Tuning in...

Tuning in...
04/05/2021

DayOldTortoise Newborn tortoises tap their way out of their shells with a special tooth, to find themselves in the nest alone: no parents to guide them. The first baby I saw this weekend immediately retreated into its shell.  This one just froze and waited.  Unaware of potential danger? Bold or brave?  For healthy growth it needs to develop appropriate responses, eat the right food and avoid others, and avoid unnecessary stress - such as being picked up: watch them, observe them, but do not touch them! Like trees, can one tell their age by the growth rings on their shells? Apparently not as this depends on rainfall... 

So many flowers, and tens of species blooming. Her taraf çiçeklendi. Geçen aydan beri çiçekli papatyagillerden Kanarya Otu iki koleopter çekti.

This leaf beetle is the same red as the poppy petals! Does it keep the same colour at other times of the year?

Ticks again; time to check before bed. These large ones are easy to see...

Amata phegea is a tiger moth, native to Anatolia. 9 white spots on the black wings, with the bright yellow striped abdomen and white tipped antennae. The female is larger than the male. It was their caterpillars I saw end of January... Now it's mating time.

The young cucumber plants (planted a month ago) have been overtaken by Convolvulus, bindweed... locally known as "tortoise weed". First rip up those in flower, those in bud and then work systematically down the rows... How many of these ants were staggering around, looking for something, perhaps finding their feet having just emerged and waiting to flex their wings.

What is this striped lizard?

I'm getting near distinguishing between Ornithogalum. Since February, their leaves have been photosynthesising, harvesting energy for the bulbs. When the flowers appear, the leaves have done their jobs and can now fade.

Matthiola longipetale, the endemic night-scented stock, can only be seen fresh in the morning. By 8.30 am the petals are wilting. Who pollinates them? "This plant will provide nectar and pollen for bees and the many other types of pollinating insects". If this is done at night, by which insects? I presume the flowers would be fresh when attracting pollinators...

The horned poppy Glaucium grandiflorum has 4 petals in two sizes: two are broad, two thinner; all are attached to the pedicel at a single point, strong enough to retain the petals until... this beetle in a frenzy of activity knocked them off, one after the other. Presumably, they hung on long enough for their job to be done, the seeds having dispersed and the ovary pollinated.

A marten was lying on the dirt track when I arrived on Sunday afternoon: about 40 cm long. the previous evening the dogs had barked long and loud. In March I'd found a dropping on the top of a rock: "A marten. Foxes leave their droppings on the ground" I was told. Rarely active during the day, this is probably my only chance to see one. Anatolia is the eastern most limit to the pine marten's territory: omnivores that will eat anything, including plastic and tires...

Hayalet the cat balances confidently on the beam, knowing she's out of reach. Her mother was Hayal = dream; by adding the French diminutive "et", this one's name became Hayalet = ghost. It's taken her months to start getting close to some people, sometimes...

Most of the cucumber plants have survived their first month. Mole crickets (Gryllotalpa Gryllotalpa) nibbled through some before they grew strong enough. Now they are being overtaken, swamped and nearly strangled by bindweed. Last week I'd weeded the central bed focusing particularly on those in flower or in bud. Particularly in the north-east corner of the polytunnel, a mat of Convolvulus carpets the soil. It's too hot in the day as the sun heats the greenhouse. In the cooler evening, my hands feel their way under the mat; finding where the main stem sinks into the ground, one then tugs at the root to pull out as long a section as possible. The action continues as it got darker, rapid motions to rip up as much as possible before they flower and spray seeds for the next generation. The disappearance of colours didn't matter so much: all the leaves were a similar green; what did matter was when lack of light meant it was difficult to see the shapes of the leaves. Don't pull up any cucumber plants! Rather than continuing until I got to one of them, as I had done with sight, I developed a strategy of feeling for the thicker velvety cucumber leaves spaced at intervals along the irrigation pipe. Once located, I then worked out from this centre, ripping up any non-cucumber plants. The only losers here were the purslane that are sprouting up, and cannot be so easily distinguished by touch... Oh well, the weeding just had to be done; can't win'em all.

Derviş is getting used to the pace of work, and has learnt effective ways of working. His spare time is spent with seeds and seedlings. Never in 20 years have so many species been planted!

This year's ginger has been planted a month earlier.

Tuesday morning 8am, Celal Derviş and I drove the the furthest point of Hisarköy, where Murat and Ali's strawberries are doing well. In half an hour we dug up two crates of strawberry plants that had escaped their beds - soon to be replanted in Güneşköy soil. We also brought a few small elms, which grow wild in that part of the Balaban Valley, but not further down where the valley opens up into the plain.

Straining kefir from Fatma's cows! milk: scarves have many purposes.

8am Tahir leaves with his goats for their day on the hills. Half an hour to watch, talk and learn. Only the billygoat has a large bell (çan), the others have smaller bells (zil), which tinkle as they skip about from bush to bush. This billygoat demonstrates how this Juniper got its shape. 20 years ago this iconic tree, with its atypically bare trunk, stood at the pass from the Çiftlik settlement. Tahir says goats don't touch the young trees as they are bitter...

Checking the lower areas around the 10th pillar: knowing which plants grow readily will help establish vegetation on the finally-landscaped raw surfaces. This plum tree has self-rooted, and there are dried out remains of last year's Galium verum (lady's bedstraw). Elsewhere, clover and couch grass have taken hold. Above the Canyon is a place where 4 months ago I tried planting juicy live couch grass roots and all are now shriveled dry pieces on the slope.

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