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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Sunday, 27 October 2019

Completely out of the blue

Work is off the scale within the digital manufacturing facility at Fuji. Eleven hour shifts are great for the bank balance, in the run up to Christmas, but do impact, in a very negative fashion, on any plans for angling during the week. Still, can't have it both ways; working overtime is a personal choice not a mandatory stipulation and I'm happy to accept every extra penny that's offered. In two years, five weeks, I'll be retired and, as such, these decisions will no longer be an option but, until then, I'll be saying yes whenever asked.


So where's this going? Well, I've managed a couple of early morning sessions, over the weekend, in search of pike and both were successful. Saturday saw me enduring battering winds and squally showers, whilst attempting to position my baits amongst the remnants of underwater cabbage patches in a very narrow drain. Two fish, both small jacks, fell to these tactics ensuring I returned home very happy, if somewhat windswept! By contrast, this morning I was back on more familiar territory, at one of my favourite venues, out on the marsh, resulting in the first double (12 lbs 3 oz) of the season falling to my popped-up smelt.

Got a new hat - keeps the rain off my glasses thus assisting me using my
 binoculars during inclement conditions. Oh yeah - I look like the real deal,
a proper speccy hunter!
This particular drain network is situated on the "patch" of my mate, Neil, a local birder, and we regularly cross paths whilst I'm fishing out there. As there's always something to see, whilst I'm awaiting the bite alarms to signal a take, Neil is keen to hear about what I've seen. So it was this morning, best I could offer was a Merlin, a calling Greenshank, a dawn flurry of Fieldfares which were my first of the autumn and a few groups of Swallows moving south along the drain. We said our good-byes and off he wandered to complete his regular circuit. Less than ten minutes later, as I was going through the self-take routine, another birder came walking along the drain.
A long story, but after the ritual introductions, the newcomer said "You don't recognise me, do you?"
The penny dropped and there he was, Andy Johnson, him of Sandy Point Semi-P Plover and Elegant Tern fame, once again out on the East Kent marshes as he had been whilst serving as a warden at Sandwich Bay Obs all those years ago. We had a fantastic chat, attempting to catch up on what's been happening in our own little worlds, and reminiscing about the good old days. After all it was Andy who was responsible for Benno and I running a moth trap when we lived in Ash, way back in the summer of 1994. Sadly our time was up all too soon, and we parted company wishing each other all the best. A brilliant surprise and putting the cherry on the top of what had already been a very enjoyable weekend. Another fifty-four hour week to look forward to, inside the factory - it'll be a walk in the park! What will next weekend produce?

That rod is 11' 6" long and could almost touch the other bank if held at the tip of the handle.
This is typical of many of the field side drains that criss-cross the East Kent marshes.
It will be a venue like this that will allow Emily to experience her first pike fishing adventure.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Small victory

"Effort equals success" A phrase that I associate with Steve Whitby - TheCarpCatcher - who's Youtube offerings are refreshingly different from the regular, look what I've caught, stuff. My own carp angling is about as far removed from this stereo-typical circus as it is possible to get and, yet, there are many facets of the quest, on whatever side of the fence, where there is overlap. It's true of all fishing situations, doesn't matter which species you are targeting, location is the number one priority if an angler is to have any chance of success. Only when you have found your quarry are the other aspects, bait, rig choice and associated decisions, of any significance.
Last weekend I discovered some feeding carp in one of my local drains yet failed to get a bite in two subsequent visits, despite some liberal pre-baiting. I made it back out there on Friday afternoon, with a window of some six hours available to me. I set myself up in familiar style, but altered my bait presentation to an all particle approach. Chick peas and maize being my favoured choices, fished in association with a buoyant plastic grain of IB maize just to negate the weight of my hooks. Grateful that I'd decided to barrow out my brolly, along with my regular kit, I endured a fearful thunderstorm in relative comfort before the night calmed down and I could concentrate on my angling efforts. I had registered several occurrences on the chick pea rod, before it eventually rattled off only for me to lose the culprit in the far marginal vegetation. Absolutely nothing I could do to change the outcome, so the rod was recast and I sat back to resume my long wait. It was 22.35 hrs when my other rod was away and this time there were no mistakes and, after a spirited battle, a nice characterful Common Carp guided over the net chord.




A really strange looking carp with no pelvic fins. Not that this deformity caused
the fish to fight any less tenaciously. 
Not a monster, just 9 lbs 8 oz on the scales, but never has a fish been more welcome. I feel like I'd really earned this one; all the struggles of the previous week had led to this capture and, as such, my efforts had been rewarded. A Barn Owl and Egyptian Goose provided some interest as the sun went down and I heard my first Wigeon, of the autumn, as I was packing my kit away just before mid-night. It looks like I might be able to grab one more session before family and work commitments prevent any further outings until next weekend. Now I've managed to unlock some of the code surrounding the capture of the carp in this venue, I will be far more confident in my approach when I am able to get back out there.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Three in four days - blanks that is!

My third session, in four days, out on the marsh resulted in another total blank, not a sniff! The weather forecast couldn't have been more wrong if they'd predicted a tornado or three feet of snow! A dull grey sunset, with rain, clearing by 23.00 hrs, that'll do for me - so off I went in search of a wild carp. The first surprise was a Mink swimming across my chosen drain, the first I've seen out here in eight years! Second was the ever clearing sky as the light fell away, leaving a star studded, ebony sky until the "Hunter's Moon" rose from the eastern horizon, passing through some low cloud out over the Channel, creating a weird half-light over the marshland. I pratted about with the EOS 400d, attempting to get some atmospheric images, but only had the 18 - 55 mm lens so struggled big time. Once it had cleared the low lying clouds, the rising moon caused temperatures to drop like a stone with the resultant heavy dew soaking everything, me included.

This rather strange image is the result of a 5 sec exposure with the camera mounted on a tripod.
A technique well outside of my usual photographic boundaries.
A Barn Owl floated past and the occasional fish signalled its' presence by rolling, noisily, upon the flat calm surface of the drain; a two fingered salute from the angling gods? I should have packed up there and then but, knowing that this would be my only opportunity this week, stubbornly hung it out until 22.00 hrs. More bait in the swim before I left, I will go back out to introduce further freebies on Thursday with the plan to return with the rods on Saturday. This might all change dependant upon the weather.

The heaviest so far Certainly not the best looking!
I'm sure that my luck will change and another wild carp will succumb to my baiting strategy. Over the years this system has provided me with some fabulous fish and I remain hopeful that one more will grace my net before the changing seasons dictate I  return to the serious business of chasing big perch.






Monday, 14 October 2019

Unexpected twist

My recently renovated Hardy Palakona "Perfection Roach" rod still awaits a decent outing. The perch season is upon us and I'd harboured thoughts of putting the rod through its' paces as my quest unravelled. I'd even gone so far as constructing a few floats, from Herring Gull feathers and wine bottle cork, in order to pursue this project with an eccentric edge. Obviously these contraptions wouldn't win any prizes at a tackle show, yet they'll do the job I require thus are very much in keeping with the rest of my angling kit?


Well, I suppose this would be true if I wasn't becoming such a bloody "tackle tart"! It all started when I purchased a pair of Nash Siren R3's (bite alarms) and a receiver box, absolutely stunning bits of technology and light years ahead of the other roller alarms I'd been using. Expensive, without any question, but paid for using an award for long service that was presented to me by Fujifilm - result!
Happy to continue to stick with my ABU's, Mitchells and various centre-pins, reels have not been subject to any scrutiny, because they have never caused me any issues. However, all of this was to change when I watched a Nash promo on Youtube - Scope reels. Camo did the deal and I became the proud owner of a pair of GT 4000's. Please don't think that I have any alliance to this company, when I knew Kevin Nash he was selling carp sacks off trestle-tables at NASA conferences, trading as The Happy Hooker! No, I would be just as happy to mention Fox, Korda, Avid or any other brand had they provided me with such products. Just like the alarms, these new reels are head and shoulders above those I'm accustomed to. Build quality is first class and they don't look bad either - in fact they are right smart, in a quirky sort of way?  Again, they are very costly and am only in possession of these items because of an extraordinary turn of events involving my Unilever pension and The Royal London - nuff sed!


Ancient and modern - 1959 B James & Son Mk IV's kitted out with the Nash reels and alarms.
I wonder what Dick Walker would have made of it?
Despite stating that my pike fishing is a cold weather pursuit, I took a wander out on the marsh, Saturday morning, and endured a very wet blank. It wasn't, however, a wasted effort as I was to witness some very positive feeding activity by several carp and at least one tench! Nothing for it but to return early the next morning for a short recce session. My reward was a repeat of the previous day apart from a "liner" but I saw enough to encourage me to get back out there as soon as possible. My desire to finish the challenge will keep me going back until the day dawns when that thirty falls to a split cane. Doesn't mean I need to morph into Chris Yates - I'll happily use all the technology available in order to deliver on that promise to Dad.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Why do we blog?

If this question were asked of twenty bloggers; I am sure that there would be twenty different answers, although all would revolve around a basic theme of a genuine desire to share experiences and thoughts with an unknown audience. Quite how long this initial enthusiasm endures is obviously biased towards the individual involved and their choice of subject matter. The more specialised, the quicker their material can become exhausted and, as such, output declines before grinding to a complete halt.  My cyber pal, Steve Gale, has recently posted about the demise of the blogger and offers his own thoughts on the sustainability of his superb North Downs & Beyond . As with all social media platforms, they are only as relevant as the number of folk prepared to use/visit them. Thus, it would seem, blogging has become a casualty of technological advance where upon instant access platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, have stolen a march on the more labour intensive blog format. All those concerns that Steve alludes to are mirrored by many others, as can be confirmed by reading the comments in response to his post, I've certainly had cause to look at my own efforts due to the ongoing saga with caring for Bev's mum and the associated disruption.
I think it is very important to remember why we started blogging in the first place. An ego trip, quite possibly but, as the project evolves you, as the author, are taken on an adventure, pushing through boundaries which previously you never knew existed.  It is that aspect which means the most to me, as an individual, and I will continue to offer my spin on subjects broad and wide, all the time I derive enjoyment from the exercise. After all, this is a form of recreation - not my job! It matters not a jot if my output is diminished due to lack of enthusiasm or material, if I need a break I simply take one. Of Esox was started from the ashes left by my Non-conformist original. It's been a fabulous voyage into a virtual world inhabited by real people, many of whom have become "mates". I've been entertained and inspired by the writing and photos of so many individuals, none of whom I'm ever likely to meet.
So what if the format is outdated and has now become the domain of the over fifties. It might no longer be cutting edge, yet no reason to abandon it completely. All the time bloggers are using the written word to convey their thoughts the platform remains a superb facility by which individuals can offer their own slant on the things that make them tick. Who knows, someone, somewhere, might just be inspired by your words and start looking at the world from a different perspective? I certainly never thought "big skies" would have such an impact until a certain Mr Gale offered his input.

Dawn on the marsh this morning - (13.10.2019)
Sunset over Newlands Farm this evening (13.10.2019) 
Of course, as a blogger, I would like more hits, more comments left, another two-hundred followers would be nice but, when all said and done, I write because I enjoy doing so. If others wish to view what this Thanet Yeti is rambling on about, so be it, but it's not why I do it - simply a consequence of the exercise. If a complete stranger is stimulated to pick up a rod or pair of binoculars, because of these writings, then my efforts are not in vain. I have so much to be positive about, purely due to my involvement within "blogland" that any minor niggles are almost par for the course and borne of some form of self-imposed expectations rather than genuine negativity. So, for what it's worth, this is my slant on the current state of affairs. If your own blogging is becoming a chore, take a break, as long as you want, there's certainly no need to chuck in the towel! God willing, I'll still be here when you decide to come back.


Thursday, 10 October 2019

Filling time

With the health and well being of Bev's mum, Denise, at the forefront of our priorities, at present, the daily routine is very much in limbo. We seem to be chasing between carer's requirements and those of the the two hospitals at Ashford and Margate. We've nothing but admiration and praise for all those medical personnel who've contributed to the treatment that Denise has received since we've returned from Kefalonia. Bev is on hand, 24/7, I have the distraction of work to attend and, therefore, break up my days. Fuji have been superb, as always, in their support during this difficult period.
Obviously, fishing and general wildlife encounters have been very much at a premium, so I've not had much to blog about - surprise, surprise! Last Saturday, whilst driving to and from Scroggins, I saw a Barn Owl on the airport fence at Manston, then a Hobby over the road at Sarre on my return. A Long-eared Owl flapped, all stiff winged and wooden, over the road as I approached Pluck's Gutter on Monday evening and there has been a decent nocturnal passage of thrushes over Dumpton during the past few nights. Song Thrushes and Redwings have dominated, but I have managed to pick out a few Ring Ouzel thanks to the Sound-cloud recordings posted on the Portland Bill Observatory website. Vis mig is very minimal and restricted to a few flurries of Goldfinches, odd Meadow Pipits, Grey Wagtails and occasional Chiffchaffs.



Always got the camera close to hand, whilst I'm sat in my study, so have grabbed quite a few record shots of the activity around the garden. Not much, I grant you, but it helps to keep me sane?

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Flatland sun rise

I managed to grab a few hours, yesterday morning, and headed over to Scroggins in search of a perch or two. Although successful in my quest, the size of my captures was rather disappointing but, when all said and done, does suggest that the future of perch fishing in the venue is secure. All those I caught were in fine condition and vivid colour; they just need to put on a few pounds! I'd arrived well before 05.00 hrs only to discover that my favoured swim was occupied by an overnight carp angler - drat! In all honesty, it wasn't that big a deal, I went round to the opposite bank and fished a swim that Benno and I had taken some decent fish from last winter. The added bonus, as it turned out, is that this swim is on the west bank and, therefore, allows a direct view across the marsh towards the rising sun. As the first chink of light appeared on the horizon I mounted my trusty EOS 400d on a tripod and started to click away as the sky gradually brightened. With heavy cloud cover, and the ever present threat of rain, this particular dawn was spectacular and far outweighed my failures as catcher of big perch.





I called in at Camo's on the way home, just for a quick catch up and to replenish a couple of bits. Whilst we were engaged in idle chit-chat a guy came in to purchased some pike fishing kit and I suddenly realised that in my early angling efforts, my mates and I would be mad keen to get pike fishing from October 1st. Today, I associate pike fishing with frosty dawns and leafless trees, so generally get into some type of groove in the run up to Christmas. Having caught more than my fair share of big pike I harbour no ambitions beyond continuing to enjoy my angling, size is now immaterial, and will be very content to make the most of whatever fate decrees. I have made one commitment, however, and that is to take my grandson, Harry, to catch his first pike.  A November session might be required before it gets too cold for him to tag along, watch this space.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Storm on the horizon

Whilst I'll be the first to admit that I want out of the EU, the populist rhetoric, antics and confrontational language of clown prince Boris Johnson is totally unacceptable. A womanising, liar with an agenda for self promotion, to hell with the consequences, doesn't sit comfortably with my own desire to leave the constraints of a German dominated European Union. We joined a "common market" - so let's negotiate a way to get back to that simple concept. A sovereign state within a like-minded trade association - surely it's not such a radical way forward? Will it happen? We've got thirty days to find out if our politicians are able to find a way to put the national interest above those of party loyalty and its' divisive manifestations. I won't be holding my breathe!

The view from my study, this evening, as a storm approaches from the West
Bev's mum has spent two spells in hospital since we returned from our holiday, such is the rapid decline in her health. This latest emergency was due to a heart attack and has resulted in her admission into The William Harvey Hospital over in Ashford, just along the road from the Batchelor's factory that was the catalyst for my moving from Hertfordshire to Kent way back in 1993. Under these circumstance the political shambles is little more than an annoying sideshow, Denise's health and well-being far more important in our little world. Fishing is nowhere on the chart until we get back to a level of normality that currently eludes us. So with Bev spending prolonged periods at the hospital I'm tasked with picking up Emily from school and keeping her entertained and fed, prior to her Mum picking her up some time after 18.00 hrs. The best I can hope is watching the garden feeding station and capturing a few shots of the visitors. The BTO ringed Starling put in a brief reappearance on Sunday and yesterday I was treated to a quick burst of action when a group of six Long-tailed Tits dropped in for a swift munch. The light was awful and ISO 1600 1/320th sec required to capture anything remotely usable; under the circumstances I'm happy enough with these results.




Bev and I will get through this but, for the foreseeable future, blogging will be less about Esox and much more about Observations - mainly from the back door!