Notes from Lapta, Cyprus – Wildlife by Ken Dunn

One of the very few things I dislike about the TRNC is not just the presence of ‘oiky’ tourists but the other, much smaller, inhabitants. I only seem to notice these things in the early evening and especially during the night. Their presence is always heralded by a high pitched variable whine as they always hone in to the most vulnerable parts of the human anatomy. What are they? Mosquitos.

Even with netting over windows and doors the damned things get in to puncture your ‘bits’. The only relief from these small invaders is wind. No. Not the unpopular human variety but that of the weather. On the other hand I wonder if that might work? Anyway, a gentle breeze often keeps them at bay but in the calm, humid air they all seem to line up for their nightly ‘blood-fest.’ Mozzies don’t like moving air so overnight in the summer we usually have a fan whirling at a low rate just to confuse them.

That seems to work reasonable well and is more effective, for us, than those smelly tablets or smoking spiral things. Over the last few years the ‘mozzie man’ and his ‘mozzie machine’ can be heard chuntering along the roads. That’s pretty good for the roads but does little for the remaining 99% of the land between. We have had the odd big spider in the house but the only other lodgers are small geckos. They are harmless but they do tend to ‘poop’ on things without asking permission. Naughty.

Outside the house is a little more lively. We have a long, high retaining wall running the whole length of the garden and, as a classic ‘Cypriot’ construction, it’s something of a haven for snakes with lots of nooks and crannies where they tend to crawl into to escape the heat of summer days. There are very few around these days but that wasn’t always the case. I didn’t mind the black ones as they are relatively harmless but the venomous, diamond backed jobs were not so cuddly.

Lizards, large and small skitter around all over the place but the most spectacular I’ve ever seen was a ‘granddad’ of a bright, green chameleon, plodding slowly across the road. We were driving down to the village when this beast, well over a foot long, was half way across. Two steps forward, one back, each eye swivelling around quite independently from the other. It was fascinating to watch and it obviously didn’t give a damn about the car bearing down on it. No, I didn’t run it over but stopped, switched off the engine and watched as it made its hesitant progress, a good ten minutes, to the other side.

The insect population can be tiresome. Not just the ‘standard’ flies but those tiny little jobs of the biting variety. Then there are the big, black, flying blunderers about two inches long. I don’t know what they are but they share the same lack of any kind of flight plan, or a valid pilot’s licence, with the Cicadas. Both buzz around willy-nilly smacking into walls and windows as well as anyone who coincides with their erratic trajectory. Getting either of these things inside the house can be a real pain.

Dogs and cats have reduced in numbers over the years as have the birds, the latter having suffered from the shooting season which is still, sadly, popular with the locals. Hearing shotguns and high-powered rifles echoing around the village can be quite unnerving.

There is, however, one species of bird which seems to be thriving. As the sun goes down you may well hear it rather than actually see it. They flap around in pairs, settling in the trees or rooftops and call to each other. We call them the submarines as the call they make, ‘poo!’ and then seconds later a return call, a longer, ‘poooh!’, sounds exactly like the audible sonar signal from an underwater craft.

We had the luck to come across one of these delightful creatures as we were driving back to the house one late evening. A mere six or seven inches high it was a miniature owl, a Scops Owl to be precise. It was walking, yes, walking across the road and slowed down as the headlights of the car illuminated it. It stopped, as we did, and gave us a long, disdainful and very stony look. I imagined a ‘think bubble’ forming over it with, ‘I live here. You don’t!’ Quite right. After almost a minute or so, without blinking, it ambled off into the undergrowth. Magic!

We often hear goats milling around below the house, the bells round their necks tinkling away as they forage through the undergrowth. The goatherd usually guides them indolently this way or that but sometimes a few errant individuals escape into our garden. They don’t exactly qualify as ‘wildlife’ but they behave that way sometimes. I once made the mistake of leaving a gate open in the lower garden and some of them were happy to climb up and devour a vine which I had planted and was growing quite well. It was found by a few of these ravenous ‘chompers’ and is no more. I was not best pleased.

So, we cope as best we can with the various, competitive species vying to survive and trying not too much to intervene, or dispatch, some of them. After all, it’s hard life for most of them. But there are certain species which I have no compunction in eliminating – ‘mozzies’! And that brings things to full circle. Let me give you this final offering but if my wife finds out I’ve told you this I’m going to be in a lot of trouble! So, keep this quiet, OK?

Last year I was fiddling about downstairs in the early morning having used the ‘facilities’, then dressed and got stuck in, at the top of some steps, fully engaged in the middle of some minor filling of a crack above a tall corner cupboard in the hall. My wife was in the bathroom just next to this. I could hear her splashing about and then silence. The bathroom door opened and she came out. What she then said made me almost fall off the steps.

She stood there, stark naked, hands on hips, and said, ‘Why is it….why.. is.. it, whenever… whenever we come over here….I always…, I always get bitten, during the night, between the bloody cheeks of my a-se!?’

I couldn’t think of anything to say that would have helped.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.