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!


Friday 30 August 2019

Still they keep coming

The movement of Common Buzzards in the skies above Dumpton shows no signs of abating. Since that bunch of eleven that I witnessed, last Sunday, they have become a daily expectation. The high percentage of pale phase birds would suggest that these Buzzards originate from Scandinavia and/or the Low Countries, but I am perfectly happy to be corrected if this hypothesis is wrong.
I counted thirteen birds over the factory as I loaded the cardboard compactor, yesterday (10 mins max) and another seven passed over the garden this morning, yet the agitated behavior of the gulls suggested that I wasn't seeing them all. How long will this passage last? No idea, but I'm going to enjoy it whilst it does.

Thursday 29 August 2019

Garden fun continues

Wednesday and more of the same. Up early to see what was around; the conditions had changed from the ridiculous, withering heat to a far more bearable situation of heavy cloud cover, a gentle breeze and temperatures some 12 C lower.  Two Willow Warblers flitted through the garden, neither posing for the camera, before a Chiffchaff, the first of the autumn, appeared in the hedgerow. This bird was a little more cooperative, although my efforts aren't up to much, at least I got an image.

The raucous clamour of a bunch of Rose-ringed Parakeets alerted me to an adult Grey Heron, as they escorted it passing, high over Newlands Farm. Just a little later four Rooks moved north and a couple of Jackdaws flew east - all very weird for August? It won't be long before this trickle becomes a torrent. I'm intrigued to see how it pans out as my fishing projects won't be, particularly, high on the agenda whilst family issues must remain our priority. The ability of our garden to provide such encounters with passing waifs is exactly why I had the study (man cave) built. Kent Sectional Buildings have been round and are in the early stages of planning the replacement for our  conservatory which will see the whole bungalow project finished. Before Christmas?

Then today, there I was, standing at the back door, awaiting the time to leave for work when this beauty came spiraling over the garden - I didn't need to move an inch!

Tuesday 27 August 2019

Ticking along nicely

Obviously, it's not for everyone, but I derive enormous pleasure from the simple activity of watching the wildlife that I encounter on my Newlands Farm patch. Status, rarity or common, means nothing under these circumstances and huge thrills can be derived from seemingly ordinary sightings. That our bungalow is situated on the edge of the farm, means I am able to treat it as a micro patch, within the bigger picture. We're now in our nineteenth year of residing here and still very ordinary creatures are able to provide me with a great sense of joy.
The Bank Holiday weekend has been absolutely roasting, here on Thanet, everyone, locals and visitors alike, have made the most of the conditions with plenty of tanned torsos and smiling faces on show as I wander around. However, all good things ......... it's back to reality today; work at 14.00 hrs. It was just after 08.00 hrs and I must have been on coffee number two, standing at the study door, when a flash of fiery orange-tail grabbed my attention, as a bird alighted in the garden hedge. Bloody hell, a Common Redstart, our third garden record and the first since 2008. Gone just as suddenly as it appeared, I was left with a vivid vision of joy. Garden birding doesn't get much better, unless you manage to get a photo, I guess?
So with nothing better to do, whilst awaiting a return to the daily grind, I was out in the garden for much of the morning, camera and binoculars to hand. The feeding station continues to be central to my garden observations, with a Rose-ringed Parakeet now starting to visit periodically. With this in mind, I was holding the camera when a movement caused me to look over the fence and watch a Grey Squirrel running along my neighbours fence! A garden mammal tick! How can that be so exciting - it's only a squirrel, yet the first one in our garden. I didn't actually see it in our hedge, but managed to capture a record shot as it continued along the fence line of my other neighbour. Quality!

By now I'm absolutely buzzing, after all it's days like these that make patch watching so rewarding. At 10.30 hrs four Common Buzzards pass eastwards overhead, with two more, south, a little later. One of the juvvy Kestrels then flies over the garden before hunting over the fallow area where I'd photographed the Whinchat, and a Sparrowhawk spiraled up over the farm paddocks. A Jay alighted in the conifers of a garden two doors down whilst Goldfinch and Linnet called as they pass overhead. Garden birding at it's very best. As I've already stated, birds don't need to be rare to be exciting at this level of involvement.

Pale phase Common Buzzard - how I wished it could have been so much better?

One, of two, juvvy Kestrel that has taken up territory around Newlands Farm
No surprises that I went to work, very smug with myself, life is good!

Sunday 25 August 2019

Newlands - bits, bobs and a surprise finale

With the Autumn migration now well underway, there has been quite a bit to see around the "patch". Willow Warblers are regularly seen in the garden although none has deigned to pose for a photo, thus far. A late Swift was watched flying south on Thursday afternoon and a Green Sandpiper called out in the evening sky as it passed, unseen, overhead. I've been seeing odd Common Buzzards quite regularly throughout the Summer, so I would assume they are local birds, however, at 13.30 hrs yesterday a group of eleven came over, five passing straight through whilst the other six spiraled up into the heavens before setting off steadily SSE.

Up early this morning, just because it was too hot to stay in bed! A quick lap of the farm revealed a couple of juvvy Kestrels, two Willow Warbler, a Spotted Flycatcher and a Whinchat - happy days! The study still provides the bulk of my photographic opportunities and I'm rather enjoying this simplistic approach. That foolish notion that I might record images of fifty species from, in or around, the garden might require a major rethink and it may be that I'll just see how far I can go with the idea rather than set targets?

As with many other garden watchers, the Painted Lady influx here on Thanet, has been a very welcome bonus and just adds that little touch of the exotic.

Then, just when I'm about to press the "publish" button there it is, perched no more than six feet away! A bloody Pied Flycatcher on the garden swing seat frame! As I grabbed the camera it flitted off into next door's garden and I managed a few shots as it perched briefly in their apple tree. It didn't stop there,, oh no! Just looking at the images on the back of the camera when a Common Whitethroat appears in a tangled mass of cut bramble and dog rose. I don't know what's occurring, but am extremely glad that I was able to capture these moments . Who knows what'll turn up next?

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Garden Starling update

Just home from work and discovered an email from the BTO pertaining to the ringed Starling that was at our feeding station last week. This is what I've received

Ringing Scheme: London Ring Number: LK37249 Species of bird: Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
This bird was ringed by East Kent Wildlife Group as age juvenile (passerines only), sex unknown on 28-Jun-2019 12:05:00 at Elizabeth Carter Avenue, Deal, Kent, UK
OS Map reference TR3551 accuracy 0, - co-ordinates 51deg 13min N 1deg 22min E accuracy 0.
It was found on 15-Aug-2019 time unknown at Dumpton, Kent, UK
OS Map reference TR3867 accuracy 0, - co-ordinates 51deg 21min N 1deg 25min E accuracy 0.
Finding condition: Sight record by non-ringer
Finding circumstances: Metal Ring Read In Field
Extra Information: -
It was found 48 days after it was ringed, 16 km from the ringing site, direction NNE.
Not much, as I'm sure you'll agree, but it does add something to our understanding of bird behavior and a little bit of sparkle to the simple pleasure of recording the wildlife in/around the garden

Thursday 15 August 2019

More garden mystery

The past couple of days have been rather eventful for Bev and I - life is good! What little debt we had is now consigned to the history books and we can get on with the rest of our lives. On getting back from Ramsgate, we'd been into Lloyd's to draw a line under the proceedings, I settled down in my study, coffee to hand, watching the activity around the feeders. Starling numbers are starting to build and it was during a particularly frenzied gathering that I spotted a juvenile bird sporting a silver leg ring. Quickly the camera was pressed into service and I managed to rattle off a few shots which have allowed me to see that it is a BTO ring with the starting code of LK3........? Most likely to have been ringed by the guys at Sandwich Bay Obs, but I can't discount the possibility that Chris and Anne Hindle, over at Reculver, might be responsible?

Well the bird reappeared just after I made the original post and I'm able to add a little more to the ring code. I now know that the ring is LK3724.....?

Just got in from a late shift and downloaded another bunch of images that I'd taken just before leaving for work. Looking through this new bunch of pics has finally allowed me to put together the complete ring code of this bird. The final combination has been revealed as LK37249. Although I've already contacted Sandwich Bay Obs, I'll send this info to the BTO and see what I can find out about the journey this bird has made to reach my feeding station.

Tuesday 13 August 2019

Common encounter

A beautiful morning, here in darkest Thanet, I spent the majority of it entertaining Emily by playing with a ball or generally being silly. It was while we were looking at the butterflies which had been attracted to the Buddlieas that I became distracted by a pair of dragonflies, in tandem, that alighted in the adjacent dog rose. I grabbed the camera from my study and managed just a handful of images before they were away.

Only a pair of Common Darters, but yet another demonstration of how the unexpected can brighten any day. Well; I enjoyed them anyway!

Sunday 11 August 2019

A Perch session

I'm sat here, at my desk in the study, the Radio 5 Live commentary Newcastle v's Arsenal on the laptop sound bar and watching the activity around the feeding station. I have the window of opportunity to get out with a rod later this afternoon and have decided to have a bash after perch over at our club fishery, Scroggins. I've chosen to use the Dick Walker Mk IV "Avon" paired with the Allcock's Match Aerial centrepin. Bait choice is, my ever favoured, king prawn soaked in Predator Plus presented on a size 8 Fang Twister (barbless) with Middy 5.2 lbs b.s. mono hook link.
Why am I being so open about what I'm doing? Basically; because nobody else ever visits the venue to seek out the Perch, thus whatever I say about the techniques I favour, other anglers couldn't give a monkey's - if the fish don't eat boillies, they ain't interested. A very sad reflection of the modern angling scene I fear. Still, there's nothing I can do to change it, so I'll continue to do things my way and enjoy the adventure as it evolves.
Will this be a two post day? I'll only know the answer to that question when I get home from Scroggins, around 22.00 hrs this evening.

Well I'm now back home. The Gunners did the Toon and the Mancs stuffed Chelsea, not too sure who cares about Leicester or Wolves? I certainly don't. Fishing by 18.00 hrs, I had a blast and finished the session, around 21.00 hrs with seven Perch, two Bream (Snotters!) and an F1/Crucian-type thingy. Best Perch weighed 2 lbs 5 oz and ensured I came home very pleased with my efforts.

I lost a very powerful fish, right on last knockings and, although I can't rule out carp, feel sure it was a Perch which did me over in the marginal snags. Knowing that my carp project must remain on hold, these Perch might offer a challenge because I have the ability to fish the venue at any given opportunity without any requirement to pre-bait or locate fish. There are several swims which have prominent features that will always be a holding spot for these ambush predators. All I need to do is turn up and drop in a baited hook?

Should we feed the birds?

Just five metres from my study door is the garden feeding station which, just recently, has been the closest I get to going outdoors. Action is constant during daylight hours with huge numbers of House Sparrows (200+ at times) in and around the garden. In just eight days I've got through 150 fat balls, such is the drawing power of this food source, plus 5 kg of sunflower hearts. Does this indicate that the local birds are starving or, as is more likely, they're just taking advantage of the situation that exists?

Feeding station frenzy. The numbers of House Sparrows present around the West Dumpton area is
truly staggering. Huge flocks reported from many gardens, just like back in Hertfordshire during my
childhood years. 
When I re-established the feeding station it was done in the knowledge that the garden was in a state of limbo. My mate Dave had cleared it prior to Chris and the guys at Willow Landscapes coming in to do a total makeover of the chaotic wasteland.  Now, whilst we await this transformation, I am delighted to witness such hectic action just metres from my desk. I have no way, however, of being selective in what species come to visit. Up to nine Magpies regularly appear, firstly they came to peck at scraps beneath the fat ball feeders but, it didn't take long for these very intelligent birds to discover how to actually use the feeders directly. Similarly, there are large numbers of feral pigeons around the area and several of them are able to use the sunflower feeders with very little problem.

Aah! Blue Tits and Robins - everyone likes to see these birds in their gardens
And then there are the "sea gulls". Thanks to the hysterical nonsense purveyed in the scandal rags Herring Gulls are all of a sudden public enemy No. 1! Personally I think they are fascinating birds and happily put out kitchen scraps and/or bread to feed them. It seems that several of my neighbours are far less tolerant of these birds and actively discourage them - hey ho! To my way of thinking, if it's alright to put out peanuts for Blue Tits, seed for sparrows and finches, or fat balls for Starlings etc, how is it different when bread attracts gulls instead of sparrows? I certainly can't put labels of my offerings.

I'm sure I've mentioned it previously? My brother, Simon, isn't allowed to feed the Red Kites in his Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire, garden. How does that work? We either do, or don't, feed the birds? There can be no picking and choosing which species is more worthy than the other.

Friday 9 August 2019

The sun goes down

I couldn't have foreseen the impact that Steve Gale's "big skies" blogging would have made when I first set eyes upon his thoughts. Digital photography has allowed me (and many others) to capture images which, previously, were just whimsicle desires based upon the photos seen in the glossy mags, all taken by professionals. That I now have this technology available, at the click of a button, means that I'm able to share my results without the requirement of a National Geographic commission. The photo shop options are mind blowing, allowing me to manipulate my original pictures, enhancing the image beyond anything I have the technical capability of capturing.
Some might view this as cheating? Frankly I don't give a toss - the results are very pleasing and I'm happy to share them with visitors to my cyber space. No two sunsets are ever the same and I've been merrily clicking away over the past week amassing a large number of images, some of which I'll offer for your perusal.

Thursday 1 August 2019

More of the same

One day is very much like any other, at present. No-one's fault, just how it must be as Bev and I do our best to care for her Mother. My projects on hold, as the current situation must take priority over anything so frivolous as an angling challenge. If I'm struggling with the rods then there is no reason why the camera can't get an airing - the feeding station is the perfect antidote to my predicament. Today has seen me capture loads of images of the garden visitors, House Sparrows excepted but, certainly in excess of 100 individuals present today.

I'm already toying with an idea to photograph fifty species in/from my garden in 2020. Not too sure if it will ever take off, just a thought for consideration when the new year approaches. My Dumpton garden list is better than my Herts list (176 species - Short-toed Lark at Tyttenhanger GP's being the obvious mega, although, self found, Avocet and Storm Petrel at Tring Res. are well up there on a county scale), but I was never an obsessive birder whilst I lived in the county (33 years-ish).  KENT must take full responsibility for my illogical madness which manifested itself in the lunacy of county listing and "twitching"  - fantastic times of pure, adrenaline fueled, enjoyment in the company of so many like-minded souls. The garden has, also. produced some spectacular birds/birding experiences since we moved here in November 2000. Fifty species photographed in fifty-two weeks shouldn't be that big an ask should I choose to accept the challenge? Sitting in my study today, I've already managed 10% of that target!