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!


Sunday 31 December 2023

2023 - looking back and moving on

As seems to be tradition, within the blogging community I frequent, my final post of the year is in the form of a review of the past twelve months. From an angling perspective it could easily be summarized by Pike, loads of Carp and then more Pike. However this wouldn't do justice to the fantastic year I've just experienced.  


Although I didn't actually begin the RMC project until 27th January, the year saw me start with some Carp fishing down on the club venue where I managed to get off to a great start with a couple of "doubles" very quickly. It was this simple beginning which was to provide me with the target of catching a "double" figure Carp in every month of the year. By the time March 14th arrived, my Pike fishing had been superb with four "twenties" and eight "doubles" visiting the unhooking mat during this period.

March - 21 lbs 2 oz of RMC Pike

Carp fishing then dominated proceedings right through to November, when I actually threw in the towel for my project and returned to Pike fishing. What had occurred during the interim period was, however, something which I couldn't have dared hope for. My year's final Carp tally reads like a dream, from my stance. Forty-two "doubles" and six "twenties" means that it is the most successful campaign I've ever embarked upon. I have to give a massive heads up to Kevin, at Sandwich Coarse Fishery, for allowing me access to Victory Lake on so many "sundowner" sessions. It was this venue which took my fishing to another level between July and October.

By early November, I was back out on the flatlands, and very fortunate to capture a stunning Pike on my very first visit. Another really nice fish was to follow a few days later before I embarked upon the RMC. By Christmas my results had included another six "doubles" from ten Pike landed with the best one being an absolute pristine fish of 18 lbs 2 oz. 

How could I say anything negative about what has been my most productive year, statistically, that I've ever experienced. The combined figures reveal fifty-eight "doubles" and ten "twenties". Not too sure I'll ever beat it? 


I really don't have too much to write about away from the two holidays we spent in Greece. Obviously there will have been one or two sightings, locally, which are worthy of mention yet I can't deny the fact that, now days, birds only take centre stage when I'm on holiday. 

The May holiday in Pefkohori, NE Greece, was to provide me with a "lifer" in the shape of an adult male Collared Flycatcher. Other highlights included Little Bittern, European Roller, Squacco Heron and Levant Sparrowhawk. Our second break was on the wonderful island of Corfu and provided me with some wonderful opportunities to watch Honey Buzzard migration. 


Undoubtedly, my dalliance with running a garden moth trap has provided some real bonus wildlife encounters during the warmer months. Never a serious attempt to do anything more than see what might be attracted to the garden whilst asleep, the results have been amazing. With so many species turning up, including miriad micro moths which were way beyond my comfort zone, two moths stand head and shoulders above all others? 

Light Crimson Underwing

Clifton Nonpareil

One of the real side shows was provided by the influx of Convolvulus Hawk-moths during the early Autumn. My newly found interest in maintaining the garden plants, beyond that of simply keeping the grass cut, ensured that my planters were in good shape to attract these superb insects. I have to admit that I enjoyed playing around with the camera kit as I attempted to capture images of moths in a natural situation as opposed to resting on an egg box!

Not by a long stretch is this a complete review of the events that made up my journey through 2023, but I do hope it provides an insight? As yet, I have not made any firm plans for what I'd like to achieve in the New Year. Fishing, birds, moths and umpteen other options are awaiting the start of 2024. Where will it lead?  I have absolutely no idea, but will continue to offer my slant on life via the platform provided by "blogging".

All that remains is to wish all the visitors to my blog ""A Happy New Year". I am truly grateful for your continued support and hope that 2024 provides everything you wish for. Take care, stay safe and keep enjoying life's journey. - Dylan

Saturday 30 December 2023

Surreal, incredible - the power of the internet

 This afternoon whilst preparing a post (which has now been put on hold) and listening to the football commentaries, on Radio 5 Live, my comments facility received an entry. Before anything makes it onto the blog I have the option to accept or reject the offering, thus cutting out the advertising and conspiracy theory dross which is so prevalent around social media. What was so crazy is that this particular comment was offered about a post I made way back in April 2015. Once I'd read it, I was absolutely overwhelmed; truly humbled by the content. Sadly, despite the incredible impact this had upon me, I've not been able to publish it due to the fact that it contained the email address of the sender. 

This is what started the ball rolling

So what is all the fuss about? Well, the sender was a guy called Simon Walker. "So what?" I feel is the reaction, thus far. If I then tell you that his father was a certain Richard "Dick" Walker, then I hope that the penny drops and you also realise the magnitude of this event. Simon is in the early stages of preparing an exhibition to celebrate his father's life and contribution to angling. He asked if he could use some images of a Heron bite alarm that I'd posted? We've had several email exchanges since and my reply went along the lines of "are you kidding? You can use the actual alarm, which is complete with box, in any way that assists paying tribute to this angling legend"

Photo copyright - Simon Walker

This event is still very early in the planning stages, hence I am unable to provide any further details.  

Thursday 28 December 2023

A Mink saves the day

Tomorrow, 29th December 2023, is Bev and my twentieth wedding anniversary. Where the bloody hell does time go? Because of this momentous occassion, I won't be joining Ben and Luke for the final Pike fishing session of the year but, instead, will be spending the day with the person who has been the biggest influence on my life since we got together in June 2000. Ben and I did get down to the RMC for a Boxing Day morning session. I landed two very small Pike, Ben just got pestered by Eels! I went back down again this morning and have to report that my final session was a total blank. Six other Pike anglers were also present along my chosen stretch, thus my usual leapfrogging approach wasn't an option. I got exactly what I deserved as a result. With the wind howling across the open marsh, it was a surprise to spot a Barn Owl battling its' way alongside the canal, en route to a roost site being my guess. The only other event worthy of note was being able to spend time watching a Mink, hunting on the opposite bank, and grabbing a few record shots in the, less than brilliant, conditions. 

I've not had any serious thoughts about what I'd like to achieve in 2024. At present I am very happy to go wherever life takes me.

Sunday 24 December 2023

Merry Christmas

Just a few words to say a sincere thank-you to everyone who has made the effort to visit my blog during 2023. The statistics reveal incredible support for my written accounts of the events which make up my adventure through life. I'm truly humbled by the fact that visitors come from right around the globe and incredibly grateful to those who've made the effort to offer a comment about the various subjects I covered during the course of the year. 

Ramsgate Harbour this evening - who'd want to live on Thanet?

I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a safe, peaceful and Happy New Year. Pike fishing on Boxing Day, so 2023 blogging isn't quite finished yet!

Saturday 23 December 2023

More harbour rambling

With a huge improvement in light levels, due entirely to a very rare appearance by the sun (remember it?) I headed back down to the harbour for another session with the new lens. I'm hoping to encounter a few Rock Pipits which exhibit plumage traits which are associated with the "Scandinavian" race. I failed dismally, this morning, with just one fleeting, flight view, during my entire visit. The immature male Eider was still present in the outer marina and two Kingfishers were seen as I wandered around the site. Turnstones were numerous and encountered at many points as I did the normal circuit of the harbour. I spent a bit of time getting some more images of birds around the same puddles, as yesterday, outside the Lifeboat Station.

It was down to the gulls to provide any real opportunities to test my, very limited, camera skills with birds in flight. The technology available to me is far superior to anything I've used previously and is certainly far more talented than the long-haired clown holding it. The gulls in the harbour are constantly being disturbed by the crews of the Border Force, off-shore wind farm, Thames Pilot and the local fishing fleet vessels plus the usual pedestrian visitors. Absolutely nothing willful is involved, just everyday activity around this very busy location. Over the years I've been privileged to have seen some really unusual gulls at this site but, today, despite some prolonged scanning, I failed to spot anything other than Black-headed, Herring and Great Black-backs. 

Adult Great Black-backed Gull

1st cy Herring Gull

1st cy Great Black-backed Gull

On my way back towards the van, I spent a while attempting to capture some images of the local Fulmars. All I can say is that it's a work in progress, as I really struggled to get the camera to remain focussed on these fast moving subjects. Only a mile away from the front door, I am confident that this challenge will have a positive outcome once I've had some Youtube tutorage? 

By far and away the best image I captured, of a Fulmar, this morning.
Plenty of scope for improvement, that's for sure.

Friday 22 December 2023

Harbour rambling

 Bev had some last minute stuff she wanted to get sorted, so I was free to spend a couple of hours, mid morning, wandering along the cliff top from Winterstoke Steps down to the harbour. It was overcast and rather breezy, yet I still enjoyed myself pointing the camera at various subjects I encountered on my stroll. The most impressive event was discovering how insane the image stabilization is, when I managed to read a C-R (colour ring) code on the back of the camera, when I had absolutely no chance just looking through my binos. Back in the old days, this Orange ring, with a Black code, would have been reported straight to Paul Roper, of The North Thames Gull Group, but times have changed and I used a link provided via EUring to send details of my sighting.

An adult Herring Gull with C-R P8WT

I got the details back from the North Thames Gull Group  (24.12.2023)

Ringed as a 4th cy/adult at Pitsea Landfill Site, Essex on 19th November 2016
Reported from Ramsgate 4th December 2017
My sighting (22.12.2023) being only the second time this bird has been reported!
The NTGG map is reproduced below - I do hope I'm not doing anything naughty?

Try as I might, I failed to discover any more C-R gulls, or Cormorants and had to make do with lesser fare. The first subject was a proper poser. A Turnstone having a wash and brush up in a puddle right outside the Lifeboat Station. By crouching down, I managed to get a few reasonable images of this individual. 

Next up was a rather unexpected encounter with an immature male Eider which was in the outer marina area, behind the Lifeboat Station. It led me a merry dance before getting bored and swimming directly beneath my position, allowing me to, again, grab a few pleasing images.

I'm having an absolute blast with this new lens and am already formulating a few ideas for what I'd like to achieve in 2024. 

Wednesday 20 December 2023

More camera antics

Bev and I had quite a "to do" list for today, yet I still managed to get out for a couple of hours early this morning. My destination, of choice, being Broadstairs harbour where I hoped to bump into a Purple Sandpiper or two. This decision wasn't quite as random as it might first appear due, in part, to my old mate Ric F suggesting that I do a post comparing the old Sigma lens with my new toy (a Canon EF 100 - 400 mm IS USM Mk I).I might attempt something along those lines, at some point, yet I'd been sorting through some old holiday files, on the external hard drive, and came across a rather pleasing image of an imm Purple Heron, which I'd taken in May 2023 at the Pefkohori Marina, NE Greece. Obviously I ain't going to find a Purple Heron, locally in December, but Purple Sandpipers might just be possible, hence the drive to Broadstairs?

Taken with the Sigma 170 - 500 mm lens on the EOS 70d
Not brilliant, yet certainly good enough for blogging?

I parked up, along the seafront road, just west of the Louisa Bay Hotel, and took a slow stroll along the clifftop path before dropping down beside the Tartar Frigate PH and onto the beach. The sun was quite bright, and still relatively low, which caused me a few issues with light, shadows and contrast as I attempted to scan the rocky shoreline for my quarry. It didn't take too long, to be honest, and I eventually picked out five individuals feeding along this section of the coastal reef.

The first bird of the session

My footwear wasn't particular suited to the task, a pair of leather soled brogues, why? However, with some effort I managed to navigate the slippery rocks and position myself close to a lone bird, busily feeding close to the water's edge. By crouching down, heavily aided by a large camo "fishing jacket", I simply waited for the next bird to come to me. It worked like a dream and I secured a nice sequence of images of these delightful waders.

The image quality provided by the new lens has taken my photography 
to a completely new level.

Once satisfied that I'd achieved what I had set out to do, I walked back into Broadstairs, where I took a detour into Pierremont Park, where I failed to discover any Waxwings. I did, however, manage to grab a rather pleasing image of a Grey Squirrel which, if the truth were told, was a real poser!

I called in at our local, independant, garage, where I enquired about a replacement clutch for the van - ouch! Still, that's something to worry about in the new year. I drove back home, passing Park Avenue, where a mob of "toggers" were assembled. Birdguides continues to report Waxwings being present, yet I am far happier doing my own thing - each to their own, I guess?

Monday 18 December 2023

Last cast before Christmas

I'm writing this intro at 20.30 hrs, on Sunday evening, knowing that my RMC session tomorrow will be the last before the Christmas break. Fear ye not, Boxing Day morning is already pencilled in as a "gimme". A tradition which goes back way beyond when Bev & I first met. The Monday outing, however, will be rather special, in itself, as I've got all day to play with. Quite how many leapfrogs the kit will experience is obviously in the lap of the gods, but I have every intention of giving it the very best shot I can. The van's already loaded, dead baits defrosting and the camera batteries fully charged - let's go Pike fishing!

Yet another Pike falling to the Dyson Rig.
14 lbs 10 oz and taken whilst in mid conversation with a very nice
lady, dog walker, who actually does a bit of fishing herself.

Well, I'm now back home having spent in excess of nine hours actually fishing. During the course of the day I probably covered two thirds of a mile of bank with my leapfrogging approach. Just three Pike succumbed to these mobile tactics, but two more "doubles" is certainly not to be moaned about!  The canal is still carrying a bit of colour, but is certainly in better nick than when I last visited. I had been hoping to play around with the new lens, but the weather put pay to such folly. Although rather mild, it was a dreary, dull, day with a very brisk wind for the most part. Still, there were a few birds to point the binoculars at and the conversations with random passers-by ensured it was another very enjoyable session down besides the RMC.

A well healed scar shows just how lucky this Pike is. That was one big set of jaws
that it escaped from. 15 lbs 10 oz
I think Father Christmas needs to get me a new hat?

Sunday 17 December 2023

Rock Pipits in the sunshine

 Yesterday afternoon, around 14.00 hrs, whilst acting as a taxi service for my grand-daughter, I watched a group of eighteen Waxwings flying north along the Ramsgate Road, skimming low over the Dumpton Park Nissan garage. I have absolutely no idea if they dropped down onto the various local berry sources, yet knowing there were birds on the move I decided to take a wander around the local area, on foot, this morning. I left home around 08.00 hrs and was at the Park Avenue site, where I photographed them yesterday, within twelve minutes. No sign, so I continued on my way, via the network of Public Footpaths and roadways, down to Dumpton Gap. 

I walked the coastal path, opposed to the beach, all the way to Viking Bay before heading back past Broadstairs College and onwards towards home, again via Park Avenue. I didn't see anything particularly noteworthy, yet had a fabulous time playing with the new lens as I pointed it in the direction of (three) Rock Pipits I encountered along the way. Two Pied Wagtails and four Linnets about sums up the passerines, whilst a scan of a flock of loafing gulls failed to produce anything other than Herring and Great Black-backed!

As I made my way back along Park Avenue, there were a few "toggers" gathered, chatting noisily, yet no sign of any Waxwings. I didn't even bother crossing the road and was back home within fifteen minutes, the second coffee of the morning in hand.

Saturday 16 December 2023

Local Waxwings

I saw on the Sandwich Bay Obs website, last night, that there had been 25+ Waxwings seen in Broadstairs. No other info but, knowing that if they were about, the area around Park Avenue/Ramsgate Road and Dumpton Gap would be worth checking. So this morning, after the obligatory coffee, I jumped in the van and drove around to Park Avenue. It's probably 400m in a straight line from the front door, but requires a trip around the houses to actually get there. Well, what d'yer know. Perched in the top of a roadside tree, right next to an ornamental Rowan, were a group of five birds. Get in. One other guy was already there, camera in hand, and he told me that there had been twenty-seven present yesterday. Within seconds of this guy ringing out the news, other "toggers" started to show up. Some proper fancy camera kit on display, yet not a pair of binoculars in sight? Not being part of the gang, I kept to myself and rattled off just nine images, in atrocious light conditions before, suddenly, they were up and away. I quickly followed suit and took a drive around the rest of the area where I felt there might be a chance of spotting some more. Didn't happen and I was back indoors less than forty minutes after leaving. Job done - bloody twitcher!

Friday 15 December 2023

Game changing

 This morning I left the rods propped up against my bookcase and, instead, took the camera (complete with new lens) for a wander along the coastal fringe from King George VI Park to the chine, via Ramsgate Harbour, and back again. The morning was fairly nondescript, weatherwise, yet that wasn't going to stop me playing with my new toy. I knew that the harbour would be a good bet as those birds which inhabit the area are used to human activity, thus relatively approachable.

Quite a good selection of species were seen, although not all photographed. One Great Northern Diver N, 4 Little Egrets spread along the shoreline, a skein of Dark-bellied Brents N, a female Eider in the Ferry pool, several Rock Pipits plus the usual mix of gulls, waders, Fulmars and Cormorants. Nothing to get excited about, but still a very enjoyable outing with a great camera experience to boot! I have absolutely nothing negative to say about this camera/lens combo. What I achieved today is way beyond anything I could have hoped for. Game changing indeed.

Thursday 14 December 2023

An away day

 This morning Bev and I took a leisurely drive across to Burgess Hill, West Sussex, so that I could visit Park Cameras in order to exchange £629 for a new (to me) Canon 100 - 400 mm IS USM lens. As was the case when I purchased my Canon EOS 70d, from this same shop, the staff were extraordinarily helpful and very honest in their opinions about the various options I had available given my budget. I am hopeful that this new piece of camera kit will result in an improvement of image quality away from the self-take trophy shots of the fish I catch. The fact that this item not only has image stabilisation, but also a very rapid autofocus system will be a novelty in itself. My ancient Sigma 170 - 500 mm lens has no such luxuries, still, just before we set off, I did get one last chance to use the Sigma when an immature Sparrowhawk caught a sparrow (?) around the garden feeding station and perched on top of the, now redundant, aviary to devour it's meal. The light was awful, yet the auto ISO facility on the camera allowed me to grab a few, very grainy, images of this event. 

The weather continues to play havoc with any angling planning I attempt. The drive today just helped illustrate the scale of flooded low lying areas right across Kent, Surrey and West Sussex. All that water has got to go somewhere, thus ensuring that my local river, drains and the RMC are carrying much extra, heavily coloured, water and are totally unfishable at present. It will probably require a week without any further rainfall before I even think about a return to the RMC? However, I've got a new toy to play with, so a short drive out onto the marsh might prove to be a waste of effort for the fishing tackle, yet should allow me plenty of scope to experiment with my new lens!

Friday 8 December 2023

Time for the Sirens?

 I've made mention about my reliance on the use of electronic bite alarms in my Pike fishing. The recent sessions down on the RMC have caused me to have a rethink about the various alarms I have been using. To be honest, the "back-biters" which my brother, Sye, makes are superb, yet only suited for use in rather specialised situations. The front runner style alarms offer a far more versatile option of bite registration,  in my opinion. Recently, my alarms have been an "original" Steve Neville, a Sundridge digital Optonic and a couple of Ultimate "Redmire" models. Every one of them has performed okay, but I have three Nash Siren R3's sat indoors; why? They are the most sensitive bite alarms I've ever used, and have the added bonus of a remote receiver unit which ensures I don't miss a single bleep, even when I'm distracted by the local wildlife! This morning I took another drive down to the canal to give the Sirens an outing. What a good decision it turned out to be.

Three baits in the water before 06.50 hrs, I had twice "leapfrogged" the kit before, at 09. 20 hrs, I registered my first bite. It came to a Dyson rigged dead bait, some two feet off the bottom, and resulted in a rather battle scarred fish of 14 lbs 3 oz visiting the bank. Well pleased, I repositioned the bait and scribbled a few notes in my diary along the lines of needing to use this presentation more often. 

I seem to have experienced some lens condensation problems whilst 
obtaining the selfies of this fish?

At around 10.20 hrs, I'd received a few indications on my left hand set-up, which I feel sure were due to Eel activity? I was just watching the monkey climber, as there were odd bleeps on the alarm, when the remote sounded a take on my right hand rod. Quickly on the case, I went through the ritual of winding down and setting the hooks.  This time it was "game on" as the fish powered away down the canal. It was a very enjoyable tussle which resulted in an absolutely magnificent Pike, of 18 lbs 2 oz, being drawn over the net chord. This fish was in immaculate condition and certainly has the potential to top that "twenty" mark closer to spawning. 

An absolutely pristine Pike from the RMC - 18 lbs 2 oz

I hung it out for an extra thirty minutes, being rewarded with the third bite of the session. A "scamp" of six, or seven, pounds quickly dealt with before it was time to get packed away. It was a stunning morning down besides the canal, the sun shining brightly with a very gentle breeze. All the regular folk were encountered and conversations ensued. It really has a community vibe about being down there. The birding was as to be expected, for the most part, but I did record two Great White Egrets and my first Water Rail of the winter down on the canal.

Thursday 7 December 2023

Bread and butter Piking

I returned home at 13.00hrs, Wednesday, having completed my third RMC Pike session of the winter and, what d'yer know? I only went and caught a couple of small "doubles". My first success, thus far, into the 2023/24 RMC dalliance. 11 lbs 12 oz & 12 lbs ain't likely to cause many ripples within the Kent Pike angling scene, yet they were certainly more than welcome visitors to my unhooking mat. 

The first of the brace. 12 lbs exactly

The canal is in a sorry state, heavily coloured and being run off due to the tidal situation down in the Willop basin. No big deal, since the venue is no longer required to act as a defence against a French invasion, it now functions as part of the Romney Marsh flood prevention system. My kit is well capable of being tweaked to cope with running water situations and the large amount of floating debris meant that I was kept busy, tending to the rods and repositioning baited rigs due to the false alarms caused by the situation. 

Number two - 11 lbs 12 oz. Sadly this fish has a damaged gill raker,
which is just visible above the pectoral fin. A sure sign that a previous captor
had absolutely no idea how to unhook a Pike. Yet another demonstration of the
influence of social media on complete Muppet brained goons.

Another brilliant morning out in the wilds, and more really nice conversations with dog walkers who passed me. One was particularly pleasant as the guy, who I think is called Rob, told me that he'd stumbled across this blog due to some random Google search and wondered what the attraction of moths was? We had a lengthy chat, establishing that he had nearly sent his daughter to St. Faith's in Ash, the school that my Mum & Dad founded way back in the mid 80's It's a small world. Then, just as I was thinking about calling it a day, Baz turned up. He is a regular visitor to this part of the canal, and we are of similar age and mind-set. We had long chat about our fishing exploits, Baz is a regular visitor to Beachborough Lake where he does a fair bit of Carping. Once Baz had said farewell, it was time to pack up the kit and grab a couple of record shots of my fish. I do this to help me check for recaptures and, thus, establish individual growth rates..

Despite all the false alarms, there was still plenty of opportunities to look at the local birdlife. A Great White Egret flew west, just after 08.00 hrs, then some minutes later so did a group of three "Grey" geese. I was re-setting an alarm and failed to get a positive id, although my gut feeling was they were Bean Geese? Still, just one of those things which keeps us on our toes. I could easily claim them, it wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference to anyone else on the planet, yet I know, in my heart of hearts, that I'd be lying to myself and that won't happen! Four Common Buzzards put on a fabulous display, right over my swim, but I already had the camera set up to do my selfies, so missed the chance. A lone Stonechat was a rather unusual sight, out on the marsh, and I was kept well entertained by a Goldcrest which was feeding in a Hawthorn right besides my left-hand rod. As I pushed the barrow back towards the van, I added Little Egret and Raven to my morning's tally. It was a very enjoyable session indeed..