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We’re half way through the year

This week: Animal crackers; Our vets; It’s all about the grasses;

Just a summer storm
Just a summer storm

This week has been hot again.

As I passed the weather station console a few minutes ago, it was recording 48.7°C inside the polytunnel. I don’t think it has ever been as hot inside and that is with all the ventilation and sides open.

There is a flock of Bee Eaters feeding overhead at the moment, with their highly distinctive call, but apart from that all I can hear is Swifts and Cicadas.

My early mornings and late evenings have been spent in watering plants which are now suffering from a lack of moisture.

Only some trees and shrubs thrive in this heat. My Manuka which was covered in flower buds in the spring is going into summer hibernation.

Mānuka covered in flower buds
Mānuka covered in flower buds

This is a New Zealand shrub which I found for sale here. I naïvely thought that coming from the North Island, it would be happy in the Mediterranean climate of Dol.

It isn’t and I think I may need to move it this coming winter.

Speaking of which, we have passed the northern summer solstice and on Monday the 1st July we are half way through the year.

I just do not know where the time has gone….

Animal crackers

I had a request for help just after tea on Sunday.

The lady who runs the donkey sanctuary had been told about an orphaned owl, had found it and wanted to know what to do.

We have a lot of owls, predominantly the Scops, which nest and roost around my home.

The Scops owl, a migrant diurnal feeder
The Scops owl, a migrant diurnal feeder

Earlier in the month I was listening to five different Scops owls calling to one another.

The Eagle Owl was around in the spring, with its booming call, although I have not heard it for a few weeks.

Then there is the Little Owl, which sits on the wires outside my window at night, bobbing up and down and squeeking.

I have once seen another species, either a Tawney or a Barn Owl, but in the dusk, it was just the size I could make out.

But back to Floof.

Floof - a few weeks old baby Scops
Floof – a few weeks old baby Scops

Owls do not have a developed sense of smell, so if you handle an owl chick and put it back in the nest – which is the preferred option – then the parents do not notice human scent and continue feeding it.

On this occasion, no nearby nest was visible, so the little guy was taken home.

After 24 hours, Floof was becoming very perky, taking chicken and meat and enjoying being handled.

I went to meet him on Wednesday teatime. Already his flight feathers are developing, but he still has the mainly grey, fluffy baby feathers covering his body. This makes identifying the species difficult for the time being.

I suspect he is a Scops, because they are the most numerous and from his size, but time will tell. When Jana played him one of my recordings of a Scops owl calling, he became quite animated too.

Floof is very alert and takes in all his surroundings, being happy to be fed tit-bits.

Floof is perky and alert
Floof is perky and alert

This is a developing story, so I will report again on his progress, but after five days of hand rearing, he seems to be thriving. He also loved cuddling up to his Teddy Bear.

Our vets

Pongo, my spotted Dalmatian cat came in at supper time on Saturday with a badly swolen face around his eye socket and his eye was completely closed.

There was a discharge from the eye, so I put some eye drops in, which he was not happy about.

On Sunday I continued with the drops but there seemed little improvement.

I brought the animal transfer case out of the store. This is usually the signal for the felines to do a vanishing trick. They know exactly what the appearance of the transfer case means!

On Monday he seemed a little better, but the eye was still swollen and we were at the Veterinarska ambulanta Lota veterinary clinic when they opened at 7.45.

Veterinarska ambulanta Lota Stari Grad
Veterinarska ambulanta Lota, Stari Grad

The Vet couldn’t see anything because of the swelling, but an examination of Pongo’s teeth and the surrounding area suggested it was not an infection or external trauma.

After a huge syringe of antibiotic, I came home with more drops and a tuble of paste I had to try and get inside his eyelid, five times a day.

In terms of degree of difficulty, it is harder than trying to get worming pills down a felines throat… If you know, you know!

The vet asked us to go to the clinic again on Thursday, I was concerned at the lack of progress, so we were there again at 7.45 on Wednesday.

The drops had done some good and this time, after giving him some anaesthetic into his eye, the vet could open the lids.

Inside he found an enormous 20mm long grass seed.

Grass seed removed from Pongo's eye
Grass seed removed from Pongo’s eye

This is a particularly rough and sharp seed from a type of rye grass which grows in the olive groves. I get them in my shoes and socks after walking in the olives and they hurt.

I do not want to contemplate what having one in my eye for four days would be like!

With more drops and a special feline blood serum because the vet thought there would be damage to his cornea.

Pongo on Saturday with his injured right eye
Pongo on Saturday with his injured right eye

We were back again at 7.45 today.

This time the Vet was able to use a fluorescent dye dropped directly into his eye.

This shows that there is damage to the cornea, in the lower quadrant, near the eyelid.

I have to continue with the drops and blood serum and there will be more visits to the clinic next week.

He is feeling better though. After I administered more drops and blood serum on Saturday afternoon, the first thing he did was to clean his face and eye with his paw!

A bit of a face clean
A bit of a face clean

It is all about the grasses

All around my home, there are clumps of grass.

Some ornamental species I have planted deliberately, but by far the most numerous are local wild species.

Every time I go and walk either the green lanes and donkey tracks, or the olive groves, I end up with seeds in my shoes, socks and clothing.

The felines regularly come in with seeds attached to their fur. A plant that attaches its seed to something which will spread it, has an excellent seed dispersal strategy of the plants involved.

This is Goat Grass, Aegilops geniculata, which has the long, sharp, spine-like awls, like the one which was embedded in Pongo’s eye. They are usually 10 to 25 centimetres off the ground, just the wrong height for animals eyes.

Goat grass
Goat grass

There are also the pretty “bobble” grasses like this Hedgehog Dog’s Tail, Cynosurus echinatus.

Hedgehog Dog's Tail
Hedgehog Dog’s Tail

In addition there are the following wild grasses, which I have yet to identify.

A fluffy grass
A fluffy grass
Ornamental wild grass seeds
Ornamental wild grass seeds
A beautiful seed head in closeup
A beautiful seed head in closeup
Some seed heads have striking colours
Some seed heads have striking colours
Others are as light and delicate as gossamer
Others are as light and delicate as gossamer
The thing they have in common is they are grasses, and they spread their seeds!
The thing they have in common is they are all grasses, and they spread their seeds!

Meanwhile, whilst I have been busy all week with one feline, the rest have been resting.

Even Tigger, one of Pongo’s brothers, couldn’t keep his eyes open when he was reading….. NCG

It's too hot to be reading today...
It’s too hot to be reading today…