Who am I?

An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to see the natural world as a place for competition. I catch fish, watch birds, derive immense pleasure from simply looking at butterflies, moths, bumble-bees, etc - without the need for rules! I am Dylan and this is my blog - if my opinions offend? Don't bother logging on again - simple!


Friday 27 January 2023

Garden newbie

 I've been listening to the Man City vs Arsenal game on Radio Manchester (via the BBC sounds app) and it is 0 - 0 at half time. Outside the study there's been a new Fox at the feeding station. It is a very battle scarred individual, although doesn't appear to be struggling. Unlike the other visitors, this character is very confident and has come straight up to the bowl without any fannying around. I've grabbed enough images to ensure that all the id features have been recorded. Are the scars around the face and that open wound on its' front left leg a result of inter Fox squabbling or has it had an encounter with a domestic dog?

Still buzzing after yesterday's excitement and already planning the next visit to another stretch of the RMC where I enjoyed a good level of success twelve months ago.

Thursday 26 January 2023

Effort = success

A more apt title, for this post, might have been "Everything comes to he who waits"? A session on the Royal Military Canal, today, was the precursor for my February challenge. I'd not done much more than keep an eye on the BBC weather app, pertaining to what was occurring around the Hythe area. Wind strength/direction, sunshine/cloud cover, temperatures and moon phases don't figure in my Pike angling. The single most important factor is water quality/clarity and, for me to have any chance of success, lack of rainfall is key. Thus, I'd been keeping abreast of rainfall predictions and come to the conclusion that today would be worth a gamble. With the benefit of last winter's campaign logged clearly in my diaries, it was a very simple task to pick a section where I felt confident of some Pike action. All that was required is for the Pike to have read the same script!

There's gold at the end of them RMC rainbows.

On my way by 05.10 hrs, I was pushing my barrow along the tow-path little more than an hour later. Three baits in position less than two hours after leaving home and I was feeling confident. Three hours, and two leapfrogs, later and that confidence was definitely on the wane. It was 10.40 hrs when I rang Bev and almost immediately my right hand alarm signalled a take. What a total pig's ear I made of the situation and missed the fish completely - didn't feel a thing! Bait quickly repositioned, it was less than ten minutes later that the same rod was away again (almost certainly the same fish?) and this time, no phone involved, I went through the drill and set the hooks. Game on!

I knew it was a decent fish, the fight being dogged yet not spectacular, and within a couple of minutes it was in the net. Once unhooked, the scales revealed my prize to be a smidge under 21lbs and a very nice way to get the project started. Really thankful that I've now got that intervalometer gizmo, although there's still a long way to go before I'd say it was performing to the level required - operator error, on my part, without question. I remained on the bank for another three hours - not another bleep from the alarms. It would seem that if I'm to salvage anything from this dismal 2022/23 season then the RMC is where it will happen?

Monday 23 January 2023

Biding my time

 The bedroom has undergone a major makeover as Bev and I attempt to get the bungalow back into some form of normality. Our living room has been rather neglected since the passing of Bev's mum, Denise. Having converted it into a bedroom, during that traumatic period, the space held too many painful memories for us both, thus we just used it as a storeroom. Time, as they say, is a great healer and we are now ready to get on with life moving forward rather than dwelling upon the past. The room is cleared, a chimney sweep booked for next Saturday, after which we will be able forget about the spiralling costs of running the central heating and enjoy the comfort of a log fire, once again. One glaring omission will be that of a sofa. We've purchased one from DFS, but have been informed there is a fourteen week delay due to each item being made to order (in China?). Still, we do have have two large recliners in which to park our arses whilst we await DFS to do their thing. All we require to then finish the job is a TV, which we won't need to wait three months for delivery

Fishing has been, very much, a secondary pursuit in recent times. Any plans I had are now consigned to the bin and I'm just going through the motions as this season meanders towards an unsatisfactory end. Thank goodness for the farm irrigation reservoirs and those "scamp" Carp which reside in the murky depths. Absolutely perfect for wasting away a few hours, safe in the knowledge that a bent fishing rod is virtually guaranteed at some point during the session.

With no pressure, or expectations, it is the perfect situation in which to simply enjoy the experience of being outdoors. I've taken to playing around with the cameras, just to see if I can capture some images which are a bit different? I've also got a new toy, an intervalometer. Never heard of it? Me neither, until I saw Ollie Davies using one on a Nash Youtube offering. Basically it is an electronic remote timer which plugs into the camera and allows me to record a series of consecutive images without needing to return to the camera. Auto focussing is certainly a huge advantage over the manual option I had to use when doing self-takes prior to this acquisition. It's obviously going to take some practice before I'm completely at ease with the process, yet first impressions seem very favourable.

All going well, I'm hopeful of getting out with the Pike kit before the weekend. Not too sure where, but it would certainly be nice to get the back-biters out of storage and shift some dead baits from the freezer. I can't go a complete Pike season without landing a double - can I?

Friday 20 January 2023

Sorry state of affairs

Nineteen days into 2023 and I spotted my first Greenfinch of the year. Fortunately it was a spanking adult male feeding, alongside a bunch of Goldies, on one of our sunflower heart feeders in the garden. Less than twenty years ago they were so numerous as to be given little more than a casual glance, how the passing of time has changed my perception. Is there any point in lamenting the situation? What's happened in the past is done and nothing I, or anyone else, do can change that basic fact. I could just have easily used Tree Sparrow, Yellowhammer or even Song Thrush to serve as an example of species which have simply disappeared from the local avian demographic, a very sorry state indeed.

My local wildlife fixes have still been able to provide much enjoyment although, lightning couldn't strike twice, as another attempt at Barn Owl photography drew a blank. On the plus side, that particular outing did produce a superb, if distant, adult male Merlin perched in a dead tree overlooking the set-a-side where the owl favours. A pair of Stonechats were flicking about some game cover and I flushed thirty-plus Common Snipe from a flooded field as I wandered around the area.

There's been three different Foxes using our feeding station. It would seem that there is some form of hierarchy as they come to the food individually and are very flighty. Certainly no chance of any of them becoming hand tame going on current behaviour! By using the camera and viewing the subsequent images it is possible to pick out facial patterns which allow me to identify the individuals involved. It would seem that it will become an ongoing project. 

Two, very distinctively marked, individuals which turned up this evening 

Talking of ongoing projects, I bumped into Franny whilst queueing at the Tesco checkout, the other day, and he asked if I would like to get involved with some Thanet moth recording? I think you might know my response, but I did say that I was happy for him to use anything posted on the blog, if he wished. We exchanged email details and have set in place some lose plans for the coming season.

Tuesday 17 January 2023

Afternoon delight

A busy day spent catching up with those "just jobs" which have been put off on more than one occassion. As a result the oven looks like new, the fridge got a proper sort out and preparation for a bedroom revamp is well ahead of our weekend schedule. Much the same for tomorrow, all going well, and hopefully more wardrobe sorting prior to the living room being completely cleared in preparation for a visit from the local chimney sweep. Could  get messy? As I wasn't required to pick up Harry, my grandson, from school this afternoon, I decided to take a short stroll around the farm reservoirs in the hope of spotting the Barn Owl which I've recorded on three, of the past four, sessions down at the venue. 

I had little more than an hour of daylight remaining, as I parked the van and grabbed the camera. A lovely winter's afternoon, the heavy, overnight, frost remaining in the lea of the hedgerows where the sun had failed to reach. It was very satisfying to spot the owl, flying along an adjacent field margin, just before 16.00 hrs and I was grateful for the camera technology being able to function, so well, in the fading light. 

Not much else to report, although a calling male Grey Partridge was another addition to my meagre year list. With the weather forecast to remain very cold all week, I probably won't get the rods out again until after the weekend?

Monday 16 January 2023

Utter madness

Not sure that it was ever in doubt? Yet today's escapades must confirm, once and for all, that I ain't too tightly wrapped! The forecast was for gale force NE winds, heavy rain and plummeting temperatures, so absolutely perfect for a session, at the farm reservoir, after the Carp - NOT !! Thankfully it is possible to get the van very close to the swims, thus getting set-up isn't a major trauma. Being well prepared, I had the Groundhog brolly in situ before getting the rest of my kit to the chosen swim. The weather gods must have taken pity on me as I was able to get both rods fishing before any heavy rain started to fall. It was Matt Hayes centrepins on the Duncan Kay's today, ably assisted by the Nash "Bushwhacker" baiting pole. My previous three sessions have seen me using my Okuma CBBF 5000's which, I must admit, have performed very well.

Baits in the water before 07.25 hrs, it was just ten minutes later that I missed the only bite of the session! I remained on the bank until mid-day, why? Despite the foul conditions, it was quite an enjoyable session due to the shelter provided by the Groundhog, plenty of clothing and a flask of coffee. I even managed to add another four species to my self-found list which was most surprising. Stock Dove and Common Snipe should have already been ticked, yet a pair of Goosander was unexpected and the adult Kittiwake, which was spotted swimming around the pond, completely surreal. Sadly, this bird was not in good health and had died before I left the venue. Bird Flu?

The very sorry looking adult Kittiwake

Huge numbers of Lapwings were on the flooded fields, surrounding the fishery, along with a good number of Curlew, assorted Gulls and a lone Redshank. As is so typical of any winter session, a Robin was in close attendance looking for scraps right under the rods. So close that my long lens was unable to focus and I had to use the 18-55mm option in order to get any images.

Not too much else to report, from a fishing perspective. The nocturnal feeding stations continue to provide entertainment. A vixen is now a regular visitor, although there is no pattern to the time when she comes to the garden. A lone Hedgehog was seen, at the fox bowl, a few nights ago which, on looking at my photos, had quite a large infestation of ticks. Although I've not seen it since, I'm hopeful that should it return I will be able to capture it and get it to a local charity where they will treat the animal, for these blood sucking parasites, before releasing back into the wild.

Ticks are visible just beneath the ear and there were many more on the other side.

Saturday 14 January 2023

Unexpected twists and influences

 It was over fifty years ago when I caught my very first Carp. A small Common from Pixie's Mere, just outside Hemel Hempstead, taken whilst, overnight, fishing for Tench using a bicycle lamp to illuminate the Porcupine quill which provided my bite indication. I don't remember too much about the fish but it must have made enough of an impression for me to place it in my keepnet and show it to my mates next morning. Two or three pounds, max, it was certainly a novelty to see such a fish at that time - the early 1970's!

8th November 1983 - 21 lbs 9 oz of Stanborough magic

I'm fairly sure that I've blogged previously about how fortunate I feel to have avoided the rise to mainstream angling dominance by Carp and their pursuit. I spent little more than a single winter, 1983/4, during which time Carp became my target as I strove to capture a fish in the twenty-five pound bracket. I failed in that particular quest, ending the campaign with a very laudable PB weight of 23 lbs 14 oz backed up by sixteen other doubles which included another four fish in excess of that magical "twenty" pound barrier. Serious Carp fishing for the period.

25th February 1984 - 23 lbs 14 oz 
 My Stanborough project came to an end with this fish.

Fast forward forty years and how things have evolved? Certainly far in excess of anything imaginable way back in those halcyon days of Tring Tench, Claydon Catfish, Fenland Pike & Zander and Hampshire Avon Barbel. The modern Carp scene is as far removed from my own angling as to be an alien pastime. Under no circumstances am I condemning those folk who glean huge enjoyment from their own involvement in this modern circus but, as I rapidly approach seventy years on this planet, it doesn't do it for me. 

23rd April 2017 - 23 lbs 5 oz of RMC, split cane caught, fun.

Then, just as I'm settled in my comfortable angling niche, along comes social media to completely upset the apple cart! Whilst I am captivated by the story telling prowess of Terry Hearn, gain enjoyment from the utter carnage portrayed by the guys at Ridge Monkey, Korda and Nash, it is young Alfie Russel who fires my imagination with his off the beaten track escapades. Great entertainment, some of the content is hugely educational but, by and large, certainly aimed at the mainstream Carp angling brigade. The best I can offer is being on the outside, looking in. 

July 2022 - fun fishing, pure and simple. A "scamp" off the surface
using a split cane Avon Mk IV and Match Aerial centrepin.

Then completely out of the blue I find myself watching a Nash podcast in which Dan Yeomans, a Nash employee, tells his story about the pursuit of a very special Carp which he eventually managed to coax into his landing net. What struck me about Dan's podcast wasn't how he achieved his goal but, far more interestingly, his mentality behind the journey. He described the campaign as "his personal Everest" and it certainly resonated with my own thoughts about projects I undertake. 

3rd August 2021 - 22 lbs 3 oz
Quite probably the finest Carp I've ever captured?

With this past season being an almost total write-off, I'm already looking forward to pressing the re-start button and seeking new challenges. Given the wealth of Carp angling potential around my part of East Kent, there's a few avenues which might be worthy of exploration?

Monday 9 January 2023

Doubling up

 I spent a very enjoyable three and a half hours down at another farm irrigation pool, although only actually fishing for two and a half hours. I'd spent the first hour wandering the bank searching for signs of Carp activity. As the light intensified it became obvious that they were widespread around the venue and I could have presented a bait almost anywhere and still been in with a shout! Hey-ho; it's called learning? As I said in the previous post, my baited rigs were positioned using a Nash "Bushwhacker" baiting pole, thus avoiding the disturbance caused by casting. My baits were chickpeas and red kidney beans fished over a bed of mixed seed and sweetcorn. Both rods were fishing by 08.00 hrs, the right hander away within forty minutes. A cracking scrap ensued before a lovely little Common, of 10 lbs 4 oz, found its' way to the unhooking cradle; nice start.

Ten o'clock came and went, me being grateful for the flask of coffee I'd prepared as I became increasingly aware of how cold I was feeling. It was a beautifully sunny morning yet, my chosen swim was on the east side and in shadow due to the dense vegetation along the raised banks of the venue. I decided that I'd pack up around 10.45 hrs and be on my way home by eleven. The Carp had other ideas as, just on 10. 20 hrs, the left hand rod was away and I found myself attached to another angry customer. A couple of anxious moments when it attempted to swim through the other line but, eventually it was coaxed over the net chord and the usual ritual followed. This time it was a nice looking Mirror, of 13 lbs 2 oz, and a great way to finish the session. I packed up early well pleased with my efforts and will be back down there on Wednesday for another session. I now know that I won't have to worry, too much, about location thus will have my baits in the water earlier than I did today. 

Three more additions to my self-found year list came in the form of Barn & Short-eared Owls plus a Water Rail. A pair of Great Crested Grebes were going through their elaborate courtship rituals and look set to breed at the fishery again this year. It's a lovely place to waste away a few hours, only next visit I'll make sure that there are a few more layers available, should I need them?

Sunday 8 January 2023

Prospecting Fulmars

Knowing that the weather would go down hill rapidly, as the day progressed, I had a wander along the coastal path from Winterstoke down to Ramsgate Harbour. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary was seen during the couple of hours I spent around the area but the Fulmars, prospecting for nesting ledges, along the undercliff did provide plenty of opportunities to play around with the camera kit. 

I only added one species to my list, whilst out and about, that being Rock Pipit (No. 76). The slow cooker is doing its' thing, in the corner of my study, as I prepare a fresh particle mix in readiness for another scamping session tomorrow morning. I did have a look down at the venue yesterday afternoon, but saw no signs to assist any swim choice. I'm committed to using the "Bushwhacker" baiting system to position my rigs not wishing to employ the agricultural techniques I've seen used by some other Carp anglers at the fishery,  

It will be an early start tomorrow, although I'm prepared to let the fish show me where to position my baits before committing to a swim choice. More gusty winds and accompanying rainfall to be endured before I load the van. If nothing shows, then I'm happy to settle for an area where these strong winds have been blowing into, the current southerly airflow ensuring well above seasonal average temperatures. I've got a few ideas which I want to have a play around with, ref: bait presentations and will attempt to get a few images of the kit and my set-up whilst on the bank tomorrow. 

Thursday 5 January 2023

Scamp patrol

I returned to the small farm pond, early doors this morning, armed with my split cane, Dick Walker Mk IV's coupled with a pair of Mitchell 300's. I'd set myself the target of landing a fish on each rod during the three hours I planned to stay. Well, there's not too much I can say beyond the fact that I'd surpassed my goal within forty-five minutes!

My tactics were simple, just sweetcorn and bacon grill for hook baits with a handful of freebies around each bait every time I recast. Twice I had bites on both rods simultaneously, such was the hectic nature of the session. 

The typical stamp of fish in the pond

The largest fish weighed little more than seven pounds, but it didn't matter a jot. I'd gone there in the hope of bending a fishing rod and it was mission accomplished. Please don't think that I've done anything special, these carp are a ravenous hoard and a proficient match/pleasure angler would have bagged up, big time, given the conditions. 

Bite indication - 1980's style

I'm unsure if I'll return, any time soon, but if the river remains a filthy swollen mess there is an alternative venue, much closer to home, where I could have another scamping session but with the chance of some slightly larger fish.

Wednesday 4 January 2023

Seeking a bit of fun

 There are plenty of excuses yet, the stark reality is that, I've not caught a fish since mid-November. Sitting at home, moaning about the crazy weather patterns, can't and won't change anything. I need to get off my arse and make something happen. If the Pike project has to be put on hold, so be it. I took the split canes down to Trenley yesterday, only to find that the lake was overflowing its' banks and, access to certain areas wasn't possible. I blanked, although was probably beaten before I cast a bait into the water? What was needed is a complete change of tack. What else could I be fishing for away from the venues along a very flooded Stour valley. 

Fortunately I have access to a very small farm (irrigation) pond, probably an acre in size, which has a decent stock of scamps (small carp) and a few bonus Tench. Surely I could be in with a shout of bending a rod if I gave it a go. Just after 09.30 hrs, this morning, I took a drive over to the venue to check out the conditions and see if I could spot any signs of fish. It's a beautiful little spot, right out in the East Kent countryside, and I've got to admit that I'm rather looking forward to spending a couple of sessions out there just by way of a change. Absolutely no issues with seeing signs of fish activity it was, however, very much a surprise to, inadvertently, flush a group of thirty plus Mandarin Ducks from a wooded corner as I approached the spot where they were tucked away under the overhanging branches.

Even better was spotting a ring-tailed Hen Harrier hunting over the adjacent farmland. This sighting taking my 2023 self-found total to a very pleasing seventy-four species. I hadn't reached that number before mid-February last year! The fishing gear is sorted, a selection of baits out of the freezer, although no boilies or pellets are allowed, I am happy to be doing something a bit different, just for fun, rather than a quest for a target.

Monday 2 January 2023


I had a couple of hours wandering around Pegwell Bay NNR, this morning, purely to add to my abysmal list from yesterday. It was really enjoyable and, because I went early, not too busy with other folk using the country park for their own, totally legitimate, pleasures. My 2023 self-found, bird, total now stands at 59 species, which is much more respectable. The real surprise, however, was the ridiculous number of Common Seals hauled out around the mouth of The Stour. I counted a total of one hundred and ninety-two! I used my scope, so am very happy that my figures are reasonably accurate. There were one hundred and five visible from the bird hide and another eighty-seven viewable from the traditional spot behind the old Pfizer sports ground.

As I don't get down to the site on a regular basis this number of seals might now be quite normal? It's certainly, by far and away, the most I've ever seen hauled out - anywhere!

Sunday 1 January 2023

A new start

At one point during my Fuji employment some lame-brained, half-wit, came up with a company phrase designed to unite the workforce behind a common mission statement. "Don't look back, look forwards!" Have you ever heard anything quite so absurd? If you aren't prepared to acknowledge where you started how on earth do you measure progress? 

This lovely male Kestrel dropped down, from its' lamp post lookout,
to grab a worm from the pavement right outside the, Pyson's Road, Bookers store.

As you might have gathered I am totally at ease with reviewing my past in order to assist me to plan ahead. It doesn't matter what experiences they might be, all memories have a place in my ability to recognise just how far I've come during my time on this planet. With the start of a new year, so there's a freshness about the expectations of what lays ahead. As of yet, I'm not particularly sure about where my angling's headed but do have some ideas about what I'd like to achieve with my garden moth trapping and local birding. As with all aspects of natural history involvement; it's a marathon - not a sprint, so I don't have to push myself too hard in order to achieve what I seek from these aspects of my time spent outdoors. Likewise, maintaining the garden to a standard which not only is aesthetically pleasing, but also provides maximum attractiveness to the invertebrate hoards, is another of my goals.  

Birding got off to a very low key start, just twenty-seven species recorded today. Certainly not an issue, time is very much on my side these days. Some ridiculous omissions include Wren, Robin and Blue Tit. That's crazy? A real surprise was the discovery of three Chiffchaffs beside the footpath at the start of my patch wanderings. It's these type of encounters that keep the me enthused, you just never know what's around the next corner!