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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Is it really the end of summer?

I suppose it must be. In a way it seems only recently we were waiting for the first golden oriole to arrive and start singing in the walnut tree. In another way it seems to have been a very long, if damp and humid, summer. But I feel that it can't, surely, be over before the children (in the UK) go back to school.

And yet the signs are all around us. In the fields all that is to be harvested in a big way are sunflowers (which smell a bit decaying) and maize. Some fields have been ploughed ready for over wintering crops. The hedgerows, which I mentioned in my last post being very green and lush, have suddenly started to take on a tired look with occasional fading of leaves, huge seed pods, swollen fruit and the late flowering trees the bees love (and which I can't remember the name of) just starting to show their creamy clusters of flowers.
Smelly, dead looking fields of sunflowers

We have been to the river twice this week already, in different locations, when we have had to do some shopping. Both times we have noticed a change in the behaviour of migrant birds. There seem to be a lot fewer storks, and no black storks at all. There are large flocks of bee eaters, sand martins, swallows and lbj (little brown jobs) collecting, and also cormorants. In fact there seem to be very few birds which brave the Bulgarian winter as we noticed last year. Raptors also disappear in great numbers leaving the fields to a brave few species.
River looking lush

There was something in here, but it wouldn't show itself

Sometimes the best photos are taken from the car

There's that chap again. He was looking for signs of otter and saw prints and spraint

Aaaarrgh...the dreaded dodder weed
Snail grass, these little snails adorn the dry grass in their thousands

This dreadful photo is of a little bittern, such a shame that the windscreen was dirty as the camera was focusing on dead flies rather than the bird.

One of the shelters used by the shepherds, they are all over the place as there are not many trees in the open.

Dave says this is a shoebill....I bow to his greater knowledge

Juvenile heron

I have never seen a duck with so many grown ducklings, but who knows if they are all her's

cormorant, there were many of them, but all flying past the sun

Perched heron

Wild thyme

Someone can't resist a swim


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Little toadstool....

...soon wilt in the heat

Time to go once the shepherds arrive for the day

With all this in mind we have decided on a proper day out, with guide to save time, next week and hope to see a few species we don't normally see here, though I believe some have already left. But that will be for another post, hopefully with some decent photos. It will be a bit of a flying visit as we will not be able to take the dogs due to the really high temperatures we have been having, which is why we need a guide to show us the best places to be. One day we would like to go to the coast to watch from the 'bottleneck' where you can see thousands of birds every day heading out or Eastern Europe and into Africa.

So back to our small piece of BG. Thank goodness we are seeing a real slow down of the weeds which gives Dave, especially, time to do other jobs. He has put in some concrete posts to make a permanent section for geese or whatever else to use. The chickens will have free run of all but the winter veg as soon as the peppers and squash are lifted and can scratch around and dig up whatever they want, fertilising as they go. Compost will be dumped in places so they can scratch that in too. And hopefully they will find nasties like mole crickets for a protein hit, horrible creatures and rather destructive, but they seem to be a delicacy to a hungry hen.
To the left are okra plants with many neglected fruits attached, on the right the chillis

The posts came from the chap Dave had been helping out earlier in the summer and we went to town for chainlink on Monday, which is why we called at the river. Unfortunately the builders yard we bought it from could not provide the tensioning wire, quite normal here, you don't find related useful items together. so it was into the town centre where Dave picked up two lots of wire and asked how long they were. No idea, the answer, we sell it by the kilo! Ah well, it was cheap enough, but I wish I had gone in when they tried to weigh huge rolls of wire on the scales! So most of the fence is done, just one roll and a gate to put up once I have finished with the carrots, beets and chard. Then we can use the electric chicken fencing for what we bought it for, moving around when we want to confine chickens in certain areas.

We have also had to put some electric tape on the fence between our garden and our next door English neighbours, which is close to the Shumen pen. One of the chicks has disappeared and a cat has been seen stalking them and has even been in the pen. Not happy. Once they know where they are........ But if it tries to come over the fence it is in for a bit of a surprise! The other five are growing fast and Dave actually managed to catch one as they are a little big to go through the new fence. Unfortunately that one is yet another boy.

Talking of which, the people who took six cockerel chicks a couple of weeks ago have been so enchanted with them that they took the other two so they now have eight. I only hope they can still love them when all eight start crowing at four in the morning. Only the two biggest have started a rather croaky crow as yet, which is amusing. But, oh dear.....still they know what they are doing.
Ready to go to their ne home, we met half way at the car boot sale

This chap posed nicely for us on the way home, a European roller

So it is fairly quiet here now. The one female chick is looking a bit lost but hopefully she will soon be accepted as one of the gang. She has lived with them all since a few weeks old, but the different ages and origins seem to keep to their own little groups, even the three first ex-batts and the second three. They settle down well together at night so should be OK.

The geese have had 'improvements' apart from the new fence. They have now got a wallow where the water from their roof box is emptied and Dave has dug it deeper so they can splash about in the mud before washing it off in their pond. Next year, if we have more geese, we will give them even more space so that they can be moved about to give grass a chance to grow. We have learned a lot so far. They look well.

We have managed to donate a good few butternut squashes to a friend as we have so many. We have given up with the red peppers as they never really recovered from getting chilled in spring and Venka keeps sending them over by the dozen. But we have some long yellow ones which seem to be doing OK and the chillis are looking abundant. The squat peppers need feeding more I think. As do the brassicas, but after Dave has watered so that the feed will reach the roots before evaporating. We have some evil smelling nettle tea which they are supposed to love. But the cabbages are growing so amazingly fast. They need to so they can out grow the cabbage white butterflies which have descended in clouds........ugh! The beans are officially finished now and I have started to give the seeds which they are producing away to those who want them. We want to put some potatoes in and maybe peas and spinach, but it is so hot we are worried any shoot which might emerge will frazzle. Apart from that we are still ploughing through the many melons we keep being sent (presumably to keep us hydrated) and drying more as well as giving some to the chickens. The geese have gone off them now, maybe they are too sweet for them. We managed to tell Venka we don't need tomatoes, I think the amount of red ones left on the vines might have helped. But she misses nothing which is why all the peppers have been handed over. We sent jam and lemon curd, and pick any fruit we can for rakia since the grapes are so poor this year. And they will have chillis whether they want them or not!

Bella has realised that the crater the courgettes were in is cool and damp, and just the right size for a medium sized dog to hang out

Our sunflowers are still flowering well, the bees love them
Apart from making jam and chutney I have done little in the kitchen, though I did make some lemon curd to fill a lemon cake by request, and there was some lemon curd pastry cream left, and a small piece of puff pastry left from making eccles cakes for sale, so put them together with some of our own raspberries to make a yummy gooey pud for us, a rare treat these days.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed all your photos of birds. That mother duck has had quite a job raising all those little ones!
    Things are getting to look dusty and worn here as summer draws to a close. In a couple weeks it will be September and frost won't be far behind.