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!


Monday 30 October 2023

Time for a change

 I recall fellow blogger, Bure Boy, stating that there was nothing sadder/more boring than the portfolio of a single species angler! When I look at the blog offerings posted by Brian (Pike Blog) it really hits home how repetitive my Carp related posts have become. Not for one minute do I wish to detract from the enjoyment provided by this current project yet, with the changing of the clocks, I wish to seek other challenges. The Carp "double in every month" project will still require some effort in order for me to achieve this personal milestone but I certainly feel the need for a change.

My PB Bream 11lbs 2oz from Brogborough Pit, Bedfordshire, Sept 1992

One of the benefits of blogging involvement is Google's provision of a statistics facility, via a personal "dashboard". It is because of this ability to peruse various aspects of the visitor numbers, and what they are looking at , that I am now looking at the potential of a short Eel campaign, out on the Flatlands. The weather will play a massive role in any decisions I make and, currently, Storm Ciaran is certainly going to prohibit any exploits prior to Friday?  I've been enthused to have a bash at. late season, Eels due to the incredible ESP youtube offering by Steve Pitts (if you've not seen it, please click the link) My winter campaign took place eight years ago, yet remains one of the most satisfying projects I've ever undertaken. That my post, in which I summarise the events and offers my slant on any conclusions, remains one of the most viewed offerings on the blog. (click here) is testament to just this info.

Even if I don't manage to catch a bigger Eel, surely I'll get a better image?

What I want to explore is the rig mechanics which Steve extols and that "lip-hooking" end result. I went for a wander, this morning, purely to establish the possibilities of actually getting a rig in the water where there is a reasonable possibility of actually landing a fish? I bumped into my, birding, mate Neil and we spent much of the time comparing notes and bemoaning the current scarcity of "common" species during this autumn period. 

I've unfinished business down on the RMC
Will December provide that conclusion?

I remain very confident about a positive outcome for that Carp project, yet can't wait for the first frosts and a return to the RMC for another Pike adventure, but have no desire to wish my life away - time passes quick enough!  I think that the one outstanding lesson I can take from 2023 is that single species angling has the ability to focus the mind, yet also induces tunnel vision as a side effect. I have already decided that 2024 will be very different. Brian's desire to land a "double" Pike from a new venue has already ticked a box in my plans - if BB has any ideas, I'm happy to give it a go?

Monday 23 October 2023

Better late, than never?

Running a garden moth trap remains a major part of my involvement with the wild creatures which inhabit the Newlands Farm area. I adopted it as my "local patch"when we first moved here and, over these past twenty-three years, been extraordinarily fortunate to have experienced some wonderful encounters. Whilst I can't deny the enjoyment I derive from looking at this local fauna, the desire to keep records of such events has fallen by the wayside. Fun? Without any shadow of a doubt. Important? Not from where I now find myself. As the blog is just my slant on one bloke's journey through life, I steer well clear of political opinion, and associated topics, as much as possible. So whilst I appreciate that other folk will have very different opinions about such things, I genuinely couldn't give a toss about such trivia beyond this personal enjoyment level.

Green-brindled Crescent
A resident species, but certainly has that "WOW" factor

I recently had an e-mail from my mate, Franny (Solly), telling me he'd "cherry picked" some of my moth records from the blog and could I provide extra detail on my Dewick's Plusia tally? We go back a very long way and I replied with the info I felt was appropriate? Francis produces a "Thanet Moth Report" and incorporates some of my blogged records to provide an overview of events in this corner of Kent. Whilst I have absolutely zero objections to this situation, what needs to be understood is that I only blog about garden mothing when the rods are not getting bent and we're not on holiday?

Rush Veneer - not too numerous in 2023. A garden record of this migrant species.this morning.

How many sightings go unrecorded? I have no idea, but there will be plenty of times when I pick up an egg tray to discover an unusual species to be present, yet not have any requirement to blog about such an encounter. The whole blogging experience, for me, has to be about telling a story from my perspective, thus, no requirement for a third party approval. Therefore, if a third party wants to get involved, they do so on my terms - or don't bother - I'll have no trouble getting to sleep because I don't conform. 

The Vestal - one of those moths which played a major role during my
very early years of garden trapping.

With the weather forecasts predicting more heavy rainfall, I knew that the window of opportunity to get the grass cut had to be taken. Bev and I did the weekly Tesco visit before I managed to get the mower from the shed and get the job done! It was whilst pushing the mower along the fence line, I disturbed a small moth which I quickly id'd as a Vestal! The first garden (UK) sighting of the year! Quickly potted up, prior to grabbing the camera to get a few record shots. Absolutely crazy, it's a moth which has been seen in ridiculous numbers in previous years. I am not running the trap tonight, as heavy rainfall is predicted to last until well after 01.00 hrs -  oh yeah, I'm fishing tomorrow all being well! 

Sunday 22 October 2023

Quick catch up

I've not been too sparkling, of late,  as the changeable weather which accompanied Storm Babet is causing my arthritic joints to ache and some! To add to my woes, the demands of kicking a football about in the garden has also taken a toll; my left groin is telling me I'm way too old for that sort of caper! Oh the joys of being a Grand-dad? Today has been rather enjoyable, as Thanet basked in some late-Autumn sunshine, and I've been able to spend a considerable amount of the day out in the garden, just looking. A dozen, or so, Common Buzzards came in, from the south, before drifting of westwards. A few Chaffinches trickled over, with the odd Skylark in tow. The garden hedge hosted a Chiffchaff and two Goldcrests, although none of them were prepared to pose for the camera.

All the action took place within forty-five minutes around mid-day.

I continue to run the moth trap, out of habit rather than expectation. Nothing particularly exciting has been discovered on the egg trays since we returned from Corfu. Delicates, Scarce Bordered Straws and Rusty-dot Pearls continue to provide evidence of migration, yet my best recent records have involved the first Oak Rustic, of the year, plus a couple of Large Wainscots and a Deep-brown Dart.

Large Wainscot

Deep-brown Dart

Despite the intermittent rain and low temperatures, last night's catch did include my second Golden Twin-spot of the year, thus ensuring I continue to keep going through this nightly ritual.

Golden Twin-spot

I'd like to finish with a request for assistance? The following moth sp. was not trapped in the UK but, instead, turned up in our apartment in Corfu. Anyone got any idea what it is?

Corfu noctuid sp.

Wednesday 18 October 2023

Sowing the seeds

My grandson, Harry, broke up for half-term last Friday, whilst his sister, Emily, doesn't finish until this Friday. So that he isn't at home, on his own, Bev and I drive across to Newington to collect him so that he can spend the daytime with us. Ten years old and a football fanatic, so kicking a ball about in the back garden features at some point in the day. The one hobby he'd never shown any interest in is angling, so this was the perfect opportunity for me to allow him to experience the thrill of playing a fish on rod & line. I had two venues in mind and we visited them both on Monday just to let Harry make a decision on which one he wanted to catch his first fish from. Unsurprisingly, it was the smaller farm pond which got the nod and we returned with the tackle around mid-morning on Tuesday.

One very "Happy Harry"

Unlike the apprenticeship which I undertook, Harry wasn't to start his journey chasing Minnows and Gudgeon. Nope, he was straight in at the deep end, it was Carp or nothing?  Not for a second did I plan for Harry to sit behind motionless rods, perched on rod-rests, awaiting the sound of a bite alarm. We were targeting fish on the top, using floating bread as bait. The venue is tiny, certainly less than an acre, yet contains a massive stock of stunted Carp which are ravenous. I would guess that the average fish weighs a couple of pounds, with the largest individuals just scraping double figures? 

Carp soup!

Whilst I was getting the rod prepared, Harry set about scattering a few dog biscuits on the surface. Activity was almost instantaneous, with small Carp squabbling to get their share of these freebies. I wouldn't be exaggerating if I stated that there were times when over seventy fish were on the surface, directly underneath our position. It is a crazy venue and, as such, just the type of place for a youngster to experience their first angling foray. In less than ninety minutes, Harry had landed fifteen fish using a very simple free lining approach. After the first half a dozen, we started to target, where possible, some of the slightly larger individuals. Harry finished with a PB of 9 lbs 12 oz and plenty to tell his Nan, Mum, Dad and sister all about. 

The 9 lbs 12 oz Common Carp 

We weren't packing up until Harry had caught a Mirror Carp

There is no way that my own enthusiasm for angling will be forced upon any of the grandchildren. The best I can hope for is that they make educated decisions based upon involvement with such outdoor activities due, in part, to time spent in my company.

Thursday 12 October 2023

A Centrepin "Sun-downer" - crazy session

 For those who await my Corfu insect post I am very sorry. The desire to get out with the rods, today, was purely because tomorrow is forecast to be a write off?  Bev took over the school run duties, thus allowing me the opportunity to get a few hours down on Victory Lake at Sandwich Coarse Fishery. What an absolute result, a red-letter session and some! 

Centrepins, Siren R3's and a Leeda rod-pod.
A Carp Faggot's nightmare? Oh yeah - that's an NGT landing net, just to rub it in!

Yes, I knew that an October "double" needed to be landed, yet had spent much of yesterday going through the options available to elevate the enjoyment stakes. My conclusion being that I'd fish with centrepins, two Match Aerials, as opposed to the, usual, Okuma baitrunners on The Duncan Kay's. Bait choice and rig presentations would remain unchanged. What can't be ignored is the role played by my Nash "Bushwhacker" baiting pole system. Minimum disturbance with maximum accuracy, absolutely ideal for this type of, intimate, short range situations. As I said in yesterday's offering, Carp are as easy, or difficult, to catch as the angler chooses. 

It might be a new PB, yet it doesn't hold a candle to those magnificent
"wild" Carp out on the Flatlands. 
Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not complaining, but it ain't a looker!

In less than four hours, I received four bites which resulted in four Carp visiting the un-hooking mat. The first bite came within fifteen minutes of the bait being positioned and produced a new PB, in the shape of a of 25 lbs 4 oz Common Carp. The other fish were another Common of 15 lbs 10 oz, plus two Mirrors of 11 lbs 2 oz & 16 lbs 8 oz.. It was a superb session and made all the better because I had the venue to myself.

The current totals, for my "double" in every month of 2023, stand at six "twenties" and forty-two "doubles". Surely my project is headed in the right direction?

Wednesday 11 October 2023

Time to dust down the rods

It's been nearly three weeks since I last cast a bait into a swim. Since then, whilst sunning ourselves on the island of Corfu, the Pike season has started and I now need to place an October "double" figure Carp on the unhooking mat to ensure that particular challenge is maintained. To be perfectly honest, Pike fishing in the early part of the season doesn't do it for me any more. I'm perfectly happy to wait for the winter to kick in before really seeking the species which has been so central during my entire angling adventure. No, at present, it's that Carp project which remains at the top of my priority list. I'm off down to see Kev, at Sandwich Coarse Fishery, for an update on the fishing situation and, hopefully, get a swim sorted for Friday?

Stanborough Lake - November 1983

The weather is certainly on the change, with rain and strong winds forecast, before the weekend. Whatever the conditions, I remain confident in my approach at this particular venue. Whilst I am embarked upon this quest my methodology, and bait choices, will remain on a "need to know" basis. However, once my "double in every month" attempt is over, I will produce a post detailing what I've done to ensure my methods have been significantly different from the "Carp Clones" and their, boily dependent, chuck & chance tactics.

A "Flatlands" twenty in September 2018

Please don't hold your breath, there isn't anything radical which will make an impact on the thought processes of mainstream Carp anglers. It's just the result of an old bloke thinking, outside the box, whilst fishing alongside, brain dead, "Muppets" at a day ticket venue. I've been catching Carp for a lot of years and they are as difficult, or easy, as you wish to make it? 

Tuesday 10 October 2023

The Honey Buzzard Show

I seem to recall that it was some time back in the late 1980's when I, along with a couple of mates, drove from Hertfordshire to Norfolk (Swanton Novers or Thetford Forest) where I was to see my first, ever, Honey Buzzards. Since that initial encounter, I have been extraordinarily fortunate to have watched these magnificent raptors on many occasions, in several different countries. Indeed I have four garden records, since moving to Thanet, as well as discovering a pair, holding territory, relatively close by. All that said, absolutely nothing I'd experienced previously comes remotely close to what I was to witness during our latest  Corfu holiday. 

Tuesday 26th September saw me make the long trek up to,  and beyond, the Greek Flag which sits proudly on the skyline, high above Agios Gordios. It takes around an hour to reach this landmark by which time you have risen over 1,000ft above sea level. This was to be the only day we experienced any bad weather, and it was very overcast with occasional thunder, lightning and associated heavy showers. Not the best decision to be wandering around in a tee-shirt, yet once up there I had to make the best of it. Around 11.00 hrs I spotted a couple of large raptors flying in and, through my binos, quickly established that they were Honey Buzzards. Quite distant, in dodgy light, I rattled of a few shots hoping that I'd get something for the blog. Nothing better than record shots, yet the second bird was a nice pale individual and I was happy enough with what I could see on the back of the camera.

Wednesday 27th September and it all kicked off. I'd decided that my fitness wasn't up to a return to the high ground so, instead, opted to take the lower route across towards Pentati Beach. A much brighter morning which ensured that the dappled light within the Olive Groves and woodland played havoc with my limited camera skills as I tried to get images of the odd flycatcher or warbler. Again, it was around 11.00 hrs when I spotted a group of eight Honey Buzzards leisurely circling towards my position, gaining height as they did so. Distance was a problem, but with much better light, I managed to get a few shots which were an improvement on the efforts of yesterday.

I also had a group of five Eleonora's Falcons pass over and a couple of Sparrowhawks. It would seem that conditions for migration were good. I was discover just how good during the afternoon. Laying beside the pool, cold Mythos to hand, I counted a further fifty-three Honey Buzzards and two Eleonora's which were easily picked out with the naked eye due to a veil of high cloud. 

Thursday 28th September and it was back up to the higher ground, with the plan to be on site before 10.30 hrs. Why? Because that's "Buzzard O'clock" a phrase I first heard used by Phil Milton down in Pegwell Bay during the 1990's and it's certainly proven to be a good call during migration periods in both Spring and Autumn here on Thanet. Would it be applicable on Corfu? Only one way to find out and I was going to give it my best shot. Up at the flag with a few minutes to spare, just in time to watch the arse end of a HB disappear beyond a clump of Olives on the horizon. Walking along the track, I encountered another two, high up and moving deliberately southwards, then another two singles did much the same just a few minutes later. I rattled off a few token shots, but knew that they were nothing special. I'd done my usual route and was on the way back when, suddenly, a bird appeared below my position, slowly spiraling upwards. It was a surreal experience, looking down on a Honey Buzzard, yet seeing blue sky as the background. It was fill my boots time and I clicked away merrily as the bird put on a magnificent display, quickly gaining height before moving off to the south.

Surely I wasn't going to get a better chance of decent photos than this?

It wasn't until Saturday 30th September that I made a return to the high ground. My limbs ached from the exertions involved in walking this rugged terrain, so a day off was a very sensible idea. It paid off handsomely, as I returned refreshed and keen to see what else was happening. I was up by the flag some twenty minutes earlier than planned, thanks to Dave, an ex-pat, who gave me a lift in his car up to the village of Kato Garouna. I'd walked about a mile along the track, reaching a derelict pump house overlooking the island to the south. It's probably the highest point along this particular trail. I sat on the wall, swigging from my water bottle when I suddenly spotted two Honey Buzzards flying directly towards me, quickly joined by a third. They reached my position before deciding to use the thermal to gain height. What a show they put on for two or three minutes before drifting off to the south. Just to watch them was a privilege, to have a camera in my hands was an absolute thrill.

I saw my final HB on Tuesday 3rd October, again whilst wandering around on the high ground. In a European context, this species is not particularly rare but, to a guy from Kent, they are gold dust. To be able to spend time in their company, doing it my way is something which words cannot convey. I'm really am a very lucky guy.

Next offering will be about the insects, I think!

Monday 9 October 2023

Corfu taster and a surprise

We arrived back home just before 01.45 hrs, this morning, pleasantly surprised by the amazing efficiency of the Stanstead Airport system. I think we landed around 23.00 hrs and were back at APH to pick up our car within 30 minutes - absolutely incredible. I've downloaded just over one thousand images from the EOS 70D and they will certainly require some major effort to sort through. So, just because the blog has been devoid of any pictorial content for this past fortnight, I felt it only right to provide those who have been kind enough to keep logging on, a sample of what will be appearing over the next few days.

Honey Buzzard migration was close to the end, so I was delighted to obtain a fantastic sequence
of images, over the first eight days of our holiday. This is a typical view of a bird
passing along the high ground. There were occasions when they were so close that I couldn't
fit the whole bird in the view-finder.

These small lizard sp. were common enough almost everywhere I went. This individual
was sunning itself by the pool of The Irene Apartment complex where we were staying.

A typical scene whilst out walking. Clouded Yellows
were regularly encountered but were nowhere close to
the most numerous butterflies to be seen.

I've already mentioned how difficult the birding was out on this magical island, purely because of the harsh contrast in light levels between the sunshine and the shaded habitat caused by the dense vegetation. However, as birds were such a problem, I quickly adapted the philosophy of getting images of whatever was prepared to cross my path. Happily an incredible array of invertebrates, plus a few lizards, were encountered during my wanderings and provided plenty of subject matter for me to point the lenses at.

Swallowtail Butterfly - seen daily, but not in any numbers.

A Striped Grasshopper - I think?

Praying Mantis - always good value and regularly encountered around the apartment
complex. Once I got my eye in, they were easy enough to spot as they waited, 
in exposed positions, for some unsuspecting victim to provide a snack.

The final couple of images are of a small/medium sized falcon which was upon me before I managed to grab the camera. My best guess is Barbary Falcon, although I am perfectly happy to be corrected by anyone with a better understanding of such id conundrums. Certainly not the best images ever taken, yet they seem to show all the features required?

The best I could do under the circumstances.

Saturday 7 October 2023

Hard graft, but great fun

My final trek up into the high ground, which surrounds Agios Gordios, didn't provide anything unexpected. Soaring Common Buzzards proclaimed their territorial rites with majestic displays of flying prowess and vocal accompaniment. A second Firecrest, of the trip, was heard as I walked a new section of the mountain tracks and a flyover Chaffinch was a bit of a surprise. Robins and Blackcaps seem to be the dominant migrant species on the island. They are present in their hundreds around the area. Blackbirds, Jays, Collared Doves, Blue and Great Tits, plus Sardinian Warblers seem to make up the bulk of other bird sightings. There was a Cirl Buunting, singing, breifly around the Irene complex, but I failed to get a view of this individual through my binos. It's been an amazing break, with some awesome encounters along the way. Quite how my camera craft has coped will only be known when we get back home. We fly back to Stanstead, very, late tomorrow night. I'm hoping normal blogging can resume some time on Monday?

Friday 6 October 2023

Invertebrate fun

After my exertions, of yesterday, I did no more than remain within the confines of The Irene Apartment area today. The weather was a bit here and there, but still so much better than an October day on Thanet! I spent the majority of my time around the pool, yet did a few laps of the area in search of subjects willing to pose for the camera. I'd decided to opt for the macro kit and was rewarded for this decision, handsomely. A couple of Praying Mantis, plenty of Dragonfly sp., a few butterflies and grasshoppers ensured I have more material available, when back home, to post on the blog. Lizzards were also very cooperative, with several individuals posing nicely for the lenses. I have one more sojourn, up into the high ground above Agios Gordios, before I call it a day for this holdiday. In all honesty it doesn't matter what happens over these next couple of days, it's been a superb break, Bev and I will return home much the better for this experience. P.S. Just as an appology to Ric and Gavin. I'd love to be able to reply to your comments, but the cyber system says I'd be anonymous! Just three more days and normal service wil be resumed?

Thursday 5 October 2023

Plodding on

My morning walk up into the "mountains" (?) was more leisurely than normal as it got underway shortly after 09.00 hrs, thus ensuring I'd be up where I needed to be thirty minutes earlier than normal. As it turned out, it was a complete wasted effort on a birding level. Although I did add a Firecrest to my list, the first one in over two years! Luckily, I have brought three lenses with me, in an attempt to cover as many options as possible. Obviously my Sigma 170-500mm is the go to choice for the majority of my photographic effort yet, the Canon 18-55mm and Canon 70-210mm macro ensure that I have alternatives should I feel the need. Today was to be a perfect example of this requirement for flexibility. Birds were conspicuous by their abscence and it was down to the various invertebrate groups to provide the bulk of my material. Humming-bird Hawk-moths aren't particularly noteworthy subjects, even back on Thanet, yet discovering a bunch of twenty-plus individuals feeding on a patch of "yellow flowers" - id of which is way beyond my capabilities - it seemed silly to pass up such an opportunity. With the macro kit selected, I spent a good while experimenting with various camera settings and shutter speeds, hoping to secure something better than I've managed previously. On the back of the EOS 70d they look pretty good, yet it will only be when we get back home that I'll know for sure! A big, (12 - 15 inches), bright green, lizzard put in a very breif appearance, allowing me to grab four record shots before it scuttled off into the dense undergrowth. I'm just happy to point the camera at whatever crosses my path and will worry about image quality, and such like, should it become an issue? The weather remains superb, with daytime temps into the low/mid thirties Centigrade. One thing I've learned during my time out in the Eastern Mediterranean region is the requirement to carry plenty of water with me. Today I consumed in excess of two litres, in little more than four hours. I am forever grateful for the advice provided by Elainie, out on Kefalonia, who showed me how to use the various stand-pipes, which provide irrigation for the crops, as a source of water bottle top up facilities. That'll do for today - some more ramblings tomorrow, all being well?

Wednesday 4 October 2023

Quick summary

I really don't have a clue as to how this internet caper works! It would seem that the post, I published a few hours ago, is dated 25th September? So to get the October ball rolling it seems only to right that I use the opportunity to make another offering at such short notice. This holiday has provided the most difficult birding I've ever experienced. It has nothing to do with anything other than the ridiculously contrasting light levels which are part and parcel of Corfu daytime. Passerines, in particular, seem to be allergic to these conditions and spend the majority of their time in the dappled light/shade of the Olive grove canopy. Even if I manage to get a view through my bino's, there's absolutely zero chance of grabbing a record image with the camera kit! I think that, off the top of my head, just five species have been added to my self-found year list, thus far. I have managed to add a "lifer" to my butterfly list in the form of a very smart Nettle-tree Butterfly which I photographed just a few hundred metres away from our appartment. The weather has been superb, both Bev and myself look very tanned. Not sure what the next few days might deliver, but I do know that it'll be fun trying to find out? The terrain, locally, is testing to say the least. My fitness has been placed into question right from the off. With just four days remaining, there won't be too many more excersions up into the surrounding mountains, but I'm sure that there'll be a few more surprises before it's time to call it a day?