Owlsland in June

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Summer has arrived, and the people of our village have left the coast, where they spent the winter, and come back to the mountains for the summer. The weather has warmed up, and the farming season is in full swing. We've had an astonishingly dry spring, with only one rain shower since about the beginning of February, so everything is a good month ahead of what you'd normally expect, and is running to seed early.

poppyfield in full bloom The poppies, as ever, are a spectacular brilliant scarlet red.
Poppies grow well amongst fodder vetch, a legume grown for animal feed. When it's ready, it has to be cut by hand using a sickle; backbreaking work. cutting lucerne with a sickle
bringing in the crops Once you've cut your fodder vetch, it has to be taken home. You can heave it onto your shoulders...
....or you can barrow it in a wheelbarrow. bringing home the crops
threshing barley Now that the barley has been cut, it needs to be threshed. A tractor and attachment is used these days, so it doesn't take as long as it did when horses or oxen were used.
But it's still not an easy job - the barley has to be forked by hand into the machine, there's a huge pile of it and the weather is hot. forking barley into the thresher
dust rising from the thresher The dust covers everything and everybody around, getting into your clothes and hair, and filling the house, if you haven't remembered to shut the windows.
Mother goat and her kids seemed to be determined to have a closer look in the guesthouse - probably hoping some of our guests had something edible about their person! the goats have a closer look in the pension
the village mosque The mosque in the centre of the village. The call to prayer comes five times a day, and punctuates the life of the village.
During the heat of the day, when you can't work in the fields, the men come to the village cafe, and sort out the problems of the world. the men in the village cafe
Davut, proprietor of the Dervish Café Davut, genial proprietor of the Dervish Café, prepares the tea under the watchful eye of the Prophet Ali.
In a huge old plane tree next to the village cafe, a pair of tawny owls has made a nest. They can even be seen in the day, as they survey the scene below where the men are drinking tea. We don't know what they think of it, though one of a pair of tawny owls
carrying the straw back to the goats And just to remind you that farming isn't all about sitting in the shade drinking tea, this is Suleyman Dayi with an astonishing load of straw to be carried back to the donkey.

The Mountains in Summer - Birds and Wild Flowers

The birds are all very busy now - the babies are growing apace, which means lots of work for the parent birds.

Swallows have nested for three years running now in our garage. The baby swallows loudly demand food from morning till night, and judging by how much they've grown, their frazzled parents are providing it. The nest looks just a tad overcrowded! baby swallows in nest
baby swallows demanding food! From first light till dark, the parent birds try to fill perpetually open beaks - thankfully, our garden provides a constant ready supply of all sorts of insects.
We have to include another picture of one of the pair of Scops Owl who have a nest just across the road from us. These are the smallest of the owls found around here, whose existence is the reason for Owlsland's name. scops owl
masked shrike and a caterpillar Tending the chicks is the priority. This pair of masked shrike have a hard time chasing the jays from their nest - for the jays, despite their attractive looks, devour other birds' eggs or chicks.
In this photo, and the previous one, the shrike is dealing with a caterpillar. With lots of nests, so lots of chicks, in the garden, we don't need insecticides! masked shrike deals with a caterpillar
hoopoe Rather a rarity! We're not sure why this hoopoe was sitting on the road, but he stayed long enough to photograph him.

The Garden in Summer - Herbs & Flowers & Wildlife

butterflies on lavender We tend to get carried away by the birds, but the butterflies have been breathtaking this year too. The herb garden when disturbed produces clouds of them. These are on the lavender.
These blue butterflies are at their peak just now - there are literally hundreds of them, clouds of bright sapphires. close-up of blue butterfly
scarce swallowtail butterfly on lavender We tried a new variety of lavender last year, and it has turned out to be hugely popular with these gorgeous and spectacular scarce swallowtail butterflies.
And this one is a swallowtail butterfly - which is much rarer than the scarce swallowtail! It seems to be attracted to thistles. close-up of blue butterfly
tubs and urns of flowers More colour - the tubs and urns in the garden are producing a lovely show - geraniums and pansies, erigeron and antirrhinums.
Love-in-a-mist, or nigella, has self-seeded everywhere, as have borage & poppies, with some happy results. love-in-a-mist
california poppies with love-in-a-mist Serendipity in action! California poppies are another prolific self-seeder, which give weeks and weeks of bright colour. We let lots of them grow in amongst the veggies, which keeps the greenfly at bay.
As the shrubs and trees in the garden grow, new species are being attracted. This is a male black headed bunting; he and his mate nested in our garden for the first time last year and we're delighted that they have returned to nest this year again! male blackheaded bunting on rosemary
flock of sparrows awaits opportunity Often overlooked for some of the showier birds, but the sparrows are an essential part of the village! Great survivors, scoundrelly opportunists, they will eat anything, and snatch food wherever chance puts it in their path. We've even seen them on the dogs' dishes whilst the dogs are actually eating!
Another example of nature's pest extermination! This female sparrow and her mate nest in the nest-box every year, and account for kilos of crickets which would eat the flowers. female sparrow with cricket for chicks
red admiral butterfly on valerian And a butterfly we haven't spotted in the garden before - a brilliantly coloured red admiral, pictured here on valerian.
Holmes update! The new puppy who turned up on our doorstep in April is growing apace, and is best friends with Jesse James and Max. Holmes the puppy with Jesse James the tabby cat

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

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