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!


Saturday 29 August 2020

Garden wildlife by day and night

 I would, grudgingly, have to acknowledge the Covid-19 pandemic being responsible for my, ever increasing, parochial approach to looking at the wildlife which shares the space I occupy. For me it's no longer about numbers on lists; more like simple pleasure gained from the experience. I can happily look at invertebrates without feeling a requirement to put a name to the species, God forbid the need to stick a pin through it and place it under a microscope, much in the same way I'm able to catch a "scamp" carp and not need to put it in the sling to place a weight upon the encounter.. It's my game - my rules! Because of the limitations surrounding caring for Bev's mum, we have to be very cautious about where, when and who we meet during our daily routine. The ever present threat of being the carrier of Covid-19, which ultimately could be responsible for Denise's demise, is not something either of us take lightly. Understandably, this places great restrictions upon our ability to lead (semi) normal lives. It won't require the skills of Albert Einstein to spot the enjoyment hedgehogs are providing at present. Using the camera kit has enabled me to start amassing a "rogues gallery" of images which shows there are a minimum of five individuals using our feeding station during the hours of darkness. This is a project which will continue for the foreseeable future.

Both of the above images have been "spot fixed" using the base level 
program which comes with Microsoft software. Not too sure that it works?

As much fun as the hedgehogs are, there is loads of other stuff happening around the garden, day and night, which provides stimulus to keep looking. Over 200 House Sparrows this morning, before dispersing across the Newlands farm land. With so much activity around the feeders it came as no surprise when a juvenile female Sparrowhawk pitched up on a garden bench,. My images are from inside the study, via the double glazed back door - still a very pleasing result under the circumstances.

There's not been too much other stuff going on around the Newlands area recently. With the onset of autumn it must change - surely?

Thursday 27 August 2020

Hedgehogs - continued

Because our garden hedgehog feeding station is open to the elements, as opposed to being housed inside an enclosed space, with restricted access, I am unable to put out the food until I get home from work. With the nights drawing in it is well over an hour after sunset before I manage to set out the stall for the night. Any attempt at preparing our offerings prior to leaving for work would see the hedgehog buffet quickly devoured by the local Herring Gulls. Now some might be wondering why I offer the food in such an open fashion. "What about cats?" Well; I can happily state that the local felines have learnt to give our garden a wide birth. The aviary used to be a very attractive place for cats, until I purchased some high powered water pistols. That I also have a 1959 Webley Mk III air rifle also aids my anti-cat regime. Of course I don't shoot the neighbours pets, but a pellet hitting the fence right next to its' arse certainly has the desired effect. 

I'd been warned of other, unwanted, creatures also being drawn to the food yet have seen no evidence for myself. Gary and Julie use a trail cam to monitor the activity around their feeding station and have, on occasion, seen Brown Rats and Grey Squirrels helping themselves. If this is happening, unbeknown to me, I'm not overly bothered at present. What I do know is if there is any food left over, cum the dawn, then our Herring Gulls are on it like a plague of locusts as soon as there's enough light to see! I'd got the feeding station prepared by 21.50 hrs, this evening, and by mid-night there had been at least five different hedgehogs tucking into the Tesco Kitten biscuits. Bloody brilliant!

An absolute privilege to be able to observe these wild creatures at such close quarters. All of the photos were obtained, tonight, from my study doorway and the hedgehogs are so close as to be on the absolute minimum limit of the Sigma 170 - 500 focal range, hence the lack of focus in the foreground.

Tuesday 25 August 2020

The garden hedgehogs

When Bev and I first moved to our bungalow, way back in November 2000, there was no way we could have foreseen the journey ahead of us. My transition from birder/moffa back to specimen hunting was still over a decade away and establishing our garden as a wildlife friendly environment was one of the top priorities. Fortunately for us, Brenda, our next-door neighbour was already well ahead of the game in providing food for the birds and hedgehogs which visited her garden. Indeed, so committed to attracting the local hedgehogs that she'd had a cat flap fitted to her conservatory but removed the flap to allow the animals free access into her home. I must add that at this time hedgehogs were extremely numerous around the locality, large numbers of road casualties indicative of a very healthy population - although not the sharpest pencils in the box! I'm not exactly sure what Brenda used to feed the animals, but feel bread and milk was involved along with cat food. So numerous were these visitors to the garden that I had to surround the moth trap with a wire mesh fence to prevent moths getting taken off the sides.

This very small individual was the first one I photographed when we'd 
started to offer the "Spike's Dinner" hedgehog food. (April 2020)

Then the population absolutely crashed, decimated by disease/habitat loss, to a point where they simply disappeared from the Thanet (UK?) gardens. Road casualties were non-existent, hedgehogs facing extinction in the UK countryside was a message coming from the various wildlife trusts and agencies. I didn't encounter a living animal for several years, any roadside corpse called a "deadgehog" and was something of note around the roadways of East Kent. I'm no expert in the ups and downs of this hedgehog saga, dates and data are not something which stimulate me to get involved with wildlife. No; it was Gary and Julie Pearse who were catalyst to my own garden efforts getting off the ground. It was probably three, or four, years back that Gary first showed me some images of the hedgehogs that Julie was attracting to their back garden, less than a mile away from us. Julie had got rather passionate about these animals and started to colour mark their spines (with a small dab of nail varnish as I recall) so that she could monitor their numbers. Gary then showed me some trail-cam footage of these animals coming to their feeding station - I'm well impressed.

Tucked away in a rather neglected spot, this is the Dumpton Hedgehog Hilton.

It wasn't, however, until lockdown started to impact upon my routine that I actually became serious about this, garden based, project. Searching the internet allowed me to find plans for a hedgehog house, which I then made out of scrap pallet wood obtained from Fuji. Whilst Cathy Newbury, over at Maxim's pet shop was able to supply the "Spike's Dinner" food, and metal dishes, needed for the feeding station. Hedgehogs have been a regular feature around the garden ever since. Right from the start it was clear that several individuals were visiting the feeding station over the course of a night and this remains true today. Exact numbers are difficult to gauge without going to the lengths of actually marking them? I'm doing my best to see if I can discover any features which will allow me to identify the individuals by using the camera kit. To my way of thinking it's an interesting side show, yet not vital, to the overall enjoyment of the venture. Just to have these creatures back in the garden is reward enough for the small effort involved in getting food and water ready for the coming night.

Spike's Dinner - can't say anything negative about the effectiveness
of these hedgehog foods. but they are very expensive!

This brief dalliance with hedgehogs has really opened my eyes to the possibilities of what can be achieved with a modicum of effort. The internet is a wealth of information, via various passionate individuals and societies, all keen to promote the welfare of the UK's hedgehog population. Some excellent feeding advice is also on offer, with a major emphasis on mealworms and the devastating effects they can have upon the animals skeletal make up. Feeding mealworms is an absolute NO NO! Similarly, there is some other advice, which although not saying anything detrimental about the individual brands or products, suggests that anyone feeding these animals should use items that have been produced for the pet market, as they are governed by food standards, whereas the wildlife feed has no such standards in place. I can now vouch for this being a very cost effective way of ensuring the continued good health of my garden visitors. 

Two visitors from Monday night. The solar lights are some cheap rock effect things that
Bev had purchased from The Range - do the job.

Having used, almost constantly, Spike's Dinner; only once have I had to purchase the Mr Johnson's alternative, I am now seeing the benefits of offering Tesco Kitten biscuits - the hedgehogs absolutely adore them. And here's the crux. Spike's Dinner = £9.49/1.3 kg the Tesco biscuits  75 p/500 grms, it really is a no brainer!

75 p worth of hedgehog magnets!

Sunday 23 August 2020

Seeking clarity

 Like every other member of the working masses, this Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc upon my everyday routine. Normality has been replaced by uncertainty and, whilst claiming to provide leadership, our political elite have demonstrated a level of incompetence which beggars belief. Under other circumstances you'd blame political bias, for this behaviour, yet Boris and his band of fellow buffoons have managed to piss off huge swathes of the voting public, whatever their allegiances, with a procession of ill considered policies which have quickly been overturned. But; not before causing further anguish to those directly affected. Politicians might have, conveniently, short memories, the electorate doesn't? You know that the Tories are struggling when The Daily Mail (a right wing scandal rag) starts using headlines decrying the antics of Boris & Cummings and that pathetic excuse for The Secretary of State for Education. Surely this whole bunch of inept clowns must be living on borrowed time? The population of the UK requires leadership with vision and ability, not the circus act that currently exist. If the Tory party are unable to find someone within their current ranks, then might I suggest recruiting from the senior management of Jaguar Land Rover, or any similar world beating business, with qualified, proven, competent and gifted personnel at their helm. 

With all this nonsense, going on in the background, impacting upon the freedoms I'm able to enjoy,  I've difficulty finding focus. I need a viable project to channel my effort, to provide purpose,, and that has been obviously lacking since the declaration of the pandemic. I've been flitting between half-baked targets, without ever getting fired up by the desire to push myself that little bit further. The difference between success and an also ran, the glaringly obvious result. With the outcome of the redundancy situation at Fuji SIS now resolved, I'm now able to start planning with more sense of knowing involved. Carp and eels will fill my angling time until the start of the new pike season then I am toying with the capture of another "wild" twenty to provide the challenge I seek. In reality it would seem that I've another ten weeks of chop and change before the passing seasons produce the conditions for a serious attempt at a "big" pike. Two venues are on my radar; the smaller syndicate water and, far more likely to produce a result, the Royal Military Canal. Both venues have all the ingredients to produce such a fish. The syndicate fishery is almost totally carp biased and all other species seen as pests by my fellow members, so no serious effort is directed at the pike present. However, it is a small pool and unlikely to hold more than a handful of fish in excess of double figures, the peak weight is obviously unknown. The Royal Military on the other hand, has a brilliant track record of producing decent pike and was the venue where Benno, Luke and myself all took our first English twenties since my return to the hobby in 2011.

February 2013

December 2016

December 2018

It seems crazy to be wishing my life away, pandering after targets which are in the future, I'm trying to stay focused on today, whilst planning the next stage in the adventure. Last week I lost what could have been a very big eel. I was doing something which I'd not tried previously and was, therefore, unprepared for the savage nature of the battle when I set the hook. I was fishing at range, well 40 m or so, for the first time and didn't put enough pressure on the fish, allowing it to throw the barbless hook after twenty seconds? Gutted, bemused, angry - I don't really know how I felt, but one thing's for sure, I'm going back for another session. Three sessions on the RMC over the past fortnight have resulted in eleven bites, just one fish hooked and landed, the eels are not of the stamp they once were. Baits are being nibbled by bootlaces incapable of getting the size 6 hook in their mouth. The screaming alarm and resultant strike, just see me pull the bait out of their gobs, the hook never in the equation? 

I'm a member of the most prestigious carp syndicate within the Thanet boundaries yet, with one exception, have not bothered to cast a baited hook in their direction. On the only occasion I did, it took two and a half hours to get a bite, so what's going on? Well in a year when nothing makes sense, I've been doing just that. Not making sense; and if I don't know where I'm headed it's bloody sure that no-one else does. No Loch Awe, no Kefalonia, and so many other experiences being put on hold by the combination of Covid-19 and caring for Bev's mum, with all that this entails, it's not really a surprise? 

I'm extremely fortunate to be able to derive pleasure from the simple experiences to be had using my eyes in, and around, the garden. It doesn't matter if I'm looking at House Sparrows, Hedgehogs or "big skies", there is always something to keep me interested. Capturing such moments using the camera kit, just assists with the enjoyment.

Saturday 15 August 2020

Nothing changes - five weeks on

I couldn't make this up? Just to let you know, I'm such a highly regarded member of the Fuji SIS crew, I'm not being allowed to take voluntary redundancy! This is despite others being made jobless on a compulsory basis. "Needs of the business" being the reason given. Can't say that I'm overly surprised by the decision, although feel that the whole affair has been a bloody shambles since the initial announcement. Five weeks of total chaos means that shop floor morale will suffer as a result of today's decisions, of that I'm convinced. But for me, at an individual level, I'm just happy to know what's now happening, going forward, and can start to make plans accordingly. The thing that is most pleasing is the fact that I'm now back in control of my own destiny and can make decisions, pertaining to employment, based upon personal circumstances. I'd need to be certified should I moan about the situation that now exists as "normal" for us. There are so many others who will be adversely affected by the fall out from this lunacy, A recession? What's that all about? I remain in employment and will have no difficulty paying my way Still, that's enough about the work situation, time to write about other stuff!

With Covid-19 not going away, any time soon, and Bev's mum still living with us, we've to remain vigilant about any social contact we engage in. Obviously there have been many medical advancements, since the onset of this crazy pandemic, yet neither of us are willing to mix with other households, more than is absolutely essential. shopping and the like! Pubs, clubs, holidays and beaches ain't likely to see us partake anytime soon. With nothing better on offer, I've been happy to spend my time in and around the garden using the BWKm0 vibe as my inspiration. Looking at familiar species, with a different mind-set, has allowed me to glean much enjoyment from very ordinary encounters. 

House Sparrow numbers are building steadily and it is not unusual for flocks in excess of three figures to be encountered along the gardens or out on the huge areas of stubble which remain after the harvest around Newlands Farm. Getting an accurate count of these birds would require a coordinated effort, thus unlikely to be undertaken, but one thing's for sure. House Sparrows are doing very well around this part of Thanet. Other birds around the garden are pretty much as expected, with just the occasional juvy Willow Warbler to add a little sparkle. A recently fledged Rose-ringed Parakeet was a surprise visitor at the feeding station, with none of the agility or guile of the adults, it made hard work of getting sunflower hearts from the metal feeder. 

Adult making light work of it

This scruffy youngster struggled

Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Common Buzzard sightings are regular, if not daily, yet the local gulls still get agitated whenever one appears over the area. The Herring Gulls have now fledged from the three nests along Vine Close and one cheeky individual has taken to begging outside the study door. Constantly offering that whinging squeal, whilst awaiting me to put out some grub, it does offer a chance to play around with the cameras.

Hedgehogs are now a nightly feature in the garden, coming to feed on the "Spike's Dinner" we provide, along with the all important water. Common Pipistrelle bats are also recorded whenever I use the detector at dusk. This excellent piece of kit also picks up other inaudible noises, out there in the darkness, and what I assume must be crickets (?) can also be heard clicking away via the technology inside the Magenta 5. 

An absolute joy to have several of these wonderful animals visiting our garden.
I am struggling to get an image without getting the reflection of the flash. I'm sure that there
is a photoshop technique available, just I'm too lazy to look!

So that's your lot. Now that my fate has been given a semblance of order I will attempt to get this blog back to some level of normality, if that's a term which can be applied to my rambling nonsense?

Tuesday 11 August 2020

August cross roads

 Just three more working days before I learn my fate, as decided by the hierarchy within Fuji SIS. I think that I'm in an extraordinarily good position as it won't make much difference to the way life will go on, in Bev and my little world, whatever the outcome. I'm quite philosophical about the whole spectrum of this enforced situation. There is no question about my enjoyment of being part of the factory floor environment and it will be that, more than anything else, which I will miss should retirement be the result of the process. On the other hand, unlike so many others, my head has not allowed me to plan for the un-employed scenario. I work because I want to, not have to, and as such could walk away without blinking an eye-lid should the day dawn when I decide I've had enough. But I haven't, so the outcome of the company's restructuring program will be a big part of how my journey proceeds. 

I'm sort of hoping that my services are no longer required, yet haven't allowed myself to explore the freedom it entails because I won't wish my life away. I'm quite sad, I suppose, in that I can't make plans based on assumption preferring, instead, to wait for facts before deciding on my next course of action. It's so easy to build up hope only to have the rug pulled from beneath your feet!

As I wrote about, in the last post, my eel fishing effort is drawing to an close as the "split cane thirty" project begins to reassert itself in my angling priorities. The Covid-19 fall-out has ensured that any plans, Benno and I harboured about the tidal Stour, came to zero because of factors way beyond our control. The desire hasn't been lost, rather put into the pending tray for future reference, we will pick up the baton again when the situation allows. So, on Sunday afternoon, in sweltering conditions I started to assemble the kit in readiness for my first split cane carp session of 2020.

I'd walked across to visit Cathy Newbury at her pet shop, Maxim's, over in Newington, where I purchased all the ingredients for my party mix - she still can't get hold of "Spikes" semi-moist hedgehog food? The first batch had been soaking in the slow cooker for nearly 18 hours before cooking; the dial set to low, it takes the best part of eight hours before this concoction is ready; awaiting the secret ingredients which mark it down as mine when introduced into the syndicate pools (any fishery). My rig mechanics and terminal gear have to be much the same as every other angler, at the syndicate, will be using. My only edge will be the fact that I'm well able to look outside the box and decide on a course of action which won't mimic those of the "carp angling influencers/salesmen" on Youtube. "Effort equals success" a quote which I have no problem aligning myself with. I also recognise that by doing the same as everyone else I will achieve nothing more than anyone else! It is a mantra to which I base my angling approach. My recent eel sessions have been serenaded by the "plip plop" of catapulted boilies being introduced into the water, in huge amounts, by fellow members who aspire to catch carp. 

If I succeed, then it must be on my terms, governed by the very simple desire to do it my way.  Even if I do find myself surplus to the needs of Fuji SIS, unlimited time will not become a weapon in my armoury. Having been there when the late/great Alan Wilson first demonstrated the benefits of time banditry I remain convinced by the riposte offered by Jim Gibbinson. "No substitute for time?" was the statement emblazened across the angling media, "Yes there is - it's called ability" was Jim's reply and his results certainly backed up his commitment to this belief. I've been happy to follow his alternative strategy throughout my angling adventure. Obviously I still enjoy the "camping" involved with our trips to Loch Awe as I  would should France, Spain or anywhere else take my fancy. But this style of bait and wait, social, angling will remain the exception which proves the rule. With free time limited I work so much harder in order to achieve my goals and it is this focus which ensures success is always a pleasant experience. I feel it's been earned, not fluked because time is used as a disguise for inability.

So that's it for my latest rambling offering. Steve Gale, Gavin Haig, Jono L and Seth G have all been blogging about stuff which is close to my heart, although not from a perspective which I view the world. Just great to read the thoughts of other, like-minded, souls during this period of uncertainty.

BWKm0 - No 67 - Green Sandpiper at 09.20 hrs on Saturday, crazy!

Friday 7 August 2020

Angling and a BWKm0 mega

 I thoroughly enjoyed my session, down at the syndicate, yesterday evening. Only two other members on the bank, so swim choice wasn't really an issue, but one that I fancied had been taken. Hey - ho, no big deal, and I quickly did a lap of the smaller pool before settling on the swim which I occupied on opening night (June 15/16th). 

Within ten minutes of casting out the right hand rod was away and I found myself attached to a tiny "jack" neatly hooked in the scissors, thanks to the "twig" rig. Quickly dealt with, the rod was recast and I sat back to watch the sun disappear below the western horizon. The bat detector was soon in use and the local Daubenton's bats put on a magnificent show as the light faded away and darkness fell. The wind was negligible and, as the moon rose over the Eastern horizon, I had a play around with the camera kit. Nothing to get excited about, but something else to experiment with at a later date?

I hadn't long put the camera away, when the left hand alarm signalled a bite. It was now 23.00 hrs and time I should be headed for home, so the resultant eel - 2 lbs 9 oz - was quickly photographed on the weigh sling before being returned. Just one other thing to mention about this session. It was well after dark, whilst I was messing around with the bat detector, when a falcon sp. twice flew over the fishery. Very flickery wing beats, definitely hunting, this is one of those sightings which must go down as unknown. Hobby or Peregrine being my best guess, but that's as far as it goes.

So I pack up, well pleased with my efforts, and drive home with that satisfying feeling that only a fellow angler can understand. Bev was still up, watching some crap on t/v, and I had to get the hedgehog food & water ready, so was outside the backdoor when I heard the unmistakable call of a Barn Owl! What the f**k? An August night, in the middle of Thanet, and I experience the most surreal encounter possible. I've been following the antics of Jono and Gavin, via their blogs, pertaining to the Noc Mig technology they're employing. Some of their, and so many others, results are staggering. All I have to say is that "Naked" Noc Migging knocks that technological stuff into a cocked hat. Hearing the call for real is an adrenaline rush that isn't replicated by virtual listening. Only my third Barn Owl record for the patch, my second for the garden yet I fear the first may have been an escape/release as it sat on the fence watching me attend the moth trap!

So my BWKm0 list has reached 66 species, but Autumn is almost upon us and further additions can't be too far away? 

Thursday 6 August 2020

Light at the end of the tunnel?

This morning there was a communication circulated around the shop floor, before being posted on the main noticeboard, pertaining to the ongoing chaos surrounding the Fuji SIS redundancy situation. Two pages of almost useless bluster with one very important exception. Those members of staff who are affected will be notified of the decision at the end of next week (Friday 14th August). As I'm working late shifts, next week, it is possible that I won't learn my fate until the following Monday. With so much incompetence on display I'm beginning to wonder if Dominic Cummings has taken up an advisory role?
Light in the darkening sky. Sunset from the garden yesterday evening, no two are ever the same!

I'm going back down to the syndicate fishery, this evening, for my last eel session for a while. I have enjoyed some good moments, yet don't feel that it's a venue worthy of continued effort. After all, I joined to further the split cane thirty challenge and that's something which retirement (redundancy) will see come back to the forefront of my angling effort. Got quite a bit of catching up to do, blog wise, and the Devon Wildlife Trust announcement about "wild Beavers" is certainly something which needs addressing from a Kent perspective. 
Right, I'm off down the syndicate - toodle pip!

Sunday 2 August 2020

Two coins and a wry smile

This is a cautionary tale which I recall, with great amusement, now that the initial disbelief has abated. Just like many other people, I guess, all my change (1, 2 & 5 p's) is chucked into pots and ice cream tubs whenever it starts to build up in my wallet. It's done for no other reason than to get rid of the shrapnel, nothing more ambitious. A couple of weeks back, when the Saturday was a write off due to heavy rain, I must have been extremely bored as I started to sort it out and bag up the 5 p's. To my delight, and surprise, there was over £35 worth of these tiny silver coins and I could only guess at the value of the coppers? Certainly lost interest by this stage, so counting it was never likely to happen. What I did do, however, was to search the internet for a method of cleaning these coins, just like we'd done as kids with those pennies given us by our grand parents. Plenty of commercially produced products available, yet I was drawn to the use of white vinegar, as suggested by some coin collectors, and decided to give it a bash. I had one small problem in as much as there was no white vinegar in the cupboard, so normal vinegar, watered down, would have to suffice. I grabbed a dozen, or so, 2 p coins and dropped them into the solution. Thirty minutes later and I fished them out, very impressed by the result. Although the coins weren't gleaming, they were far cleaner than when they'd been dropped in. A quick going over with a toothbrush, then a buff up with a soft rag and "Brasso" - job's a good'un. Now this is were the fun started. Out of curiosity I checked the dates of these coins and discovered that one of them was minted in 1971, the year when the UK went decimal.

Like an idiot, I Googled the value of such a coin, being directed straight to Flea Bay. What the f**k? There were three coins, of this date and denomination, the cheapest one on offer at £4,725. 
"Bev, quick, get here!" That's a holiday in my money and I'm already starting to doubt the wisdom of cleaning the item; probably knocked a grand off its' worth?
Fortunately Bev is far more level headed, than I, where money is involved and suggested looking at a coin dealers website before counting the profit. Good advice, the real value of such a coin is around $8, and that's the US dollar, so not even £8! Quite what those chancers, on Flea Bay, are hoping for is a mystery but, as I've been told, it's only worth what someone else is prepared to pay. So instead of paying for another trip to Kefalonia, whenever we're able to get back there, this new found wealth won't pay an hour's airport parking at Gatwick. 
So what about the second coin? This one is a part of my family's history and was found in the box which also contained my Great Uncle Joe Lawrence's WWI medals. It is a George V one penny, dated 1916. Joe had signed up as a 15 year old and served as an infantryman throughout the entire period. The horrors he experienced went with him to the grave, never once did he mention the war to us kids.  

That same coin dealers website has similar coins on offer for around $50. The one that sits proudly on the shelves in my study has no value that money can attain - absolutely priceless. 

So there you have it, a two post day and further exploration of "New Blogger" with all it entails. Early shift for the coming week and, hopefully, some light shed on what happens next in the redundancy situation? All I want is a decision, a finishing line, then can start to plan for the future. Not knowing is the hardest part of the current state of play. Here's looking forward to a resolution for the Fuji SIS redundancy chaos and, hopefully, not the nonsense akin to a Google search. Senior HR personnel,  actually being on site, might be a good starting point?


Over the past few weeks I've spent several evenings in pursuit of eels. It shouldn't be too much of a surprise, due to my lack of blogging, to learn that I've not been particularly successful. Just thirteen fish, thus far, the best weighing 2 lbs 10 oz although I did get bitten off, something I've never experienced before, by an eel around 4 lbs. In an effort to avoid a repeat experience I trawled the internet and stumbled across a Youtube offering by Duncan Charman and acquainted myself with the "twig rig". 
Surely it was a wind-up? But no, it really does work. The main purpose being to prevent deep hooking and, therefore, avoid getting bitten off. I had to give it a try and, sure enough, it works a treat. My only problem being that the first three bites I had, using this latest presentation, all came from small jack pike and not the target species. 

Sunset, as seen from the road near Saltwood, on my drive to the RMC

Not being able to rock up, on a whim, to the syndicate fishery during the weekend I took a drive down to the Royal Military Canal for a very spur of the moment session. I went to a section that I knew held good numbers of eels, due to their antics during our pike fishing exploits. I missed a bite within ten minutes of casting out and had to wait another hour before finally catching my first eel on the new rig. Exactly as Duncan had demonstrated, the hook was in the scissors and easily removed with no damage to the eel or the rig. Excellent!

Self takes are always a bit hit or miss. With eels they're bloody impossible!

Whilst waiting for the alarms to do their stuff I played around with my bat detector but was to be disappointed by the paucity of bats present along this particular section of the canal. I did, however, manage to hear three owl species, Tawny, Little and Barn, then add Long-eared as I drove back home, just after midnight; one perched on a roadside fence post. 

Saturday 1 August 2020

Nice touch

I have no idea who is behind this Spitfire NHS tribute but thank them for their efforts. I learnt about the fly over at Margate QEQM Hospital on Thursday, so was able to make arrangements to be on site, this morning, in plenty of time to find myself a decent vantage point. No surprise that many other local folk had also made the effort to see this wonderful aircraft, adorned with its' "THANK U NHS" logo emblazened on the underside of those trademark wings. 

The plane was over the hospital for no more than a minute, but that was plenty of time for everyone present to grab their photos and a spontaneous round of applause broke out as the Spitfire headed off towards Dover on the next leg of the flight. Social distancing was observed, without any bother, and the mood was one of community and celebration - a nice vibe amongst those present.