Monthly Archives: May 2013

Skyflower or Pigeon Berry

The exciting and ultimately heartbreaking events of the past three weeks (the laying of eggs, their successful hatching, and the tragic deaths of the four bulbul chicks, not even a week old, made me wonder about the bush the birds chose as the location for their nest. After some research on the Internet I learnt the plant’s common name (Skyflower or Pigeon Berry) and its scientific name (Duranta erecta). Although it originates from tropical Americas, it’s very popular in southern Taiwan, presumably due to the abundance of the small blue flowers it produces throughout the year.… Continue reading

The Predator – Grey Treepie

The bulbul nest is now empty. It was a sad end of a rather exciting week which provided us with a rare opportunity to witness the arrival of new life – in the form of four helpless, naked and blind baby birds, totally dependent on their parents to bring them to adulthood. It wasn’t meant to be. As I watched the distressed bulbul mother arrive at her empty nest for the last time, realising that all that herculean effort she had put into bringing up her four offsprings came to nothing, I felt like crying. And yet, this… Continue reading

Battle for Survival

Bad news – two of the baby bulbuls were lost yesterday afternoon. I don’t know if this was a case of the mother abandoning the two weakest individuals (I believe some birds to this in order to give the strongest ones a better chance to survive) or a result of predator activity. Given the fact that I found bits and pieces of the baby birds scattered on the lawn not too far from the nest, I am inclined to believe the latter. I had been especially concerned about a possible threat posed by the White-vented Myna (Acridotheres javanicus),… Continue reading

Meet the (Bulbul) Parents

I was finally able to take a few decent shots of the bulbul couple (Pycnonotus taivanus) that set up residence in low bushes right at the entrance of our house. I have taken more pictures of the female who seems to be the only one looking after the little ones. The male does show up from time to time, as if to assert his right over the territory around the nest, but otherwise leaves all the feeding duties to his companion. As one would imagine, the female bulbul gets very busy since feeding four hungry mouths does take… Continue reading

Taiwan Bulbul – Hatchlings

The eggs have hatched! Three of the four so far, the fourth one is still intact. The mother bulbul (Pycnonotus taivanus) has diligently incubated them during the past 11 days (despite frequent rains and even a few heavy thunderstorms) and it was such a pleasure to see the baby birds emerge this afternoon! I took just one photo before the mother returned to the nest and I photographed her too – amazingly she wasn’t frightened by me or the camera, even though I held it just 15 centimetres from her face. Maybe she was simply determined to protect… Continue reading

Red Ring Skirt Feeding on Fig

The Red Ring Skirt (Hestina assimilis) is a species of butterfly in the family nymphalidae, commonly found in Asia (from northern Vietnam to southern and eastern China as well as the Korean peninsula, Taiwan and southern Japan). Fairly large, with its wing span of 60 – 80 millimetres, it is an attractive insect that often feeds on the ground, looking for fallen decomposing fruit or a source of moisture. The larvae are commonly found on top of the leaves of the Chinese hackberry tree (Celtis sinensis), taking about three weeks to mature. The adult butterfly… Continue reading

Heliconia Rostrata

Every time I look at a Heliconia rostrata flower, commonly referred to as “hanging lobster claw”, I am instantly reminded of how wonderfully creative Mother Nature really is. Originating from western South America (it is the national flower of Bolivia), this long-lasting flower goes through many phases of life during which it transforms itself from a promising reddish tint on top of the plant’s stem into this majestic attention-drawing marvel. Unlike many other heliconias, which flower throughout the year or several times each year, the rostrata species only bloom once a year, usually in May in this part of the… Continue reading

Taiwan Bulbul – Eggs

The Taiwan Bulbul or Styan’s Bulbul (Pycnonotus taivanus) is an endemic species of bulbul that lives in eastern and southern Taiwan. These birds are very common around Taitung and often set up nests in the taller trees around our house. Recently, however, a pair of them has built theirs in the low bushes of Skyflower (Duranta erecta), right at the entrance of the house! I found this surprising as they must have noticed the rather heavy traffic of people walking in and out – now barely a metre from the nest! Also, the… Continue reading