Monday, October 18, 2010

The life of the lily, Cardiocrinum cordatum (5)

The seed cases in close-up. As seen in the photo, each seed has a "wing" which makes it easier to be carried by the winds.

It takes eight years for one individual lily to have flowers and thus to reproduce. The plant dies after that and the cycle of life is handed down to the next generation. The lily has to wait for another eight years to see its offspring complete their life cycles.

The life of the lily, Cardiocrinum cordatum (4)

By mid-October, the sheaths (or seed cases) turn brown. The sheath tissues gradually become dry , which makes them crack open from the top. This is the ingeneous part of the seed-cases. The seeds which are stacked in columns (like CDs in a "value-package") get blown off from the top in small numbers at a time.

The life of the lily, Cardiocrinum cordatum (3)

After having been pollinated by various insects, the flowers are slowly transformed into egg-shaped sheaths where seeds are stored and mature.

The life of the lily, Cardiocrinum cordatum (2)

This is the close-up of one of the flowers

The life of the lily, Cardiocrinum cordatum (1)

This lily is found in wooded areas. The long flower stalk begins to grow in May and the flowers usually bloom in Late June to July. This photo was taken around the first week of July 2010.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wind Turbines and the Sand Dune Ecosystem (8)

The wind turbines which had been built about 10 year ago, located several kilometers from the sand dunes. There are only three turbines in this area, but four years ago, a White-tailed Sea Eagle collided with one of them and was found dead.

The noise from the rotating blades was considerable. And to me, the gigantic structures do not seem to match the surroundings

Wind Turbines and the Sand Dune Ecosystem (7)

There are more than ten species of mushrooms found only on sand dunes. All of them are vulnerable to changes in their habitats.

Wind Turbines and the Sand Dune Ecosystem (6)

There are many fox dens along the dunes.

Wind Turbines and the Sand Dune Ecosystem (4)

We found a snail crawling on the sand!

Wind Turbines and the Sand Dune Ecosystem (3)

The view of the sandy beach and dunes.

Wind Turbines and the Sand Dune Ecosystem (2)

This photo is the base area of a wind turbine. The sand dunes will be lost and become a flat barren graveled area like this.

Wind Turbines and the Sand Dune Ecosystem (1)

A few days ago, we went to see the sand dunes in Otaru, where a wind farm company is planning to build 15 wind turbines. The turbines, according to their plan, are going to be built on the sand dunes which are only 100 to 150m from the shore. the widths of the dunes are very narrow - just 20 to 30m. The base area of each turbine, including the the concrete turbine base and the road and flat area for maintenance will be around 50 x 50m. This means that the entire sand dunes will be devastated almost completely if they are to be built.

There are only few stretches of natural shoreline sand dunes left in Hokkaido, which still hold ecosystems in fairly good condition. This place is one of them.

The wind farm companies as well as the governmental administrations tend to focus much on the collision deaths of birds, but do not look at the impact of wind farms on the frail sand beach ecosystems. They also tend to ignore the fact that breeding populations of birds and other animals decline considerably where wind turbines have been built.

Harvest Season (5)

So I made the salad. All organic ingredients, including the tomato and chopped parsley!

Harvest Season (4)

One of my friends picked edible crysanthemums for me. The photo is the flowers in full bloom in her garden. The petals are boiled and cooked in various ways. She also pulled out a huge daikon radish and gave it to me, telling me the radish and mums go very well together in salad.

Harvest Season (3)

Blueberry jam (above) and grape jam (bottom) I made from the havest. Too little? Yes, but I am quite satisfied and hoping I can harvest more next year. They tasted really good indeed.

Harvest Season (2)

I left some grapes for the birds!

The Harvest Season (1)

This is going to be our last grapes to pick. There are some blueberries at the bottom of the bowl, though hard to distinguish them from grapes.

This year, we did not pick much fruit from our garden, because a pair of Bulbuls nested in summer, which we did not want to disturb. We gave up on picking cherries and other summer fruit for them. After the Bulbul family were gone, we began to have unexpected visitors-several different species of wasps. They visited our willow trees to forage for small insects as well as to collect parts of leaves and barks, by chewing off with their big jaws. Even if I knew they wouldn't attack people when they were away from their nests, their presence made me feel reluctant to go pick grapes and blueberries.

Wasps' visits stopped 2 days ago all of the sudden, which probably meant that their wintering queens are now out and left the nests. It also means that all the workers didn't have to collect food and nest material any more. They are now.....quietly awaiting their time to depart, that is, one sudden cold night which will take away their lives.

Autumn is a cruel season, as well as it is the season of harvest and bounty.