Friday Photography - The Exquisite Nikau Palm


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Evening everyone. I hope you are managing to keep it together as much a possible. We were fortunate to have an extended summer while in lockdown. Now that restrictions have eased it’s turned rainy and cold. The first photo of the Nikau in the rain is of a very old Nikau, maybe the oldest I’ve seen. My guess is it’s at least 200 years old. It takes the first 40-50 years just to form a trunk, and this one is at least 10 metres tall.

What's new with you?

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the mist among the trees evokes a feeling of primal timelessness.

Cheers!

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janis b's picture

@QMS

That is exactly how it makes me feel. It fills me a sense of peace and mystery. The rain here can be so beautiful at times.

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lotlizard's picture

@QMS  

This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines palms and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

http://utc.iath.virginia.edu/sentimnt/snpohwla1t.html

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janis b's picture

@lotlizard

that atmosphere and sense of place from living in Hawaii. Thank you for Evangeline.

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Bollox Ref's picture

Life in the Time of Corona:

A little too much vegetation for me. Do they have the equivalent of airy beechwoods in NZ?

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Gëzuar!!
from a reasonably stable genius.

janis b's picture

@Bollox Ref

I can't see your image. I get that little blue box with a ? mark in it.

Yes, it can be quite dense, almost impenetrable.

Will this do? They can be found on the South Island.

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Bollox Ref's picture

@janis b

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/49950423442_eb8c3097cc_c.jpg

Yes, that wood looks far more walkable.

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Gëzuar!!
from a reasonably stable genius.

janis b's picture

@Bollox Ref

Shame I still can't see it. Oh, well.

Enjoy the evening

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Pricknick's picture

@Bollox Ref
A penguin on a desert landscape wearing a gas mask.
A sign of things to come?

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Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

My wife pointed out what is supposed to be one of the rarest plants on earth while we were at Tres Cruces in Parque Nacional de Cajas yesterday. The site is a small area off the highway between Guayquil and Cuenca. It's not much except a small parking lot and "trails" at the 13,666' (4167 meters) elevation. It's the highest point on that highway. I forgot the name but will ask again and add it in an edit. It has only been found in two places, both in Azuay Province which includes Cuenca, Ecuador. This photo is of the best subject in a patch not much bigger than a meter square. I could see maybe 20 or so plants but more isolated examples were in the area. This little area is a treasure trove of cool little plants and many hundred year old trees the size of medium to large shrubs, 2-3 meters tall, that somehow hold on in the thin, cool air with constant wind. Go down the mountain 500' of elevation and they're twice that size. Llamas were everywhere yesterday. I think the lower traffic for the past 12 weeks may be the reason.

IMG_1529(1).jpg

Here is a slightly better close up of three plants. One is in full bloom, one done blooming, and one in the middle.

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This looks back to the west towards Cuenca about 40 KM away. The valley that the highway follows has the beginnings of the Tomebamaba River that becomes one of the Four Blades, the rivers along which the Incas built a summer palace for their kings that is the foundation of Cuenca. The land descends from 13,666' to roughly 8300' in the city. The drive is spectacular. I never get tired of going up there because the plants and animals continually change. There's something new every time. It looks desolate until you get up close. The little things, plants, animals, and insects, are the real treasures.

IMG_1498(1).jpg

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janis b's picture

@vtcc73

Thank you for your photo and description of the subject and it's environment. It's always a treat here to see varied landscapes. I know how stunting excessive rain can be to growth, that under more moderate conditions take on an altogether different form. How resilient and robust the plant/tree must be to adapt like that. I look forward to seeing more of your beautiful surroundings.

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janis b's picture

@vtcc73

showing the different stages of that unique plant.

I can see 4 different varieties of plants in just that small area. Enjoy the variety and beauty.

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@janis b @janis b There's probably many more than that. Several types of mosses, lichens, and fungi are intermixed on rocks and amongst the small plants. Bromeliads and tilandsias are ubiquitous though not as densely packed as at lower elevations. They also tend to prefer to be in trees. The wooden rail fence around the parking lot looks like a mangy dog. The variety of colors, muted and very bright, don't seem possible when you look at the area from several meters away then they just pop out as you get closer.

It's a real joy slowly working through all the little colonies with someone as knowledgeable as my wife. She just sees stuff that few people can find even when she points it out for them. The other day we were by one of our single outlet hummingbird feeders when she looked down and said ,"Oh. Look at that." "That" was a hummingbird pin feather no more than a 1/8" long lying on a paver that makes up our driveway. She's like following a hunting dog. Just tag along and see what she scares up. Like this little guy who came out to say hey not long after we moved here almost 30 month ago.

rhino beetle male.JPG

This male is a gentle giant and will actually fly quite well. They look like a Transformer getting ready to launch. We had seen mud mounds with about a 1"-1 1/2" holes all over the yard. It's about time for them to dig out now. That's also about the time we began having tarantulas show up. October is the beginning of baby tarantula season. They surprised us because we had expats say they never had seen anything but the cute little jumping spiders and not many at that. I'm pretty sure they had never been out of the city.

Thanks for your photos and thread.

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janis b's picture

@vtcc73 @vtcc73

in both your photos, and poetically descriptive images.

I would love to have seen that tiny hummingbird feather. Nice that you have another pair of keen eyes.

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janis b's picture

The bees are enjoying it, and the Kereru (Wood Pigeon) visit for the seeds.

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Lookout's picture

These plants pre-date the conifers but lead to them.

20 Wilson Botanic Garden (31).jpg

20 Wilson Botanic Garden (32).jpg

20 Wilson Botanic Garden (34).jpg

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

janis b's picture

@Lookout

That first photo is perplexing. Is it the beginning of the palm rising out of a swampy area or the ground?

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janis b's picture

@janis b

I must do some research.

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Lookout's picture

@janis b

that why I posted the shots, but the are much older in the evolutionary tree even pre-dating conifers but paving the way. Take care and be well!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

lotlizard's picture

@Lookout  
complaining about your “insensitive” and “animal-normative” use of the phrase “paving the way” — which generations of plant taxa, traumatized by hot asphalt and deprived by cobblestone of equal germinative opportunity, consider “triggering.”

Was going to say “gymnosperms for the win!”, but then I went and actually looked up cycads and saw that the plant classification tree is all different now, due to DNA genome analysis … “gymnosperm” is just another one of those older terms that are now obsolete because of being para- or polyphyletic …

Since this DNA stuff got going, all these young whippersnappers in the life sciences wanna talk about now is clades, clades, clades! Enter the nexf fantasy flash of Linnaeus or somebody, grumpily miming George Bush the Elder on the campaign stump in 1988: “Read my lips — no new taxa.”

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dystopian's picture

@lotlizard LOL LL, I sooooo agree. The taxonomists drive me nuts. Botany, birds, insects, it has gotten ridiculous with their dna and genomes. A 20 year old plant book will not show things in the current 'correct' family! The work is great. But, I think there should be a 20 year period where the revisions are done followed by 20 years where none are allowed. A moratorium until we really sort things out. I probably don't need 20 years to last my life.

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We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein

dystopian's picture

Hi Janis, and all,

What a wonderful palm tree Janis. Does it have fruit birds eat? Lots of palms do. I'm quite partial to dates myself. If any are ever in CA on I-10 at Cabezon, between Palm Springs and the Banning area, stop for a date shake at Hadley's (near those big fiberglass dinosaurs), the best in the land. The date confection offerings will blow your mind. These are the things birders know. Smile

We had a 1" hail carpet bombing here a couple nights ago. Lots of severe garden damage, and lots of our local nesting birds are gone. Lots. Hummingbird fluid consumption down 50% overnight. That is hundreds fewer. Lost a couple of our yard male Painted Bunting (avatar), even the alpha male I sit under while he sings every day. Ground covered in green leaves, almost half the canopy missing. Probably lost Pecan and Hackberry crops, Hackberry are important wildlife and bird forage in winter. Around town some big old trees
went down, there were 50-60 mph outflow boundries. Surely the insects in the trees took a major beating as well. I turned on a porch light last night, not one thing came in. These events are devastating on a local level, and I had not before been in the middle of one to observe and record what happens on a local scale like this. Our yard had over a dozen Lesser Goldfinch daily at feeders and bath. We see two. Lost Chickadees and Titmice, Cardinals, and so on. So interesting recording it, as it is depressing... making lemonade.

I couldn't see BR's pix either... either way.

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9 users have voted.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein

janis b's picture

@dystopian

Yes, the Kereru (Wood Pigeon) feast on the Nikau seeds as well as the Puriri berries They become happily intoxicated in a good way - although sometimes their flying is compromised and they crash into windows. They're so strong and bulky though that they usually survive. They are much larger than your typical pigeon, and as a result are now a protected species, having previously been a decent dinner for two.

I'm sorry for you, the birds and the plants for the hail storm.

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dystopian's picture

@janis b What a beautiful pigeon janis! There are some mighty fancy ones. The fruit-doves are amazing, lots of the So. Pacific has endemic types on each island. There is another 'Wood Pigeon' of Europe, but which is a different species than your Wood Pigeon. Yers wins. Wink They are probably a key seed dispersal vector for the palm?

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We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein

janis b's picture

@dystopian

and even more critically, they disperse the seeds of the Puriri tree. They are the biggest bush birds, and with that comes great responsibility for regenerating trees with large seeds.

A photo from several years ago of a Puriri in fog and in blossom (enlarge to see the red/pink blossoms) ...

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@janis b Another place we love is Vilcabamba further south. It's about a 4-5 hour drive. The elevation is down to about 5,000' and is subtropical although the climate is still very pleasant. Staying out of too much sun and highs in the mid-80s F year round would be fine with me but our climate is about perfect for my tastes. Visits are just fine. It's a beautiful valley known for the longevity of the population. It's supposed to have one of the highest proportion of people living to 100 in the world. The plants and animals are the same and very different and the same.

Parque Nacional Podocarpus is closer to the area's largest city Loja. The Podocarpus is the first thing I thought about when I saw your photo of the Puriri. It's a primitive tree known to have existed as many as 100 million years ago and not many exist in the part of the park where people can get to easily. They get rather tall in the park when you find one. There's a nice little park entrance to the cloud forest from the Loja-Vilcabamaba highway. We've been up there twice. The first time was on our exploratory trip in February 2017. Rain, heavy mist, and fog had visibility down in the 30 meter range then. We went back this past February on a perfectly clear morning. The clouds looked like they were going to rise up over the 13-14,000' ridge to the east but never quite made it. The loop trail is 4.5 km with a vertical rise of 1000' to a little over 10,000'. This photo is from the shelter/covered viewing platform at the top. Loja is easily visible north but the best view is south along the valley road to Vilcabamaba.

cloud forest south.jpg

I'm not too happy with this panoramic because it's so small but you can get the idea. It covers the sector from due south to the northwest.

cloud forest pano small.jpg

The best find was after we turned around at the middle of the loop and went back the trail we had climbed. We met a guide and his clients who got to the top after us. We asked about the remaining part of the loop. I t was all downhill but looked steep with lots of broken ground. I have ankles prone to injury and thought it best to not take an unknown trail when everyone who got up after us turned around. The guide said there were a few difficult places. I was a little tired from the climb and the only time I usually get hurt is going downhill. My wife wasn't pleased but it was a good choice when we spotted this cute little orchid nestled in a tree. We'd walked right past it going uphill. The only way to see it is going down. I think there's a lesson on perspective in that story.

cloud forest orchid.jpg

I can't find the Podocarpus we found on the trail so I'll end with a view of Loja 15 km to the north. Combined with the panoramic that covers the valley to the south through the west to north.

Loja from cloud forest.jpg

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janis b's picture

@vtcc73

"I think there's a lesson on perspective in that story."

Thanks for all.

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Pricknick's picture

Thanks for hosting janis.
I hope to, in the next week or two, gross everyone out with my social distancing cookery.
Not for the faint hearted I hope.

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Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

dystopian's picture

unsuprisingly...

Cave Swallow gathering mud for its nest. Close relative of the more widespread Cliff Swallow (of Capistrano fame). Formerly nested only in limestone caves, now uses culverts and bridges, and sometimes under eaves.
caveSw050320b.jpg

This is a male Common Yellowthroat, a warbler of marsh-edges and undergrowth.
comyllwthrt051520a-sm.jpg

The ones with red streaks on underparts are male Yellow Warblers, the one with the black yarmulke is a male Wilson's Warbler, telling the Yellow it is not social distancing.
yewa-wiwa051520c.jpg

be well all, play it safe!

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We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein

janis b's picture

@dystopian

Warblers of all varieties bring such pleasure. This one is especially sweet.

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Unabashed Liberal's picture

@dystopian

for the lovely bird shots. I always so much enjoy your pix. I'm a bird lover from way back.

Including domestic birds. Beginning to look like our White-Faced Cockatiel may outlive us! Biggrin

Take care; be well.

Mollie

“I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive.”
~~Gilda Radner, Comedienne

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Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

dystopian's picture

@Unabashed Liberal Thank you very much UL! Happy to hear you enjoy! Have a good one!

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We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein

Unabashed Liberal's picture

this evening, Janis, and for the lovely shots.

I'm on a loaner laptop--since a strange message and blue screen appeared on our laptop--so, I have even less than my usual paltry repertoire of photos to post. Not a single dog photo, except the one (which was a screenshot) that I posted of the Aussie the other week. Smile

Anyhoo, hope you're doing well, and, enjoying the remnants of your summer, and the transition to Fall (if I understood correctly, that summer is winding down in NZ).

BTW, it's always such a treat to see photos of your lush and beautiful natural landscape--thank you!

Be well; stay safe. Pleasantry

Mollie

“I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive.”
~~Gilda Radner, Comedienne

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Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

@Unabashed Liberal Winter is less than a month away. Even at only 3 degrees south, but at 9100' in the Andes, we're getting down to 7-8C (43-46F) on nights with clear skies. I've had the alpaca blankets out for a couple months now and am using them more often. They're indispensable when there is no heating or cooling installed in homes. Fortunately it never gets below about 4C. NZ is much further south, 1800 miles and more.

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Unabashed Liberal's picture

@vtcc73

and, the reminder that seasons are basically the opposite in the northern and southern hemispheres. IOW, sounds like 'winter' is probably about the time we have summer solstice (21 June) if I'm understanding, correctly.

BTW, very much enjoyed your beautiful photos, and the accompanying narratives. It's great to see that you and your Spouse are still very much enjoying life as expats. (and, your son, IIRC)

Hope you'll continue to drop by Friday Photography OT, and share pics and, of course, any information about them that you care to impart. I think we're very fortunate to have quite a number of expats in our Community. Makes it much more interesting! Pleasantry

Also, hope the initial surge in COVID cases has subsided, or, at least, are under control. (figure they have, since I don't see much about the situation, lately)

Take good care; be well.

Mollie

“I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive.”
~~Gilda Radner, Comedienne

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Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

janis b's picture

@Unabashed Liberal

I'm glad you're well and safe. Our unusually long summer has clearly come to an end, with lots of rain and the beginning of winter temperatures. Except for the lowering Autumn light, it felt like Autumn hardly existed. In three weeks the days will start to grow longer, but the rain will continue and the temperatures keep dropping. Not sure when I'll be able to spend time with my family in America or get a reprieve to warmer climes.

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orlbucfan's picture

A weekly treat I look forward to. Smile Rec'd!!

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Some yahoos make me want to change species!

janis b's picture

@orlbucfan

for your appreciation.

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