July 20, 2017- Accompanied by Tony and Berna Gerard who came all the way from Bambang in Nueva Vizcaya, Carol and I headed to the Makiling Botanical Gardens to take photos of the denizens of the forest. And we weren't disappointed.
An Assassin bug sucks up the juices from its shield bug prey:
Dillenia luzoniensis (Family Dilleniaceae) is a scrambling shrub that is endemic to the Philippines.
Seeds of Dillenia luzoniensis:
Xanthostemon verdugonianus (Family Myrtaceae) is locally known as the Ironwood Mancono due to the density of its wood. Lumber obtained from this tree is said to have been used as railroad ties in the old times.
If you think the word 'Magnolia' refers to a dairy company in the Philippines, think again. The term actually refers to a genus of flowering trees noted for their flowers with heady scents. Here is Magnolia champaca (Family Magnoliaceae), a tree with fragrant flowers:
A coy katydid:
A small species of Huntsman spider (Family Sparassidae) rests on a leaf:
Platymantis dorsalis is perhaps the most common terrestrial frog in the forests in the Philippines. Shown below is a morph with two dorsolateral sripes.
A Lynx Spider (Oxyopes sp.)
A juvenile Varanus marmoratus forages at the base of a tree:
This was identified by Cristian Caballes Lucañas as a Tagalomantis. Because there are only two known species from this genus, one of which was originally found here in Los Baños, I reckon this to be T. manillensis. This mantid, when disturbed, dropped itself on the vegetation below and stiffened, much like many stick insects often do when approached. Wilhelm Tan also provided another interesting behavior: the female guards its oothecae (egg cases).
This small skink is probably a species of Parvoscincus:
Begonia nigritarum (Family Begoniacaee) is a common species that is widespread in the lowlands.
Another species of mantis stalks for prey:
A dark example of Playmantis dorsalis:
This mushroom is about 6 inches in diameter:
Below is a tree skink from the genus Dasia. I have noticed that in recent herpetological surveys within the country, hardly is said about this genus, which perhaps reflects the difficulty in observing these arboreal animals.
Another plainly colored Platymantis dorsalis sits on the leaf litter:
Ahaetulla prasina preocularis is known in the Tagalog vernacular as the 'dahong-palay'. Legend has it that when Bathala presented a jar of venom to all the snakes, dahong-palay arrived very late, that it cannot take any more of the potent liquid in its mouth. So it just slithered on the inner walls of the jar which made it deadly even to the touch. In reality, the Long-nosed Vine Snake is very mildly venomous, and the skin is not at all toxic.
A young Otosaurus cumingi. This species is the largest among Philippine skinks.
Palms at the gardens. On the foreground is Heterospathe califrons, a palm with entire fronds that is so far only known from Carmen in Surigao del Sur on Mindanao.
Philodendron gloriosum, an aroid from Colombia that has been planted within the gardens and which has seemingly naturalized.
If Platymantis dorsalis is the most common terrestrial frog (at least on Luzon), then Polypedates leucomystax is the most ubiquitous arboreal frog.
All in all it was a wonderful walk, and if there is any regret from my part, it's that we did not have more time to stay longer.