Ambushed!

Okçular-Village-Guide_1This coming year will see the gradual winding down of the Okçular Book Project. It was started by way of giving something back to our village for all the love and support we have been given since we were fortunate enough to land in the lap of this farming community.

Originally conceived as a small booklet that would tell a few stories, that could be sold to raise a few lira that could be used for the benefit of the community, the project mushroomed into two guides that over the years has raised thousands upon thousands of lira. To say that our expectations were exceeded would be a gross understatement!

With the exception of two items, a playground in the village centre and a village photo archive, all other projects funded from the books have centred around the school. The creation of the beautiful murals and gardens with Gülay Çolak and Fiona MacRae that so transformed the formerly drab, utilitarian seat of learning came first.

gulay fiona

Fiona and Gülay

the old geezer

the Old Geezer bending his back . . again!

mural crewthe murals crew

This was followed by wi-fi for the whole school; bicycle racks; a library in every classroom; the restoration of a beautiful old wooden outdoor chess set and making a tiled board; the funding of a complete science cupboard.

chess

Ok school watering sys

Okcular school10

Recently the book money provided an agricultural-grade watering system that will keep the garden plants and young trees alive throughout the long, hot summer holidays. This was followed by steel railings to protect the the system and the plants from over exuberant ball games. And there is still plenty of cash in the kitty to do more as needs arise!

So, you may well ask why we feel it is time to wind the Book Project down – it’s a good question. The answer has everything to do with need for complete rewrites and re-vamping of both guides which would entail a huge amount of time and work and the fact that neither of us is getting any younger and there are many other things/projects we want and need to find time for.

Anyway, moving on – 23rd of April is National Sovereignty and Children’s Day here in Turkey and each year we go down to our village school to show our support for the efforts of the children and teachers in their celebration. Here are a few photos to give you a taste:

Okcular school3

Okcular school4

Okcular school5

 

Okcular school6

Okcular school7

the pre-school class getting their ducks in a row – sort of!

Okcular school8

okcular school9

Part way through the proceedings J and I were startled to hear our names and a summoning over the audio system. Mystified and a tadge embarrassed in front of all the children and parents, we gathered at the rostrum where there followed a fulsome thank you from the head teacher for the support given by us through the Book Project over the years. As I shuffled my feet, J was presented with a wonderful armful of flowers and promptly burst into tears!

Okcular school1

Okcular school2

. . in the national colours of Turkey, too!

Alan Fenn, ‘Ambushed’ but very happy to be part of Okçular Köyü

Ambushed!

Knackered!

beer o'clockThere are few things more satisfying than completing a project! Unless, that is, it is the relief that it is well and truly done with and it is beer o’clock!

YGT aka ‘You Gorgeous Thing‘ has its new set of boots for its roots and pretty smart they look, too. Regular readers will know of whom and what I speak – casual browsers can click on the link for enlightenment. The work has been hard on these creaky knees and back with much cracking and groaning, especially in the morning when faced with the prospect of more of the same.

Like all great projects, the sun rarely shines on just one hero – full credit has to be given to young Samet who has manfully done all the heavy lifting and carrying for me, and to good mate Alan who gave up a day to mix mortar so that I could stay on my poor, old, long-suffering knees for longer pointing up all the new-laid stone! I couldn’t have managed without you guys – well, I s’pose I could but it might have taken one of those wonderful, Soviet era Five-Year Plans!

work mates1Samet

workmates4

the man with the ‘muck’

work mates2

Alan – behind bars where he belongs!

work mates3

look at his face – he’s enjoying the pain!

Anyway, for those who were upset that I hadn’t included a photo of YGT in the previous post, here’s a couple of it wearing ‘Wisteria‘ from the Spring Collection.

wisteria

wisteria2

precocious young thing

job jobbed

job jobbed!

Finally, about the title, for the benefit of our readers in foreign parts – a ‘knacker’ was not originally (and here I quote the Oxford English Dictionary) ‘n. vulgar slang for testicles’. No, it originally referred to a person who disposes of dead or fallen and unwanted animals that are not for human consumption. So, when an animal was worn out it was said to be ‘knackered’ and ready for the ‘knacker’s yard’, terms that readily lent themselves to the working classes after long hours or years at the grindstone. It has nothing at all to do with the ‘knack’ which is an aptitude for performing a skill or task or a ‘knackwurst’, which I am assured is a short, fat sausage!

knackered

this is knackered!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Knackered!

Black and White

We had a treat here in Okçular today – a rather uncommon visitor dropped in on Black Lake for a quick bite before moving on. Ciconia nigra, Black Storks stopped by on their way from equatorial regions of Africa to their nesting grounds in northern Turkey and Europe

Ciconia nigra distribution

yellow – breeding range; blue – wintering range; green – year round

Relying, as they do, on thermals to assist their long passage-making, they tend to use three overland corridors – in the West they follow the coast and cross into Europe via Gibraltar; in the central Med they cross from Tunisia and then island-hop through Malta and Sicily into Italy. In the East they use the Red Sea, Sinai, Syrian shoreline before swinging a left along the Turkish coast and then north through the Bosphorus and then spreading out to their breeding grounds across Europe and Russia.

Most of us living here in Turkey are familiar with the Black Stork’s close cousin, the White Stork. The Whites are much more tolerant of us humans. Blacks, on the other hand are shy and wary creatures choosing to live away from human disturbances and so getting a chance to see them is a rare treat. In the past, on odd occasions, we have seen single Blacks and couple of  times there have been two of them feeding up on the lake before disappearing as quickly as they arrived. Today, J set off in the car only to rush back to let me know that there were black birds on the lake. The lens I had available is a 300mm and the birds were a long way off – this is the best I could do . .

Black and White Storks1a White arrives to keep the blacks company

Black and White Storks2

. . here are some pics from serious photographers . .

Black Stork1a couple of adults

Black Stork2

Black Stork juvanile

a juvenile

Such beautiful creatures . .

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

 

Black and White

This’n’That

Life has felt rather full of ‘doing stuff‘ these past 10 days or so. The old back and knee bones have most definitely been ‘connected’ and are feeling the pace and their age. This despite the fact that we have a very good and reliable young man in our occasional employ who does pretty much anything we ask of him whenever we ask. He’s a really good ‘Gopher’ and ‘Dopher’!

Moving on: Living with us we have very beautiful teenager by the name of Platanus orientalis, who also answers to the name of ‘You Gorgeous Thing’, YGT for short. One day, all things being equal, YGT will grow to over 30 metres in height and attain an age that Methuselah would have been proud of had he lived that long! Methuselah, of biblical fame, lived (so it says) for 969 years. He obviously got tired of swimming against the tidal wave of ageing because he popped his clogs just seven days before the start of the Great Flood. It’s likely that Mr Noah would have denied him passage anyway on the grounds that he was well over the reproductive hill . .

methuselah_syndrome-ianlome

. . and not very pretty, either! (artwork from Ian Lome)

The other Methuselah is a splendid old Grand Basin Bristlecone Pine aged around 4850 years and YGT, with its ‘live fast, love hard, die young’ mentality, does not expect to be around long enough to get that bored!

METHUSELAH bristle cone

trust me – this Methuselah fairly bristles with health

Dredging up these snippets of mostly useless information gives me great pleasure – especially when I find myself standing with creaking joints, gazing into cupboards and wondering why I’m there!

Anyway, getting back to YGT, like most teenagers these days it’s been getting a bit too big for its roots and causing some upset and cracks around the fabric of the family home! The very foundations of our life together were being disrupted. Something had to be done!

roots

Now, we love YGT and have no intention of giving it the ‘bonsai snip’ – no, we decided that the answer was more freedom because, as they say, with freedom comes responsibility. The responsibility not to be a bloody nuisance and cause any more upheavals for at least the next ten years! I mean, there was masses of concrete that had to be lifted and recycled into usable rubble for extra ‘blinding-off’ . .

rubble

. . a new retaining wall to be built, new concrete to lay followed by relaying of the stone paving.

brick terrace

Knowing how I feel right now, today I informed YGT that we now have a new social compact (as Old Labour liked to call any new bit of anti-union legislation) and if I’m faced with a repeat performance before I shuffle-off this mortal coil then YGT will become Fx4 – ‘Free Fuel For the Fire’ in very short order!

In between laying bricks and feeling knackered J and I were ‘hosting’ some 60 young students from the International School in Istanbul for part of a day. They have been coming to this corner of Turkey for about three years now and the organisers like to bring them to Okçular where we take them on a visit to our beautiful Kocadere Valley and give them some idea of the value of these places and the need to protect them . .

students in Kocadere

. . before they end up at our village primary school. There these children, usually from a privileged background, intermingle with the kids from our school who mostly come from a very different background. It is a formula that has proved to be very stimulating and very constructive. This year the visitors brought a gift of loads of footballs and basketballs bought with money raised from a cake bake and sale.

international students at Okcular primary school1

international student in Okcular2

international chess game Okcular

there was even an international chess match

Finally, adding to the ‘stress’ of fitting everything in, we went to our bolt-hole to check out a promising plot of land – it was pretty good, just didn’t quite light the blue touch-paper. This is what pushed all the right buttons . .

 the perfect place

. . the view from this relic of a bygone time. If it all comes together, and it is a big ‘if’, then this really is worthy of a proper restoration job – right down to the last cow pat and straw brick!

Dungroamin

For a name I thought ‘Dungroamin’ was as good as any!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

This’n’That

Intestinal Fortitude – ‘Guts!’

However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.
Stephen Hawking
How true! Attitude is everything –
‘Life is like a world made up of different windows where good and bad intermingle and everyone has their own perspective. In this world we each try to make a place for ourselves.
Some allow fate to cast a shadow over their future whilst others create positive outcomes from whatever life throws at them . . Our lives may not always be what we have hoped for, but seldom is it as bad as we sometimes allow ourselves to believe . . We each seek happiness and to achieve it we should choose to look at life through the ‘happiness window’.
As I look out from my self-created window I see the world filled with colour even though ‘fate’ painted a black picture for me some years ago . . From my small world I have managed to reach inwards to realise huge dreams and have trained my arms to drive my wheelchair towards hope.
Although I was paralysed 15 years ago I am thankful for having had the opportunity to live in this diverse and multi-coloured world because it is life itself that matters, and to be able to share the sunrise of another new day with those I love.

When I was forced to change my perspective on life I was never alone in my struggle . . . I am thankful to the rainbow of people who have given so much support on my journey of hope – how lucky I am that you are all there . . . ‘       Gülay Çolak

Over the few years that J and I have known Gülay we have watched her blossom as her self-confidence in her own creative ability has grown. Her positive attitude has drawn others to her and those people have, in turn, found their own lives enriched whilst, at the same time, enriching hers. People like Len who, when he realised Gülay’s need for a proper workshop, set about organising his mates and, using their former work-skills, they built one for her. Positivity is a very ‘attractive’ power and a force to be reckoned with.
Mutlu
Mutlu (which translates as happy, lucky or fortunate in Turkish) is well-named
 People like Mutlu Bengüler, a successful business owner from Izmir who so admires Gülay’s grit and determination to overcome her disability and provide for her family that he sent her boxes of stuff that she can turn into desirable items using her self-taught skills as an artist. He wrote to her of his admiration for her courage and attitude. He said he had a good life, a great family and a good business and wanted to help her in her endeavours – he has, quite unannounced, repeated this kindness on several occasions.
Recently she received a pallet-load of marble tiles of various sizes from the Denizli Marble and Stone Manufacturers’ Association with an commission to decorate some of them. The idea being that the association would give them away as gifts.
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This was followed up with an invitation to be an expenses-paid guest of one of the companies at the massive, annual Marble Fair in Izmir. The invitation included a commission to paint some eight portraits on marble of various ‘big-wigs’ such as Kemal Kılıçdağoğlu leader of the CHP (main political opposition party), İzmir and Denizli Valis (Provincial Governors), Commander of the 4th (Aegean) Army, the Economy Minister as well as several mayors and heads of chambers of commerce. She was also able to demonstrate her art to visitors and potential clients.
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GB0061Nihat Zeybekçi – Economy Minister
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Gülay described the experience as one of joy, excitement and tears. Joy at the reception she and her work received; joy that the company paid most of the hotel expenses for her, her husband and daughter for the four days; the excitement of staying in a hotel for the first time in her life; the excitement of being interviewed by a television crew (see her interview here as long as the link stays up); the tears when she realised that their four-star hotel had put them on the third floor, had no toilet access for anyone in a wheelchair and a lift that was so small she had to be carried like a sack of coal up any stairs! Tears when she realised that the huge İzmir Fair site (the size of our local town, Ortaca) did have one toilet facility for disabled visitors but that access for a wheelchair was impossible because of a barrier! Legs crossed and whistle, then! Not only does she have a wonderful attitude, she proved she has some serious will-power, too! Mind over matter, as my old sergeant, Danny (The Beast) Haddon,  used to say!
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 Some of the beautiful stuff she took up with her has found its way to the US as well as into boardrooms, offices and living rooms around Turkey. She was handed photos and given commissions on the spot for collection the next day. This resulted in late night painting sessions in her hotel room ending in the early hours before she was off again the next morning to the fair for another day of smiling, working and (metaphorically) keeping her legs crossed!
How much her exposure at the fair will reflect in future commissions remains to be seen – what I can tell you is that the experience has been great for her, boosting her confidence and self-image no end. I would also add that if intestinal fortitude – guts to you and me – was worth its weight in gold then Gülay Çolak would be a multi-millionaire many times over!
Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü (bathing in the reflected glory of a wonderful lady)
Intestinal Fortitude – ‘Guts!’

Martens

Martens have attitude! Like the boots of the same name, they have a reputation to live up to that has ‘if you see me comin’ better step aside!’ written all over them. Weighing in at 21 inches and three and a half pounds they are the equivalent of a gang of skinheads on speed!

skinheadsdon’t make eye-contact!

Just as your average skinhead is some mother’s son, so Martes foina – the Beech or Stone or White Breasted Marten (thanks for the heads-up, John) has its admirers too – J and me, for a start! We have a family of them living somewhere nearby and they visit us every night. Actually, it would be more accurate to describe their visits as visitations because we have never actually seen them!

We became aware a few years ago that something or other was raiding J’s compost bins and, as well as eating a lot of the stuff, was lining things like half-oranges, egg shells and coffee filters along the wall. An infra-red, motion detecting night camera soon had the culprits in the frame.

Over time their brazen kleptomania has had them doing Olympic-style gymnastics to get at the food on our bird tables amongst other things. (click here for other videos of these rogues) Lately, we have been awoken in the dead of night by the sound of burglars throwing stuff about downstairs. We’d come down to a scene that has become typical of the way that the ‘modern’, degenerate young thief doesn’t just nick the family silver but chucks stuff about before crapping in the middle of the carpet or sofa!

pine marten crapbiologists tell this is ‘spraint’ – territorial marking – I call it mindless vandalism!

. . and this is the culprit!

beech marten

‘Fagin’ aka ‘One -Eye’ aka Beech/Stone/White Breasted Marten – Martes foina (leader of this gang of four or five tow-rags)

Pine-martens

together with the apprentices The Artful Dodger and Charley Bates

Pine Marten

the better-known European Pine Marten – Martes martes (stunning photo from markcauntphotography.com)

beech marten 3the SAS in action at the Iranian Embassy siege (Martes foina)

cap_badge_of_sasWith semi-retractable claws like a cat and a set of dentures that owes its lineage to Tyrannosaurus rex these little cuties are the SAS of the animal kingdom and, just like the real thing, it is not a good idea to underestimate what you are dealing with – unlike a certain Swiss footballer by the name of Loris Benito who, to protect him from ridicule, shall remain nameless . . .

fool1

pine attack

fool2

The score was 1-0 after injury time – ‘Who Dares Wins’? – nah! ‘Who Dares Is Stupid’!

Finally, here’s a bit of video I’ve strung together of our pitiful attempt to distract the vandals:

Things That Go Bump v3.0.2 from Alan Fenn on Vimeo.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Martens

A Half-Braked Idea

Gulay and SerifeEven occasional readers of this blog will know about Gülay Çolak. Gülay is paraplegic, paralysed from the chest down after an appalling accident about 15 years ago. What is not paralysed is her love of life (most of the time) and her indomitable spirit. Her attitude has won her countless admirers and friends. Here she is with her daughter, Şerife, at the Çaliş Christmas Fair.

 

During the past eighteen months or so, she has had a rough time with ulcers on her foot that failed to respond to medication. After two failed skin grafts the prospects for her were not good and the cause of the problem lay in her inability to exercise properly and get her blood pumping around her limbs.

So it was that a good mate of mine, Ahmet, and I put our heads together to find a solution. We designed and built a prototype exercise machine that would work-out her arms, heart, lungs and get her legs moving. I’m not going to bore you with details all over again, you can read about that here and watch a video here.

The machine worked, her ulcers healed and the exercise routine is helping to ensure that there should be no recurrence.

If only life were that simple! Gülay has now developed diabetes, and this, too, is directly related to her inability to work-out properly.

It was head-scratching time again! Gülay has considerable strength in her arms – you wouldn’t want her to put you in a head-lock, for example! Exercising on her machine with those arms was altogether too easy and she was hardly getting puffed on her 40 minute sessions – something had to be done to put some serious ‘grunt’ back into the job.

There have been various suggestions made, from fitting one of those fan things you see on rowing machines to nicking an electric retarder from a long-distance coach! Come on guys, I’m working out of what amounts to a garden shed! My idea, based on what I know I can manage, was to fit one of those disc brakes that you see on modern mountain bikes. Great idea, but could I find the parts? Could I hell-as-like!

In the end, in desperation I messaged a friend, Jane Akatay, from Land of Lights newspaper. Jane knows everybody in Fethiye and she facilitated contact with Gareth Patten, a cyclist and, as it turned out, all-round decent chap (even if he was ‘born in Wales, by the grace of God!’ (according to his FB profile)).

Gareth FethiyeSpor

Gareth is the flagpole for FethiyeSpor!

Gareth understood instantly what I was trying to achieve and sourced the parts to do the job. When we met up in Fethiye to exchange bits for bobs – a bob was a shilling in old money – this splendid fellow refused to take payment. Said it was his contribution to the project – how generous is that? Thanks, Gareth. When you meet Gülay you’ll no doubt get one of her special hugs/head-locks!

Gareth's packet

Gareth’s contribution – just about perfect!

From here on the pictures can do the talking – it was a bit of a struggle over two days to get the thing set-up as precisely as it needed to be considering it’s not fitted to pre-positioned mounts. Suffice to say, it works a treat and is now back home with Gülay. She is busy preparing for the big, four-day Marble Fair in Izmir where she and her family are honoured guests of the Denizli Marble Manufacturing Chamber. She has a commission for a whole bunch of portraits, painted on marble, of the various bigwigs like provincial governors and mayors, to get finished and I didn’t want to bother her by asking for her to pose with the finished machine. I’ll get some pics when she’s back home and not so stressed.

here she is with a couple of the not-quite-finished-yet portraits

crank

Stage 1: wreck a perfectly good crank

disc crank

Stage 2: fix disc to mutilated crank

create lash-up

Stage 3: create lash-up to fix position of calliper mounting bracket

calliper mounting bracket

Stage 4: callipers mounted and aligned (above and below)

disc and callipers mounted

Stage 5: and her special leg supports re-fitted

micro-adjustable brake control

Stage 6: micro-adjustable brake control fitted

IMG_7434_1

Stage 7: cabled up and waiting to be reunited with the other bit – job jobbed!

So, once again, thanks Jane for the intro; thanks Gareth for sourcing and gifting the parts.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

A Half-Braked Idea

Piste Off!

In a past life, J and I were once licensees (in modern parlance) of a very lively village pub. I preferred the term ‘landlord’ and ‘landlady’, as did most of our punters, because it conferred greater gravitas on us guardians of such a warm, inviting and noble, British tradition.

inside Green Dragon, Hobbiton

to illustrate, here’s a shot of the very traditional Green Dragon pub in the village of Hobbiton, The Shire, Middle Earth

Traditional pubs are glorious places that breed gloriously eccentric ‘Guv’nors’ and punters alike. Well, they used to before they were all taken over by pub chains and themes! I was known as ‘Basil’, after the character in ‘Fawlty Towers’, for some obscure reason. Another landlord I knew well had a pith helmet with ‘Pith Off’ written on it. Instead of politely calling ‘Time gentlemen, please!’ he’d don his helmet and bellow ‘Pith on, now pith off!’ The locals loved it!

Shepherd_NeameAll this waffle brings me neatly to the point of this post – the weather of late has been somewhat confining, a condition that leads to feelings of paranoia vis-a-vis the malevolence of the ‘gods’. I was getting well-and-truly pissed off (to use a very traditional Britishism) and beginning to fantasise about village greens and cries of ‘Owzat!’ and pints of Shepherd Neame’s finest Kentish bitter beer. And so was born the idea of pithing off to the piste in search of early bulbs and other delights by way of a compromise. Did you follow the logic of my drift with this? Not boring you, am I? Excellent!

So, J and I set off for the mountains by way of the village of Üçağız about forty minutes drive east of Kaş on the south coast. You can read about it by clicking the link. It’s a place we like very much, but only out of season before the day trippers inundate this tiny, largely unspoilt village. We were using it as a jumping off point for an up and over a couple of mountains drive, but more about it another time.

We were heading, via the rabbit hole, for our secret hide-away in the mountains; there to explore backways and track-ways and lake-sides, as yet, untrodden by us. Snow, rushing streams, mountain meadows, clean, crisp air, the chance of finding some different flowering plants and no day trippers! We were not disappointed . .

lake from the snow line

lake from the snow line

Crocus olivieri ssp olivieri

Crocus olivieri ssp olivieri

C olivieri and Euphorbia

hiding away with a Euphorbia

Crocus fleischeri

Crocus fleischeri

lichen

luminous lichen

Crocus fleischeri

Scilla bifolia

Scilla bifolia

Colchicum minutum

Colchicum minutum

Colchicum serpentinium

Colchicum serpentinium

Colchicum triphyllum

Colchicum triphyllum

Colchicum triphyllum

happy campers at the ski centre

J and friends ‘Off Piste’

Crocus biflorus ssp isauricus

strange buds turned out to be . .

Crocus biflorus ssp isauricus

Crocus biflorus ssp isauricus

Colchicum triphyllum

Crocus triphyllum

red Anemone coronaria

Anemone coronaria

Iris unguicularis v carica

Iris unguicularis v carica

So, there you have it – from pissed off to off piste! Was it worth wading through the dis-jointed verbiage to see such beauties? Be happy to hear from you either way.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Shepherd Neame

 

 

 

ps Was that better than a pint of ‘Shep’s’? Probably not!

Piste Off!

Adieu Provence

. . with apologies to author Peter Mayle – not that I think he ever wrote a book of that title, but just in case!

‘Adieu’ is not really appropriate; ‘RIP Provence’ would be a title more to the point. J and I have lost a friend, a Provençal Lady of great, if delicate, beauty who lived her life very close to the edge. We would visit her every year without fail at about this time – an assignation that we kept secret from everyone else for fear that her uniqueness (certainly around here) might lead to her violation.

Now it is over and she is gone – swept away in a terrible landslide that carried off her and her home, leaving nothing behind but loose scree and the tracks of a bulldozer. We were there today to fulfil our promise made several years back to visit each year, pay our respects and compliment her on her new Spring outfit. It was not to be. So sad!

landslip1

the new track above her home . .

landslip2

. . and the devastating consequences!

Her demise could have been avoided had some petty bureaucrat paid attention to her situation before sending a bulldozer to drive a new road into the mountain above her home. The machine dislodged great amounts of rock and soil which crashed down the mountainside carrying everything before it.

We are devastated! Here are a few photos – ‘In Memoriam’, if you will. Try as we might, we never found another like her and that valley where she lived will never be the same. She is gone but will never be forgotten!

Orchis provincialis 03_1

Orchis provencalis – Provence Orchid  It was never possible to get really close, living where she did on the edge of a near-vertical cliff – these shots were taken with a long lens and a lot of knee-trembling!

Orchis provincialis 06_1

her trademark green and brown polka-dot skirt is visible

. . one of her distant relatives was there to shed a few tears, too

RIP0006_1

Alan Fenn, (in mourning)

Adieu Provence

. . It’s A Duck!

The last post (blogging as opposed to bugle calls) had J and me diving out of the house for a breath of fresh air between the downpouring, monsoon-like rains. We decided to wander around to our beautiful Kocadere Valley and check the water flow situation and see what we could see along the way. Flowing water is only visible in the valley after heavy rain as it generally flows underground so it would be a chance to get a few photographic impressions.

Kocadere is, in my opinion, an impressively beautiful place and it’s hard not to feel a sense of deep satisfaction at having been instrumental, along with many others, in helping to preserve its uniqueness whenever I walk there. It is, after all, the home of many rare or beautiful species of flora and fauna.

Iurus dufoureius ssp asiaticus (4)_1

Iurus dufoureius – Europe’s largest scorpion and one of the rarest

Alkanna muhglae

Alkanna muhglae – in all its glory

Lyciasalamandra fazliae

Lyciasalamandra fazliae – Fire Salamander

kocadere0043_1

rushing water and towering cliffs

kocadere0044_1

Whilst we were poking around inside the valley we spotted these beautiful Horseshoe Orchids . .

Horseshoe Ophrys

Ophrys ferrum-equinum – Horseshoe Ophrys

Horseshoe Ophrys

. . amidst masses of Crown Anemones.

crown Anemone

We also gathered an audience who were very curious about what we were up to . .

kocadere sheep
The real highlight of the day happened on the way to the valley when we had to divert off the track and through an olive grove because of flooding. There, under a couple of the trees lay a group of Ophrys (a large family usually referred to as Bee Orchids) of a species that I had not seen before.

Orchids in general and Ophrys in particular can be notoriously difficult to pigeon-hole because of their ‘life-style’ which is best described as promiscuous! Here is a quote from the research unit at Reading University;

‘Orchids can often generate great taxonomic challenges due to interspecific and even intergeneric hybridization. However they are often eye-catching and something people want to be able to identify with confidence. With Ophrys, at least, the more specimens you see the more convinced you become that the plants are not following any rule book when it comes to behaving as species, and genes flow between one species and another to form recognizable hybrids and sometime these give rise to new species.’

In other words, they sleep around a bit and not just with their own! (if I may be permitted such a politically incorrect term) Anyway, when we got home out came my various reference books and for me it has to be Ophrys isrealitica so-called because it was first recorded and tagged in Israel in 1988. I sent photos to various (orchid) groups who did not dissent and also put it up on Facebook for those who are interested because, although not rare for the Eastern Mediterranean or several of the Aegean Islands, it has not been recorded this far west here in Turkey.

There was one person who questioned the ident, but as a non-academic enthusiast without access to sophisticated DNA analysis equipment – if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck – it’s a duck!

Ophrys isrealitica

Ophrys isrealitica

Ophrys isrealitica

And it’s another new species for Okçular – I think that is 39 now!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

ps the stormy weather seems to have done many strange things including messing up my previous WP theme. I’m not that enamoured of this one, but it will have to do until I summon up the will to do something about it.

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