Who am I?

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An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to the see the natural world as a place for competition, that was until Covid-19 intervened!. 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!

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Saturday, 29 September 2018

A morning to savour

Bev and I, along with Madeline, our neighbour, attended the funeral of Hugh Mathews - the husband of Kathy, thus another member of the Vine Close massive. Margate Crematorium provided a splendid send off, for a really nice guy who had impacted positively upon so many during his time on this earth. There was a bit of God Squad stuff, but generally it was a celebration of the memories that Hugh has left us all with. After the ceremony there was a very low key gathering, as Kathy wanted, and we slipped away after a bite to eat and headed back home, leaving the family to come to terms with their loss.
Sneaky, or what? I could get out fishing whilst Bev went out with her brother and parents for their regular Friday away-day. I'd already got the bait from the freezer, prior to leaving for work at 05.30 hrs. What could possibly go wrong?  Are you kidding! EVERYTHING. Bev's father had been rushed into hospital, requiring a couple of blood transfusions, but no-one had thought to let us know where or when! Panic on, Bev and Gary (her brother) phoned around the various hospitals before discovering that Ron was in the QEQM Margate. Gary arrived from Whitstable, and collected Bev, en route to the hospital. I was told that I could go fishing, if I wished. Funnily enough my head wasn't capable of rational thought, let alone focus, and I said that I'd have an early night and get out in the morning, depending upon what  the outcome of the hospital experience.
Fortunately, Ron was discharged and returned to Herne Bay with Gary, the future being far from assured, but there are plans afoot to get social services far more involved with the, day to day, care of Ron and Denise. The alarm sounded at 03.45 hrs and so I was on my way, the weather forecast being overcast with a brisk easterly wind. Really? How much computer wizardry have the Met Office got and still they can't even get close to the reality of East Kent micro-climate quirks. The pre-dawn sky was illuminated by the waning moon and littered with countless stars. I could make out Orion's belt, through some wispy clouds, and offered up a few thoughts to the angling gods as I prepared to make my first cast into the drain. Two rods out, a small scattering of freebies on two spots, I sat back to enjoy the dawn.
A Barn Owl floated past and a pair of Little Owls called out in the darkness, it was classic flatland autumnal fare. The right hand rod couldn't have been out more than 45 minutes when the Siren R3 burst into life and my centre-pin spun as an unseen fish powered off with my bait. I don't think the fish knew what was going on because I had it in the landing net within a minute. Only then did it really start to play up. Too late old mate - game over! I knew it was a good fish when I landed it, but it was only once the sun rose that I could fully appreciate the beauty of my capture. A wondrous, wild, common carp, all 22 lbs 2 oz of it. It encapsulates everything I seek from my time out on the marsh - I was in adrenaline heaven. I spent the best part of two hours attempting to contact Benno, as I wanted to share the joy and needed some photos! Nothing doing, but that's Benno's story, so I had to revert to the self-take technology I have at my disposal. Task completed, although I feel that I've not achieved justice for the magnificent carp that I'd been privileged to catch.



I packed up before 09.00 hrs, photos done, and made my way back to the van encountering another angler on the way. Just like me he seeks the thrill of these wild places and the wondrous inhabitants of the crystal clear water. He has a very positive outlook on the world, despite his disability, and uses fishing as a therapy to everyday life. It was a joy to spend a little time in his company - he knows who he is. We will bump into each other again, of that I'm sure. Only one Beaver today, but plenty of birdie action included 4 Mistle Thrush, 2 Common Buzzard, 2 Sparrowhawk, Meadow Pipit, Goldfinch, Linnet, several Kingfishers, Golden Plover, Lapwing and good numbers of Stock Doves. All round it was a fantastic session.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

This might be quite unusual?

I discovered a very strange-looking insect on some courgette plants that Elaini was growing at Saoulas. Initial attempts at an ID suggested an Assassin Bug nymph? Now I'm back home, with full internet access,  Leafhopper Assassin Bug (Zelus renardii) seems to be a very good candidate - an American species which is known to have been (accidentally) introduced into Spain and Greece (not too sure if that includes Kefalonia?); with the first Italian record being confirmed in July 2018!



It's very possible that I'm miles off the mark and the id completely wrong, but it still meant that I looked at something which is way outside my comfort zone - and for that I'm grateful. If ever I stop looking or fail to be amazed by the creatures I encounter, then it's time to chuck in the towel and quit!

Monday, 24 September 2018

Argostoli magic

The Loggerhead Turtles of Argostoli harbour are as much part of, our trip to, Kefalonia as Mythos and Greek Yogurt. With the daytime temps well into the mid-30's, and even Bev complaining about the searing heat, the Gregorys', Dennings' and Wrafties headed off for a day in the hustle and bustle of this busy fishing port, cum shopping centre. Obviously my camera came along for the trip; being paired with my little 55 - 200 mm Sigma lens allowed me to record a number of very pleasing images of the main attraction of the quayside.





We stopped off for a bite to eat, mid shop, before I returned to the quay for another session with the camera whilst the others continued with their search for bargains and trinkets. As you can see from the previous images, these huge creatures are very accustomed to being in close proximity to the crowds of folk who work and/or visit the port. It seems that they are drawn to the area by the local fishermen cleaning their catches prior to offering them for sale. All the offal goes into the sea and these gentle giants suddenly become very aggressive towards each other when food is involved. To watch two massive, wild, creatures perform intricate underwater maneuvers, as they seek to establish dominance over one another, is one of the highlights of the holiday.




On this particular afternoon there were probably six, or eight, turtles in the area, this being a fairly normal number according to one of the wildlife volunteers who monitor these wonderful reptiles.The added bonus was that viewing greatly enhanced by the stunning weather conditions and flat calm surface. So, if you are ever on Kefalonia, forget about Capt Corelli and his banjo, get yourself down to Argostoli harbour for one of the best wildlife experiences there is to be had, absolutely free of charge! With my photos in the bag, we all re-convened in a bar for a well earned drink and Pistachio ice cream, job done for another year!


Sunday, 23 September 2018

Superb - as usual!

Back home from our annual Kefalonia jolly-up. A fantastic two weeks, spent in the company of some very special friends, being spoilt and privileged, in equal measure. I will post more about the holiday later in the week but, for now, will share a few images to whet the appetite. We arrived back at 02.00 hrs this morning and I'm off out for a short session, after that carp, this afternoon. Loads to do with so little time to do it. Work again tomorrow - but that's my real life; as normality returns to my weekly routine.







Memories are made of such fabulous experiences, our 2018 holiday is right up there with the best that Bev and I have ever had. Loads of images to scan through before I have all the material for a summary. Birding was hard work, yet I managed a "lifer" with the sighting of a Lanner Falcon, but so many other new encounters with inverts that I've never previously (knowingly) seen. Happy daze!

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Blanking; I'm in good company!

It has been quite heartening to watch some of Alan Blair's recent Urban Banx underwater footage of how carp are able to feed over a very tight area of bait, yet avoid picking up his rig. This just reinforces some of the other underwater imagery, that Danny Fairbrass and the Korda Team, had produced a couple of years ago. These anglers are light years in front of me, carp angling wise, yet seeing their rigs being picked up and rejected, without any indication on the alarms, is rather reassuring during my current run of biteless sessions.
I was back out again, Saturday evening, same outcome - I blanked and not a bleep from the Sirens. I didn't stay late, and had packed up before 20.45 hrs, yet this is when the fun started. Head torch required for the tackle down process, I was able to examine the two spots. One remained untouched, so it didn't require a Mensa IQ to deduce that I hadn't been done over, the second however, had been visited and there was a rather sad-looking (badly deformed mouth) Tench feeding on my baited spot. Scanning around, there was a decent carp (a twenty possibly?) lurking at the back of the swim and then, all of a sudden, there it was - the big fish just drifted out from under my feet and melted away beyond the beam of my head torch. It's moments like this that define the emotions of angling, as a hobby, and exactly why I set myself these challenges. Had that fish been feeding on my baited spot, or just arrived? I'll never know, but that's not an issue. What's important is that it's still in the area and I am, therefore, in with a shout if I can remained focused. As I walked off, I checked another baited spot on which I have yet to cast a line, there were two carp feeding on a gravel run, one of which would beat my PB. This 2018 project is providing a fantastic test of my thought processes, yet also defines my very being - what I'm all about as an angler and the enjoyment I derive, from simply being outdoors, watching the natural world go about its' daily routine!
Didn't get to cast a bait on Sunday, having promised Bev that we'd attempt to get the bungalow back into some kind of liveable state and so it proved. I still got down to the drain and introduced a bit more bait, prior to me getting out after work on Monday. I'm not introducing huge amounts of free offerings, just a couple of handfuls on each spot, attempting to keep the fish accustomed to finding food in the vicinity. Four spots were prepared, although I didn't see any signs of the carp whilst I was getting the bait in. I did locate a decent fish, as I walked off, but it was well away from my target area and so not of more than passing interest. I'd carried my camera kit, in the hope of a Whinchat or Wheatear being present - nothing doing so I grabbed a few shots of the munga and what it looks like on the bed of these tap water clear drains.

Munga - my party mix plus halved 15mm boilies (through a Korda Kutter) ready to go.
Quite a lot of surface glare, I don't own a polaroid filter, and the water movement doesn't really
help my cause. The swim is nearly six feet deep and the freebies stand out like beacons. It's
no real surprise that the majority of fish activity is noted as the light starts to fade away.
There are exciting adventures ahead for Bev and me, so I've got just two, or three, more opportunities to visit the drains before this project gets put on hold for a while.
All the previous stuff was written before my Monday sojourn; what follows will bring you bang up to date! Work was negotiated, without to much grief, and I was able to get on my way prior to 16.30 hrs. In no great hurry to get started, I had a wander around the favoured area looking for signs, anything that might provide a spark of inspiration, something to go at. I eventually baited four swims, settling for a very familiar spot, one rod, and a completely new swim for the other. The distance between these two spots probably 15 m, at most! By positioning myself back from the drain, very slightly, I was confident that I would be able to get to the rods quickly, yet not be so close as to alert any fish to my presence. Traps set, I sat back and awaited events, it being now 18.15 hrs. A young Wheatear was flicking about on the field opposite and eventually came close enough for me to grab a shot, with the long lens, absolutely pristine in the late evening light. A couple of Kingfishers came flashing past, their piercing calls alerting me to their rapid approach. With the clock ticking past 19.15 hrs, the light levels started to fall away and I got myself ready for the main event. No, not catching a carp but, instead, the nightly swim pass by an adult Beaver. Tucked down in the bankside vegetation, I could see the bow wave as it powered towards me. Camera settings were ISO 1600 1/340th sec and thus the images weren't as sharp as I'd like, but I did manage one that is rather pleasing.

Immature Wheatear in the late evening sunshine
I'm coming through! An adult European Beaver ploughing through my swim
Darkness fell and a second Beaver came through the swim, this individual one of the "kits" from the 2018 breeding season - it was very slight in comparison to the earlier adult. Golden Plover and Lapwing were calling out on the marsh when this evening ambience was broken by the scream of a Nash Siren R3 and the clicking of the ratchet on my Matt Hayes Centrepin. Bloody Hell - a fish!
Sadly not the one that I seek but a beautiful example all the same. A stunning little linear mirror came grudgingly to the landing net and ended a fantastic evening session out on the flatlands. I'm back out before Friday, that's a definite!

Under 9 lbs, but size isn't everything when they look this good?