It’s 37 degrees Celsius in the shade on the terrace of our finca in rural Mallorca. During the current heatwave (back-to-back with the previous one) our ‘family’ of adopted cats is taking life very easy. They appear each morning for their breakfast, but eat less than usual, then disappear for the day to hide from the sun, until hunger – or habit – draws them back for dinner.
At this time of the year they tend to seek shelter closer to the house, so that their various sources of water for drinking aren’t too far away. Occasionally we spot them in their hiding places. Dusty likes to sit under the turntable (which hasn’t turned for years) that supports our solar panels. It’s a spot that gets no sun at all, and he’s made it his own. Beamer heads for the dependencia, snoozing next to the stock of winter logs. When it’s hot like it is now, it seems unbelievable that we need log fires in the winters . . .
Cooling his ‘Bits’
Our newest cat – little Pip – favours the corner of our dining terrace, settling in a sun-free spot near a large pot plant. And one of her best friends – Nibbles – often joins her. Nibbles (who does occasionally live up to his name) has an amusing habit: in the evenings, when we dine on the terrace, he sits nearby on the wall, with his legs dangling down on either side of the wall. We assume this is to cool as much of his lower body as possible.
Pip (left) and Nibbles have found a cool spot on the terrace
Nibbles chilling out on the wall
All the cats are enjoying the new solar-powered water feature I bought earlier this year. It has become yet another source of water for them. This one has an additional benefit: the fountain seems to give off a fine mist when it’s in operation and when any of the cats comes over to greet us in the evenings, they usually have a light dampness to their fur. They’re clearly enjoying this way of cooling themselves.
Nibbles drinks from the fountain
And us? We’re spending the heat of the day indoors, with our Birman Minstral, enjoying the benefits of airconditioning. Come the (slightly) cooler evenings, we’re outside – topping up the water in the places where the cats like to drink . . .
Since we came to live in rural Mallorca, we’ve always been careful to ensure that there’s water available on our land for any passing thirsty wildlife. It’s particularly important during the summer months when we often have no rain at all for many weeks, and the temperatures are consistently high.
We brought four birdbaths with us from the UK, which are dotted around our property – and it’s simply a matter of making sure they’re all cleaned and topped up regularly with water. Our feathered friends are certainly grateful, calling regularly year-round for drinks and a spot of exuberant bathing (after which a water top-up is usually required). On one occasion we saw a family of partridge – six birds in total – all perched around the edge of the birdbath closest to the house. It would have made a great photo, but as I grabbed my Nikon from a shelf and removed the lens cap, they took off – as one – with a clattering of wings.
Dusty’s turn at the watering hole
The Cats, the Birds . . and the Bees
Ironically – birds and cats being natural enemies – the feline family that has adopted us, also use the birdbaths for drinking. Thankfully, never together.
Bees ready to hit the water
But there’s new competition at the bar: for the past few days we’ve had numerous bees coming to drink from the largest birdbath, at the front of the house. We’ve always had plenty of bees around the place, as two farmers further down the valley keep hives – and we deliberately made our garden bee-friendly, with plenty of tempting lavender and rosemary bushes. I love the buzz of a few bees around the place – makes me think of summer – but The Boss thinks that the huge number of bees around might just be from a swarm that’s settled somewhere on our land.
Just in case, I’ve just checked out beekeeping gear on the Internet, and found a natty white bee suit – looks like a onesie with attitude – that might look good on The Boss. Or we could just call on the expertise of our beekeeping Mallorcan neighbours . . .