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!


Wednesday 22 November 2017

Looking back to move on?

I am very conscious of how lacking my 2017 blogging has been, in comparison to previous years. There are some very powerful influences, in my personal circumstances, which have impacted upon this situation; none less so than the health, happiness and welfare of Bev's parents. I am also aware that my angling exploits have been a very dominant source of material posted,  just recently, and that might be a little off putting to some regular visitors to this site. However, in an attempt at redressing the balance, I am hoping to try to include some of the other wildlife encounters that happen to me, without being quite so dismissive.

There is absolutely no way could I ever return to this. Twitching is, without doubt, fantastic to be part of, however,
it provides nothing other than individual enjoyment. The contribution to science/conservation is zero.
I have to make it understood that my time involved with such useless self-indulgence was bloody brilliant.
  Kent birders and county birding were a great combination during my period of involvement!
 No regrets - I set the, then, county year list record of 263 species in 1999! (Not sure if it still stands?)
My enthusiasm for birding has never been at a lower ebb, I can't even muster the energy to have a wander around Newlands Farm at the moment. This is crazy as I still gain great pleasure from actually looking at birds but, they have to come to me, not the other way round. What I find most strange is that twice, in 2017, I have become an active birder without any effort or prompting. Both times were when I was on holiday - Tenerife and Kefalonia. Whilst in these unfamiliar surroundings, it seemed the most natural thing, in the world, for me to be walking around with my binos and long lens, ready to look at anything which caught my attention - so why not in the UK? I can't actually give an answer to this question because I do not have one that makes any sense to me, so even less likely to assist a third party understand my current stance.
I think that it was Gavin Haig who used the term "phasing" to describe a lack of activity in a certain interest, be that mothing, angling, birding, cycling or marathon running. Quite simply anything which had, in the past, provided a spark which has now been lost, or at least dimmed significantly.
I made comment recently, on another blog, "that I wouldn't cross the road to see a Great White or Cattle Egret, etc, etc.." and was, quite rightly, picked up on this statement. The event that has brought this subject to the fore was that of two Woodcock flying over The Royal Military Canal, at first light on Sunday morning. I was really excited by this simple encounter and found myself questioning why am I not more involved?

This was on our bungalow roof - many moons ago (2008 I think?)

Dartford Warbler at North Foreland - really rewarding when you find one whilst out and about.
I'd bumped into Franny, at Tesco, over the weekend and we had a quick chat about the state of birds and moths on the sacred isle. "Nothing doing" being the consensus of the like-minded souls with whom we are in contact. It is true that Purple Sandpiper, Snow Bunting, Black Redstart, Dartford Warbler, Raven and Red-necked Phalarope have all been performing around our coastline, recently, but when your expectations are based upon previous events, this is where the problem lies. Been there, seen it, got the bloody tee-shirt! The law of diminishing returns?

American Golden Plover at Pegwell - my second UK sighting, of this species, following one in Bedfordshire in 1991/2 ?
Both birds seen because I was "twitching" (P.S. - Franny found this one)
There are three, very well documented and defined, stages through which an angler passes during a lifetime spent fishing. The parallel similarities between angling and birding are there to be seen by all involved; I've personal experience of  journeys in both these spheres of outdoor pursuits. When I wrote that post "I'm on a roll" it was quickly focused on my time, during the mid 80's when the capture of big fish was the most important thing in my life - and let's not forget that I was married with two young kids. My obsessive desire, to succeed, riding roughshod over all parental concerns and marital responsibilities. Nothing, at all, to be proud about yet it doesn't prevent that stage in my angling journey being the part that I enjoyed most. And so it is with my birding exploits. 1999 was to provide the very pinnacle of my obsession with Kent listing and fortunately coincided with the best year for rare birds, within the county, in living memory.  I would be hard pressed to choose a favourite between the two, that's for sure!

Twitched - Simon Mount found three here and this photo is a result of my "twitching" his field work.
I have made mention, on numerous occasions, that it was my experiences with Atlantic Blue Marlin which lead to the eighteen year long birding adventure. I couldn't find the enthusiasm to go fishing, because of what I'd achieved and witnessed, during that crazy trip to Madeira (August 1993) and that's exactly how I feel about birding today. Hopefully, those two Woodcock might have flicked a switch, because I'm bloody sure I don't have another eighteen years in which to rekindle my desire to go birding again. I've got to adjust my life balance, make a conscious effort to get back to doing the simple things. I have my "patch" right on the doorstep. Small acorns = mighty oaks! I need to get back to basics, just as I've done with my angling, in order to return to a hobby which has provided so much joy over my lifetime. Realistic and achievable - that has to be my basis for any challenge. Like my angling projects, I'll let circumstances dictate where I end up. Will these dual interests prove to be comfortable bedfellows in 2018? Only with the passing of time will judgement, of such things, be possible. As for crossing the road to twitch a bird - no, I don't think that'll ever happen again!

So much more enjoyable when you find them for yourself!


  1. An enjoyable read Dylan and explaining where you're at, so to speak. Yes, your blogs this last year have been mostly about angling, which I have little interest in and so don't visit your blog so much these days. However, the idea of a blog is to write about things that interest you and might interest others, but too many people get carried away with writing about what people expect to read and on a daily basis. So if you want to write mainly about angling, so be it and I doubt that there are many blogs locally that do write about that subject, and so well - it's different and you're probably filling a void.

    1. Thanks for this Derek. I'm very grateful for your input, as I struggle to get away from the lethargy which currently surrounds my interest in birding. I moved to Kent, purely because the bird watching was so good compared to Hertfordshire, where I then lived, and Manchester which was the alternative job transfer being offered by Unilever. Since moving, I've enjoyed so much great birding, in fantastic company, that I can't just ignore it? I need a kick up the arse to get back outdoors looking at the bird life, for the sake of it, rather than a by-product of my fishing exploits. It doesn't have to be serious, but I feel that it should be part of my routine. I certainly don't go fishing every day, so there is plenty of opportunity for the two pastimes to dovetail into my available free time? - Dyl

  2. Despite not being an angler I always read a new post of yours Dylan and it is always time well spent. Another excellent post.

    I fully agree with you about not crossing the road for a Great White Egret. I'm deliberately not going after GWE as one will turn up on my patch eventually and that will be a red-letter day. Last Tuesday I spent 5 hours in a local forest with another local birder looking for the Hawfinch roost. We saw plenty of birds including Hawfinches, but couldn't find the roost site. We had a fantastic day not because of the list but because checking every bird, trying to place every call, and slowly assembling a full picture of what our forest holds was an exhilarating journey of discovery. Can't wait to get back to another part of the Forest and resume our search.

    1. Cheers for the comment. I have spent many happy hours wandering around woodlands in Hertfordshire, Kent, France and even Turkey, doing just as you describe. The thrill of discovering stuff for yourself far outweighs any birds seen because of the efforts of others, thus twitching. I have been aware of birds since the early 1960's, but only got serious about them around 1990 and this coincided with the advent of modern-day twitching. Great memories and some fantastic birds seen because I had the ability to travel to see the species which had been discovered by other, far more talented, birders, than I.
      Only when I'd got done with twitching did I understand what birding is all about. The pure joy to be had from being outdoors and looking for yourself, learning stuff that isn't available in books (or the internet) means that it stays put in the memory, because it was discovered the hard way.
      The fact that birds play so little part in my life, today, is something which I hope to put right - all the best - Dylan