality of being carers to my Dad; great to spend time with so many old acquaintances and relive past times. If Unilever hadn't shut that Brooke Bond factory, we'd all still be there now, the village/community would still have a heart, a focal point; that's how good it was to be part of an incredibly tight knit community. We earned decent wages, but it was the good humoured banter, the feeling of belonging and a great team spirit which made it such a privilege to be part of that "Brookie" experience. More than a few light ales were supped as we reminisced and it got a bit messy before we all parted company. You're only sixty once - if, indeed, you're lucky enough to make that milestone - so best enjoy it - there are many, good men, from my past who didn't.
Redbourn has changed since I worked there (I left for Ashford in August 1993) and not everything has been for the better. The High Street has lost three pubs, there are new housing developments (as there are everywhere else!) and the village seems less intimate but, the one constant in all this time is the "Baron" household. A cup of tea and a warm welcome, without any pre-booking or fuss, Steve and Anne are a permanent fixture in this world of rapid change. One thing that is now very obvious, is the presence of Red Kites in the skies above the village - I still gain great pleasure from close encounters with these stunning birds. Familiarity, as they say, breeds contempt - very few other party guests gave them a second glance. A consequence of living in The Chilterns I guess?
Back in Kent, we very quickly got back into the routine, and my natural history fixes come from far less dramatic encounters than Red Kites feeding in back gardens. The feeding station continues to attract good numbers of House Sparrows and increasingly large numbers of Starlings, which is an interesting development from a local perspective ? - and the other bits - Great & Blue Tit, Robin, Dunnock. Wood Pigeon, Collared & Feral Rock Doves, Blackbird and a single, male, Rose-ringed Parakeet. I've spent some time pratting about with the camera kit, just in the hope of recording something, semi-interesting, to be worthy of a post.

Some type of small wasp species. The good bit is getting to learn the camera/lens combination
before Bev and I go back to Keffalonia.
We leave the outdoor lights on, overnight, and these have attracted a few moths - nothing major - and I spent a while with the macro kit getting images of a small mason/potter wasp that was visiting some garden plant. Sadly I'm just clutching at straws, in a bid to keep this blog going, There will be light at the end of the tunnel but, as yet, we have no idea how long that tunnel is?

Friday 15 July 2016

Herring Gull mania

My current "tame" Herring Gull - waiting for a snack, standing on the fence right outside the back door.
That's some meat clever stuck on the front of his head!

GIRL’S GULL TERROR - Sea bird attacks young girl

A SEAGULL attacked a four-year-old girl as she ate a sandwich.
Only in the Daily Star? Not a bit of it, although this is one of their headlines from June 2016 - all the daily "scandal rags" are having a go. Sensationalist, gutter, journalism has already raised the fear factor amongst the nation, with outrageous forecasts of the "Brexit" vote consequences - and now this subject is being given the same treatment. 
It has been five years since we last saw Jonathan (Livingstone) at our back door - he'd been part of our daily lives for several years. Each morning would see him standing at the kitchen door, pecking at the glass in order to grab our attention. "Where's my grub?" being the sentiment. He was a magnificent specimen and a great source of amusement and interest whenever family and friends visited our bungalow. Sadly he went missing in August 2011 and has not been seen since, so my new mate has been very welcome, although he hasn't, as yet, become as much a fixture. He will feed from my hand, but very cautiously.
There are four pairs of Herring Gulls nesting on the roof-tops along Vine Close, all of them successful this year. There are three youngsters on our neighbours roof and that's where my bird comes from. I find them fascinating, others on Thanet disagree. They are undoubtedly big and powerful birds, but they ain't capable of planning raiding parties or mass assaults - they just adapt to situations to ensure the best feeding return for their efforts. As parents they are to be admired, taking the defence of their young to a very aggressive level. I have been pecked on the head as I've attempted to get a chick back up onto a bungalow roof (I'm the one that the neighbours come to when they have a youngster wandering about in their gardens) - it drew blood, those beaks were not evolved to eat grapes!

So I am well aware of the scenario of Herring Gulls adapting to cadging chips from seaside visitors who, being unfamiliar with the species, might misconstrue this behaviour as an attack. The only time gulls will deliberately attack a person, or their pooch, is if they feel their youngsters are being threatened - every other time it is about easy option feeding. If you visit the seaside, expect seagulls, the give away clue is in the name and don't forget they were there first!

Sunday 10 July 2016

Rolling dice

Just when you think you've got it cracked, life kicks you up the arse then sits you on it! Bev and I are really struggling to maintain a grasp of reality, as my father's deteriorating health impacts directly on our daily routine. We're a tight knit family and will overcome whatever life throws at us, yet short-term, we are living each day at a time as we attempt to deal with the situation.
So I am very sorry for the lack of posts about anything remotely current, or interesting, that's my life, in a nutshell, I suppose? I did see poor old LGRE (UK 400 Club) moaning about being "vilified" for voting leave, shame; surely he's gotten used to being in the firing line by now? My split cane carp fishing project has been suspended, for the foreseeable future, as have any thoughts of mothing, butterflies, birding and other general outdoor stuff. However, just as there is very little sympathy with the plight of Lee Evans, I don't expect any to be directed towards my present predicament. We will come through this experience stronger and closer together, ready to deal with whatever else fate has in store.
Benno and Simon turned up this morning, to spend some time with Dad and we had a chat about our plans for a Mk IV challenge now that Simon has recently taken delivery of a Bruce & Walker, glass fibre, Mk IV Avon rod which he has already christened with a couple of River Lea barbel and a few Long Shaw carp. We've not made any decisions, although perch do seem to be a prime candidate for any type of three way adventure - a three pounder on a Mk IV and a centre pin might be a decent starting point. Simon has the Grand Union on his doorstep, Benno, and I, The Royal Military, so perch from a canal could be the level playing field we require. Obviously, there are plenty of other avenues open to us - we'll see how it pans out?

A typical low double from Tiddenfoot in the mid-80's - Simon wearing that same "lucky" jumper
I was showing them some of the old photos, I'd scanned, Sye commenting on the Tiddenfoot days and the great lessons we learned as that particular project unfolded. By today's standards, those fish were tiny, but what a great time we had as angling skills were honed in the pursuit of our dreams.

I am now able to look back at those times through "rose tinted glasses" - although it is without question that we had a blast, catching plenty of fish for our endeavours. I never came close to a "big" fish from this venue, my best being under 15 lbs. Sye did get a "twenty" from the pit and I was beside him when he lost a fish which did him up like a kipper, and that doesn't happen too often,

A very small fish - low double at best. Tiddenfoot Pit was a venue where we learned many, enjoyable, lessons.

Sye with our only "twenty" from Tiddenfoot Pit

Friday 8 July 2016

Sartorial elegance: a non-fashion statement

My time spent scanning some of the old slides has revealed my state of dishevelment as I journeyed through angling. Looking the part has never played a role in my own approach, yet I still manage to derive immense satisfaction from those successes which have come my way despite my appearance.

A dodgy perm and a cardigan - not the regulation kit of the period
for any other speccy hunter. One of the early Tiddenfoot cats 
My first concern was for being comfortable, although I must admit that in my latter years I now yearn to stay warm and dry, if at all possible - still not worried about my look, unsurprisingly!

A Brogborough Lake (Bedfordshire) double figure bream

A Wilstone tench of 8 lbs 13oz - June 18th 1992

A frosty dawn, a nice upper double and a new hat!

My PB cat from Claydon - same apparel as at Tiddenfoot

Wednesday 6 July 2016

Old photos - new technology

Richie Francis e-mailed me a photo of my brother, Simon, with a tench from Wilstone that he'd taken during the mid-80's. I had posted an image of Sye with a catfish, from Tiddenfoot, and Ric had spotted the same jumper. I'm sure it was the only one he had back then - or it was very "lucky"?

I had an e mail exchange with Rich and he explained that he had obtained some, fandango, new gadget and was steadily working through his collection of slides, transferring them to digital format. A little while back, at Dad's, I was given a small box which contained a slide scanner. "Any use to you?" asked Dad as I looked at the instructions. "Got to be worth a try" being my response and so it came to pass that I was able to get some of my original photo quality into a digital image. This little device was made in China and has none of the optical quality of the kit belonging to Mr Francis - but it'll do for starters.

Simon playing a 19 lbs Wels Catfish at Claydon Middle Lake.
The rod is a Duncan Kay and the reel an ABU Cardinal 66X - Vic Gillings is surveying the scene, sat on his
arse as usual, complete with body warmer and woolly hat.

They were happy times and I count myself extremely fortunate to have been there at the beginning of that extraordinary period of discovery. The tench fishing was the stuff of legend, the catfish scene was in it's embryonic stage and it was very much a case of learn as you go - brilliant memories of some wonderful times.