Found a great naturalist’s field guide on one of the many bookshelves in the new house. i read it last week, and since then, i’m been amazed at how much more i’m picking up about the plants and animals around here. Of course, it’s also the start of summer, with all sorts of new flowers and plumages. The shallows are full of many tiny baby reef-fish, which makes for fun viewing along the edges of the docks during the requisite noonhour swim. The Laughing Gulls are exhibiting their breeding colours and fantastic jungle-bird calls.
Lately, the biggest, most colourful addition to the landscape has been the flowering of the Flambouyants; huge trees that just blend in the rest of the year are now thick with these wild orangish-red blossoms. As striking as any deciduous tree in fall up north, but made even more so by the contrast with the lush green all around them.
The Madagascar Periwinkles are in full bloom on the beaches, along with my other favourite underfoot beach vine, Beach Morning Glory. The Sea Grapes are coming out again, along with crops of mangoes, papayas, and pineapple. These all grow in profusion on the north side of the island (where the new house is), and my neighbor Rose’s fruit stand has a great selection for cheap. i’ve been informed that the pineapples here are smaller and less juicy than the typical Hawaiian varieties, but i couldn’t say for sure myself. However, i find them to be less sweet and more “pineappley” than those i’ve had from markets up north.
The sounds are alson subtley changing. Sometimes it’s just the Laughing gulls, but i’ve also heard (but very seldom seen) a new migrant cuckoo in the trees, with great songs of its own. At 5 am or so in the morning, just as the sun starts to peek over the horizon, the frogs and crickets swell to maximum volume, and are joined by the earliest-risers of the birds; i really have to get the microphones out and record the sounds!
During the day, most of the fauna is hiding from the heat. Even the sun-loving anoles seem less lively. However, in the cool underbrush on the northside, in the undeveloped areas around Smuggler’s Cove, i’ve found some great critters, such as some beautiful purple hermit crabs living up in the trees, as well as some species of glass lizard which i had never seen before, or even knew existed here.
Still not much in the way of spider sightings, although James was stung by a scorpion a couple days ago. i expressed my surprise that i had yet to see one (they’re supposed to be all over the place), and was told that they’re usually not much larger than a cricket, and very pale in colour. i must have unknowingly crunched over plenty by now! Far more annoying in the yard right now are the fire-ants. They stealth over your feet or up your leg until there’s a few dozen in place, then seem to all sting simultaneously! The stings pack wallop enough, but then go on to itch like crazy, and in most folks (myself included) terminate in small raised white blisters. Now that i’ve made the move to socklessness, i’m more aware of these little guys than ever. The mosquitoes, however, are definately on the decline, as most all of the standing fresh water has dried up, despite the occosional torrents of rain.
i’m hoping to get back up to Sage Mountain sometime soon and see what other life is in bloom around here.