Monday, May 30, 2016

Toad Mountain and what you can find there 蟾蜍山

Yup! There is a mountain (or rather a hill) in Taipei that is called a Toad Mountain. Where does this name come from?
According to a legend, an immortal of the sea, Liu Hai 瀏海仙, also known as Sea Toad arrived to Jingmei 景美 area 500 years ago. As he was standing on top of the hill gazing north, he was attacked from the sky by a huge toad that was terrifying people living there. Liu Hai used all his strength to catch the toad on a fishing rod. To do that he had to stand firmly on the ground. In the place he stood, imprints of his both feet were left in the rock. Liu Hai managed to help people get rid of the monster toad and himself also left the area. He left behind his footprints and that's how the hill came to be called Toad Mountain.

So now you know where the name of the mountain we had our Tuesday nature class comes from. Now a bit of history, because the whole area is now listed as a cultural landscape.

The hill is located close to the National Taiwan University 國立台灣大學 and even closer to National Taiwan University of Science and Technology 國立台灣科技大學.

Most of the hill is out-of-bounds as it's still a military controlled area. On top if the hill you can see a large radar antenna. At the lower part of the hill is an old residential area of military personnel. You might be thinking what military personnel would be living there. Well ... when Nationalist Army came with Chiang Kai-shek to Taiwan in 1949 they brought with them their families. This is one of their settlements. Most of the military settlements in Taipei have been torn down, but there are a few that are still standing and are now designated as historical areas.

Believe it or not - most of the Toad Mountain is has been hollowed inside! Inside is a Joint Air Operations Center of Taiwanese Air Force. If you are interested in more on history of this area a quick search on the Internet will come up with quite a few articles.

Let's move to our nature class now.

We entered the area through this lane:

We took stairs up to a small community garden where we could also see entrances to old bunkers:

There was mugwort - Artemisia argyi - 艾草 , natural insecticide, growing in many places.

Feather cockscomb - Celosia argentea - 青葙 - celozja srebrzysta

Paper mulberry - Brousonettia papyrifera - 構樹 was used to make paper,
it can also be eaten, used to make furniture and as a medicine.
Nothing gets wasted!

Rose chafer - Cetonia aurata - 花金龜 - Kruszczyca złotawka

Caterpillar of Ectropis brevifasciata moth - 淡猗尺蛾幼蟲

Banyan tree - 榕樹 - Figowiec
The roots of banyan tree were covering the rocks making it an ideal spot to climb.


Black and yellow longhorn beetle - Typocerus sparsus -
天牛 - Chrząszcz kózkowaty

Caterpillar of a Histia flabellicornis ultima moth  - 鳳斑蛾

 We could explore only a small part of the mountain. We walked through the densely build up area overlooking even more old houses. It's hard to believe that people are living there.

Some houses have been abandoned:

In the lower part there is another small community garden:

Sponge gourd - Luffa aegyptiaca -  絲瓜
Young fruit can be eaten while old one can be used as a sponge.

Here is some more information about the Toad Mountain and surrounding area in Chinese:

Friday, May 27, 2016

Pszczółka z rolki

Coraz rzadziej piszę tu o tym co robimy w domu, a coraz częściej o naszych wycieczkach i odkrywaniu przyrody. Dzisiaj jednak pokażę Wam co takiego kilka dni temu zrobiła Ania.

Kilka tygodni temu dotarła do nas w końcu książka Piotra Sochy pt. "Pszczoły". Od razu zabrałyśmy się do czytania. Jest to ślicznie wydana przez Wydawnictwo Dwie Siostry książka-album o wszystkim co związane jest w pszczołami. Lektura tej książki to dopiero początek naszego poznawania pszczół. 

Oto pierwsza praca Ani związana z pszczołami:

Potrzebne materiały:

  • rolka po papierze toaletowym
  • żółty papier
  • czarny papier
  • zielony papier
  • błękitny papier lub przezroczysta kalka
  • kwiatki - naklejki
  • przyklejane oczy
  • nożyczki
  • klej
  • czarny flamaster

Przycinamy kawałek żółtego papieru i oklejamy nim rolkę:

Przycinamy trzy paski czarnego papieru o przyklejamy je jako paski pszczółki:

Teraz kolej na skrzydełka i czułki:

Przyklejamy lub rysujemy oczy i buzię-uśmiech:

Na koniec przyklejamy naszą pszczółkę na łączce:

I gotowe:

Pomysł zaczerpnęłam z bloga Easy Peasy and Fun.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Nature class at Zhishan Yan 芝山岩

After a very hot Sunday and a really rainy and cold Monday I was wondering what will the weather be on Tuesday, the day of our nature class. The day started a bit wet and chilly, but in the afternoon it became really pleasant - not too hot nor too sunny - a perfect weather for a walk.

This week we went to another park on a mountain - ZhishanYan, czyli Zhishan Rock. It's actually not a mountain, but a small hill, just over 50 meters high. In 18th century emigrants from the Zhangzhou 漳州 city in Chinese Fujian 福建  province have settled there. They named the hill Zhishan as it reminded them of a hill of that name in their homeland.

The best place to start the walk is at the bottom of the stairs leading to the temple. The address is Zhicheng Rd Sec.2 至誠路二段 (right at the beginning of Sec.2). There are plenty of roadside parking spaces as well as a parking lot.

We started our walk taking the ramp on the right side of the stairs. The ramp took us all the way around the hill and to the temple on top.

First thing children noticed were hundreds of dead or dying caterpillars spread all over the ground. There were many more on the trees around of course.

Anomis Fulvida moth caterpillar (超橋夜蛾)

Beside these we saw many other caterpillars, big and hairy:

Caterpillar of Trabala Vishnou Guttata moth  (青黃枯葉蛾幼蟲)

Cocoon of  Trabala Vishnou Guttata moth (青黃枯葉蛾) - don't touch it! It may irritate your skin.

Olene Dudgeoni month caterpillar (褐斑毒蛾)

Tiger beetle  (虎甲蟲 - Trzyszcz)

Kind of a wood cocroach

Aegista Mackensii (臺灣盾蝸牛)
Ants eating something and getting ready to fight.

Green rose chafer - Cetonia aurata (金花金龜 - Kruszczyca złotawka)

We also spotted a few birds:

Chinese bulbul - Pycnonotus sinensis (白頭翁 - Bilbil chiński)

Malayan night heron - Gorsachius melanolophus (黑冠麻鷺)

There were also some interesting geological features in the park:

This kind of rock is called "onion rock".

And tree roots hugging huge rocks:

And a tree with only the outside bark:

It wouldn't be Taiwan without a few small 土地公廟 temples:

And a big temple on top of the hill. The temple is called Huici Gong 惠慈宮 and was build in 1751. Unfortunately we didn't have time to visit it - this gives us a reason to go back there!

Kids played a bit in front of the temple, sliding down a natural slide.

 The stairs and the gate we saw at the beginning of our class:

... took us down back to the playground.