Since Hawaii island is covered by lava, it does not have rich soil like Japan (especially west side of the island). Thus, there are many Succulent plant, which are water-retaining plants adapted to arid climate or soil conditions. Name of this plant is sea purslane. Its leaves are very thick.
Around the Kilauea volcano, lava under the ground warms rain water up and makes it steam. So there are many steam vents. It is just a steam, so it is not so toxic. But it sometimes contains toxic stuff, thus we should not inhale the steam long time. There are several places that tourists can touch the steam. It was little hot. The sign there said that the grassy landscape nearby suggests that soil temperatures are too high for trees to survive easily.
I visited the Hawaii island for a business trip. Mother nature in Hawaii was just so great. Name of this brilliant yellow bird is saffron finch. It is an immigrant from South America. The male is bright yellow with an orange crown which distinguishes it from other yellow finches.
Yesterday, I saw a gorgeous sunset from rooftop of the building that my laboratory is in. The color of the sunset was changing and clouds were moving. The scenery was like unreal. It was so beautiful. The lower photo was taken one week ago or so from the same location. Mt. Fuji was beautiful at that day. I sometimes forget that Tokyo is surrounded by mountains. But when I come to this rooftop of this building, I remember I'm in the big nature and feel good.
夏も終わりを告げ、虫の数もどんどん減って来ました。寂しいですね。こちらは自然教育園にいたツユムシ。華奢な感じのする虫です。英語の common name は Sickle-bearing bush-cricket。Sickle（鎌）は雌の産卵管を指すのでしょうか？おそらくこの写真のツユムシは産卵管が見えないので雄ですね。学名はPhaneropter falcataというそうです。
This is a Sickle-bearing bush-cricket. Female of this insect has a big ovipositor. I guess that the "sickle" indicates the ovipositor. The insect in the upper photo is probably male, since it probably does not have the ovipositor. Its scientific name is Phaneropter falcata. Its Japanese name is Tsuyu mushi, which means dew insect.
2011/9/25: One of readers pointed out that it is a female. He said that ovipositor of this female is hidden in her wings.
We went to Hakone and stayed there two nights and moved to Karuizawa and stayed there for three nights. Since I introduced nature of Karuizawa, I'd like to introduce nature of Hakone too. Japanese name of this shield bug is Esaki-mon-ki-tsuno-kamemushi. Its scientific name is Sastragala esakii. It has a distinctive yellow heart mark on its back.
I saw this insect at the Karuizawa wild bird forest. This insect was pretty big. It is a kind of stoneflies. Japanese name of the insect species is Kawagera. But I don't know the exact name, since the species are not well studied. Nymph of the insect species are often found under rocks in rivers. I think that that's why the species are called stoneflies.
These are Silver-washed Fritillary butterlies. We saw these when we were walking the Shinanoji nature trail. Japanese name of this butterfly is Midori-hyoumon. Its scientific name is Argynnis paphia. It distributes over the world including Europe to central Asia, Siberia, China, Korea, and Mediterranean sea area of Africa. The male possesses scent scales (black lines) on the upper side of the forewing that run along veins one to four. The scent produced from these scales attracts females and helps to distinguish it from other species. The butterflies in upper photos have these scent scales. So I think that these butterflies are males.
I took these photos, when we were walking the Shinanoji nature trail. We were surprised by the variety of plants, birds, and insects. The forest is full of lives. We felt big energies from the forest. Japanese nature is just so beautiful and wonderful as other places in the world are so. I would like to leave this nature to next generation.
These are photos of Shiraito waterfall at Karuizawa. "Shiraito" means white string in Japanese. This water comes from the Mount Asama, which is still an active volcano. The water makes subsoil flow and leaks between rocks here, making string like thousands of waterfalls here. Brown dipper, which is the bird I introduced before, was on this waterfalls. It's amazing.
We saw this bird during a walk from the Nakakaruizawa station to the Karuizawa station. This bird was showing a insect and singing proudly on an electric cable. The insect might be a present for a female. This bird is probably a Siberian Meadow Bunting. Japanese name is Houjiro. Although the English name has "Siberian", this bird stays in Japan through a year.
I wrote that I learned lots of things in the dinosaurs resource center. One more thing. Dinosaurs and reptiles including ichthyosaurs, and pterosaurs, have Sclerotic rings. The guide told us that current birds also have it. Although I'm a veterinarian, I did not learn it. I checked my text book, but the bone is not described there. But according to Wikipedia, the sclerotic rings are rings of bone found in the eyes of several groups of vertebrate animals, except for mammals and crocodilians. They can be made up of single bones or small bones together. They are believed to have a role in supporting the eye, especially in animals whose eyes are not spherical, or which live underwater. Fossil sclerotic rings are known for a variety of extinct animals, including ichthyosaurs, pterosaurs, and dinosaurs, but are often not preserved. Hmm. Interesting!
My friend in Maryland showed me Spanish moss. According to Wikipedia, Spanish moss is an epiphyte (a plant that lives upon other plants; from Greek "epi"=upon "phyte"=plant), which absorbs nutrients (especially calcium) and water from the air and rainfall. It can grow so thickly on tree limbs, but it rarely kills the trees, although it lowers their growth rate by reducing the amount of light to a tree's own leaves. Not only demerit, it has merit to trees too. It also increases wind resistance to the host tree in a hurricane.
こちらはロッキー山脈の山奥で見つけた Steller's Jay。和名はステラーカケス。メリーランド州に住んでいた時にベランダにたまに遊びに来た blue jay (青カケス) の親戚です。こちらの Jay は、頭が黒くて、crest (トサカ) があるのが特徴的です。ドイツ人の Georg Wilhelm Steller さんが1741年に見つけたので、Stellerさんの名前をとって、Steller's Jayと名付けられたそうです。
Name of this bird is Steller's Jay. I saw it in Rocky Mountain National Park in Denver. This bird is closely related to the Blue Jay, which I saw sometimes in Maryland. This bird is named after the German naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller who discovered them in 1741.
御近所に房になった花がぶらさがっています。これはキブシの花です。キブシは日本原産の植物で、英語の common name はないようです。学名は、Stachyurus praecox。そんなに派手な花ではないですが、形態が目を引きます。
Name of this plant is Kibushi in Japanese. Scientific name of this plant is Stachyurus praecox. It is native to Japan and seems like it does not have any English common name. Flowers of this plant is not so beautiful, but the shape of clusters of this flower is distinguishable.
このハナニラも春によく見かける花ですね。葉にニラのような匂いがある事から、ハナニラと呼ばれているそうです。英語の common name は spring starflower または、spring star。花の形が星のようなので、こう呼ばれているようです。「春のお星様」って素敵な名前ですよね。学名はIpheion uniflorum。原産地は南アメリカだそうです。
This flower is also common in spring Japan. English name of this plant is spring starflower or spring star. The name is very nice, huh? Japanese name of this plant is Hana-nira, which means flowers smell like Chinese leek. Actually, the flowers smell nice. Leafs of this plant smell like Chinese leek, although I've never smelled. Its scientific name is Ipheion uniflorum. It is native to South America.
Happy New Year!!! Today, I went to a temple close to my house. In a garden of the temple, flowers of sasanqua were blooming. Sasanqua is a Japanese name, but since it is native to Japan, English name is also sasanqua. Scientific name of this plant is Camellia sasanqua. As you imagine, camellia and sasanqua are closely related. We can distinguish the flowers of these two plants by the way of petals falling. Petals of sasanqua fall one by one, on the other hand, all petals of camellia fall simultaneously from its calyx. Sasanqua also distributes in Taiwan, China, and Indonesia. Flowers of sasanqua is eye-catching in winter and please our eyes.
In my garden, flowers of Sweet Osmanthus are now blooming and the air is filled by its wonderful scent. I had not smelled the scent for 4 years in the US, so the sent reminds me old memories in Japan. I really like the scent. Japanese name of this flower is Kin-moku-sei. Its scientific name is Osmanthus fragrans. It has fragrance in its scientific name! As the name tells us, the flowers are not so beautiful, but the scent is distinctive. It is native to Asia, from the Himalaya east through southern China to southern Japan. Japan imported it from China at Edo-period.
In the museum at the botanical garden of Hokkaido University, I saw a famous Sakhalin Husky named Taro who had survived at the south pole for 1 year after the Japanese expedition team left him there. Actually, not only Taro, but also Jiro had survived at the south pole together. "Taro and Jori" or "Story of the south pole" are very famous movies in Japan. I did not know that Taro was stuffed and has been displayed in the museum, so I was so surprised. His mate, Jiro, has been displayed in the National Museum of Nature and Science at Ueno, Tokyo and I saw him once. Since "Taro" and "Jiro" had survived in the very severe weather together, I did not expect that they are separated that far. I experienced a feeling of awe, when I saw him and thought about his life in the south pole (It must have been so tough!).
This is an empty shell of sea urchin. I found it a seaside close to Otaru in Hokkaido. Probably, this is a shell of Purple sea urchin. Japanese name of sea urchin is Uni. The empty shell is very beautiful, isn't it? I ate raw sea urchin on rice (Uni don) at Otaru. That was delicious
北海道ではたくさんのノシメトンボを見ました。羽の先が黒いのが特徴です。分布は日本国内では北海道から九州南部にかけて、国外では朝鮮半島、中国、ロシアに分布しているそうです。英語の common name はないようで、学名は Sympetrum infuscatum だそうです。
I saw lots of "Noshime tombo" in Hokkaido. This dragonfly has wings with black tip. It distributes in Japan, Korea, China, and Russia. There is no English common name. Its scientific name is Sympetrum infuscatum.
This is a sea slater that was running around rocks at the seaside. Its alternative English name is sea roach. It has 7 pairs of legs. It is omnivorous. It eats various things such as algae, dead animals, and so on. It cleans seaside. I think that these scavengers are very important in nature.
ヒラヒラ舞う姿は美しいモンシロチョウ。英名は small white。学名は Pieris rapae。アメリカにもモンシロチョウはたくさんいて、一度御紹介した事がありました（コチラ）。日本のモンシロチョウと見比べてみましたが、同じように見えます。
Small white is a beautiful butterfly. I saw it in the US and introduced it once (click here). I compared America's one and Japanese one. It looks like the same. Japanese name of this butterfly is "Mon shiro chou" that means white butterfly that have a dot. Its scientific name is Pieris rapae.
多摩川にはたくさんのベニシジミがいました。英語の common name は、羽の色が copper (銅) 色と言う事から、small cooper。学名はLycaena phlaeas。分布はアジア、ヨーロッパ、北アメリカ、そして北アフリカととても広いようです。そんなに世界中にいるなんてびっくりです。
I found a small copper today. Japanese name of this small butterfly is "Beni sijimi" that means "red clam". Scientific name is Lycaena phlaeas. It is widespread and common across Europe, Asia and North America, and also found in North Africa. Wow. I did not know that we can see this cute butterfly around the world.
今日はコカマキリの幼虫を見つけました。コカマキリは茶色っぽくて小さくて、カマの裏に白黒模様があるのが特徴です。写真では見えづらいですが、ちょっとだけ白黒模様が見えていますね。分布は日本と韓国、中国だそうです。英語の common name はないようで、学名はStatilia maculataです。
I found a small brown praying mantis (still nymph) today. Japanese name of this mantis is "Kokamakiri" that means small praying mantis. This mantis has a unique black and white mark inside of their front legs. There is no English common name. Scientific name of this mantis is Statilia maculata. It is native to Japan, Korea and China.
My American friend sent me a photo of cool looking slug. He found it in Maryland, US. Probably, this is spotted leopard slug. Alternative names of this slug are Great Gray Garden Slug, Giant Gardenslug, and Tiger slug. As you expect from its name, it is big around 4 inches (10 cm). I've never seen such slug that has leopard like spots in Japan. I wanna see it!