Life in a Dol house
2018 - Week 19

My local soundscape

With more rain this week, I have been trying to get ahead of the weeds. 

The rain has been just the right kind, gentle but in a sufficient quantity to soak into the ground, without turning it into a muddy quagmire. 

With day time temperatures approaching +30ºC, it does mean that everything is growing. 

Well almost everything. 

The special orchard grass seed mix I planted has completely failed. Not a blade of grass has appeared anywhere. I doubt it is the seed and suspect that the growing conditions have been less than optimal, even with me providing irrigation.

The Lucerne I planted at the same time has taken well and already the second and third leaves are showing.​

This should become a substantial perennial ground cover and weed suppressant, which if I let it flower, will look nice too.

Being a crop native to the Mediterranean, it can be cut up to four times a season and the resulting forage used for animals. 

I have only planted a small strip as a trial, so anything I cut will not provide much more than a few mouthfuls for the donkeys in the village. 

Maybe they will see it as a treat?

This year's brood of insects are hatching. 

I have seen a number of moths. This large Garden Tiger Moth, Arctia caja, was resting on one of my sweet cherry trees and they are active around the orchards in the evening.​

They have a fast darting flight and their orange and black wings make them both easy to identify and striking to see. 

I found this Deaths Head Hawk Moth, Acherontia atropos, with its well known identifier, the skull, on its back, on the road.​

We have lost the one and only street light on the lane up to my home. 

I'm not especially worried as it created a lot of light pollution, and just one light on a 300 meter lane with bends, is neither use nor ornament. 

The reason for the outage is because the man who was employed by the municipality to replace broken street light bulbs left and there is no one to replace him. 

What it does mean though, is that there are none of the very big Giant Peacock moths, Saturnia pyri, on the ground around the light in the morning.​

These used to be attracted to the light and when they hit the glass were concussed and I would find them on the ground, desiccated by the sun. 

Some survived, if I found them early enough. Some didn't.

I've disturbed a number of Katydid nymphs as I've been pulling thistles up. 

This is in an area I let go to seed with wild flowers last year and after I found some nymphs, I did the same again this year. 

One of the more unusual wild flowers (yes, it's a weed - but a pretty bi-annual weed with an edible root) is the Salsify, Tragopogon porrifolius.​

This has flowered during the week, but the flowers only last until mid morning, then they fold up into a rocket shape.​

When next they open, a few days later, they are a lovely seed head, resembling a very large thistle.​

Other than local readers who have visited Dol, or even the island of Hvar, the only mental picture you will have of my home is through the photographs I add to the Blog each week and the words which accompany them, hopefully painting a verbal picture as you read along. 

Over a month, I take on average 150 photos, some are specifically for use in these musings, others are because it is something interesting and the third category is a photograph which forms part of the reference file for work I am doing around my home.

These photographs are just a snapshot in time and are picked to illustrate a point or to show a nice landscape. 

The landscape is something I try and describe through my prose, as it changes subtly day by day, but with occasional dramatic changes, for instance when we had the snow earlier in the year. 

I have digital video cameras, but have not tried to add any clips to the blog because of restrictions on my internet bandwidth, and also not everyone can view video on the device where they read the blog. 

I take very few videos because there is not a lot of movement to be recorded.

As I write this week's blog entry, I am in my study, Callie is on the desk wing next to me, sitting on my light table and having a good grooming session.​

The windows at either end of the room are open and the early morning sun - it is just after 06:30 - is shining in through the north wall window. 

Facing due north, I get morning and evening sun in this window only from May until August. 

But apart from the tapping of the computer keys, the only other sounds I can hear are bird song

The sounds coming in through the two windows are different.

From the north I can hear the striking black and yellow Golden Oriol calling. Swallows are twittering, a Red Backed Shrike, Lanius collurio, is on the electric wire calling

and somewhere there is a Blue Rock Thrush

and in the very far distance on the Agar, there is a Cuckoo calling. 

My ornithologist neighbour Steve, has a superb set of photographs on his running blog about the birds he sees on the island.

There are other birds calling too, sounds I recognise, but cannot put a name to. 

Then through the window which faces south, I can hear the beautiful melody of a Nightingale, somewhere a blackbird is giving an alarm call - I know it's not my two felines, Risha is having breakfast (his second of the day) and Callie is still next to me, still balancing on the edge of my sloping light table. 

Apart from my keyboard keys, there are no other man-made sounds. No planes, no cars, no people, not even a dog or a cockerel.

There is a continuous natural soundscape around the village. 

During the day there are the added sounds of the occasional car, van and motorcycle, with the agricultural machines that are in full use at this time of year, notably the high pitched wine of the petrol strimming machines, but also there is a continuous background sound of birds calling and insects buzzing.

Then we have the night time sounds.​

The diminutive Eurasian Scops owl, Otus scops, whose call is like the old radio channel "engaged" pips.

The Eagle Owl, with it's echoing "Boo.....Boo...." call can be heard mainly from Autumn to Spring.

Throughout early summer the Nightingales sing 24/7 too.

Did you get up early last Sunday to listen to the Dawn Chorus? 

The first Sunday in May is International Dawn Chorus day, and BBC Radio Scotland had a special programme, but if you want to listen to it again, it is only available for the next four weeks. 

I was up early and took a walk in the Maquis which lies to the south of my Dol house and made three short recordings of around two minutes each, which you can listen to, whenever you wish, One, Two and Three.

When one of our summer storms pass, we hear the distant rumble of thunder and the sound of rain on the roof and vegetation outside the windows. If a storm is close by, you hear the "Crack" of the lightning followed by the boom of the thunderclap, which echoes around the natural amphitheatre wherein the village of Dol lies. 

Rather like a landscape which you view through a photograph, the soundscape can be heard and enjoyed as well, through some of the recordings I have made.​

I am only using my SONY pocket digital recorder, no special equipment or highly sensitive noise cancelling microphones, so your sound level needs to be turned up, but this is my soundscape, to go with the landscape views. 

The little machine is designed for use in meetings, which is why I bought it when I was in Abu Dhabi and it is very sensitive to noise close by, so even moving the way I hold it makes a noise. 

Hope that doesn't spoil your listening...