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, 28 September 2019

Got it wrong - nothing new there then?

Whilst on Kefalonia, travelling around with Craig, I kept telling him about my desire to see a Honey Buzzard in 2019. As you might guess, I failed and thought that my chance had gone. What did I know?  On the 1st September I'd blogged about the movement of Common Buzzards over Thanet and accompanied my post with a couple of images of one of the birds and thought no more of it. Fortunately one of my fellow bloggers, Stewart Sexton (author of Stewchat) made comment on this bird and offered an alternative id. Yep, you've guessed it, a bloody Honey Buzzard, from my back garden and I'd screwed it up. Having revisited the series of images that I captured on that morning it is now glaringly obvious that the bird concerned is a juvenile Honey Buzzard and I got it completely wrong.





 

I've no problems with being corrected, especially by someone for who I have the greatest respect, so thank you Stewart. However, I do have a crumb of comfort in the fact that the photos have been looked at by many hundreds of visitors to my blog and no-one else spotted my cock up? This is also an excuse, if one were needed, to post a couple more images of Common Buzzard that I managed whilst away, which allows a decent comparison of the structure and physique of the two species.




Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Garden jewel

When we got back home, Sunday morning, one of my first jobs was to re-establish the garden feeding station. Whilst we were holidaying the feeders had been packed away along with the sunflower hearts and fat-balls. With no work until 14.00 hrs on Monday, supping my first coffee of the day, sat at my desk in the study, I became aware of a bird feeding on the larger sunflower heart feeder. Grabbing my bins allowed me to confirm the presence of a Greenfinch, the first of the autumn, absolutely brilliant! What a sorry state of affairs that such a sighting could arouse such emotion by appearing at the feeders.

A wonderful surprise to watch this bird at our feeding station
Less than a decade ago these birds were a "given", just like hedgehogs, yet now very much a garden rarity -  in 2019 I'll see more Mediterranean Gulls during the year over our bungalow.  This individual, however, looked to be very healthy with no signs of the "trichinosis" disease (swollen feet being the most obvious symptom) which has so decimated the UK Greenfinch population. Hopefully this is the start of a recovery for this species and they can, once again, return to the population levels of yesteryear?

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

A Daihatsu Cuore - let's go exploring

There can be no doubt that rewards seem so much more deserved when effort is required to achieve the result. Birding on Kefalonia, this year, has been very much an attempt to amass the best trip list I could achieve. That I finished the fortnight with a very modest sixty-five species speaks volumes about the challenges I faced. Having holidayed on this beautiful island for the past five years, always the second and third weeks of September, I had some idea of what to expect, yet every holiday has been different. I have a favourite walk, which covers some very varied terrain, thus ensuring I give myself the best chance of discovering the most diverse mix of species the weather conditions will allow.  In 2019 there was an added dimension to this exploration; Carrie-Anne & Craig arrived, unannounced, totally out of the blue. They'd planned to celebrate Carrie's birthday (I won't say how old - cos I'm a Gent?) in Barbados, but changed their plans and had secretly booked ten days at Saoulas without telling anyone save Elainie. The sight of these dear friends, in the bar, was one of the best surprises that Bev and I have ever experienced - completely off the scale! They'd arrived on a transfer bus, yet had booked a car for the last seven days of their stay. Craig is a proto-type engineer for Jaguar Land Rover and the most competent and confident driver I've ever been in a vehicle with. This year their hire car was a "Daihatsu Cuore" and it did us proud. Not quite a, top end, performance, motor of his employers, yet perfectly functional to allow the four of us to explore the hidden gems of this wonderful island. Boy did we do just that?  From Argostoli to Fiskardo, Lixouri to Skala and Sami, during the week we toured the various resorts that provided the backdrop for the filming of Captain Correlli's Mandolin. Absolutely stunning scenery, the island has so much to offer visitors, be they interested in wildlife or not. Advert over, back to my trip listing efforts.

The amazing coloured waters of Myrtos 
With Bev and Carrie-Anne having sun-tans to work on, therefore keeping them fully occupied, Craig and I  were free to go exploring. The Daihatsu provided the means for us to visit habitat that was very different to that along my familiar circuit, so off we went. Craig was as enthusiastic as I, although not too sure what he was expecting to discover? From my perspective it was just great to be able to share the experience and allow him to look at the creatures, which crossed our path, in a different light. The wetlands at the southern end of Argostoli Bay provided us with the best bird watching opportunities, but also allowed us to spend time watching terrapins in the shallow marginal ditches. Lizards, bugs, fish, crabs, butterflies and dragonflies all vied for our attention as we wandered around the various locations, a bit like two kids in a sweet shop!








Although this holiday failed to add any species to my "life list" there were two sightings which really were special. The first was a stunning male Black-eared Wheatear that I discovered on roadside wires during an early morning stroll, the other was a 1st yr Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush that we espied from the car en route to the peak of Mt Einos. Fortunately I was able to get images of both birds, thus allowing me time for prolonged study via the back of the camera.




There's loads more stuff I could write about, so many more photos that need to be sorted out yet, for now, I'll end the holiday blogging and attempt to get back to the reality of life in downtown Dumpton.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Rude awakening

04.30 hrs, Saturday 14th September 2019, Bev and I are awoken by thumping on our door and the cries of, Elainie shouting, "OUT, OUT, OUT!!!!" What the f**k? It didn't, however, take too long to suss the predicament. FIRE, BIG FIRE, and burning all around our apartment complex. The smoke was thick and choking, the skies illuminated by the glow of the flames as two fires roared, out of control, in the olive groves and agricultural/ scrub land within the Lourdas boundaries. The closest the flames came was around 400 m from Saoulas, however, strong winds were depositing ash into the pool and threatening further fires. The fire on the lower slopes was all together a bigger incident and threatened the safety of many properties between Lourdas and Kanali beach.

Camera settings all over the place, thus a very blurred image of the blaze before the planes could get airborne.

Happily, if that's the right terminology, no-one was injured in this latest demonstration of environmental vandalism. These fires are not the result of a casual cigarette end tossed from a car window, oh no! This is blatant arson, carried out in the quest for the mighty dollar. Land can only be developed, have a change of use, if no longer suited to the agriculture. By deliberately setting fire to the parched lands, between existing developments, these mercenary, land grabbing, developers pursue their, dollar driven, manifestos virtually immune to any type of justice?



At it's most intense their were five aircraft plus, a significant number of land based, appliances from around the various island resorts fighting these blazes. At no time did anyone at Saoulas feel in any danger, Elainie's actions were purely precautionary. I couldn't help myself and, along with Craig and Billy, grabbed the camera kit and took a wander down to survey the scene for ourselves. The images that accompany this post are the results.

The early morning scene as viewed from the Saoulas pool

Billy watches on as the local fire crews douse the smoking olive groves next to the
main road in Lourdas

The smouldering scene in the valley below The Andromeda restaurant. 

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Kefalonia dreaming

Bev and I got back home at 02.30 hrs this morning, after enjoying yet another wonderful break on Kefalonia. Time spent in superb surroundings and fabulous company ensured that we returned to the UK fully refreshed and completely chilled. There are plenty of photos to sift through and much to blog about, but the laptop isn't behaving particularly well and getting stuff sorted out is proving to be a struggle. So to get the ball rolling I'll show a few pictures to set the scene.










You might have spotted that there are no birds in this selection. That's deliberate because they were so special that they'll be the subject of a post of their own. Great as it was, it's good to be home!

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Odds, sods and other trivia

Friday, mid-day, my 1956 Hardy "Palakona" Perfection Roach rod came back from Steve Boncey, the skilled craftsman, who'd undertaken the restoration after my stupidity had caused a previous repair to fail. All I will say, for now, is that I don't think the rod could have looked any better when it was brand new? There will be a post about this restoration project when I've had time to get a few photos to accompany my thoughts, Steve's a bloody genius, the rod being absolutely perfect.
Still lots going on around the garden feeding station and in the skies above. After a day off, this morning dawned bright and clear which resulted in at least twenty-four Common Buzzards moving South, or South West, being seen from the garden. The vast majority were way over to the West of Dumpton, yet I still managed to grab a few images of a very dark-phase bird which flew directly over the bungalow.




I finished the session with 24 Common Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, 5/6 Sparrowhawk, 7 Cormorant and an adult Peregrine, plus a lone House Martin which headed north?