I've had a few questions about the wildlife/plants around here, so I'll describe that a bit in today's post.
Most of you know I'm an avid birdwatcher, but so far I've only seen around 10-15 species of birds here. The ones that I have seen are quite plentiful, but apparently the avian population here isn't too diverse. I have heard a rumor that someone has a bird book that I can borrow, so it's possible that I can finally identify everything I've seen, rather than just a few of them. The most exotic species so far is some kind of lorikeet, brightly colored with red, green, blue, and yellow. There are a lot of those around, and they sit up in the trees and squawk (like clockwork) every morning from about 6AM to 7AM and every evening from about 5:15-6:15. There are several different kinds of hawks here, but I hadn't seen more than one species until this weekend. Now I'm up to four, but I only know the name of one of them. There was also some kind of... well, I don't even know what family of birds to put it in... it was mostly brown but it had bold yellow and black patterns on its head, and it was like a giant robin that somehow hung around on the tips of branches and stuck its head into flowers. I also saw a flock of finches/sparrows flying around Lonetree yesterday; they were mostly brown with yellow on their backs. Again, I don't really know what most of these are yet! Hopefully soon.
As far as mammals... I've seen... nothing. (other than pet cats and dogs) That probably has a lot to do with the fact that I'm inside Ukarumpa most of the time.
Reptiles/amphibians.... the only one in that category is the lit tle green/brown gecko that I see every once in a while. There was one in my hotel in POM, and I've seen two here in Ukarumpa so far. People don't really even talk about snakes here, so I guess there aren't that many in the highlands.
I was expecting to see a lot of large insects here, but so far that's been limited too. There are a lot of garden spiders that make their massive webs in bushes and trees (and can be seen from pretty much any place where you can see the bush or tree itself). They are black and yellow and green, and the largest ones are probably a little smaller than my palm. Not that I've gotten close enough to tell exactly... I also almost stepped on a big brown hairy spider in the basement last week. That's it as far as spiders though. I've heard that roaches (about 1-2 inches long from what I've seen so far) are somewhat common, but they mostly stay out of sight. There aren't many mosquitoes here in the highlands, which is good, because that lowers the chances of anyone getting malaria or dengue fever. (I've seen two mosquitoes so far here, and killed both of them quickly) There are lots of crickets and chirping things at night, but I haven't bothered to look for those.
While the animal world isn't that diverse here, the plant world certainly is. There are so many different kinds of flowers, bushes, and trees that it would be quite a task to learn all their names. The black, volcanic soil here makes just about anything flourish. I don't even know where to start to describe them all... other than that if you can imagine a plant, there's probably something here that's not too much unlike whatever you've just imagined. :-) In looking through my photo collection so far to find good pictures for today's post, I realized that I need to go out around Ukarumpa on a sunny day and get pictures of some of the flowers here. Most of what I have is either in less flattering light (since it's been cloudy a lot lately) or is just foliage, like these below.