Who am I?

My photo
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 29 September 2017

Argostoli "Loggerheads"

Our fortnight on Kefalonia simply flew by. We were in the company of some very dear, and special, friends and enjoyed the  hospitality of Elaini ("Mumma") and her daughter Agnes - we were all spoiled rotten! To cap it off, riotous laughter and glorious sunshine, meant that it was a holiday to treasure; so many highlights which will be recalled every time any of us look at our photos. Plenty of Mythos moments to assist our enjoyment -  almost the definition of perfection.
I'm not going to post much more about the holiday, Pike season starts on Sunday, but I do have a couple of experiences which might be of interest should you ever visit this wonderful island. Argostoli is the island capital and the main fishing port. Loggerhead Turtles have become accustomed to the local fishing boats mooring up and sorting through their catch, prior to taking it to market. The discarded offal is an easy food source which the turtles happily exploit. To watch these magnificent reptiles at such close quarters is very special, especially when you're standing on dry land!

These are very large creatures, the longest we saw being, probably, 1.3 m at a guess.
The biggest thrill, for me, was watching the reaction of other visitors and seeing the absolute joy
that such encounters are able to provide.
I am rather fortunate in that I've seen huge (almost 2 m) Leatherback Turtles in The Atlantic, whilst Marlin fishing out of Funchal, Madeira. Bev had never seen a turtle, so the look on her face was priceless when we spotted the first. The fact that Carrie-Anne & Craig, Pauline & Leon were also present just made it that much more special - fond memories of some very spectacular creatures.

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Environmental vandalism - Greek style

One of my lasting memories of our 2017 Kefalonian holiday experience is the deliberate torching of the hillsides around Lourdas. Sammy (the resident DJ and general dog's body) had posted some images on Facebook, prior to us leaving, depicting huge areas of scrub and Olive groves ablaze on the lower slopes of Mt. Ainos. To witness these mindless acts, being conducted under the cover of darkness, was all rather sad. What are the perpetrators hoping to achieve?

The hillside above Lourdas, well ablaze, as viewed from the mount of St. George's Castle.
Absolutely no way that a fire engine is going up there!
One direct consequence of this stupidity was the closure of the road up to the National Park area, of which Mt. Ainos is central; thus a major tourist attraction. The fires were allowed to burn, uncontrolled, during the hours of darkness and we watched new fires started by persons unknown, as their flame sticks were carried around the lower slopes.

The best that the Greek authorities were able to summons

The morning after the night before - flames on the hillside above Lourdas

Fire fighting with a Greek twist
Fire Engines and planes were able to tackle the blazes during the hours of daylight, but it was very much a case of too little, too late! The local police made token appearances, but the culprits had already moved on to other areas. These were not the actions of isolated individuals, seeking building permission for farmland. Oh no, this was a coordinated demonstration of contempt. Fires were started simultaneously on Kefalonia, Zante and mainland Greece - no chance of coincidence when it happened repeatedly.

I have to make it very clear that at no time did I ever feel threatened by these actions, although access to the peak of Mt. Ainos was prohibited for much of our stay (I did get up there and that's for another post!) I just feel rather sorry for the ordinary folk of Kefalonia. All those honest, and hard working, people whose livelihoods depend upon tourism. Dead tortoises and charred hillsides do nothing to assist the efforts of those who depend upon the visitor's money to earn a living.

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Mantis moments

Since we started to regularly holiday around the "Med" I have had many encounters with  mantis, although only two species as I recall. Most of these creatures have also been in some guise, or other, of the nymph stages so it has been a real pleasure to have spent extended time with several adults over the past fortnight.

Craig discovered this one sitting on the door frame two stories up
I found this one on  one of my meanderings and brought it back with me.
My diary providing the strange background for this image.
As a result of minimal bird life, the lenses were set for macro photography and I got some images which are a little different from my usual stuff. By using the extension tubes on the 18 - 55 mm lens, I was able to get up close and personal with these amazing creatures.

Much more menacing than any Sci-fi villain
However, my lasting memory of these encounters was the reaction of Leon, a huge guy and gym devotee, when one I was holding jumped onto his "T"shirt. What a bloody Lionel!!!!

Monday 25 September 2017

Kefalonia dreaming

We're back home (at 03.05 hrs this morning) from, yet another superb, holiday on the island of Kefalonia. I've got loads of material to sort through and quite a bit to write about.However, as my blogging has been very lacking in recent weeks I will post a few images to set the scene.

Argostoli magic - turtles in the harbour

Egg laying "sawfly" (?) sp.

Crimson Dropwing

Red-veined Darter

Long-nosed Grasshopper

Skipper sp.

Bee sp.

As you may notice, insects dominated my photographic effort. This was not a deliberate ploy but, instead, a result of a severe lack of avian subjects to focus my lenses on. I had two cameras on the go and haven't downloaded the second set of images yet. Great to be back home - work in four hours - happy days!

Wednesday 6 September 2017

Gift from the birding gods?

It was just around 18.00 hrs, this evening, when I was made aware of a passing raptor by the raucous noise from a group of Rose-ringed Parakeets which had taken umbrage with the intruder. Luckily I was standing in the kitchen doorway and had my optics and camera gear close to hand. A quick scan through the bins revealed an Osprey - F**K - grab the camera!

An Osprey being invited to leave Newlands air space by a bunch of parakeets
I rattled off a few shots as it disappeared towards Westward Cross; not the normal direction for overflying birds of prey. Obviously my images are less than perfect, but do provide a record of the event - only my second patch/garden record in seventeen years. A Common Whitethroat was in the garden over the weekend, a very poor image obtained in the half light of a dingy Sunday morning. A few more fish have graced the landing net, all from the club carp puddle, and have included my PB Ide (all 2 lbs 8 oz of it - weighed not guessed) and a very pretty fully scaled Mirror taken off the surface.

Garden Whitethroat in the gloom

A pretty little fish which took a cube of wholemeal bread - dumb schmuck!

Friday 1 September 2017

There's always something to see

Being restricted in what I can do and where I can go doesn't completely remove wildlife encounters from my life. I still have the garden feeding station although, admittedly, the clientele are rather predictable. But it's now autumn, and almost anything is possible even when stuck in the kitchen doorway looking out into the garden and Newlands Farm beyond.

As I'd already made a post, yesterday, I couldn't be bothered to make another as it would have left August with a total of 13 - not that I'm in any way superstitious you understand? It was rather a good morning for birding. It started well when an adult male Great Spotted Woodpecker dropped down into the conifers, two gardens south of ours. Camera already at hand photos were quickly obtained, but the morning really belonged to Sparrowhawks. Eight passed overhead, with a south-westerly bias suggesting migration rather than local activity. A Hobby and an adult Peregrine made up the supporting cast and provided some more camera practice. How I wish I had checked the settings - all the images were taken at ISO 1600.

Another bright morning to greet the new month and, at 09.10 hrs, the first Common Buzzard of the day flew low over the garden, pursued by a rather agitated Carrion Crow.