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!


Monday 27 May 2019

Can't see for looking

I've had two sessions at Marshside, over the Bank Holiday weekend, catching another eleven carp, one double, to take the close season total to a very respectable eighty-six. Every fish has been taken off the surface using small cubes of wholemeal bread. Although there have been several occasions when I've seen other guys enjoying some good sport, at no time have I been out fished. What a smug twat I really am? Because what I'm doing obviously works I have fallen into some false sense of having "cracked it".
This afternoon was to provide a, much needed, kick up the arse. Arriving, as I frequently do, to coincide with many of the pleasure anglers packing up, looking for feeding fish is a ritual that I perform before any kit is unloaded from the van. With a stiff breeze coming across the marsh from the north-west I would have normally gotten on the back of it, thus allowing it to take my freebies out into open water, way beyond catapult range. However, the anglers present had already got their gear in these swims and I was left with no option other than to fish a swim with the wind coming over my shoulder and pushing my baits into the adjacent margin to my left.
It didn't take long to get some indication of feeding carp, although the rippled surface made it difficult to see exactly what was occurring. I kept a regular trickle of "Happy Shopper" mixers going in. Cheap as chips - 1.5 kg/£2 and the carp were soon on the munch. The Dick Walker split cane Mk IV Avon was fitted with a Mitchell 300, 6 lbs b.s. Guru line, a Nash "Bolt Machine" and a size 6 Gardner barbless Talon-tip.
As the session got under way, the carp were all over me like a rash! I dropped the first two, both hook pulls, although I'm sure one was foul hooked? Two scamp commons and a nice scaly mirror fell to this simple presentation, yet I knew that the fish were having me over. I was getting mugged off with frustrating regularity. As the day drew to a close, the wind dropped away, thus allowing me to get a better view of what was happening. What the rippled surface had been preventing me from seeing was the reaction to my hook baits. Fish were sucking them in from a distance, to check for hooks/line, before actually deciding to take the offering. I'd been pulling the baits out of their reach before they'd even attempted to take them.
Still, my methods were working and I'd caught three - whoopee doo! Then I missed an absolute sitter and discovered that my hook link had managed to knot itself. Time for a change? What if I lengthened the hook link and reduced the hook and bait size? A barbless size 10 Gardner Talon-tip was attached to 24" of 6 lbs Guru line and baited with a much smaller cube of wholemeal. First cast and I'm in. A feisty little "ghostie" common to the net, get in! Three or four casts later and I'm in again; this time a fish of a very different stamp. The rod has a test curve of around 1 lb, coupled with 6 lbs b.s.  line and a size 10 hook - not the kit for bullying a decent fish. I was forced to hang on and enjoy (endure) the ride. Twenty minutes passed and I'm shaking, the adrenaline had certainly kicked in, I'd still not seen the bloody thing. It was probably another five minutes before I was finally able to push the net under my prize, job's a good'un! Now I'm very sorry to disappoint, if you were expecting a tale of a monster, it didn't happen. The fish, a beautiful mirror, tipped the scales at 12 lbs 14 oz and made my session. It had been taken using a refined technique that I thought I'd already mastered. It's very easy to fall into a rut, just because things are going well, thus stop pushing the learning boundaries. Today was a very good wake up call. I got some photos then headed off home, happy that something positive had come from the session. Obviously, I'll need to pursue this further in order to draw any sensible conclusions, however I'm glad that I've been dragged from the comfort zone that I'd been so contented in, by a very ordinary carp, captured as a result of a knotted hook link.

Double number five, from eighty-six fish landed.
What a fantastic wake up call - just what I needed to get out of the rut and resume searching for alternative answers.
P.S. Looking back through the records - this is the same fish I'd taken, at 12 lbs 10 oz, on 22nd April 2019

Sunday 26 May 2019

More of the same!

Before I start ranting about the negative stuff, thus material for yet another post, I'd like to share some more memories of the superb wildlife that is part and parcel of wandering around the Greek mainland. The holiday was everything Bev and I required, allowing us a break from reality and some time to recharge our inner souls. Normality isn't much fun at present, although there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Loads of images - very few words! Works a treat for a lazy blogger.

Saturday 25 May 2019

Pefkohori wanderings

I always look forward to my holiday time, around the Mediterranean, because it allows me to become a birder again, even if only for a short while. One thing's for sure, I soon realise how out of practice I am, especially the auditory side of this fabulous pastime. Birding, like this, is almost like starting out again, the kid in a sweet shop excitement returns. The simple joy of being outdoors, looking at anything that grabs my interest, is a magical mix of memories and discovery. I'll use this post to concentrate on the best bits that visiting new places is capable of providing; the negative stuff can wait for another time!

A decade is a long time, although seem to pass a lot faster the older I get? It was 2009 when Bev and I were last in the resort and much had changed. The distance I needed to walk, to get beyond the developed area, was greater than the earlier visits but, once out into the Greek countryside, the thrills were much the same. The views are stunning, habitat/terrain unlike anything I've experienced elsewhere around the Med, and the birds, similarly, unfamiliar and worthy of prolonged study. With just a seven day window, I went at it full on and paid the price; aching limbs and sunburn being my added reward  - so not a bad deal? Getting back to work was a doddle by comparison.
Each day I set out with a plan, hoping to relive some of the fantastic adventures that I'd enjoyed ten years earlier. Although I never did quite reach those dizzy heights, it was still time and effort well rewarded by some stunning encounters.

I came very close to completely screwing this "lifer" up. Thankfully the EOS saved the day
The ancient Canon EOS 350d and even older Baush & Lomb 8x42 Elite binos were, once again, put through their paces as I sought to discover the avian gems of this wondrous landscape. If I wasn't looking at birds, then assorted bugs, butterflies, lizards and even plants ensured there was never a dull moment. Because pictures say so much more than my words ever can, I'll share some of the images that were taken whilst on my walkabouts.

Happy days indeed. A cold Mythos and a decent meal, as close to perfection as it gets.

Wednesday 22 May 2019

We're back

Well that week went quickly, wish time at work passed as fast, or do I really? Bev and I have just had a wonderful break, enjoying the Greek sunshine and hospitality, as experienced staying at The Anna Maria Paradise complex, Pefkohori. It was ten years ago we were last in the area and so much has changed, but not for the better, in the interim; so plenty of material to blog about over the next few days. As is typical, of our Mediterranean sojourns, Bev needs nothing more than the sun and a pool whilst I require somewhere to wander, habitat to explore, binoculars and camera kit to hand.
Just to offer a flavour of what's to come, I'll share a few images which will help set the scene.

I'd never taken the time, previously, to study the nest building techniques of Red-rumped Swallow and House Martin.
That the Swallow picks up the mud between the mandibles is, very much, in contrast to the Martins
technique of balancing the same material on the upper mandible. Quite interesting, if you're of that mind set?

A flower - just for Steve Gale! Yes mate, I even looked at plants!!!

So there you have it, just a taster of what I've experienced over the passed week. There were plenty of highs, I even managed a "lifer", but there is also a real downer on the whole Pefkohori experience, based upon my previous visits.

Monday 6 May 2019

Insanity, upheaval & unexpected encounters

I've never had any ambition, or desire, to be a rich man - enough is as good as a feast being my belief. I've witnessed, first hand, what the lust for money can do as it ripped my family apart, such is the greed culture incumbent in modern society. I've always worked hard and been paid accordingly, no great shakes. I'd no concept of the pension system that Unilever had in place, whilst I was in their employment? On Friday I got a letter, yes they still use the postal system, which informed me that my pension fund was worth over £200,000 - you what? I only worked there for eighteen years! I still intend to fulfil my Fujifilm SIS contract and will continue working until I'm 66, but it's very comforting that the future is secure because of this crazy situation. Cum Tuesday, I'll be seeking additional advice from the FSIS HR department, followed up by a chat with a financial adviser at Lloyds - my bank since 1973.
So how about this upheaval lark? Well Bev's mum, Denise, has now moved into our bungalow and will remain here until her health dictates otherwise. As a consequence we will be able to be far more reactive although it will, no doubt, have an impact on our daily routine. One aspect of this situation, that's a positive, is Bev will no longer be using £60 of diesel, every week, travelling to and fro between Dumpton and Herne Bay. That this also means social services play no role in Denise's care ensures I feel no guilt when exploring the benefits system, a system that Denise (& Ron), Bev & I have contributed into all our working lives. Therefore, a pot we've earned the right to dip into whilst we're providing 24 hr care. Murderers, rapists and ISIS brides are "entitled" to receive legal aid, regardless of their negative contributions to UK society; so we'll claim whatever is rightfully ours, not a penny more.

In my previous post I'd made mention of how fate would have to intervene if I were to record a Kent Turtle Dove during 2019. Wouldn't you know it? There was one "purring" away behind Homersham Lake, Marshside, on Sunday evening - result! A week previous there had been a Nightingale in the wooded shrub area, to the south of the same fishery, singing heartily. This is possibly the same individual that has now set up territory near the Shuart railway crossing at Reculver Marshes? Even better than this was the most surreal sighting of a Hoopoe flying over the houses of Deal's London Road, as Bev and I took Harry for lemonade and cake at the pier, Thursday 2nd May, after collecting him from school.
I have to admit that I did also take a sneaky wander down to the Garage Pool, at Pegwell, in the hope of seeing the Spoonbill which had been reported by SBBOT. It wasn't present when I got there but consolation came in the form of an Avocet actively feeding along the far margin of the pool. With our Greek sojourn getting ever closer, birding has provided rather a pleasant side show.