Saturday, April 27, 2013

Best Friends

I went out one hot morning to shoot whatever i find interesting. It was really hot even at nine o'clock in the morning. I was busy waiting for some butterflies to alight on the plants, some insects to come out from hiding under the leaves. But of course it is already hot, so they will be hiding. I passed the shadow of the big raintree, covering a big portion of the street. The cemented street was also covered mostly by fallen leaves and some dried pods. I keep on going, still searching for some subjects. When i looked back to the shade of the raintree, i saw a lone bicycle. A few meters from it are two individuals frolicking with each other, cooing  loudly, they even produce some sounds, very typical for their mutual bonding.

And these are the series of shots i got while watching them.

 a bunch of cogon, Imperata cylindrica on the roadsides

 a dehisced pod of the raintree

 the lone bicycle under the raintree

 friends oblivious of my watching presence

 they have a firm bond with each other as they grow together 

 Jopet is Allen's first dog, he had it when he was 5 yrs old. Jopet is a dog who leaves outside the house. He is guarding not only the household but also everybody's pets like cats, chickens and goats. He can kill big visitors in the farm like monitor lizards or snakes. Here, Allen is 10 and Jopet is 5.

Jopet does what Allen wants him to do! Jopet wants to follow Allen wherever he goes, unless Allen strictly scold him to go back home. Here, Allen saw me watching from a distance.

 Allen doesn't want being watched, so he suddenly got his bicycle. 

They both hurriedly went home, Jopet following Allen. I just followed them as well. Now Allen is 15 and Jopet went to dog heaven when he was 8. Allen was so sad when Jopet died, and even until now, the kids still talk about him.

Camera Critters Meme

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Weeds Really?

For Clay and Limestone: Wildflower Wednesday

Vernonia cinerea (above and below). This weed is commonly growing in marginal lands or on roadsides. The branching and thin plant is short at only around one foot tall. It is just attractive because of the purple minute flowers. This is reported to have anti malarial properties as shown by this studies.  

As the flower matures and about to dehisce, the seedheads are spherical and lovely.

NOID (above and below)

Tawa-tawa or gatas-gatas, Euphorbia hirta, is an indigenous roadside weeds common anywhere in the country. There is a folkloric tradition that it is effective in increasing platelets of dengue patients backed by personal experiences. However, concrete data to substantiate these claims have not been shown by research. Authorities on this are still expanding their research at the moment. Despite this, some enterprising companies are already selling capsules online.

close-up of Euphorbia hirta



Saturday, April 20, 2013

Reach out for Food

Last weekend my sister kept on reminding my nephew that there are nestlings at the side street. That  is a euphemism that we should go there at once to take the photos. This is my sister whose house is maybe 20 meters away from ours, she has also 6 dogs and our cats always bring their kittens to her as soon as the kittens start to walk. That is because she gives a lot of food to pets. Sometimes she brings me some larvae, katydids, butterflies, millipedes or whatever critter she comes across with.

This time she is frantic that we immediately go and see the nestlings. The moment i touched the plant with the nest, the occupants suddenly extended their necks simultaneous with very wide open mouths. I at once saw two 'birdlets', we fondly call them that. They thought their mother arrived with food for them. I guess nature made their mouths very wide because the parent birds cannot easily drop the worm inside the mouth.

I shoot in succession. After a few seconds without food coming, they closed their mouths. And I wiggled the plant again so they repeat their stance, even extending the neck fully to ensure they get the food.

I am so sorry, i don't have any worm for you. Look at the skin on the neck, stretched fully well to reach for the food. I wonder where the parents are because they are very noisy when possible risks are near the nests.

I suspect, those eyes don't see yet. I wonder how old they are when they can easily see.

 The ears are also very wide and conspicuous when feathers are not yet growing. They also shake their heads while opening their mouths. That's the reason why some heads are blurred in the photo.

 After a few more shakes, there are already three of them with stretched heads and opened mouths.

 Look at those fully opened mouths, visible tongues and very stretched necks. They are competing with their parents' delivered food. I am so sorry for being a disappointment, i am just a distraction. And thank you very much for my photos.

These are yellow-vented bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier), reproducing only once a year during the dry season. Two to three nestlings are produced per year from one pair. Their nests are cup-shaped and well camouflaged just on some thickets about a few feet above the ground. This bird is already a resident in out property. They eat fruits, shoots, some insects and also sip nectar.

Camera Critters Meme

Camera Critters

Thursday, April 18, 2013

April Blooms - Hedges

Our hedges are blooming profusely during the dry season. While our temperatures soars from 32-37C this March-April and still soaring, our plants despite the heat are not disappointing us. They will try to produce mature seeds before April ends to be ready for the rains in May, and propagate their species. However, most of those i posted here are not the seed-producing types. They are mostly asexually propagated. This type of producing more plants ensures that the offsprings or new plantlets are true to type, or they are exactly of the same characteristics as the parents. That is in contrast with the seed-producing types that produce characteristics of both the male and female parents.

 Top and bottom photos are both Pachystachys lutea. They grow vegetatively during the rainy season and flower abundantly this time of year, when rains are nowhere to be seen. I always cut these hedge to a foot high just before the start of the rainy season. This area is sloping, so they help prevent erosion here. Planted below the Pachystachys is the Pedilanthus tithymaloides which is shorter with more branching, with other branches creeping on the ground to further delay erosion.

Our Sansevieria trifasciata  started with the yellow stripes at the edges of leaves. Eventually, this yellow stripe was gone reverting into the original greenish form. I realized that stolons produce true-to-type striped form, but leaves produce only the green form.  Green forms multiply and grow faster than the stripe forms, so i guess eventually our hedges will be mostly that of green. They also flower year round most predominantly during the dry season. Blooms are slightly scented. I will eventually deliberately plant the striped ones and get rid of the green. I can relate very well to its common name as snake plant with how it looks, however i still searched why another name is 'mother-in-law's tongue'. It revealed that the name is because of its sharpness!  Hmmm, are mother-in-laws' tongue sharp???

Sanchezia speciosa also blooms during the dry season. However, those spikes with tubular flowers are not really very attractive. The leaf patterns and color produce more charm than their blooms. This is again due for cutting back at the start of the rainy season in May. I saw some of this in colder climates and their leaves are more green and not as lovely as ours with high temperatures and full sun.

This is a tall hedge of golden Duranta repens, named so because of the golden leaves. It is very common as hedges along local roads in our municipality. This particular one is allowed to grow tall without much pruning, allowing the flowers to become this golden berries. The butterflies and bees love the flowers, but i haven't seen anyone eating the berries. It is a lovely sight too.

Our Hippeastrum puniceum has been growing in hedges within the yard. They are perennially on the ground, rain or shine, rainy or dry season. They lost dormancy at the start of the first heavy rains in May, however something happened to them this year that some bulbs bloomed without the rains. My plant physiology knowledge has been extremely challenged by this phenomenon. These variety normally produce tall flower canes  of 1-2 ft at fool bloom. However, bulbs i sent to a friend in Malaysia produced very short canes but maintained the flower sizes. I am really perplexed as to what environmental conditions affected what hormones, to alter its reproductive physiology affecting morphological characteristics. This unusual observation might put my mind into a limbo, until this is explained. If anybody knows the explanation, i will be very appreciative if you enlighten me.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hot Blooms in April

Despite the very hot temperatures (34-37°C) and high humidity in the country, our area in the province is still privileged with clean and moving air. And we have many trees that somehow assuaged the extreme feeling of  suffocation due to the heat. Moreover, birds don't seem to mind the hot sun, even at noon they are heard tweeting at the lower branches. There are also some species like the Oriental magpie robin that really come down to the ground, where the yellow vented bulbul has the chance of driving it away.

Other plant species dry this season, but others show their beautiful reproductive parts. Some of our orchids are trying to be responsible and show the flowers, despite their deprived conditions. We are a bit difficult also with water during our dry season, so they really suffer. The leaves are scorched or totally dry. In fact some of our fruit trees totally died two years ago. These are the trees which we just try to acclimatize here. We try to recycle our kitchen used water for the nearby plants. I have some container tanks and they will come handy when the spring water will be totally dead.

Some of the plants i posted for GBBD are the orchids.
Cymbidium finlaysonianum is native to this country, produce very long spikes and flowers once a year during the dry season. Our clump suffered die-back 2 years ago, and this few plants are trying to regain its full glory. During its heyday, many spikes are produced simultaneously, this time they come only one at a time.

I content myself with getting the macro shots of individual flowers, as the spike is 2x as short as before.

This is an endemic orchid in our region of the country, produce white flowers that has short life but lovely and flower all year round, Pteroceras unguiculatum. The photo above shows a pod which seldom happens. How i wish there is a nearby tissue culturist laboratory for its culture, but there is none. I wasn't able to see the flowers in bloom. I hope one of these weekends they will show the blooms for my camera.

This is another endemic orchid in the country, Phalaenopsis schilleriana . They are normally induced to flower by the long nights, however ours dwindled and bloomed only in time for the dry season. This late flowering is unusual, can be another effect of climate change.

please look at the pollen capsule on top like a bird's head, overlooking a fully welcoming lip below 

Dendrobium anosmum or locally called 'sanggumay', another endemic orchid in the country. It produces very long canes fully showing these flowers, but ours has short cane only producing just two here. But i planted this in several areas around the house for its scent. Even just a flower can produce a detectable sweet aroma at 3-4 meter distance. 

The ever present color throughout the country during the dry season is the bougainvillea. They love the heat and humidity, and they are real show-off. When planted in long rows on sides of buildings or at the street sides, they are real stunners. This particular plant is being trained on one of our wire fences.

Even individual flowers of bougainvillea are lovely. Those showy  parts are just the bracts.

This Hippeastrum puniceum is also affected by climate change. It normally flowers simultaneously after the first heavy rains in May, but this year some bulbs bloom in March and some in April. I wonder what signals are giving them inconsistencies. But i love the consequences, however the hedges of this i love so much might not give me the simultaneous blooms anymore. 

My mother's unscented-thornless roses are blooming wildly too. They are lovely, aren't they. 

And, the most predictable shows are near our gate, the Heliconia rostrata. They have always been like this every year at the start of the dry season. I already pruned the crotons that are growing profusely too, to give way for the full view of this display. The good thing about this plant is the long life of those inflorescence. They don't diminish in appearance for two months till the rainy season. Sunbirds, bees and butterflies love to frolic on those drooping beauties.

My Photo

lorik art 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dainty Pink Blossoms

When i was home last weekend my nephew was excitedly telling me of their visit to the nearby forest with his playmate. This forest is just 20min away, but we don't go there. I was there last when i was still in high school, decades ago. There was a deep ravine at the middle with a small flow of water.  Actually there is still a path where cattle farmers pass to the other side of the hill, crossing over the water flow. My nephew saw group of monkeys, maybe around 50 of them, travelling on tree branches. He animatingly reported that even the monkey babies are with them hanging on the mothers' bellies.

So the next day i asked my nephew to bring me there, hopefully to see the monkeys on their playful transfers among the canopies. We waited for an hour without hearing even any noise of the monkeys. But i am not totally disappointed because the vegetation, butterflies and some lizards give us some fun. Moreover, I love the scene given by this tree, the Palawan cherry or Casia nodosa. This tree gave me a lot of hardwork because I  had to climb a 70 degree incline to be nearer its branch. It also  provided a sweet scent around the area. I am so surprised that this species is just very near us without my knowledge.

This tree is endemic to the Philippines, the tropics' counterpart to the cherry blossoms or Japanese sakura. Normally, it flowers ahead way before the leaves during the start of the dry season. So the above photo means these branches have been flowering for a longer period. A lot of fallen petals also cover the ground below. An older post about this tree from a far province of Siquijor is here from my other blog.

It is amazing how flowers change color as they mature, from dark pink to lighter pink and finally to white, when they are ready for abscission. Young leguminous pods remain on the tree to mature for another few months.