As I went for my morning swim, I met a new companion. It was sunbathing on the handle of the pool steps.
Our cicada visitor
It was content and so it didn’t want to move.
Our laid back cicada
I placed my dry towel around it gently and carried it to a shady area.
Resting on my towel
Again, it stayed put. A sudden vibration and blur and it was gone. It had darted to the fruit garden.
Can you see it?
Camouflaged in the fruit garden
If you have some die back on the ends of your tree branches, this may be due to cicada damage. This is where the female cicada has cut a slit to lay her eggs and so the tips of the branches have died. In our case, a Ficus tree is affected. The nymphs remain below ground eating tree roots for years. Eventually, they appear for a few months and make noisy sounds as they call for a mate. The males die after mating. Hard luck!
Children love being tickled as they hear this rhyme. They might not like the real thing.
On our terrace, it lay quietly. Some of its legs were hidden under its body. A closer look revealed beautiful markings. I placed a thin cloth over it and removed it to the garden before our dogs or humans disturbed it.
The European garden spider, diadem or cross orb weaver spider has detailed markings. Daily, it spins an orb-like web to catch its prey. It’s found in gardens, hedgerows and exterior buildings with lighting where flying insects are attracted.
Ugh, we can recoil when we see something unexpected in the garden. A spider, slug or snail may be harmless, but it is enough to put us off. However, enjoying garden activities, I like to meet the fauna of the garden too. This does not include our great Danes of course! I like to see the clever spider’s web woven with skill, the silvery slimy trail of the slug and the compact spiral home of the snail. Being with nature heals and soothes us.
In Cyprus, the creatures are frequently bigger than those in the United Kingdom. Spiders, moths and chrysalises can be quite large. As soon as I see a different beetle, bird or any creature, I stare and admire it, realising too late that I should have taken a photo. By then the creature has scuttled or flown away. This has happened to me so many times.
As I trimmed some plants, I found a large brown caterpillar. I loved it, although some may have been frightened or repulsed by it. After all, it was soft and squelchy. It remained still so I had time to retrieve my mobile phone, even if I was wearing men’s flip flops several sizes too large and ill fitting gardening gloves with holes.
The caterpillar seems content crawling along a grape vine stem to some oleanders, through morning glory and bougainvillea.
Travelling along the north-west coast of the small island of Cyprus, things haven’t changed much. The coast is beautiful, the hills of Paphos forest are rugged and the sentry posts are isolated. A couple of towns and original villages remain stubbornly unchanged.
The town of Pomos below
Arriving at one of the remote crossing points before the border with South/Northern Cyprus, a small rustic beach bar seems a good idea in the forty-one-degree heat. On entering, an extended family and a pair of middle-aged men occupy two of the many old wooden tables under the trees. As we approach a table overlooking the sea, we’re told it is reserved and we notice the reserved sign. On perusing the old menu, we notice a whole cooked fish like sea bass etc, costs twice the usual amount. In this time warp, maybe visitors are discouraged or just tolerated.
Having finished our cold drinks, we return back along the well-surfaced road winding through the steep-sided hills. Moufflon, the national emblem of Cyprus, and goats graze undisturbed.
The house martins with their short fan-shaped tails, dip and dive over our pool. They skim its length scooping up insects. They fly under the beamed roof of our first-floor terrace so fast, that they misread the glass sliding doors. A sharp turn at the last minute prevents them from damaging themselves. They soar high again in seconds. They fly singly, in pairs or loose groups.
The compact House Martin
House Martins in the nest
It’s the time of year when they return to their deep mud nests to improve or rebuild them. They make them under the eaves of buildings. They pop in and out to feed their chirruping young fledglings.
The mother returns to the nest
The birds are too quick for me so the lovely pictures are not mine.
We great danes, Stellar and Venus, see big birds fly over us. They drink from the noisy water thingy. It’s wrong. It’s not their garden. The birds don’t care. They go coo coo, coo coo.
Pigeons making themselves at home
Me-I like the soothing sound of pigeons. The grey and white birds visit us from their owner’s shed. Every year a couple make a nest in one of our pine trees and raise one fledgling. Too many can be a nuisance. That’s when I spray WD40 on the balcony. They don’t like the fish smell and keep away.
Brrr, We great danes, Stellar and Venus want to hide away. For a warm place, it’s been very cold here. I hear them talking. They say it’s three something outside. We run around sniffing where the cats have been in the garden but soon we want to come inside to be warm. The scared cat comes and sits on the mat by the front door. Here we can’t reach it. Ants and toads hid while it was cold. We are alone and have enjoyed long sleeps under woolly covers.
The whip snake moves fast up a tree-trunk like a corkscrew..
Me-We have been here in Cyprus for a long time but I did once see a snake in our garden. Shh don’t tell friends and relatives or they may not wish to visit us again! It was returning and slithering rapidly along by a wall in the woody, doggy section of our garden that is covered in leaves. To get there, there was only one way. The snake must have moved along through our trees. The thought of a snake above me is slightly unnerving. At least it was a non-poisonous brown whipsnake, not the venomous viper. Whipsnakes move fast like whips. Now all is safe as they’re hibernating. What to do when the weather warms up? We have removed the leaf litter mulch and lightly thinned the trees. The tall shady beautiful Ficus and Araucaria trees remain.