New species of orchids and birds
An orchid donated to the Orchid Ark a long time ago is flowering right now: Coelogyne viscosa. One of our orchid scouts says it grows for sure on calcareous rock in Chiang Dao, but is also reported as an epiphyte in evergreen forests of Southeast Asia. It thrives at Dokmai Garden in spite of a fairly dry treatment, in fact that may have triggered its blossom:
I have previously treated other native white Coelogyne: C. flaccida and C. trinervis. A characteristic of this species is the narrow, almost grass-like leaves, which easily separates it from many other Thai Coelogyne orchids. Field reports are welcome.
When you handle the orchid flower you notice the sepals are indeed sticky, hence the name ‘viscosa’. An English name could simply be ‘sticky orchid’. The fragrance is weak and floral, and the pollinator is likely to be nocturnal. When the rainy season is here we shall transfer a cutting to an evergreen tree. An interesting observation is that a young raintree (Samanea saman, Fabaceae) seems unsuitable as an orchid substrate. I think the incredibly fast growth makes it shed the orchids like in flaking Lagerstroemia. The orchid roots do not get a firm grip. Cracked bark of slow-growing tree species in Dipterocarpaceae are the best for orchids in deciduous forests, while mango is excellent for orchids from evergreen environments. Please let me know if anyone has positive experience from establishing orchids in raintrees.
As to birds, two Swedish ornithologists reported Eurasian kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) and I saw it for a split second myself. That brings our bird-list to 97 species, of which seven are raptors. The Eurasian kestrel is a red falcon spending its winter vacation here in the Chiang Mai valley. Yesterday, Finnish guests and I saw three crested serpent eagles (Spilornis cheela) and one shikra hawk (Accipiter badius) ascending together. Previously I have remarked I have not seen crested serpent eagles in a long while, but they are apparently back again. To see raptors in the cool season, you need to look out for them between 09.30 and 10 a.m. At that time it is hot enough for thermic winds to bring them high up after which they disappear far away. They are also easier to identify when they are still near the ground. Black eagle (Ictinaetus malayensis) usually wakes up hungry, and being a tree-top hunter you may see him at day-break just after 06.30.
The days are getting hotter now, indicating we are near the end of the cool season. My private definition is day temperatures above 33°C and night temperatures above 20°C – nice!
Text & Photo: Eric Danell