Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Stopover in Ivana on the way to Sabtang, Batanes

I went to Batanes for the third time, now with only one companion who is visiting for her first.  Because my brain hasn't been defragged for sometime i was left by the plane on the designated day. The ETD in my brain was wrong, as the schedule for Palawan for April 2018 is left lingering there, so i left home late for the 6:15 flight. That means i purchased another ticke for the next day, while my companion went ahead. From the airport she proceeded immediately to Sabtang Island by boat, slept at the Lighthouse Homestay on her own. The day i arrived she fetched me from the airport in Basco, because she wants the roller-coaster boat ride between the two islands and of course to give me company as i am scared of these waters. Her fancy for the boat ride is the opposite of my fear for rugged sea trips. 

The view of the very beautiful clouds at sunrise even if i am under the plane's wing.

We just took a regular passenger tricycle from Basco to Ivana because we are just going to the port. It is common in Batanes to have van or tricycle drivers who double as tourist guides. These days, the local Tourism Office conducts formal tour guiding trainings and licensure examinations. A guide told me that her batch has more than 200 trainees, but only 58 passed the examination. They are now the supposedly "licensed tour guides". 

It was a circuitous ride from Basco to Ivana, following the contour of the island along the coast

We took the noon boat to Sabtang as the first boat trip was very early in the morning. We were at the Ivana port a few hours before noon, so we had some time to look for the local Ivana views and of course searched for butterflies. The port of Ivana i saw last in 2010 looks almost the same now; except for some expansion of a reclaimed area at the town center to be their sports complex. The distinct landmark at the port is the jackstone concrete pile serving as breakwater. Our search for lunch walking almost 2km ended with a very sweet "sweet potato" sweets!  Can you imagine that? And fried sticky rice we call "maruya". That sufficed for lunch. 

Ivana port

the concrete jackstone pile as breakwater, the island at the background is Sabtang

There are two falowa boats plying this route, Sta. Ines and Sto. Tomas. Another boat caters to passengers at the other port of San Vicente. However, more passengers use this Ivana port. 

Sta. Ines falowa boat

The boat ride here is just 30-40 min., but during my first 2 rides in the past i remember the big waves that really got me scared. That length for me seemed to be 2 hours. Waters in these areas are famous because of the opposite currents at the middle, one from the Pacific Ocean and the other from the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).  Falowa boats are designed such to conform with these currents. Outrigger boats will not do in these waters. That is what the residents told us earlier on. 

As in the previous trips here, we laso saw the flying fish flying along for a few seconds with the boat.  That is always an awesome pacifier when the going gets rough, for the spirits like mine. 

the church of Ivana is the most imposing landmark in town because it is on the high ground with long fascade facing the street and the port

inside the Ivana church 

This is the Ivana landscape viewed from the port. At the back is the church, and those cargo on a local jeep are the supplies for Sabtang, including food and other supplies. All cargo go to the boat including a few motorbikes and some long steel bars handled by a crane. 

Of course, i've told you we are going to Batanes to document butterflies. So every minute and opportunity counts.  My companion, Linda here, is busy and seriously using up the moments. The front of the church has lots of nectaring plants. We were curious as there are very few butterflies flying around, except for the low flying very tiny ones. We found 2 bigger ones, Catopsilia and another, but they are very flighty and did not alight on anything for us to photograph. 

We contented ourselves in chasing the very elusive little ones like those below, the Pale Grass Blue and the Lesser Grass Blue. There was still the tiniest among the blues, Tiny Grass Blue, which are also here, but they are truly difficult to pin on camera. 

Psudozizeeria maha okinawana Matsumura 1929
Lycaenidae; Lycaeninae; Polyommatini

Zizina otis oriens Butler 1883
Lycaenidae; Lycaeninae; Polyommatini

 We also scrutinized the plants and hedges near the church. We found this lovely moth larva on a vine. There are actually two of them there.

... and this lovely attractive jewel beetle also caught our attention. We exchanged positions and delve on trying to let it show its full good angle, until it flew where we cannot anymore follow. 

The few hours before our boat ride to Sabtang was productive, despite the really very few butterflies in the area during that time. Maybe the salty breeze or wind is harsh for them that they are obliged to stay at the higher vegetation. We intended to follow observations on higher elevation, but we lack the time. Maybe next time, on my fourth visit. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

January Blooms 2018

I love gardening for butterflies!

January here in our hot tropics is still within the rainy season months, but rains only come when there is a typhoon. Fortunately, typhoons are not as prevalent as during the end of the year. The easterly winds coming from cold countries are still here, so we don't feel yet the essence of the dry season, the heat. Even if our day temperatures are still around the 30Cs, our nights are still comfortable, even without the airconditioning.

However, our annuals are already near the end of their lives, they have to seed in preparation for the dry season. But many weeds are blooming well this time, and the insects are also multiplying well for the continuity of their species. Being a butterfly hobbyist, i love whatever blooms there are, even the invasives. The following photos include the weeds, some native and also some introduced species.

 Above is a small flower around 1cm in diameter, but small butterflies and insects love it. I just haven't taken time for their identities. These are plants always seen in our property. Picture at the bottom is their normal stand.

 Above looks so dainty and found in our wild areas, or fallowed areas. I think it is the white plumbago. But i am not sure if it is native or introduced here. The bottom picture is its natural stand in the wild. I have not seen it in domestication. I just let it be in the yard in the biodiversity garden.

Another weed commonly found in the abandoned fields. The flowers are very small about maybe 3-4mm in length. It is a favorite of the small lycaenid butterflies.

This is an unintentionally introduced species, very invasive and poisonous to animals. Locally it is called 'hagonoy', Chromolaena odorata. It has very deep sturdy roots that withstand long dry season, helping it to become more invasive. I tolerate it because the butterflies love them too.

Another bushy flowers that i am not familiar with the ID. It is a bushy vine at the vegetative stage, entangling the lower bushes until they fully cover them. Insects also visit the blooms often

 this is a domestic plant in my garden, Pentas lanceolata, specifically sought after by this swallowtail butterfly, Menelaides deiphobus rumanzovia

 The ever present blooming Bougainvillea, a permanent fixture in tropical gardens, is also loved by this red butterfly, Menelaides deiphobus rumanzovia

Impatiens balsamina gets invasive during the rainy season, has at least triple generation before the season ends. We have 3 colors in my garden, and the seeds are naturally stored in the ground waiting for the next rainy season. They have short roots making them easier to pull out when needed.

 Justicia plant adds lovely colors in the garden too, but i haven't seen butterflies nectaring on them.

Indian beads at left are dainty little fairies dancing with the wind. Lots of those hanging bunches are so nice if blooming simultaneously. At the right is Hoya diversifolia at the top of the lanzones trees. They continuously bloom for months until February.

 This Episcia is struggling to grow in my garden. It loves high humidity in the environment which might not be maintained in ours, as it is mostly windy these days.

Above is not a blooming plant, but the variegated foliage makes a substitute color in a dull corner. It is very easy to maintain so we always have them. Locally called 'kutsarita', it is Alternanthera sp.

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