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 March 2019

Water Stick Insect

The funeral passed as smoothly as we could have wished. Friends and family gathering at Barham Crematorium to celebrate the life of Ron Bunclark. The service was conducted by Patricia Stewart, a Life Celebrant, and provided a fitting finale. It is the first service, of this type, I have attended and must say that it certainly impressed me with the simplicity of format and the happiness that was purveyed by the words and music used during the proceedings. As religion played no part in his life, it seemed right that it wasn't required for this final act. A post funeral gathering took place at The Two Sawyers, at Woolage Green, and was a very enjoyable social. Many memories being shared of the man whose passing had been catalyst to the event, everyone agreeing that it had been a fitting send off.

Emily stayed with us, after the funeral, and it was my task to entertain her on Saturday. She said she wanted to go fishing, although her enthusiasm didn't last long once we'd got set up. There was far more fun to be had by chasing after Marsh Frogs with the landing net! We managed to get up close with an individual, after catching it with the net, and it was whilst we were creeping about that I discovered a Water Stick Insect swimming by the reed line. Quickly secured in an empty ice cream tub before Emily posed with it for the camera. Unbelievably, this is my first encounter with this widespread and common insect; even more puzzling given the amount of time I spend beside the water whilst engaged in my angling.

Water Stick Insect - Ranatra linearis
I managed to get back to the water, much later in the day, bagging three more scamps using small cubes of wholemeal bread and a controller float. Great fun on light gear.

Sunday 24 March 2019

Ninety minutes well spent

Today was always destined to be "busy - busy". Bev had to get over to Herne Bay to see to her mum, I, on the other hand, had some chores to attend to that had been in the "pending" tray for far too long. Always good to have a plan of attack and I set myself a goal that, if achieved, would allow a window of opportunity to get out with the rods. With no distractions and some decent sounds blasting out from the speakers I set about my task with gusto and what'd you know? Job done in double quick time, even managed to get a few extras in, just for good measure. Bev got back home and we spent a while mapping out our coming week leading up to the events of Friday. No point in being too definite, with any plans, as there are bound to be a few unseen issues to overcome before the funeral. Just good to have some form of order involved, however fluid it may have to be.

An archive photo of Homersham (March 2018) showing it to be a nondescript farm reservoir
It was well after 16.00 hrs that I drove over to Marshside for another bash at the scamps of Homersham Lake. On arrival I was able to spend quite a while speaking with Andy Wesley, the club chairman, before grabbing the kit from the van and getting myself up to the waterside. The wind was a gentle NW, and I set up on the back of it firing out a few catapults of dog biscuits, whilst awaiting the carp to show up. Didn't take long! I had to move a couple of swims to my left, but the fish were certainly within my casting range and I kept the freebies going in as I set up the Mk IV Avon kit (ABU Cardinal 66X & ESP 15g controller float) using Co-op wholemeal bread as my hook bait. I got an out of date loaf for 10p from our local shop!

I'm sure this old warrior could tell a few tales? It was a superb tussle on 4.5 lbs b.s. line and a split cane Avon Mk IV.
I lost the first fish, within a minute of casting out, but the carp kept munching on the freebies and it wasn't long before I had my second chance. No messing this time around and, after a magnificent scrap, I pushed the net under a gnarly old common which span the dial round to 13 lbs 7 oz - result, my first double from the fishery!

Two more carp were to fall to this very simplistic presentation, a 9 lbs 2 oz mirror and a 7 lbs 8 oz common, before it was time to head back home, my session over. I might have caught more if I'd persevered into darkness, but it didn't matter I'd achieved more than I could have hoped whilst I was about my chores earlier in the day. Just to give an insight into the traumas of the lone angler I will offer an out take photo! No way is this a unique image, I've got loads of them. These are wild creatures and not best pleased to be dragged from their environment in order to be paraded in front of a camera. Self takes are a bit hit and miss at the best of times - when the fish decide to play up they can make for some amusing photos, although I didn't find it funny at the time.

Saturday 23 March 2019

Scamping - a nice distraction

Bev and I have been overwhelmed by the support offered during this difficult period - we are blown away with the kindness and sympathy we've received. With Ron's funeral arranged for Friday 29th March, it's now all about dotting I's and crossing T's as the detail is confirmed. This morning we, along with Bev's mum, met Patricia Stewart, the Life Celebrant, who will be conducting the ceremony. It was a rather strange situation for me, as both my parents were devout Christians and their religious beliefs ensured that their funerals followed a very traditional template. That the God Squad have never figured in Bev's family - period; it is quite understandable that the "Humanist-type" service is best suited for this final act. Patricia provided great comfort as she guided us through the service structure and sought to get to grips with the life and times of Ronald Bunclark.
With all this going on, work to be done, and so many other side-shows, it's hardly surprising that fishing has been on the back burner. I'd managed a couple of hours, on Thursday, landing six small carp using the very simple tactic of free-lined floating crust. I got out again, this afternoon, and continued with this method, although a brisk Easterly did nothing to aid my chances.

Today I used an ESP 15g controller, which allowed me to get my bait much further out into the pond, yet stuck with bread as my hook bait choice. A scattering of dog biscuits, courtesy of the catapult, and my bait cast into the midst of these floating freebies. It doesn't get simpler than this, does it? Three more carp to the landing net, but so many more missed, there is still much fine tuning required for me to get the maximum return for the effort involved. I've been using the Mk IV Avon with either the Allcock's Match Aerial or an ABU Cardinal 66X, both fitted with 4.5 lbs b.s. line and a size 6 Korda "widegape" (barbless) hook.

The best, thus far, at 9 lbs 6 oz. How long before a double makes an appearance?
Bottom line is that it is brilliant fun catching fish using the tactics and tackle I'm employing. Just what's required during the present situation.

Sunday 17 March 2019

Now Ron's gone

At 23.45 hrs on Saturday night Ronald Bunclark, Bev's father, passed away peacefully in his sleep. We would like to thank the wonderful doctors and nurses of QEQM Hospital, Margate, for their superb care as Ron entered his final days. It has been a very difficult time for us, Bev has been brilliant, working tirelessly to ensure the very best treatment for her dad, whilst also caring for Denise, her mum! Garry (Bev's older brother), Bev & I had breakfast at The Spitfire Museum, Manston, before the unenviable task of telling Denise the sad news. Blogging won't be a priority (if it ever was?) until we have gotten through the grieving process and subsequent funeral, with all that it entails.

Ronald Bunclark - Sleep well 
Fujifilm SIS are superb in these situations and tomorrow will see me have a long conversation with my supervisors and come to some arrangement that will see me able to support Bev during this difficult period.

Tuesday 12 March 2019

Attempting to make sense

Quite what I expect to be "normal" is a little skewed at this present time. Bev's parents, well their health and welfare, are dominating our lives and everything else needs to fit in around this scenario. It can be, therefore, no great surprise that my angling exploits and associated enjoyment of the natural world have taken, very much, the back seat. Last Monday I had my first day off work (sick) in over twelve years; man I was well dodgy having contacted the Norovirus bug from the grandchildren. All over within 48 hrs, I was left feeling very weak and, after some negotiation with my supervisors, spent the next three days on a manual packing bay - easy life compared to the rigours of manufacturing!
That same Monday also proved to be memorable for a very different reason; I was elected onto the committee of Wantsum AA. An absolute honour to be invited to contribute to the future success of this marvellous, friendly angling club. I hope I'm up to the task and able to be a positive influence as the club strives to embrace the challenges of the modern era? There will be more about these duties as I find my feet and get up to speed with the role. Our club secretary, Rob Tuck-Brown, is a very ambitious individual and I'm happy to support whatever measures he sees fit to move the club forward.
Harry, still in school uniform, poses with a skimmer
Twice, over the passed couple of weeks, I've taken Harry (the source of my illness) over to Marshside for a short, after school, session. We've caught a few fish for our troubles, mainly skimmers and small carp, but a tench did provide a bit of excitement and variety. Although I have managed to land another nine perch, including two more two's, I feel that my current pursuit of a three pounder will have to go on hold for the time being - there is a split cane thirty that needs to resume priority status. Will 2019 be the year when I achieve this dream? All I know is that should I fail it won't be due to lack of effort; the challenge remains central to everything I hold dear and will be until such a time as I succeed. If nothing else, I might not be the most gifted angler but, I am bloody stubborn when chasing my goals.
I can't even begin to calculate how many hours have been spent glued to Youtube in the hope of discovering an edge which might deliver my prize. All I require is that spark; the inspiration which will allow me to put my own spin on an idea, or concept, ultimately leading to the capture of my dream. Carp fishing in cyber space is a massive source of entertainment and information, yet not necessarily in equal measure. There's an awful lot of egotistical "look at me" to be trawled through before that nugget of information is stumbled upon, and sometimes in the most unexpected of places.  Happily I feel that I've discovered a couple of tweaks which might just assist my cause this year. With daylight getting ever longer and temperatures on the rise, there has to be a reasonable chance that some of the pieces of this puzzle will align and I see a positive return for all this research?
There is no discussion to be had about the role that birding has played in my journey to now, it has been a fundamental part of my life. My decision to return to angling can't, in any way, diminish what bird watching has contributed to my enjoyment of being outdoors. Fins, feathers and fur - might make a decent title for a book?

If I'm at home, I don't think a single day passes without me checking the bird news posted on The Kent OS website. I do so in order to have a grasp of what might be happening wherever I am headed and not, White-billed Diver excepted, as a precursor to me jumping in the van and going twitching! Something I find rather amusing is the current status of species within the county. Great White Egret and Raven, I see them every year whilst out fishing, are still regarded as rarities, whilst Willow Tit, don't remember how long ago I saw my last Kent one (Denge Woods in the late 90's, I would guess) isn't? Within the county there are more pairs of Ravens than Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, time to realign the goal posts one would think? Not that any of this makes the slightest difference to me, so none of my business I guess - just an observation by an outsider looking in.

If I am to see another one of these fabulous little birds then I will need to make a deliberate effort
to get out and find one.
Birding in 2019, for me, is just a facet, an enhancement, of a wider appreciation of time spent outdoors. I now see what I see in spite of where I am, not because. Decisions about where I go are no longer influenced by the chances of seeing rare/scarce birds instead the desire to be in with a shout of a decent fish dictate my choice of locations. I suppose the beauty of the situation is that the environments capable of supporting large fish are also home to a wealth of other wildlife, including birds and binoculars are as much part of my kit as rods and reels! Looked at like this I'm in a win, win situation.
Now one of these might cause a stir should I find it whilst casting a bait after carp.
The only occasions when birding assumes priority is when Bev and I are on our holidays. Angling is totally UK based, birding has no such limitations and the thrills of watching species which are considered "rare", that can be observed with relative ease, in decent numbers, by simply jumping on an aeroplane for a couple of hours is a great way of keeping my interest alive. Notes, descriptions, rarity forms and record submissions - means nothing to me. Enjoyment has to be the key. Watching birds, catching fish, or whatever other manifestation my wildlife encounters entail, it must be fun; not a chore!

Saturday 2 March 2019

That's better

Life is a very complex mixture at present. As I alluded to, in a previous offering, blogging isn't a priority during this present situation but I'm confident normality will be resumed in the, not too distant, future. Therefore I apologise for my lack of output, but will have to get through this, with the massive support of Bev, my family and friends, before blogging can take centre stage once more.
I've still managed to get out with the rods, on the odd occasion, although my results have been erratic, to say the least. Birds have featured in my daily routine, the first returning Lesser Black-backed Gull was at the Pyson's Road colony 21st Feb and there have been a few Buzzards spotted as they begin the Spring migration over Thanet. The crazy weather ensured my butterfly list got underway on 23rd Feb, when Bev and I encountered three Brimstones whilst driving between home and Canterbury, a Small Tortoiseshell added just two days later as I walked to the Post Office. Last week of February and the temperatures hitting 18C (on Thanet) - yet that fake-tanned, clown still argues against "climate change" being a reality!

With less than a fortnight to go, before the "traditional" close season, the perch campaign continues to dominate my angling effort as I've decided that a change of direction is due on that watershed date. Out, this morning, before 05.00 hrs, with two rods fishing by 06.20 hrs, I was hopeful of some action given the weather forecast.  Overnight temps no lower than 8C, with heavy cloud cover prevailing right through to the mid-afternoon - bang on !

Using King Prawns, soaked in Predator Plus, I got indications almost straight away. However; I reckon my hooks were made for Greenpeace, I dropped a powerful fish then bumped a second, within the first forty minutes. I eventually landed a lovely perch, of 2 lbs 4 oz, then endured a four hour spell without further fish landed, although a couple of carp made the alarms scream before dropping the bait. Just before I packed up I missed the "un-missable" bite; much to the amusement of Micheal who was fishing in a swim opposite me. Two Common Buzzards were feeding/hunting around the adjacent paddocks and a decent flock (charm) of Goldfinches was buzzing around the field margins. The most obvious birds were Cormorants, almost a constant stream of groups heading south, certainly in excess of 1,500 birds before 09.20 hrs. I think that they were moving out of the Thames Estuary and cutting the corner, thus avoiding Thanet, rather than heading back to the Stour Valley roost site. For only the second time, in nine years, I was visited by the EA bailiffs to check my rod license and a very interesting exchange took place. The guys speaking about the paucity of anglers who are encountered on the local rivers, the commercial still waters being their most productive haunts for encountering illegal anglers. £27 per year to remain legitimate or £1,000 fine if you can't be arsed - a no brainer if you have one?
The day was further enhanced by the meeting of Ian Williams, a guy who had left a comment on one of my posts, asking for some advice about fishing at Marshside. It's always rather humbling when a complete stranger introduces themselves due to my offerings posted into cyber space, via the blog.