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!


Thursday 19 July 2018

Probably the only one singing from this hymn sheet?

I have no idea what year it was, that I attended a Herts Bird Club "conference (?)" in Wheathampstead, where Roy Dennis was the guest speaker.  His enthusiasm for reintroductions of our lost wild life was infectious and I remember driving back to Kent thinking that I'd been privileged to have been there. What I do recall is that it was on the back of breeding Eagle Owls at a remote location, controlled by the military, and the fantastic documentary tv program that had been a direct result of this situation. Roy's visionary stance was delivered with such aplomb to the audience present in the venue, the Rutland Osprey Project following the same spectacular route as the previous Chiltern Red Kite pilot scheme. The man had the greatest sales pitch I've ever heard - I'll have a bowl full of that, and some more, if you don't mind! So far, so good - I was full on birding at this time and cared little about other aspects of wildlife or ecological backlash.

Let's fast forward to 2018 and now I am not so sure that Roy had thought his ideas through quite as carefully as required. The ever growing population, of our already crowded isle, and the impact that mankind make upon natural resources means that turning back clocks is a very unrealistic aspiration. My birding is now very much a secondary pursuit, as are moths, butterflies and umpteen other aspects of natural history enjoyment. Today  I'd like to be perceived as an angler who is able to see beyond the limitations, of a very myopic hobby, but a fisherman none the less. A countryman with experience of many aspects of enjoying what is awaiting discovery by anyone with the desire to push boundaries and take a look for themselves.

I can't align myself with angling's problem with Otters. They are 100% native creatures to our UK ecosystems and have enjoyed a resurgence of distribution based upon the ilegal spread of a species which had very limited distribution prior to covert introductions. Barbel are the key to modern Otter success, they belong in five, not eighty two, river systems. All the while our modern water suppliers are using, dilution to solve pollution, tactics which have resulted in a decimated eel population in all of our major river systems. Otters eat eels, end of! Only when there ain't any do they change their diet, barbel fit the bill perfectly, as do carp - both species capable of survival in semi-polluted waterways, whilst eels have long since succumbed. Can there be any surprise that Carp and Barbel are now the two most popular species with the UK's anglers?  Water providers are under no pressure to return our waterways to their previous biodiversity, due to the dominance of the carp industry, within UK angling, and the rise of social media influence upon the the "ordinary guy" Big carp and barbel available to all, except Otters? If our waterways contained all the species that they did, whilst I was growing up, the Otters wouldn't be preying on these two species. Oh yeah, that would involve the water providers actually cleaning up their pitiful efforts at effluent treatment - not going to happen all the while these two species dominate anglers attention.

So I'm out in the wilds of East Kent chasing a species that was brought to our shores by the Romans. English as "fish & chips" but still an alien introduction by definition. Then a bloody Beaver wipes out one of my rods, swimming through the carefully prepared line set-up. F**king things! Roy Dennis (or his organisation) will have been involved in the reintroduction of these creatures. I say introduction, what has happened is the result of piss poor management by KWT, at Ham Fen, and the ease by which these large animals are able to escape the compounds in which this experiment was being conducted. When a Beaver passes, it isn't a Water Vole - you've just seen a Labrador go through your swim; they're bloody massive creatures. Beavers are now widespread across the whole of East Kent, despite the denial of various authorities, who have alternative agendas?

So what's next? Lynx, Wild Boar (we've already got them in King's Wood!), European Bison, Brown Bear or Wolf?  Roy Dennis, as infectious as his enthusiasm was, has an awful lot to answer for - we're running out of space for humans; where are these creatures supposed to fit in?


  1. I basically agree with you on the subject of re-introducing species into countryside that bears little resemblance to how it was when they were last around, especially when it comes to the current acreage of countryside. I guess it's open to debate as to whether Beavers are actually widespread in East Kent but the tag "widespread" is now a worrying word to apply to any wildlife these days as it seems to give licence for people to say that there are now too many in our crowded countryside, can we cull some. In that way some gamekeepers are now licensed to cull an excess of Buzzards because they kill their artificially high numbers of game birds and some trout fisheries can get licences to kill Cormorants that eat their artificially high stocks of fish. Racing pigeon fanatics are always calling for Peregrines to be culled because they kill the pigeons that they release in their thousands each week.
    I imagine that the beavers in your area have a high chance of either disappearing illegally or continued complaints will see licences eventually issued for them to be culled - time will tell.

    1. Derek,
      Beavers are widespread across the flatlands of the Stour Valley marshes and surrounding areas. Martyn Wilson and Mark Chidwick have photographed them around Stodmarsh and Westbere, whilst Sandwich Bay Obs posted a video clip of one running along the beach. I saw three, together, in a very small side drain out on the levels, just last Thursday. I saw my first one way back in the summer of 2015. At that time I thought I was very lucky, now it would be unusual to spend an evening on the marsh and not see/hear them.
      As for them disappearing? Mink remain a real problem in many areas of the Kent countryside and have managed to remain so despite an unlicensed, but legal, effort to eradicate them from our ecosystems. Beavers will be the same, in my opinion, as they are very secretive and rather intolerant of human company. Anglers tend to see them because they are sitting quietly beside waterways, not wandering around attempting to find them.
      I don't have any answers that could offer compromise to the situation. Farmers losing livestock because of bankside collapse, caused by these animals, will only have one outcome - not in favour of these entertaining, but unwelcome, creatures. Dyl

  2. Mmmm, perhaps if we keep killing wildlife that pisses us off, we'll eventually end up happy, good job we don't look at humans in the same way.