Thursday, April 28, 2011

Skywatch Friday

Photos 1, 2 - Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife, Quezon City, Philippines
Photos 3 - our backyard, Mabini, Batangas, Philippines                           
     Photos 4, 5, 6 - in the bus along the South Luzon Expressway, Philippines     

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Skywatch Friday

Monday, April 25, 2011

Summer Blooms and Fruits: uncommon?

Most of you already very well know that here in the Philippines, we only have two (2) distinct seasons, the dry and the wet. The dry starts in Mar or April and ends in May or June. Our dry season really means dry, as in real dry! Grasses and weeds become brown, other tree leaves also drop off and others sometimes die.  Some of you are familiar with my last year's post, because you pity our fruit trees and orchids that did not withstand it. We have lanzones, avocado and citrus trees that died. Clayey soils cracks and agriculture goes to the least production, except for a very few areas where supplemental water is available.

There are also fruits and ornamental trees that give us much colors in terms of flowers and fruits. Some of the most common are the fire trees (Delonix regia), golden shower (Casia fistula) and some others. I am posting here some of the least known trees, and not many people are familiar with these.

dry season soil cracks killing those newly planted rice plants

grasses are almost fully brown (can you see that bird a little bit depressed?)

octopus plant/umbrella plant, Brassaia actinophyla or Schefflera actinophyla

I remember this plant since first year in college, when i first saw it. I was so impressed with the long leaves nicely arranged like that! From then on i never forgot its name. This tree is planted at the ground behind our office building.

makopa (Tagalog) or tambis (Visayan) (Syzygium samarangense and/or S. malaccensis)

Makopa or tambis fruit is bell shaped with a waxy skin, so it is sometimes called wax apple.  It has several cultivars as pink, white, green and purple. It has a crisp, light, cottony or spongy white pulp that is mild in flavor, sometimes sweet or moderately sweet. This tree is at the back of our office, and you can see the fruits which fell on the ground. Only a few people like this fruit especially because there are more delicious fruits around. I remember there are bigger cultivars in Thailand, which are nicely arranged in sidewalk stalls.

I found this cultivar at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife, Quezon City, which already grown big from the nursery plastic container. It was supposed to be transplanted in a different site, but maybe neglect of the caretaker did not deter it to grow and fruit in season. We tasted the most ripe fruits and it is sweeter than moderate. A scale of 1-5 gives it a 3.5! (Can you detect the 0.5 difference?). Compared to the first variety, the latter's fruits are smaller, around 2-3cm, but they are so pretty changing colors as they ripen, from greenish to white and dark pink.

The above fruit cluster is not yet fully ripe, i just put it on the rock for a more dramatic contrast! Even if they are not as delicious as other fruits, they certainly provide a very lovely color in the garden. And the birds will not reject them too!

Note: there seems to be a problem yet with the differences in the classification: S. samarangense and S. malaccensis). A reference says S. samarangense is smaller than malaccensis, however i found there are still more species. A botanist may arrive next time to clarify these differences. I wonder if Phil of Digital botanic gardens will be able to straighten this out.

Thanks to Michelle for hosting  Nature Notes


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Skywatch 'Good' Friday

A Reminder....and Happy Easter!

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Joining One's Profundity

I have these photos last year, but haven't posted yet. My friend and I went to a nature park for a photo walk. We found this bird alighted on a young 8 year old boy. It stayed with him for maybe an hour and before the boy makes a strong bond with it, it just flew away.  We tried explaining to the boy that the young bird was just resting on him to strengthen its wings. It knows he is kind and will not hurt them, so the bird trusted him very well. Now it's already strong and can fly higher, so it has to go so he can play now with his old friends.

I would love to link it to One's post today.

Please visit more Outdoor Wednesday Posts.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Unusual Finds in our Backyard

I am trying to look for critters from my files,  as my beloved blogger friend One, likes them. I am not that good in getting small critters photos with handheld camera, and i don't bring a tripod during walks. So here are what i found one weekend.

 raintree (Samanea saman)
This is a big raintree near our property in the province. The small road passes under its canopy. It is home to many birds, butterflies and insects. We also love to stay under it when watching other birds in the vicinity. There is also a mini 2nd growth forest nearby. We noticed that when this crows are there, the other smaller birds go away. And i am sure the little birds cannot make their nest on the tree because the crows will eat their eggs as they do with our chicken eggs and chicks when my mother is not around. These are already nuisance in our area.
 Large billed crow or jungle crow (Corvus macrorhynchos)

 Oriental magpie robin (Copsychus saularis)

This bird comes down to the ground often, and very near our house. It has several kinds of tweets, and my niece can immitate a few of its songs. A pair has been roosting at the eaves of our house for already a few years. They brought a young one along sometime but our male cat did not let it pass unnoticed. We just saw some leftover feathers nearby one morning.  
 Female cow

This cow is normally tithered among the weeds and bushes. Its color caught my attention, as it looks so dirty from afar. Approaching it i realized the prints are actually its normal skin design. I suppose its parents are dark brown and light brown, or black and brown. However, the mixture did not homogenize properly resulting in the dirty look it now has! hahaha


One morning I immediately approached my 10-yr old nephew calling me frantically for something which the dog has been barking on. It turned out to be this anole. When i finally arrive, the dog thought it was a dangerous creature and immediately killed it. My nephew was so guilty and so sorry for the anole, which he thought died because of his loud calls to me. The dog misinterpreted him to be calling for help. I am so sorry to, but the dog has a mind of its own! His primary purpose is to protect us, he just did his role, oh how sweet! So I told my nephew to just be calm whenever he saw something unusual, or he should just whistle as our signal that i should see something nearby.

Then i found this green spider luminiscing with the light. However, i cannot get a better photo as it is near the ground. I also do not know its name.

If only i have a macro lens for the small creatures, and a telephoto lens for the birds, lovelier photos will manifest from our walks during weekends. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

An attempt for a landscape photo!

You are already very familiar with my Fifth Floor Window, because of the Skywatch Friday photos i've been posting.  I am at the west portion of the building so got the sunsets, the clouds, the birds, the airplanes. But I also get the not so beautiful rooftops.

Sometimes i cut office hours to chase sunsets like these: above and below!

    Moreover,  i would also like to show you some plants on the ground below the buildings.

Top L-R: Eugenia sp, Picara sp, bamboo at the boundary of the property, succulents, variegated Acalypha, pocket gardens at the ground level with newly planted Podocarpus and royal palms still recuperating from hauling and transplanting.

Iris lilies (Neomarica longifolia) growing luxuriantly

Now i would like to show you my micro garden on my 5th Floor Window. Can you guess what i planted there? There is a variegated pineapple i got from the last garden show.  I got the lettuce seeds from a friend in the office. And yes, it is garlic from my kitchen shelf. Everything is for experiment and fun! They practically don't receive sunshine the whole day except a 3-inch light source through the glass. These plants are actually being tortured thru light deprivation, and i am sorry. So, it is not surprising to have very long leaves for garlic and etiolated lettuce seedlings with spindly stem and very narrow leaves. Definitely not for food. These are photos early on, now they are almost at the end of their lives, with very long leaves, about 2 ft. Can you imagine how light deprivation can do! This is my tiny vegetable garden. Gardening spirit is difficult to control, even without good conditions they will still manifest.

But to tell you frankly, another purpose for planting garlic is to provide some drama for my sunsets! Please look below. How do you like it?

Now, will you blame me!

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bigger Critters called Pets

Wordless Wednesday

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Scary critters!

This is black plum, Syzygium cumini,  'duhat'or 'lomboy' in our Filipino and Visayan dialects. It has berry-like fruits, which are very dark violet or blackish violet when fully ripe. Maybe it is the tropical counterpart of blue berries. The juice is also dark violet with sweet astringent taste. They flower during the dry season and the fruits are ready at the start of the rainy season. The fruits also make nice wine. Both the fruits, bark and leaves also have health and medicinal properties.

However, there are also insects which find this plant very delicious or nutritious perhaps. A swarm of their caterpillar can totally defoliate a big tree. We have this medium tree in our property, and yearly we get this swarm of moth larvae. The tree is at the street side and passersby cannot just walk under it for fear that the hairy transients will fall on them. They look like a patch in  this  photo during daytime, and they begin to crawl and locate the leaves the whole night. In the morning they have defoliated the whole branch or many branches, and in 2-3 days the whole tree is fully bald.

We are scared of these catterpillars because of their numbers and the itchy hairs on their bodies. After finishing the leaves they will start to pupate elsewhere totally far from the duhat tree. And until now i haven't learned how they look like as adults. I just know they are moths, but i still dont know how they look like. My little net search said they are gypsy moths, and i am glad i have their adult in my files. Now i know how to relate the caterpillar with the adult moth.
They occupy a big area of the main trunk, remain motionless and unscary during daytime.

Last year my mother torched them to death. Now the patch is smaller than last year.

The area is high on the trunk, torching them is difficult. Our consolation is that the fruits of this tree is not really very sweet and delicious. We might as well, share them with these larvae.

Adult gypsy moth

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Eye Candies for Friday

We can find eye candies everywhere! However, choosing 'eye candies' from flowers and plant files seem to be difficult for me. Maybe I am not inspired enough. I somehow want to post a theme with a little deviation from the 'normal theme', which might elicit some fun as One usually does! I wonder what she is up to this time, i know she is contemplating on something. Actually, i am excited, not on mine but on what she might come up with! One day i will also post something hilarious, as in "hilarious"... promise!

These are actually the blooms in our garden, in my mother's care,  neglect rather! You are very familiar with these anyway, so i just need your help in identifying the middle photo. Eye candy or not, others might find them beautiful in their being very ordinary. I followed the common names as i realized some forgot how they are called, just like me i now forgot the others.

Above and below: Heliconia rostrata

Seemania sylvatica (Gesneriad)

Ipomoea horsfalliae (thanks to Autumn Belle for ID)

 Above and below: Periwinkle (Vinca rosea or Catharanthus rosea)

Mussaenda species (one of the Philippines' Doña hybrids)

More Eye Candies at Roses and Stuff
This is linked to Tootsie Time

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