Owlsland in Autumn -
September & October

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The terrific heat of summer has gone now (thank goodness!), and you can start to feel a slight chill in the air in the early morning as autumn comes in. We often think this is one of the nicest times of year - as September wears into October, the days are still long and pleasantly warm, but the temperatures drop till it's perfect for walking if you're on holiday. Or, for the village people, for working in the gardens and the fields. Now is the time of the harvest.

crops - sesame growing in the fields Sesame is grown for its seed, used for baking and for making tahine, sesame paste. Collecting it is a sticky job, because sesame exudes a gooey sap which is almost impossible to get off your hands, arms and clothes.
Harvesting involves uprooting each plant individually, and carrying them somewhere where they can be stacked to dry in the sun. This has to be a safe place where goats, sheep or dogs won't disturb it and knock the precious seed from the pods to be lost on the ground. harvest - farmer with sesame plants
bunches of green grapes on the vine It's been a great year for grapes. Green ones are grown to eat, and to sell for making vinegar.
Most gardens have a pomegranate tree or two, whose fruit is harvested and will be stored for the winter. In the old days, people used to make a pomegranate vinegar, but the secret of its making seems to have been lost. fruit - pomegranates growing on the tree
black grapes on the vine These luscious black grapes will be picked and made into "pekmez", grape molasses, which people will either drink, or eat with yoghurt all through the winter.
Pasha, the barber at the Cevizdibi, concentrating hard on giving a shave and a haircut. village people - barber gives a shave and a haircut
villagers - men play a game of cards at the cafe Even at harvest, there's still time for a game of cards at the cafe at the Cami Yani, the "other half" of Bezirgan from the Cevizdibi.
Friday is Holy Day, and most people will go to the mosque for the noon prayers. They'll wait outside in the shade till the Ezan calls them to prayer. village men awaiting the call to prayer=
little boy waiting in hope Hopefully, when Grandad comes out of the mosque, he won't forget to buy some sweets at the village shop.....
As October comes in, the other big cash crop needs picked - the apples. You can tell it's a good crop by the way supports have had to be propped under the branches to save them breaking under the weight of fruit. crops - red apples ready for picking
harvesting the apples Both red and green apples are grown for eating and for making into apple juice. Eating apples are packed into boxes, those for juice go into sacks ready for collection.

The Mountains in Autumn - Birds and Wildlife and Wild Flowers

We've never seen so many birds as we have this year - both in number of individuals and in different types of species, but there is other wildlife out there too.

A red squirrel sits atop one of the great broken rocks which crashed down off the mountain during an earthquake some eighty years ago. wildlife - red squirrel on a rock
mountain village aftermath of an earthquake Lying now at the north end of the village, you can imagine the damage these huge rocks could have caused as they thundered down the mountainside. Some of the oldest inhabitants of the village can remember the immense crashing and the dust cloud raised.
You can hear the intermittent loud drilling as the woodpecker seeks out insects under the bark of the almond trees. birds - woodpecker on an almond tree
wild life - hornets Though they may look alarming, hornets are a garden's friend - they will eat lots of the pests which would otherwise munch the vegetables. And we're told that they never attack or sting unless they're threatened.
This Little Owl is a young one, one of this year's chicks. He's flown the nest, and we think he's marking himself out a territory around the guesthouse. Here, he's perched on a fig tree. birding - little owl in a fig tree

The Garden in Autumn - Herbs & Flowers & Wildlife

visiting hedgehog We've heard a lot of clattering and clanging from the front of the house just after dark recently, and on investigation found the culprit - a hedgehog!
And the reason for his nocturnal visits became clear when we caught him bang to rights pinching the dogs' dinner from their very bowls! The hedgehog helps himself to the dogs' dinner
red squirrel in October From having no squirrels at all three years ago, now we have seven of them in the garden. They have lost much of their initial shyness and reserve - so much so that they'll bounce empty almond shells off you head as you pass below the trees!
They are red squirrels, known as the Persian Squirrel or Caucasian Squirrel, whose Sunday name is "Sciurus Anomalus". They're found all over Asia Minor and the Middle East, but not in Europe, though they are related to the Eurasian squirrel, Sciurus vulgaris. persian squirrel in almond tree
wild birds - willow warbler on herb bronze fennel We've been trying to plant as many species as possible which attract wildlife. This is bronze fennel, a tall, highly aromatic plant which adds height in the borders. It's seeding just now, and is proving a magnet for willow warblers feeding on the insects and spiders which make it home. This is a juvenile willow warbler.
In the very early morning, rock nuthatches gather on the roofs of the houses and sing their clear sweet song. wild birds - rock nuthatch on roof
birds of Turkey - the round mud nest of a rock nuthatch The rock nuthatch builds these astonishing, almost spherical, mud nests with a tunnel for entrance. They can be found built against rocks or boulders, and, as in this picture, on house walls by the chimney.
And the bee-eaters are back! They pass through again briefly this month on their migration back to Africa for the winter. You can hear their liquid warblng cry as the flock flies overhead. wild birds - bee-eater on a cherry tree
birds - juvenile goldfinch eating sunflower seed Sunflowers are another variety well worth growing for the birds they attract. Goldfinches particularly enjoy a good feast of sunflower seeds - this is another young bird, one of this year's babies.
Yet another of nature's pest exterminators - a Common Toad, but this must be quite the biggest one we've ever seen here; he's fully 12 cm long. At night, he's taken to wandering round the terraces, looking for food. Since one of his favourite foods is slugs, we're delighted to welcome him! wildlife of Turkey - common toad

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

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