Owlsland in Summer -
July & August

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Summer is in full swing now, with temperatures on the coast hitting an astounding forty seven degrees (yes, really!) last year. Bezirgan, being 725 metres above sea level, is cooler, which is of course why local people leave the coast for the mountains in summer.

Turkish villagers - Fegmi Dede with his load of goods for sale Fegmi Dede is probably the oldest inhabitant of Bezirgan. He has a shop which sells everything imaginable, with an inventory to rival Tesco's. Where else could you buy an umbrella, an oil lamp, cloth and salt, all under one roof, and have it delivered?
The door to Fegmi Dede's shop - which we reckon rivals any of the art which wins Turner Prizes and the like! farmhouses - Fegmi Dede's door
farming in Turkey - stubble field after the harvest The barley and the wheat harvest is in now, leaving fields of stubble. Everything is bone dry, because we've had only two short showers of rain in the past 18 weeks.
Sheep graze in the stubble fields, tended by their shepherds. Turkish farmers - two young shepherds tend their sheep
pomegranate fruits forming on the tree Tiny fruits are starting to form on the pomegranate trees as the flowers fade. Most villagers have a couple of these trees in the garden.
Not often grown here except as a companion plant alongside sesame, last year one farmer decided to try a whole field of sunflowers - very successfully, as you see. farms - a field of sunflowers
crops of Turkey - close-up of a sunflower With its face turned up to the sun, a sunflower in bloom is a truly spectacular flower.
The seeds form individually in the flower heads, which will be collected and dried around the end of August. close-up of sunflower showing seeds
village woman rolling out the dough to make bread Some jobs need done regardless of the season. One of these is making the bread - a group of neighbours will work together to make the task easier, making enough to last their families for a week or so. Here, the dough is being rolled out.
Then, the rolled-out dough is cooked on a metal plate over a wood fire. It needs to be turned and kept from sticking and burning. villager turning the bread
village ladies making katmer When they're making bread, people usually take the chance to make "katmer" using the same dough, but filled with cheese, green onions & spinach.
After the wheat harvest is the time the villagers make their bulgur, or cracked wheat. First, the wheat is boiled up outside in a huge copper cauldron. This is Erol's Dad, and thanks to Sean & Marianne for this photograph and the next one! wheat being boiled up to make bulgur
drying boiled wheat in the sun to make bulgur After draining, the grain is spread out in the full sun, where it's turned daily for five days till completely dry.
Then the boiled, dried wheat is taken to the mill, where the miller sets the millstones high, to crack the wheat rather than grind it. wheat being boiled up to make bulgur

The Mountains in Summer - Birds and Wildlife and Wildflowers

We have new permanent guests at Owlsland! Three years ago, a red squirrel appeared in the farmhouse garden, coming onto the balcony to pinch the sweetcorn hanging up to dry. He must have liked what he found, because two years ago he found a mate, set up home in the huge old oak tree, and produced one new baby squirrel. Last year and this they had twins, so now we have seven red squirrels...

red squirrel in oak tree We have great fun watching their antics as they race through the branches and up and down the trunk of the oak tree. They're so fast it's hard to catch them in a picture, so we're indebted to Denise, John & Ellie for letting us use this terrific photograph of one of the squirrels pausing from his play.
Here's one of them in full flight as he races up and down the almond trees. For taxonomists out there, squirrels in Turkey are Sciurus anomalus, the Persian or Caucasian Squirrel, a type of tree squirrel, while the red squirrel found in Europe is Sciurus vulgaris. sciurus anomalous, Persian squirrel, running down trunk of almond tree.
baby swallows demand food from adult bird. Though our swallows returned early this year to nest in the garage, for some reason the babies are very late. Four or five adult birds have been working together to help bring them on quickly, and they're demanding everything those aunties and uncles can bring!
Unbelievably, there are FOUR babies in the nest, though normally you can see only three at a time. Since the adults almost invariably feed the middle open beak, the fledglings swap places regularly, which is what they're doing here in the photo. four fledgling swallows swap places in their nest
birds of Turkey - young jay The one bird which is a bit of a pest is the jay - because, like others of the crow family, he'll rob the nests of other birds, stealing both eggs and chicks. Even saying that, they are beautiful birds nonethless. This is a young bird.
Lavender is always a great plant for attracting butterflies, but this variety is proving to be irresistible to swallowtails in particular. They're no longer common in this area - it's unusual to see more than one or two in a season, but this plant's been attracting as many as four at a time continuously for weeks now. This is a Scarce swallowtail, one of the most spectacular of Turkey's butterflies. scarce swallowtail butterfly
southern white admiral butterfly Another beauty - this time a Southern White Admiral butterfly.
Deer are quite rare around here, though they do live in the mountains. This beautiful, shy little creature appeared near the beach, to be caught by Denise, John & Ellie in this lovely picture, many thanks to them for letting us use it! (And if there was a prize for the guests who spotted the most wildlife here at Owlsland, they would surely win it!) wild deer near the coast
roman remains : a section of Roman aquaduct The Romans occupied the cities of the Lycian federation around two thousand years ago, and part of their legacy is some amazing works of engineering. Whilst these ought to be cherished and conserved, as often as not they aren't even recognized. An example is this astonishing aquaduct, which must have carried water into the ancient city of Pirha. All the more amazing when you consider that Bezirgan has only intermittent town water today!

The Garden in Summer - Herbs & Flowers & Wildlife

trees sour cherries ripening on the tree Another favourite for the jays to steal is fruit - the crop of sour cherries (which make great jam) looks good this year, but if you don't pick the fruit as soon as it ripens, the jays won't leave a single cherry on the tree!
This is the second year we've had spectacled warblers in the garden. A pair nested and raised a brood in one of the conifers right beside the back terrace, You could watch the parent birds fly in and out with insects for their young as you sat at the breakfast table! birding - spectacled warbler on cotoneaster
frog resting on weed in pond We performed a major clean-out of our pond, since the bullrushes had totally filled it (nobody said you shouldn't buy bullrushes if your stretch of water is smaller than Loch Lomond!). Judging by the noise they're making, the frogs greatly appreciate the sudden increase in water volume.
The birds are also delighted with the chance to have a bath and a drink. This is a male black headed bunting. black headed bunting has a drink and a bath
four blue butterflies on valerian flower We keep banging on about how many butterflies come to the garden, but this year (2010) has surpassed all others. Clouds of them rise whenever you touch a plant, especially in the herb garden. These blue butterflies are to be found in their hundreds on the valerian.
Most spectacular of them all, the swallowtail butterfly, on the lavender and valerian in the herb garden. For our money, valerian must be one of the best flowers you can grow - it flowers for about eight months of the year, withstands drought and rain alike, and attracts butterflies galore. swallowtail butterfly on lavendar and valerian
Owlsland - one of the cats having a nap The cats don't believe in overworking in the heat - Jesse James takes a nap.
Jesse and his new friend Max, who came to us at the end of last year, and is settling in and gaining confidence day by day. Jesse James and his new friend Max
masked shrike in July A pair of masked shrike nest in the garden every year, and spend at least a month chasing anything which nears their nest, be it cats or jays.
Geraniums just love these dry conditions - they flower and flower when everything else is wilting. Here, they're with valerian, another plant which is happy even in drought. flowers - geraniums and valerian in full flower
ivy-leaved geraniums in a terracotta tub More geraniums - this is an ivy-leaved variety, which produces dozens of these showy blooms for several months of the summer.
Filling the terraces with tubs and planters is about the only way we can have flowers in high summer - we can manage to water containers when we can't spare the water to irrigate the garden. This selection includes dianthus, sage, scented geraniums and antirrhinums. planters of colourful flowers on the front terrace

And that's a taste of summer in the Turkish mountains -
Come and visit, see it for yourself!

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