Monthly Archives: June 2015

  • Wednesday 17th June 2015 - setting eggs

    I'm only writing this as a reminder - this evening I've set twenty silkie eggs under a couple of broodies, so now I might remember when they are due to hatch. I've already hatched a couple of broods so it looks as though I'm going to have to find homes for some of them pretty soon - or eat 'em. They're scrawny little chaps with black skin - when they are plucked they look like the creatures that live inside daleks. Someone's got to do it, though.
    The surviving Hubbards are real brawlers, less than three weeks old and nearly as big as their foster-mother. Providing the foxes leave us alone, Christmas lunch will either be one fat Hubbard or half a dozen skinny black silkies!
    Conditions are getting very good for night fishing for sea-trout, but after I have dozed off after dinner it is much easier to put it off until tomorrow. Life hasn't been entirely fishless, though. We had a lovely sunny day out with Charlie Bartlett last week. I'm always apprehensive about the first trip of the season, but the gannets were diving and the mackerel were in. There were plenty of tope and huss for those who wanted to catch them, while the rest of us accumulated a nice bag of black bream, mackerel, and a few weevers and gurnards.
    I had set the smoker up in anticipation of mackerel, and then, to make full use of it, I took a couple of fillets of sea-trout out of the freezer. Although firm, it was quite pale-fleshed, so I added the chilli marinade from a bowl of beetroot to their brine. I smoked them for 24 hours, rather than my usual 48, and as they had already firmed up nicely I left it at that. They looked terrific and tasted even better - lightly-smoked rosy sea-trout!
    Luke and I tried the caddis hatch at Llanbrynmair on Saturday night. The cloud descended on us and it was pretty cold and miserable, but we caught a few small fish during the evening before a brief hectic spell as the bigger trout moved in on the scuttling sedges in the dusk. I was using a huge muddler - really a salmon dry-fly - and was very surprised to lose three good fish after playing each of them for a while. The fourth one stayed on and proved to be another Gwyddior beauty at just over two pounds.
    I've got the dinghy and outboard serviced and ready to go, but this weekend we are off to the Welsh Game Fair, and the following one we will be in Northern Ireland for the Irish Fair, so I'll be lucky to get out for bass for a while. We may just have a cast or two while we're across the water, though. I'll tell you about it on our return.

  • Tuesday 9th June 2015 - even more fishing

    I've managed to maintain my regime of mixing office work, gardening and fishing. We had another good flood on the river last week. I didn't go out at the height of the flood, but those who did caught some great fish on worm - including a number of double-figure sea-trout. I went spinning next morning and started badly by losing a very big sea-trout at the net. I saw a fourteen-pounder caught that day and it was pretty-much identical. Never mind - at least I wasn't tempted to knock it on the head. I went on to catch a seven-pounder and a couple of smaller fish, so I can't complain. The smoker has been busy!
    I had half a day with the fly a couple of days later, but couldn't find the fish at all. High point was a stoat swimming past me, heading for the sand martin colony on the other bank.
    I tried again last night after dark. As I locked the car I could hear splashing and pictured shoals of sea-trout. Then, as I crossed the river and fished into the neck of the pool the splashing got louder and was accompanied by chattering and squeaking - the pool was occupied by a whole herd of otters! No point in fishing, I stood and watched and listened for a while before shining my small flashlight on them. Four pairs of eyes were reflected, three in the river and one on the bank. I guess there were more than four there, and they quickly ignored me and carried on chasing each other up the bank and sliding back down into the water.I left the pool to the otters and walked upstream half a mile, fishing several pools, but the cold North wind had discouraged the sea-trout and eventually it discouraged me too, and I went home to bed.

    We haven't done much trout fishing. On the stormiest evening I trekked up to a lake in the hills where the brownies jumped all over my olive bumbles. Most of them missed the fly, but enough took hold to give us a fry-up the next day.

    Rico guarding the flocks Rico guarding the flocks

    Llanbrynmair shoot - workers at rest Llanbrynmair shoot - workers at rest









    Rico is getting fat, staying at home guarding the hens. The chicks play all around him as he dozes in the garden. Let's hope he remembers what a pheasant is. I did spend a day last week working on a splendid new release pen on the shoot, so we are promised some sport next season.  Fifty yards by seventy of regenerating cover on the edge of an old oak wood - plenty of sunshine and shade - it's a pheasant poult's paradise!

    The garden is getting full, although still only supplying salads and strawberries so far. My flocks are flourishing, with several families of chicks sunbathing on the grass and pecking around the vegetables each day. As an experiment I bought some day-old Hubbards - table birds - and put them with a silkie hen. At one week old one of them drowned itself in a bowl of water - it felt as dense and heavy as a bag of sugar. I hope the rest will survive their genetic propensity for heart attacks and broken legs long enough to make us a Christmas dinner or two.


    AN ANGLER'S ARCHIVE by Charles Bingham AN ANGLER'S ARCHIVE by Charles Bingham

    Charles Bingham has just privately published a memoir based on his archive of photographs from a lifetime of fishing in the West Country in an edition of only 300 copies.  Only 200 of these are available for sale - exclusively through Coch-y-Bonddu Books, and have all been signed and numbered by the author. At a bargain price for a limited edition angling book - only £25!

  • An Oological Record of British Raptors. By Tony Ladd.

    An Oological Record of British Raptors
    Including bird familes - eagles, hawks, falcons, harriers and owls
    by Tony Ladd

    Fine new copy. Edition limited to 400 copies. Price £175.00

    A huge and impressive volume illustrated with excellent colour photographs including many full-page, life-size depictions of clutches of birds' eggs.

    "Through thousands of hours research and visits to the great natural history museums of Great Britain [Tony Ladd] has presented the story of the early naturalist collectors in a beautiful and artistic fashion. Early chapters cover the topic of how birds' eggs are formed in the body and there are also detailed descriptions of how the wonderful diversity of eggshell patterns are applied to the surface. Raptors, the first in a series of nine volumes, covers all of the British breeding birds of prey with detailed analysis of the birds' breeding behaviour. There are full page plates for each species showing the variety of egg-patterning and colours found in each species. All eggs are shown as life-size and with Tony's reprographic expertise, the colour reproduction and quality of all the images is outstanding." The foreword is by Errol Fuller. The first in a proposed series of nine volumes.

    LaddChapters include:-
    Oology explained;
    Birds' eggs & the law;
    Collecting mania;
    Fieldwork pioneers;
    The egg laid bare;
    Raptor species - White-tailed eagle; Golden eagle; Common buzzard; Honey buzzard; Osprey; Goshawk; Sparrowhawk; Marsh harrier; Hen harrier; Montagu's harrier; Peregrine falcon; Hobby; Kestrel; Merlin; Tawny owl; Barn owl; Short-eared owl; Long-eared owl; Little owl; Snowy owl.

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