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!


Wednesday 31 May 2023

Dog walking and making plans

 My neighbour, Madeline, has had her second cataract operation and, as a consequence, I find myself taking "Mental Mylo" out for exercise twice a day for the next fortnight or so. No big deal, especially with the continuing situation of blasting NE winds across this part of Kent. Mylo is still just a puppy, in reality, and a bit boisterous if allowed. I keep a supply of "Bakers Meaty Meals" in my pocket so as to maintain the upper hand whenever we're out. Today I decided that we'd take a drive across to the flatlands where I'm planning to spend much of the summer in pursuit of some very special Carp. I've two drains in mind and have already contacted the relevant land owners in order to ensure access without upsetting anyone. The one visited this morning involved a lengthy walk and allowed me to let Mylo off the lead safe in the knowledge that there was no chance of other dog walkers being encountered. Mylo behaved really well, although did manage to jump into the drain on four occasions, thanks to the bankside damage caused by the totally unwanted (by the local farming community) Beavers. This blog is not a war zone, so if you have differing opinions about the reintroduction of Beavers all well and good - please don't waste your effort, or emotions, attempting to alter my personal viewpoint. 

I have to admit that I saw no signs of Carp, this morning, although the drain itself certainly hasn't seen much human activity judging by the luxuriant vegetation growing along the banksides. As the 16th June gets closer, so I will start a program of pre-baiting in the hope of increasing my chance of success come that opening night ritual. As is my preference, it will be particles all the way; a single rod with a centrepin just to add to the enjoyment. The freezer is already well stocked with pre-prepared offerings, and the study cupboards hold plenty of the dried ingredients awaiting their turn in the slow cooker. Flavours, colour dyes and taste enhancers are all assembled, awaiting the next batch required. 

It is my hope that all those Jan/Feb/March sessions, down on the "Carp Puddle" where I played around with rig mechanics and bait presentation will now pay dividends. I have a set-up, which includes the insane Gardner "RIGGA" CVR hook pattern, that I feel will give me the best chance of landing a new PB Carp. So okay it's not too much to beat, at 24 lbs 10 oz, but given the venues, and tackle choices, it would be an immensely satisfying outcome should I achieve this target. As with any angling situation out on the flatlands, watercraft is key. Close range and very intimate, the whole situation dictates that stealth is a fundamental aspect of any session. Nowhere, on the two chosen drains, will I require more than six sections (9 metres) of the Nash Bushwhacker baiting pole system to get my baited hooks in position. I'm presently looking at the options available to me for removing the requirement of the Carp Porter barrow. Short sessions with the bare minimum kit? I have just over two weeks to make a decision on what is, and isn't, essential.

The one to better? 24 lbs 10 oz - my current PB Carp

Sunday 28 May 2023

A "patch" tick

 I'll get this started with some birdie stuff from yesterday. The 27th May and I finally see my first Common Swifts, of 2023, over the garden. I had seen them down at the Carp Puddle earlier in the week but, this is by far the latest date for the Newlands Farm area. It was a little after mid-day when a lone Herring Gull alerted me to the approach of a raptor, high and from the south. My first impression was it was a Red Kite, as it flew directly towards me, flat wings and using the tail as a rudder. As it came closer it became obvious that it wasn't a kite, but a Buzzard sp. Fortunately the camera was close to hand and I managed to secure an image that confirmed my suspicions. A Honey Buzzard and the first Spring record in twenty-three years of living here.

So I was back outside, early this morning, hoping to get a chance of a Common Swift photo, or two. Didn't happen. Instead, just after 09.00 hrs a Bee-eater called, unseen, several times as it passed to the south of where I was stood. It seems crazy that I've seen, and heard, thousands of these birds in the last couple of weeks, yet was still so excited by this "patch tick" as to go running indoors to tell Bev as soon as it had happened. Just before 10.00 hrs a male Marsh Harrier passed over the garden, deliberately moving high and eastward bound. Patch birding - you've got to love it!

Friday 26 May 2023

Insane weather patterns

 I returned to the "Carp Puddle" for a short session, this morning, and managed just five fish in a couple of hours. The best one might have weighed six pounds had I bothered putting it through the ordeal of a spell in the sling! The erratic swirling breeze, with a very easterly bias, was such that I was forced to change swims in order to present my baits in the best fashion I could. Even after the move I still had to resort to using a small controller float (a tiny Nash "Bolt Machine") with an ABU Cardinal 55 instead of my preferred free-lining approach with a centrepin. I probably spent more time watching a Great Crested Grebe, than staring at the controller, such was the effect of the conditions. 

I've just read the latest update by SBBOT stating that a flurry of House Martins, today, was probably a direct consequence of this current run of NE winds? No shit Sherlock! (It's just an observation, not a criticism of the Obs.) Migrants were still piling through NE Greece during the first week we were out there. Common Whitethroats and Reed Warblers certainly ain't what I expect when wandering around the Pefkohori area, yet there they were in good numbers. I commented, at the time, about the big numbers of Bee-eaters moving north. This late Spring is not limited to the UK, it's a far bigger picture if seen from a different perspective to that of a parochial "tunnel visioned" position. Obviously these conditions will also have an impact on many other aspects of natural history observations. The garden mothing has been been dire, and that's probably looking on the bright side? 

Tortrix sp. (Flax ?)

Our first Toadflax Brocade of 2023

When things aren't going to plan it's very easy to moan about this and that, seeking to blame factors over which you have no control. With the BBC weather forecast predicting these easterly biased winds to continue into the start of June, I'm quite happy to leave to rods in the study and get out birding. Bullfinch, Yellowhammer, Peregrine, Willow Warbler, Nuthatch and Little Owl are still missing from my 2023 self-found list. If casting a baited hook is such a waste of effort, then seeking alternative enjoyment will do nicely whilst I await a change in conditions. June 16th will be here soon enough and, with it, access to venues that offer alternative challenges which I'm very much looking forward to. 

Wednesday 24 May 2023

Sunshine scamping

 I'd driven down to the local club fishery yesterday, around mid-morning, to find the place absolutely rammed full. I didn't bother setting up a rod and after a quick lap jumped back in the van and returned home. A lesson learned and a mistake I won't be making again? "They won't beat me down there tomorrow" is what I told Bev when questioned why I was back so early. And so it was just after 06.00 hrs, this morning, that I loaded the van and returned to the "Carp Puddle" for another scamping session. On arrival, it was clear that only one other angler was on site and I was quickly able to get my kit into a swim which would allow me to present my floating baits at very close range. My tackle today consisted of a 1960's B. James & Son Dick Walker Mk IV Avon split cane rod, my Allcock's Match Aerial centrepin, 5 lbs b.s. line and a size 8 Nash Claw hook (I've run out of Korda "widegapes"). Freebies were the usual mix of very cheap Tesco dog and kitten biscuits with my hook bait being my, tried and tested, favoured wholemeal bread. It was like taking candy from a baby, and I would guess that somewhere around twenty Carp fell to my simple presentation during the three plus hours I was on site. Only one double today, but a really nice, chunky, fat, little Mirror of 14 lbs 9 oz.

It was a very pleasant session and one made even better by the chance meeting with a fellow club member, by the name of Rob. We spent quite a while exchanging views and found we had so much in common, especially pertaining to the enjoyment of being outdoors and a complete lack of desire to join the "Carpy Clique" which so dominates the C&DAA membership ranks.

Tuesday 23 May 2023

Observations and images

This will be my last post, relating to the holiday, but it's one I had been thinking about since I first spotted the genuine, although very subtle, differences in flight mannerisms between Common and Pallid Swifts. Quite how useful this could be when confronted by a lone swift sp. on some windswept headland in late autumn in the UK, I'm not too sure? Around the Pefkohori area I would estimate that Common Swifts outnumbered Pallids by 20 - 1. What I noted, once I'd got my eye in, was that the Common Swifts were far more rapid in their flight and the wing beats were rather flickered and stiff. By comparison the Pallids seemed to be far more leisurely and fluid in their flight. The Pallids I watched never ganged up in big, noisy, mobs whilst the Commons were perfectly happy to congregate in screaming hoards around their nest sites. Once I'd established this difference in flight patterns it became quite easy to pick out the odd Pallid from a group of Commons, without having to go through the plumage and structural nuances of the two species. I don't imagine, for a second, that this would hold much sway with a county recorder in the UK, but it's of no concern to me anyway. In Greece, with both species side by side, the difference in flight patterns is quite obvious.

As I lugged the camera kit with me on every outing into the Pefkohori countryside, I thought it might be a fitting end to the saga that I post some more of the images captured whilst on my wanderings. They won't win any awards, yet serve as a wonderful reminder that birds have no concept of man-made borders and are just as remarkable when seen on holiday as they would be if spotted in the UK.

Cirl Bunting - I've still not seen one in the UK. Do I care?

Levant Sparrowhawk

Tawny Pipit

So that's yer lot - until the next time!

Monday 22 May 2023

Pefkohori May 2023

This holiday was Bev and mine's fifth visit to this Greek town. Our first was back in 2008 and every time we've visited has been during the month of May. This latest holiday was booked via Jet2 and was under £1k for the eleven days of our stay. Even with airport parking and fuel, the price remained around £1,200, so relatively cheap in the current financial climate?

We flew from Stanstead on a Jet2 Boeing 737 - 800

Our accommodation, at The Anna Maria complex, was perfectly fine and the venue's owners, Thomas & Maria, and their staff can't do enough to ensure your time there is a pleasant experience. Fortunately, Bev and I have a very simple formula for all our holiday destinations. Bev requires a pool, sunbed and a good book (or books), whilst I need somewhere to wander, away from the hustle and bustle, so as to sample the local wildlife. Pefkohori ticks all these boxes, and some, thus we're very happy to visit. Not too sure it would work for those who seek a little more excitement and energy in their breaks? We stayed on a Bed & Breakfast basis, but there are other options available. The food is fine, although not particularly varied from day to day. It's not The Hilton, you haven't paid Hilton prices, so why expect anything else?

Absolutely no way am I going to do a day by day report because those details have already appeared on the blog, as they happened. Instead, this post will detail the various habitats I visited during the period and, hopefully, provide an insight into what I encountered whilst on my wanderings. 

It's possible to watch these birds whilst laying on a sun-bed around the pool!

Pefkohori Marina

This site is approximately four miles, or so, away from the Anna Maria and takes just over an hour to walk to. Because of it''s coastal location, the walk is fairly straightforward without any significant gradient changes. Once through the main built-up area, the countryside is a mix of coniferous woodland, thick scrub and salt-marsh. The marina, itself, is where the local fishing boats are moored, plus some rather posh private vessels. It's provided some superb birding over the years I've been visiting and 2023 didn't disappoint with both the number, and variety, of species I was to encounter whilst in the vicinity.

Dark Spreadwing (Lestes macrostigma)

Pefkohori Sewage Farm

There can't be too many folk who go on holiday hoping to visit such an un-glamourous venue? Back in 2008 it used to host, both, Great Reed and Marsh Warblers but not now due to some very sad developments (which I will cover later in the post). All that said, the SF still provides habitat which is well worth visiting. This particular trip was to see me encounter a first for Greece and a "lifer" - what's not to like? My route there was as flat, or steep, as I chose (or messed up?). From the Anna Maria it is possible to walk through the town and take a track behind the Anna Hotel whilst remaining on the coastal plain. However, the most direct route is rather more arduous, via some very steep gradients.

Crap photo but, a lifer and self-found. Does it get any better?

Balkan Terrapins - common as muck 

The trails and tracks through woodland, scrub, olive groves and agricultural areas

It was these varied environments which provided the majority of my holiday birding/wildlife encounters. Any walk inland from the coastal plain involves some very arduous gradient challenges. No chance of going "off piste" due to the incredible density of the vegetation, so it's the tracks and trails used by the local farmers, shepherds and homeowners which provide access into this mosaic of habitats. My fitness was questioned, from day one, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I was found wanting early in the holiday. Being able to wander around in such superb surroundings ensured that my limits were pushed and I actually upped my game as a direct result. 

Glanville Fritillary - another "lifer" for me!

It was a fantastic holiday, in a superb location but, not wishing to "piss on the picnic" there is a very sad downside to this wondrous countryside. Fly-tipping! It's on an industrial scale and the further away from the tourist centres the more prevalent it becomes!

You won't see any mention of this in a holiday brochure.

I don't want this post to end on a downer so I'll finish with a photo which fulfilled all my wishes. A Little Bittern perched in a thicket above a small pool besides the marina.

We had a superb break. This area of Halkidiki, in NE Greece, offers some superb opportunities to enjoy wildlife encounters without any hype or preconceptions. It certainly works for me. If you have any questions, or queries, please feel free to post a comment and I will do my best to provide an answer.

Sunday 21 May 2023

A little taster

Man, it's good to be home! As enjoyable as all our holidays are, once they're over it's an absolute ball's ache enduring the homeward journey. Transfer coaches, airport lounges, with the associated delays and screaming kids. Then, once in the UK airport, there's all the hassle of getting through immigration control, bagage recovery, transfer back to the APH carparking facilities before negotiating the bloody M25/M2 back to Thanet. Still, we're home now and I've got 1,400 photos to sort through in order to get a trip report together. As a little taster, plus the fact that because I was using Bev's I-pad to do the blog updates whilst on holiday, here are some photos to brighten up the lack lustre posts of the past eleven days!

Saturday 20 May 2023

Homeward bound

With the sun shining brightly in the, cloudless, sky the temperature is already well past 25C and rising. The time is just coming up to mid-day and we’re  due to be picked up for our airport transfer at 17.00. hrs. Bev is making the most of her final lizard impression of the.holiday whilst I’ve been fannying about attempting to get some images of the Pallid Swifts which are hunting above our poolside location. 

It’s difficult to know whether we’re sorry to be leaving or looking forward to getting back home? Either, which, way I can honestly state that this break has surpassed all of our expectations. It has been a superb break away from the daily routine of deepest Dumpton.

All things being well, normal blogging will resume tomorrow, thus, pictures and replies to comments once again.

Friday 19 May 2023

Last roll of the holiday dice

My final stroll into the countryside surrounding Pefkohori was rather quiet. As planned I walked to the marina where I discovered a, rather confiding, pair of Common Terns thus ensuring my holiday tally has reached the sixty species mark. Spent a bit of time with the macro kit getting some images of dragonfly sp. and I also spotted, very briefly, the first live snake of the holiday having previously found four road casualties on my wanderings. Got some more habitat photos in the hope that I’ve got all the material required to produce a reasonable trip report. To this end I also got a number of images depicting the horrendous, industrial scale, fly tipping that occurs out in the Greek countryside. You certainly won’t see any mention of it in the holiday brochures. Just as I began my walk back I was very fortunate to spot a singing male Eastern Olivaceous Warbler which allowed me to grab a few shots before dropping back down into cover. It’s been an amazing holiday and I’m sure we’ll be back in the not too distant future?

Thursday 18 May 2023

If you get it wrong, get it right next time!

I have already agreed with Bev that my Friday stroll to the marina will be the last birding session of this break. Therefore, today, I had to get back up to the Bee-eater nest site to correct the mistakes of yesterday. I’ve manually cleaned the sensor to get rid of the dust/pollen which had gotten inside the camera when I was fannying around changing lenses. Confident that I’d done all I could to give myself the best chance of securing the images I so desire, it was around 09.30 hrs that I set off and within ten minutes found myself stopped dead in my tracks by a calling Scop’s Owl in an olive grove behind the local builder’s yard. Absolutely no chance of gaining access into the area, I listened for a couple of minutes as the bird called, intermittently, then set off towards my chosen destination.

What with all the avian distractions it was just approaching 11.00 hrs when I reached the nest site. Although the cloud cover played havoc with the light levels I still managed to get some very pleasing images during the twenty, or so, minutes I was sat quietly under the shade of a small bush. Happy that I’d rectified the error of yesterday’s efforts, I headed back down towards Pefkohori, only to be distracted by a pair of very noisy Ravens which, in turn, led me to spot a high and very distant Short-toed Eagle. Result! That’s two more additions to the trip, and self-found year, list. The descent was a piece of cake after this and got even better when I found myself, very briefly, face to face with a Polecat-like animal. Absolutely no idea what it was, or could be. The encounter was so fleeting as to be almost surreal. Well pleased with the morning’s results, one more session to go before I return to angling for my wildlife encounters. Greek birding has been everything I could have wished for and then some! One more addition will see the trip list reach sixty species and every one of them self-found. Does it get any better?

Wednesday 17 May 2023

School boy error

After the dull, wet, conditions of yesterday this morning dawned  beautifully sunny and before 09.30 hrs it was “El Scorchio” and my plan was to take a slow amble up to the Greek Orthodox Church where I’ve been fortunate enough to have photographed Short-toed Eagle in previous visits. Sadly it was not to be and my only addition to the trip list came in the shape of a female Marsh Harrier, being harassed by two Hoodies, as it hunted over the heavily vegetated hillsides of a valley below my elevated position.

A Hobby did it’s best to con me into Eleonora’s wishful thinking but, 20 million pixels saved my blushes from such a silly mistake. Just before I reached the church I took a pathway up into the adjacent hills to in an attempt to get a higher viewing platform from which I could, better, scan the surrounding countryside. The view was so spectacular that I changed lenses to enable me to capture a few shots of the landscape and rugged terrain that has been my playground for the holiday period. What I didn’t do, after putting the long lens back, was to change the camera settings back to manual mode. My route took me to a Bee-eater nest site, the scale of which I’ve never witnessed before. Happily clicking away at these stunningly colourful birds completely oblivious to the fact that the camera wasn’t performing as I’d hoped. I only discovered this major faux pas when I was well on the way back down to Pefkohori. With just two more free mornings, before we head back home, I’ve decided that a repeat of this walk will be undertaken as well as one final visit to the marina.

Tuesday 16 May 2023

They all count

I was a little more adventurous this morning, deciding to revisit the sewage farm yet avoiding the silly detour of yesterday. I suppose I was really hoping that the Roller might still be present? It wasn’t and I made my way to the SF without many distractions. The first pool was to provide the only addition to my trip list when I discovered a Coot swimming along the far reedy margin. They all count under these circumstances and my total now stands at fifty six species for the holiday.

The next pool really delivered the goods as I flushed a Squacco Heron from right beneath me as I was getting some photos of the Balkan Terrapins which are very abundant at the site. The bird flew across the pool and settled in the reeds just thirty metres away. I did my best to get some in habitat shots. After checking the rest of the area I headed off up towards a Bee eater nest site. En route I managed to grab a few shots of a male Cirl Bunting before reaching my goal. There were good numbers of birds present and I obtained a few images which should be okay for the trip report?

I then set off back towards Pefkohori, via the woodland pathway which meanders along a heavily vegetated valley. A male Red backed Shrike was determined to have it’s photo taken as it posed on a reed stem. Turtle Dove numbers are vey buoyant out here and I heard eleven males purring away along this single track. A Wood White butterfly might just prove to be Eastern, but I won’t be sure until I’m able to get a proper look at the antenna detail on my laptop. Another very enjoyable outing although it pissed down shortly after my return. How’s your luck?

Monday 15 May 2023

Nice and easy does it

My leg muscles haven’t been tested like this for some considerable period and they’re certainly telling me that I’m pushing the boundaries of my fitness levels. For this reason I decided to stick to a relatively flat walk inland to the sewage farm. I made a complete balls up with my route and ended walking an extra mile because of my, piss poor, planning. Another two additions to the trip list started with a European Roller perched on distant power lines, but flushed by a passing car before I could get close enough for some decent photos. The sewage farm was rather disappointing, if the truth were told, and it was a overflying Common Buzzard that provided the second tick for the day.

I suppose the day’s highlight has to be my discovery of a Glanville Fritillary. A lifer, which I managed to capture with long lens yet, can’t help thinking how much better I could have done had I been carrying the macro kit? Bee eaters continue to move north overhead, although not in the numbers of yesterday.

Sunday 14 May 2023

The fun continues

It’s not been a very nice day, weather wise, yet I still managed to get out for wander along the coastal strip back to the marina. It was drizzling as I set off but, during my time away from the Anna Maria complex, it got increasingly sunny before the clouds returned. There was a very large scale, northerly, movement of Bee eaters passing noisily overhead and, although I didn’t keep any accurate count, know it would have involved many hundreds of individuals.

Three more additions to the trip list got started with a nice Levant Sparrowhawk which I spotted circling overhead being mobbed by a Hooded Crow and a couple of Swallows. The marina area is certainly somewhere that it is well worth exploring. Tawny Pipit and Little Egret were my other two additions, yet I was also able to enjoy prolonged views of Squacco Heron, perched in a conifer, plus Purple Heron and Little Bittern. A Crested Lark posed nicely for the camera and I spent quite a while getting flight shots of a couple of Yellow legged Gulls. If nothing else they will provide some useful reference material should I need it?

Tomorrow will be the halfway point of our holiday and I’m hopeful that my efforts will continue to turn up more of the avian gems that the Pefkohori countryside harbours. If the weather improves I would think that Short toed Eagle is a realistic expectation, but won’t moan if Lesser Grey or Masked Shrike crosses my path instead. Because there’s no one else out here birding I will never know what I’ve missed thus, can enjoy what I discover without any pressure. Just how I like it!

Saturday 13 May 2023

Effort and rewards

 Saturday 13th May and my planned sojourn to the marina proved to be quite a lot more arduous than I’d hoped. The walk is probably eight miles, there and back, and aching calves were a constant reminder of my lack of fitness. Still, I’m out here on holiday and can take it easy when I get back home. 

I’ll not give too many details about the events which unfolded but, will say, three more additions to my trip/year list were obtained. These being Purple & Squacco Heron plus Mediterranean Shag yet, the outstanding highlight will be that I finally managed to obtain a record shot of a perched Little Bittern. Happy daze indeed.  

Friday 12 May 2023

This will take some beating

 It was around 10.00 hrs, this morning, that I left the Anna Maria complex on my latest sojourn into the Pefkohori countryside. I’d already decided that a trip back to the local sewage farm was the plan in the hope of reconnecting with the Little Bittern that I discovered on Wednesday. Shame I hadn’t planned a better route to get me there? It was all around the houses before I eventually arrived. Not a complete waste of effort as Alpine Swift, Crested Lark and Cuckoo? had been added to the trip list before I arrived at my destination. 

I made a complete pig’s ear of my Little Bittern photo opportunity, having flushed it from almost the same spot as previously. What happened next just blew me away. I went off in search of my needle in a haystack photo and stumbled upon a stunning male Collared Flycatcher in a reed bed some 30m away. A lifer, and a self-found one at that. It doesn’t get any better. The walk back to our apartment was a piece of cake after this. I’ve got a Yellow Wagtail photo that will require some further investigation before an I’d can be reached. Greek birding - certainly has a lot going for it!

Thursday 11 May 2023

Thursday ramblings

 My second foray out into the Pefkohori countryside was always going to be a bit of an anticlimax after yesterday’s effort. Absolutely no way will this terrain be able to provide eighteen year ticks, in a single day, again on this trip. My choice, entirely, but I’m restricted to the area which I am physically able to walk to and now, fast  approaching seventy, that ain’t as far as it used to be I can tell you! 

My route today took me up to a small, but very sacred, Greek Orthodox Church with restricted access for visitors and a strict dress code which certainly prevented a long haired hippy, carrying camera and binos from treading on the haloed ground within the boundaries. No big deal as it was the road which got me up there which provided the birding opportunities.

The two new additions were Olive-tree and Eastern Olivaceous Warblers, Pefkohori being the only place I’ve ever seen them previously. Plenty of other birds to look at as I made my way around and I’m hopeful that some of the images obtained today are an improvement upon those of yesterday? It seems really crazy when I’m not sure whether to look at a Black-headed Bunting, a Red-backed Shrike or a Turtle Dove? All of which are present within a tiny Olive Grove or garden. 

Wednesday 10 May 2023

What a start

 Until we get back home I won’t be able to accompany these posts with any images. It’s certainly not beyond technology, just my complete inability to use it! My first wander around the Pefkohori countryside produced a superb series of avian encounters. I’ve got eighteen additions to my self found list which includes my very first Greek Little Bitten. Sadly, no photo’s were obtained, still there’s plenty of time yet.

The real stand out sighting came when I stumbled across a sow Wild Boar with a litter of boarlets in tow and this I did manage to get photos of. Most of the usual suspects have been seen, but it is a very sorry reflection on my UK efforts when I have to come to Greece to year tick Common Swift, House Martin and Whinchat?

Ten more days to go, so I’m very hopeful of getting more additions to the list and securing some decent images to accompany my trip report which will be a posted once we get back home!

Sunday 7 May 2023

Some moths at last

May has finally started to deliver warmer overnight temperatures and with it has come a very noticeable increase in moths attracted to the garden MV trap. Still a long way short of the catch numbers that we'll experience later in the year, last night's total of thirty-seven individuals, eleven species, is the best haul of 2023, thus far. Common Quaker and Early Grey continue to make up the bulk of the catch but Least Black Arches (2), Swallow Prominent, Large Yellow Underwing, Bloxworth Snout, Sulphur Tubic (2) and Triple-barred Argent were all new for the year with another two Silver Y's providing evidence of some migrant activity. 

The "Adidas Moth" - Triple-barred Argent

Not what I expect to see in May - Large Yellow Underwing

Sulphur Tubic

Swallow Prominent

Least Black Arches

My macro photography skills remain very basic, but still I am able to capture the odd record shots required to support my blogging efforts if nothing else? Back out Eel fishing this evening so, fingers crossed, there will be another blog entry before Bev and I fly off to Greece where I'm hoping for eleven days of full on birding, oh and a few Mythos!

Saturday 6 May 2023

Round up

 I'll get this started with a quick review of my first, 2023, Eel session. I blanked but, it wasn't time wasted as, there were several occurrences which provide learning opportunities as the project moves forward. A couple of stand out lessons were the requirement of isotopes within my bobbins and a complete rethink of my rig mechanics due to reeling in my left-hand rod, at the end of the session, to discover there was no bait on the hook. I'd dismissed the savage bobbin movement as a "liner" from the venue's numerous small Carp. I've spent some time re-reading the John Sidley chapter, Big Eel Mania, in The Big Fish Scene (Published by Ernest Benn 1979 ISBN 0 510-21006-6) where he describes very similar events at Earlswood Lakes, in the midlands, which he was able eradicate with a program of pre-baiting. Food for thought indeed and, before I left, all the bait I'd taken for the session was deposited in the swim ready for my return on Sunday, all being well? It would be absolutely pointless trying to draw any conclusions from what has happened, thus far, yet remain confident of a decent outcome if I stick to my task.

Away from angling, the garden continues to provide the bulk of my natural history fix. The moth trap is slowly starting to produce a few interesting results with a couple of Diamond Backs, yesterday, and a Silver Y and Pearly Underwing today. Odd Swallows have been spotted as they whiz over the gardens along Vine Close, whilst the undoubted birding highlight was provided by a pair of Greenfinches which dropped onto the feeding station on Wednesday afternoon. 

Birds and birding still play a massive role in my daily routine. That I am now completely removed from any formal involvement just makes it that much more enjoyable. What I do, and don't, see matters not a jot to anyone else, thus, exactly how I want it to be. Please don't think that I've an axe to grind with those who also enjoy their birding, but with a completely different outlook to getting involved. It really must be a case of each to their own. From my current position I do find myself smiling when scanning the various local birding web sites. Tales of Eleonora's Falcons, Hoopoes, Bee-eaters, and the like, just serve to ensure my own year listing efforts take on a very satisfying role. I no longer feel the need to go scampering off seeking a lonely waif or stray, I'm confident that I'll see them in good numbers, in all their splendour, because of my choice of holiday destinations. Birds have no concept of where they are, so why should it play a part in my own enjoyment? My game, my rules - or complete lack of them!

We head off to NE Greece, early next week, whilst Bev's God-daughter, partner and newly born  (another Harry!) are house sitting, thus getting a seaside break away from their home in Sheffield.  I'm totally happy to include those birds I encounter, on my self-found list, because it doesn't matter to anyone else.