My garden is a very busy place now. The monsoons have taken a break (to draw in a deep breath, I think) and all the insects in the world seem to be holding a convention in my garden. Everywhere I look, there are swarming, flying, buzzing creatures, eager to get on with their busy, busy lives.
This big carpenter bee seems to be determined to mine all the precious pollen from this Sky Flower (Thunbergia grandiflora). I had planted them to climb over my wire fence and to hopefully soften its harsh looks. What I had not anticipated was that it would become the happy hunting-ground not only for a whole bevy of very serious carpenter-bees but also for some gorgeous Purple Sunbirds.
The sunbirds are some of the most exquisite birds I've ever seen. "Tiny little darts of sunshine" is the closest I can get to describe them. The male is a dark purply-chocolate brown, capped with shiny emerald and amethyst on top, with a bright yellow stomach. With every movement of its perky head, the irridiscent green and jewel-purple feathers shimmer and sparkle in the light.
You can get a rough idea of what I mean from this photo of one perched on the root of my Vanda orchid. I'm sorry, it's such an atrocious photo but I was too excited on seeing him pose for me. They normally dart away faster than thought.
His girl-friend is a bird of a totally different colour. As drably dressed as any bird can get but still very watchable because she darts from one flower to the other, dipping her curving beak deep in to sip the nectar.
Can you see her wheeling away from the hibiscus flower she had just been feasting on? In this photo, though, she looks as if she were part of the flower, doesnt she? Go on, click on the photo and you can see a larger, clearer picture of milady Purple Sunbird (though there is nothing purple in her .... her boyfriend flaunts the royal colour !)
The start of the rainy season always sees the Zephyranthes in full bloom. These Rain lilies or Thunder lilies, as some call them, were a favourite in my childhood home. So much so that I made sure I planted a few bulbs in a corner of my garden here. Now the few bulbs are more like a dense carpet of flowers every monsoon.
I was too late to take photos of the Zephyranthes field this year (and I still havent got over that yet). But guess what I did get to record for posterity ...
(Yes, I do know there are weeds in there. Its the monsoon season ... what do you expect? Every year the rains wash off the lovely, rich top-soil, leaves behind the stones, and bring out all the weeds. Aaargh! )
Ma Nature's ingenious recycling project !
These white and orange spotted, chocolate-brown caterpillars were already fat and sleek from all those Zephyranthes leaves they had tucked into. I wonder what the grown-ups would look like. Could it possibly be a Common Mormon?
I cant see anything remotely common about them, though!
In another corner, some wild morning-glories had conveniently grown over my baby anthuriums and lent their dense foliage to shade them from our cruel summer sun . But a couple of days ago, I nearly leapt in fright to see a mob of orange, bristly, violent-looking caterpillars methodically stripping it of all the leaves.
Now just multiply that by about a 100 and you'll begin to get an idea of what is going on there. You think that is scary? Picture one of these bull-dozing its way straight you, letting nothing stop it, and shaking its bristles at you with every undulation.
I didnt see a single bird or animal even beginning to look as if it were interested in tasting it. In fact, my normally crowded garden was looking decidedly deserted when Bristly came out for his cross-country marathon. I'm simply not surprised !
So what stopped me from squishing him out of existence? The dream that some day he would look like this !
( click on photos to enlarge)