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butterflies

This is a spectecularly large ugly death-head moth, visiting us in the summer of 2006. An African species that needs tropical conditions to breed, but adult ones sometimes cover long distances and are observed in the mediterranean where they even lay eggs.
Like every year, there have been myriads of really beautiful butterflies then, but it was also the year in which an army of caterpillars from the 'Lymantria' species stripped the leafs of countless oak trees, leaving whole areas bare as if they were scorched. Fortunately, total recovery from the attack took no more than 6 weeks. This phenomenon occurs every 6-8 years and renews to complete foliage of the otherwise evergreen mediterranean oaks.

mushrooms

The climate change has dramatically shifted the seasons for many mushroom families. The picture shows a probably several years old polyporus that survives harsh climates. But the cantharelle, normally abundant in september, is becoming more rare every year due to the absence of rain in autumn. Several edible boletus appear as late as december, as do the large, delicious macrolepiota procera or parasol and the also edible armillaria mellea or honey funghus. In 2010 we found the delicious amanita cesarea for the first time in 16 years.
Less tasteful mushrooms, like the poisonous Amanita family and the common stinkhorn (phallus impudicus) seem to be impervious to the climate change. A typical island mushroom, the poisonous bright orange Omphtalotus Olearius is sometimes mistaken for a large cantharelle, with severe consequences.

birds

This youngster just made his maiden flight from the nesthouse and landed in the heart of a palm leaf. As soon as they vacate the house, the next couple of tits arrives, rearranges the 'furniture' and starts a new family. Sometimes the breeding continues until end of June when it must be a real nightmare to live in an overcrowded, noisy room with just one small window.....
The mild winter weather brings an abundance of red robins and other small birds, that all leave in spring unless they fell prey to the many predators that have their permanent hunting grounds here. The largest non-motorized flyer is the grey vulture with a span of up to 8 ft., feeding on all dead mammals from mice to sheep.

botanics

This photograph shows just one of several subspecies of Arum Italicum, a highly valued indoor bulb plant with a characteristic white/yellow flower and later carmine red berries. Your florist wants serious money for it, here they grow in millionfold on nearly every open spot in the woods.
In spring, wild varieties of the crocus and multiple flowering narcissus appear, the latter from bulbs that are nearly 2 ft. deep to survive the warm and dry summer.

The winter snowball or Viburnum Tinus, flowering abundantly in January. They can be found in many places in our surroundings but if a little bit sheltered will also survive gardenlife in northern regions. Hard to dig out because here they favour a rocky soil. It is accompanied by conifers like Tuja's en Junipers, of which several subspecies are present in large numbers.
Also native is the Strawberry-tree (Arborus Unedo) , with fruits that are only edible when overripe. They are found solitaire or in small groups, the Laurel or Bay-tree is very common throughout the island.

Very common are also herbs, like Thyme, Oregano, Lavender, Myrthe and of course the Rosemarin bush, used in many gardens. In well sheltered spots, both in town and rural areas, next to palms and agaves there are many mediterranean fruit trees , like figs, granadines, almonds and of course citrus trees. Mandarins and lemons prosper well even near the shore, oranges and grapefruits need just a little more shelter, so they feel more at home in city gardens.



See what a diet of soap and toothpaste can do for a lemon tree. This one is the most proliferous tree in our garden and gets its water straight from the bathroom sink. A barely 8 ft. high tree, yielding hundreds of lemons each year. The picture was taken in the autumn of 2009; a few months later one extremely cold winter night stripped all the leaves, spoiled the lemons and froze the tips of all branches. At the end of 2011 the tree had its first lemon in two years.
Also interesting is the Passion flower next to it. Belonging in a much warmer climate, it barely survives in winter, but with sufficient rain in spring it produces dozens of fruits from which a delicious marmelade can be made.