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"Look up son, there is a Buzzard", my father said excitedly as we sat in a small boat together whilst fishing on Llandegfedd Reservoir many years ago.

I followed the direction my Dad was pointing with his finger; sure enough, there was a Buzzard soaring on the thermals above the calm waters of the reservoir. 

His keen eyes rarely missed anything. Next, he would be pointing out a flash of brilliant colour flying low over the water, a Kingfisher and then he would be marvelling at the Swallows and House Martins swooping overhead and telling me they had flown here from Africa.

His enthusiasm for wildlife was infectious. Then I felt my fishing line go taught and suddenly something was pulling away. He got so excited, "Pull your rod up son, it looks like it's a record big fish".  I did my best to reel in the line and keep the trout on the hook. It was exhilarating.

Just as it was getting close enough to land disaster struck, it managed to dislodge the hook or the line snapped and it was gone. Despite being disappointed it had been good fun and my Dad had been so excited and happy that I had a big fish on the line.  Of course, it was the really massive one that had gotten away and he had exaggerated a little as Dads do from time to time to lessen my feelings of bad luck.

I will always remember those days of fly fishing with my Dad. For some reason, I could tie the fly really well to the line, had picked up how to cast with lots of guidance from my father, had lots of patience and could even get trout to bite but never had any luck landing a fish.

Whilst I never caught a trout whilst accompanying my Dad at Llandgefedd what I did catch was something far greater and better in my opinion - a lifelong love for wildlife and especially for birds.

My interest in ornithology was sparked by my mother who bought me a bird book ( the first of many) and encouraged me to learn about birds but my father also had a huge impact on ensuring that interest became a passion.

When you are young you never really appreciate some of the things your parents do for you. It was only in later life that I realised some of the things that my Dad used to do for me. 

I remember losing my first pair of binoculars ( my Great Uncles) at Llandegfedd on a Young Ornithologist Club birdwatching walk (some of you will remember that club - good times). My father was not happy at all with me but I was forgiven and as a result, he bought me a new pair of binoculars - which back in those days was by means no small expense.

In my teens, my Dad was friendly with the reservoir's water Bayliff and got me introduced to a group of bird ringers that had a ringing station at Llandegfedd. My father on Sundays used to take me over there at about 7am in the morning to help the ringers and he did this after working a nightshift having only just gotten home from work. No wonder he always looked so tired when sat in the ringing shed but he soon perked up when the ringers brought a little bird in to ring.

I will hold memories like these of my father close to my heart now. I am still coming to terms with my Dad's recent death but have decided to return to some cathartic writing and blogging.

I have got quite a bit of writing to catch up on so standby for plenty of pictures and some reading about Goldcliff, the Gwent Uplands, aerial landscape photography and trips to the seaside to watch waders.


  1. Blair - what a lovely piece, and a wonderful way to remember your Dad. I'm very sorry for your recent loss.


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