Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Pair of Great Tits!

Yes it’s true. I have spent part of the morning with a pair of Great Tits. La D is looking coyishly at me and a little giggly.

Now before you reach for your paper and pen and fire off a “Yours disgustedly from Tonbridge Wells” missive admonishing me for my base language and coarseness, let me advise you that I am talking about feathered Tits – does that sound even worse?

We have some GTs that have just fledged. One of them was sitting on a stone under a hibiscus bush (see photo below) and eventually managed to fly up to the roof where it was fed by its dad (judging by the plumage). The other little fellow was hopping about the grass under one of the olive trees. Bert thought it was manna from heaven! Someone or something had sent him a live playmate. Of course there was a problem. Bertie is a giant dog and the little GT was not much bigger than a tennis ball, and of course weighed as much as a clump of Bertie’s fur. The poor little mite was frantically about trying to get away from the huge white monster towering above him.

La D to the rescue. “Viene qui!” she barked at Bertie in Italian. Nil response. Although strangely I felt my legs quiver and started to move to La D almost automatically. “Not you, you idiot. The dog. You get the bird and put it somewhere safe while I look after Bertrum (La D likes to use a posh version of Bert sometimes)”.

I shuffled back ready to pounce on the little GT and save it from being licked and prodded to death by the playfulness of the dog, once Bertie was under control..

“Come here, now!” Still no response. We have a dog that’s disobedient in two languages. Top that.

Eventually Bert came to La D and I went and rescued the bird. I put him in the hedge at the side of the road. I don’t know whether he was safer there than with Bert really. But we tried.

A while ago I reported on having a Redstart’s nest up in the eaves. But I have only just discovered that in fact the nest is in a hole where the flue from the boiler comes out of the house. So we could actually see the nest and the little fledglings.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a picture because the pipe work got in the way. But the birds are pretty big and I would expect them to be gone in a few days. Good stuff to have them here. The Redstart is a pretty bird.


The vegetable patches are going well. Everything seems to growing madly.

No more Colorado beetles, but I gave the spuds a quick blast again just for good measure. We have a few Whitefly on some of the young brassicas and again we have tried to warn them off. I did think of putting up little signs. You know Skull and Crossbones, Keep Off, Poisonous, Have You Come Here To Die? (no I came here yesterdie. Sorry, old joke. V unfunny)

However La D did point out, quite rightly too, that Whitefly, as far as she knew, couldn’t read. Bugger.

So, just nuked them.


For some reason, we have seen a lot of mole activity in the estate and I have been doing a little research on how to get rid of them. Not as easy as you might think. There are sonar gadgets that emit signals which moles are supposed to hate and move off somewhere else. I did read that in fact these are virtually useless and in one case, the mole population actually increased. Poisoning them with CO works but that involves getting an old car or motorbike, a pre-catalytic converter one, and attaching a hose from the exhaust and running the other end up the mole run. A bit of a clumsy solution I thought.

Then there are the Swedish plant bulbs. These are supposed to be anathema to moles and you sow them on a regular basis gradually filling your garden and the moles just keep moving away until they are no longer in your garden, and what is more, won’t come back because of the horrible plants. Incredibly expensive for us because of the size of area.

However, there is another weapon, that, for us, is free. Fresh dog poo or FDP (I love acronyms)

Apparently, if you break into a run and apply judiciously a little FDP from the end of a stick, and then cover up the run, the moles go away. I have read affidavits saying it works, so we may well have to try it. I’ll report back later.

It would be good to think that Bert would actually have some use in our household apart from being a drain on our measly resources.

Hot and Sunny

Yes it is. Nudging 40ºc in the middle of the afternoon under the gazebo. Man, that is warm.

We try and do any physical stuff, digging, planting, strimming, as soon as we get up, walk Bert and have a cup of tea. By about 11:00, we turn our attention to our sedentary work. Inside the house and particularly the office, is a lot cooler than outside.

We hardly see Bertie as he is lying in the coolest place he can find and most of the time, just sleeps. He seems totally attuned to the climate here. We are making progress, but we are not there yet.

Visitor Season

Next week my youngest son arrives for a couple of weeks. He finishes his A level exams this week. I expect he’ll be knackered, so a bit of peace and quiet, Italian style will do him good. Although we did check on the forecast and it appears that we are in for some rain when he arrives. Doh!! Still, can’t plan that.

Then the next week, my third son arrives for a week’s break, and then they travel back together.

We’re really looking forward to seeing them, getting out and about a bit and also introducing the Bert to them.

Ciao, mantenere la fede

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