When he’s not working, writer and former UK journalist STEVE PARSLEY spends quite a bit of time walking the woods around Fethiye with four-legged companion Dillon and posting their discoveries on Facebook.
Fethiye Times asked if he would share some of his encounters with the local wildlife with us – and, this week, we can share Steve’s thoughts on what there is to see in high summer.
Let’s be honest, walking the dog in winter is a bit of a doddle.
It’s dark until around 8am so you don’t have to be up at some ridiculous hour in the morning and, even if you did overindulge a bit the evening before, you have the option of going a bit later when you’ve had time to feel a little more human.
Once you’re out, there’s plenty to see too. Everything is still pretty green, there’s birdsong in the trees and, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch glimpses of wildlife among the undergrowth. Although you may occasionally get a little wet, a decent app can guide you on the best time of day to head out to avoid any showers or storms.
But in summer – particularly July and August – dog-walking becomes an altogether different prospect. Yesterday, for example, it was already edging 30c in direct sunlight at 7.30am, which is marginal for our German Shepherd who has a thick coat which experts advise against clipping.
That means we’re currently slaves to a 6am alarm, which can put a bit of a crimp on your night-time social life – something which reminds me of the time when the kids were little and we had to weigh another drink against the prospect of a nappy which we just knew would be particularly pungent as a punishment for going out.
Not only is it hot at this time of year, there’s not as much to see either. This morning, for example, I found one bemused tortoise which seemed as reluctant to be up and around at 6.30am as I was, a small brown lizard and a frog – the latter making the most of the remaining water in the stone water trough Dillon has been using as a swimming pool (at least until it started to turn green with algae).
Rather than foxes, boar, badgers and birdsong, the forest also resonates to the deafening cicada chorus. It’s fascinating in a way – particularly when you realise the creatures making all that noise have recently emerged from underground burrows which were probably dug way before Brexit or Trump were a thing.
But, just the same, heard day after day, the shrill screeching can become a little monotonous, particularly as it’s often loud enough to blot out pretty much everything else.
There are some plusses though.
As we’re up just after sunrise, we have our walks pretty much to ourselves. I haven’t come across another living soul for weeks now; I’m guessing the sheep and goats have also been taken to higher – and cooler – pastures as we haven’t seen any of them either.
Dusty paths make tracks easy to see (like this image of footprints which I suspect were left by a wader such as a moorhen or a coot) and, although wildlife may be less inclined to move around because of the heat, what there is also seems a little less skittish or prone to running as soon as we’re detected.
I realise they won’t be everyone’s favourite creatures but Dillon and I came across a scorpion a week or so ago (pictured) which didn’t seem that bothered by our presence. Up by the water trough, the small finches and sparrows flit about in the branches of the wisteria which is currently alive with bees and butterflies. Occasionally, we’ll also put up a buzzard among the trees on the edge of a clearing and even a few minutes of stillness can allow you a glimpse of the tiny – and sometimes not-so-tiny – crickets who also have a more tuneful song to sing (although they’re mostly drowned out by the cicadas).
But what amazes me the most is that, even after weeks without rain, in the cooler shady spots you can still find little splashes of colour as the wildflowers cling on.
I’ve downloaded an app on my iPhone recently which is supposed to help me identify them. Admittedly, it’s a little Eurocentric and struggles a bit with plants from Turkey, sometimes even identifying them as something usually found growing as far away as California. But I’m persevering and learning a bit along the way too and, although I’m still far from becoming a botanist, it’s helping to pass the time until some of our other favourites return in the autumn.
If you’d like to give it a try, it’s called PlantSnap and it’s easily found on the App Store and Google Play Store. There a small fee to download it and I should perhaps emphasise other similar apps are also available. But, for me, it’s making that 6am start a little more bearable.
After all, now, there’s still the possibility of a discovery to look forward to rather than just a sweaty trudge somewhere and back again.
Rebecca & Steve Parsley are both former journalists with experience in newspapers, magazines and on radio. Since 2006 they have run their own communications agency, specialising in social media and online content writing. They moved to Turkey just over four years ago and live in Kayaköy with their German Shepherd dog, Dillon – formerly a street dog – and two cats. When not slaving over their keyboards or walking in the local countryside, they enjoy watching motorsport – especially Formula 1 – and are also salsa dance addicts.