Bali Botanical Gardens

bali botanical garden
Formal gardens in the European style

The Bali Botanical Garden is up in the mountains, near Mount Batur, an hour or so from Ubud by car. Its altitude makes its climate significantly cooler than the lowlands and the day we visited was overcast with intermittent rain but we had a wonderful time anyway. The orchids and ferns were particularly good, and we would have spent far more time in the Taman Usada or Garden of Useful Plants if increasing rain hadn’t encouraged us to move on to the next attraction.

bali botanical garden
Inspired whimsicality
bali botanical garden
Decorated pot

As one of the guidebooks noted, anyone who loved plants could  easily spend a whole day in these gardens. Even if the day had been fine, however, we would have left early enough to visit the Lake Temple nearby, as we did – but that’s another story.

More information about the gardens: Wikipedia. The garden’s official site is only in Bahasa but the pictures make it worth a look – even for monoglots like me.

A Balinese flying fox

I interrupted my intended series of posts about Bali (snakefruitbutterflies) to keep up to date with local subjects but I can now return there in spirit if not, unfortunately, in body.

Here’s the only local flying fox we saw close up, resting beneath its perch outside a restaurant in the hills between Mt Agung and Ubud.

The lovely golden fur was enough to alert me to the fact that it wasn’t a species we have here in Australia but discovering its identity wasn’t easy: Wikipedia tells us that there are at least 60 species worldwide but few online resources go into any more detail.

In the end I consulted yet another of my Friendly Local Experts (thanks again!) who said it looked like, “Pteropus vampyrus, the common species across Malaysia and Indonesia,” adding that, “the colour on this one is consistent with it being a youngish female; adult males are very dark below, even more so than on upper parts,” and that this is one of the largest species of flying fox; its two common names in English, Great Flying Fox and Malaysian Flying Fox, make perfect sense.

As another friend noted, ‘vampire’ is a very unfortunate species name when the animals [already] have enough trouble getting people to love them.

Of course, there’s love and there’s love. In my search I came across a photo on flickr with (avert your eyes!) a recipe attached:

These bats are sold to prepare a local exotic fruitbat soup, prepared as follows :

Place the bats in a large kettle and add water to cover. Add ginger, onion, and salt. Bring to boil and simmer for about 45 minutes. Strain the broth into second kettle. Take out the bats and skin them, discard the skin. Remove the meat from the bones. Return meat and any viscera fancied to the broth.

Heat everything up again. Serve, liberally sprinkled with scallions and seasoned with soy sauce and/or coconut cream.

Before we get too holier-than-thou, however, we should pause to consider that we (some of us, anyway) routinely feed kangaroo meat to our pets and occasionally eat it ourselves, and that our ancestors have hunted and eaten all sorts of wild animals for as long as people have been people – and probably longer.

The invasion of the butterflies

Tawny Coster, Acraea terpsicore,
Tawny Coster (female) on Cape Pallarenda

The Tawny Coster, an Asian species, was first noticed in northern Australia five years ago and has been spreading southwards ever since. It has reached Townsville in the last few weeks.

I was alerted to the alien invasion by a friend in Bushland Beach who saw them a fortnight ago and asked me if I had seen any  Continue reading “The invasion of the butterflies”

One morning on Cape Pallarenda, with birds

A few days ago I left home just before dawn to visit Pallarenda – specifically the Old Quarantine Station, Cape Pallarenda and Shelly Cove.  Part of my motivation was simply to be outdoors, since the weather at this time of year is too beautiful to waste, but the main reason was to see the wildlife. I didn’t have to wait long: a couple of crows came to check on me when I sat on the beach to have breakfast. I walked down to the water’s edge afterwards and turned round to see Continue reading “One morning on Cape Pallarenda, with birds”

Recent additions

I have just added another book review to the site, of Alex Miller’s Landscape of Farewell. It’s part of a sporadic process of republishing old reviews and other articles on the blog; each is posted under the date of its first publication so the quickest way to find them (if you’re curious) is to scroll to the bottom of the drop-down “Archives” menu at right.

Birding from Mingela to Clare

On Sunday I enjoyed a longer-than-usual BirdLife expedition, a round trip from Townsville to Ravenswood via Mingela, returning via Clare and Cromarty for a total of nearly 300km. One of the reasons I accepted the invitation so enthusiastically was that I had never been over the ranges from Ravenswood to Clare and Continue reading “Birding from Mingela to Clare”