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Monday, 15 September 2014

It's gone quiet

The sky is looking pretty empty, just a great expanse of blue (mostly) with no bee-eaters and no swallows or house martins. There are very few butterflies left fluttering around, just the odd tatty one here and there. It seems so odd that summer is over but the sky is still blue and the days warm. We still sleep with the windows open and mostly on top of the sheet. We cover up initially as there are still so many bitey flies about, goodness knows how they get in, but then tend to kick the sheet off.

We do, of course, still have the garden birds which will be around over winter, woodpeckers, tree sparrows, redstart, goldfinch, tits, magpie and doves. Also owls of unknown species which make you jump out of your skin when they screech from the apricot tree just outside the window.

We had a trip down to the river yesterday to see what changes were happening. In previous posts I have mentioned that the tracks used by weekenders, anglers and shepherds are lined with banks of builder's rubbish (much attributed to immigrants coming in and wanting home improvements on their basic, cheap houses) piles of garden and household waste and manure from when animal pens are cleared out in spring. Well, these mounds of rubbish have been flattened and some of it pushed into the pools which have been created by not only the rubbish but from small pits being dug out for sand and gravel. Nasty though it is to see the rubbish and scarred land, these pits are a haven for wildlife. There are frogs by the thousand, terrapins and all sorts of insect life. There will be other amphibians we never see, reptiles too. So it is no wonder that the birdlife is so rich. There are mammals too, many of the endangered suslik and hares, which we rarely see and no doubt plenty of other animals which prey on these when there is no-one about.
The river has been rather full and fast moving all year due to the unusual rain

This sign says no tipping. It was lying on the ground. No doubt someone will be along to dump some rubbish on top of it!

I can see you!

And of course the river must be full of fish. There are always anglers about, coarse fishing is big here. The amount of different species of heron, and many of them, kingfishers is large numbers, cormorants, large and small egrets and grebe. The occasional duck and swan. When you sit and think about it it's mind boggling.
Cormorants drying off after a fishing trip

Then there are insect and grub eaters, the summer visitors, bee-eaters, sand martins, and waders like sandpipers, hoopoe, fly catchers, shrike and other unknowns. Seed eaters in flocks of mixed finches, corn buntings. The clearers such as magpies and hooded crows. Jays and woodpeckers of different species. Birds of prey which we are hopeless at identifying and photographing. All these and more in just a few acres of wasteland. Incredible.

A family of magpies, there are many here

A busy little crested lark

Hooded crow

So, on a short visit on the way to the shop yesterday it was a shortened list. But still impressive. First were little egret and cormorants. There was a lone duck and a little grebe which was rarely visible as it was busy diving. Then there were wagtails hanging about the puddles. Spotted flycatchers were everywhere. A sandpiper of some sort. Magpies and hooded crows, plenty of jays. A lone black stork which took off before we saw it. And something we haven't see there before, a marsh harrier. Lovely. (Confession...we had no idea what it was when we saw it other that bird of prey)
Spotted fly catcher

A lonely duck

Little grebe

Grey wagtail

Such salubrious surroundings

Marsh harrier

The dot is a black stork just taken off...honest

One of the biggest problems with going so early is the sun. With it being so low it is difficult taking photos with a point-and-shoot. So many birds seem to fly into the sun...not fair!
The sun taking it's time getting up

That man again, just can't keep him out!

Early morning hay collection

And on the way there we saw buzzards, a family of nearly grown pheasant, a young roller and a dead fox and dead hedgehog. Well, you can't win 'em all!
Roller, presumably a youngster as it was not very blue

Pheasant chick

Back home and the task of emptying the dry store cupboard waited. We had a mouse in there. I knew because I could smell it as I opened the door but the more I sniffed the more I doubted. It came to a head when I pulled out a packet of linguine and there were a couple of small holes each end. So cooked that for the chooks and in went a trap. Minutes later we had no mouse, just a few packets of dry food with tiny holes. Most stuff is in plastic boxes, coffee tins or jars luckily. There seems to be no more as the trap has stayed silent since.

The lady wanting a small cockerel turned up for him. She brought with her some straw for the geese and we traded butternuts and cockerel and after lots of chats we have a new friend and one less bird.

And talking of chats, we had a very chatty time at the car boot sale this week, meeting a couple of new facebook faces, and plenty of other acquaintances. It's exhausting! But very nice. But also there was someone there who asked Dave if he would be interested in showing his work at a shared exhibition next year. There is still a lot to discuss but sounds interesting. Also Dave delivered his latest commission, a painted sign for Morgan's Plants, with English on one side if the A-frame and Bulgarian on the other. Graham Beckett and Dave Morgan, who run the nursey, are chuffed with it which is great. It looks just right. There was a bit of hair tearing with the lettering, very difficult to do straight and curved letters, all the same size and in a straight line, but all is calm now.
Graham (in green) Helen his right hand woman at the sales, Dave in orange and someone in blue inspecting the Bulgarian side of the sign

One seller turned up with a cart full of 'stuff'


This great little dog always visits everyone and would make a lovely friend for Bella. Unfortunately he has an owner!!!!!

There are lots of interesting goodies always for sale...I just wish they wouldn't park next to us...too tempting sometimes

We have at last got the salad and also carrots and beets sown. According to the internet we are well in time so it will be interesting to see what happens. And if it does work we will be grateful for fresh veg as by then the only fresh stuff will be cabbage...and maybe sprouts.

Little Splash has grown again and Bella has started yelping when he gets rough, but she is still so patient. She has realised he doesn't understand the bowing is an invitation to play and has tried barking instead. But that is too much for Splash and he hides. Maybe I should try barking at him.............


  1. What a lot of birds! And I laughed when I saw Dave in the river again. He just can't resist water, can he? I'm staying in London for awhile and there is a new kitten about, as well as chooks in the back garden, all good entertainment. I do miss my big garden, though.

    1. He's worse than the labrador! He has put the pool away, says it's too cold to use it, but the river is better???? Huh.

  2. You guys are an inspiration, done so well in the time you've been here. I picked up the keys for our house with my dad this week, feel a bit like a squatter in my own home with no hot water yet and bugs and creepy crawlies everywhere! So much to do when we move, bit daunting! Everyone seems very friendly though :-)

    Take care and keep up the good work

    1. Hi Tom and welcome to Bulgaria. It might not seem like the best time of the year to arrive, there are, as you say, a lot of bugs and lots of reports of rodents moving in. This is possibly because of last year's mild winter. But it is at least a bit cooler now so you will be able to crack on and get some jobs done. There is still a couple of months before the weather deteriorates so it is a case of prioritising waterproofing, services and heating. Mice and insects can be tackled as you go along. If your garden is overgrown having it chopped down and any growing area ploughed will cut down on insects and bugs, the cold weather to come will see to the rest. The crickets are going quiet now at night, but spiders and ladybirds will be looking for winter quarters. The 'false eyelash' centipedes eat spiders, something to think about. Meanwhile if you can get hold of one of those banned vacuum cleaners......

      Wishing you all the luck. It will be hard work getting straight but worth it. If you need information on builders and other services there are ex-pat forums and facebook sites for most things, some are not very friendly but a lot are very useful. But be carefull, there are a lot of scammers out there. E.mail me if you need more info.

  3. Thank you! It has been a case of in at the deep end bulgarian style. Got here, turned water on and all of the taps had cracked through frost damage so that was first job before we could even use the loo. Got it sorted then the village water supply went off :-) typical, thank god for beer!

    False eyelash centerpedes!!! Loads of them!! Horrid things aren't they?? Not so bad until you try and get them and they take off at 20mph. Yes, we have rodents, certainly hear them in the attic at night, and can hear them munching on walnuts in the garden.

    We're not actually planning on moving until next year now, funding issues. Want to have enough to fall back on. Just here for a couple of weeks to see what's what. Hopefully if we move early next year we'll have all spring and summer to winterize place. That's the plan anyway! Needs stoves, kitchen, lots of pointing inside stonework, you can see daylight round Windows, that kind of thing. At least now I know what we're up against!

    Thanks for the tips, I could well seek your wisdom in future! Although I don't like to bother people.

    I've already met the local village 'master'asking if I needed work doing on the house. I've heard a lot about these masters being anything but so well see. Haha