Flora & Fauna
Villa Foia Flora is an ancient olive grove of approximately two hectares (five acres), set on the pine forested slopes of the surrounding mountains. Nature still has plenty of space of its own here, resulting in a large species diversity in plants, insects, birds and animals.
Below you will find a brief overview. Of course, nothing beats taking in these colours, scents and beauty 'live' at Villa Foia Vella. You are more than welcome, we are happy to share it with you!
Up to about 20 meters from the villa you can find many different 'cultivated' plants and trees from all over the world, especially flowering and fragrant species. Imagine the likes of beautifully colored hibiscuses, various types of jasmine and the exotic and enchanting temple trees, also known as plumeria or frangipani. Furthermore, there are plants that appeal by the name itself, such as Bird of paradise flower, Hand of Buddha, Angel trumpet, Goldfinger, Coral tree, Lady of the night, Monkey grape and Desert rose.
A grove wouldn't be a grove without a wide variety of nut and fruit trees, such as the black, white and green fig, almond, lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange, cherry and guava.
Beyond this twenty meters around the house, nature itself determines the plant composition. In spring we count more than hundred different flowering wild plants on our property alone!
We have observed around fifty different bird species on and above Villa Foia Vella. Species such as the tit, falcon and owl can be found year round, others such as the song thrush, raven, black redstart and golden oriole are seasonal visitors.
Spring is particularly spectacular with all it's territorial and mating activities. In April and May, the valley is filled with the clear songs of the nightingales. Especially at night you are imbued with the beauty of their singing. You literally hear them day and night, but the nightingale is rarely seen. In that regard, the oriole is a different story. With its striking song and bright yellow color it is perfectly perceptible.
In terms of colors, the bee-eater perhaps has the most impressive appearance. They regularly fly over in groups with loud calls. Sometimes they choose a branch on our property from which they hunt for insects for a while. We know of a few breeding grounds where you can see them well from a 'safe distance'. Other notable spring and summer visitors are the wryneck and hoopoe.
Around July, birds such as the bee-eater and oriole leave again, while the heat makes the remaining birds slow down during the day. Spectacular in this period is the 'drinking in full flight' by the ever cheerfull swallows. To quench their thirst, in gliding flight they skim only just over the pool with their mouths wide open. Other regular summer guests around the pool are the crossbills.
August and September are 'slow' from a birding point of view. In autumn, the orchard again is full of winter visitors such as song thrush, black redstart and crested tit and the robin shows itself again.
Year round large birds of prey can be seen flying overhead, such as hawk eagle, short-toed eagle and golden eagle.
For enthusiasts we know several interesting bird areas in the area, where species such as flamingo, harrier and vulture can be observed.
For completeness sake, this is an overview of all birds observed so far on and above Villa Foia Vella:
(Eurasian) Eagle Owl, Bee-eater, Black Redstart, Blackbird, Blackcap, Blue tit, Bonellis eagle, Chaffinch, Coal tit, Common crane, Common raven, Common Starling, Common swift, Crested tit, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Eurasian jay, Eurasian siskin, European serin, Golden eagle, Goldfinch, Great tit, Greenfinch, Hoopoe, House Martin, House sparrow, Kestrel, Little owl, Long-tailed Tit, Nighthingale, Nuthatch, Pied flycatcher, Red Crossbill, Red legged partridge, Robin, Sardinian warbler, Scops owl, Short-toed snake eagle, Short-toed Treecreeper, Song Trush, Spotted Flycatcher, Swallow, White wagtail, Willow warbler, Wood Pigeon, Wood wabler, Wren, Wryneck.
The lavish nature around Villa Foia Vella is also reflected in the species richness of the animal world. You can see traces of the presence of almost all these animals, such as paths, paw prints and excrement. Sometimes they make themselves heard, like the foxes around the mating season. They hardly show themselves, and if at all, mostly during twilight or at night. Exception are the squirrels, which regularly come to drink from the birdbath or swimming pool.
We have a wild camera at a number of positions in the orchard which takes pictures when there is movement. As a result, we know for sure that the following species roam our grounds: badger, pine marten, ermine, fox, wild boar and genet cat.
The genet cat is a beautiful and graceful civet feline with black spots and a long tail. They are about 20 cm high and can be up to a meter long including tail. They are native to Africa and were brought to Europe in the Middle Ages to hunt mice and rats. When the current domestic cat proved to be better at this, the genets were kicked out of the houses. Later on, they proofed to be able to take care of themselves in the wild in southern Europe. They are shy, but occasionally we see them walking at night.