What a great day – again!
Marlon had promised that the worst roads in this area were now behind us, and they were.
We made two brief stops (S1658 and S1659) followed by a nice long one, S1660, where we spent a couple of hours ‘shooting hummers’.
S1658 added another species to my ‘taxon seen in habitat’ list: Pilosocereus tuberculatus. I’m using the same number for another stop, a km or so along the track, where this plant was growing in the same patch as P. gounellei. Marlon then pointed out a hybrid between the two, suggesting a close affinity between these two otherwise distinct species. While we had seen ripe fruits on both P. gounellei and P. tuberculatus, although the hybrid had flowered, there were no fruits to be seen. Is this hybrid sterile? P. pachycladus grew here as well, as well as Tacinga inamoena, Harrisia adsendence, Pereskia bahiensis and Cereus albicaulus and a single Melocactus glaucesence.
S1659 was a proper population of M. glaucesence. Beautiful plants, bluish epidermis, white cephalium and bright red berries, if you could find them – the others had passed here before me.
S1660 was mind blowing. Marlon guided us through some caatinga forest to a limestone pavement with thousands of Melocactus pachyacanthus, anything from tiny seedlings to massive multi-headed giants. We went through another bit of caatinga to another clearing with even more M. pachyacanthus. This area had fewer Dyckia and so gave an altogether more open impression. Another walk through another bit of caatinga and we were on patch 3 out of four – the hummers started to appear and Cliff and I picked our spots for well over 90 minutes. We never made it to the fourth clearing but I was very pleased with the experience of ‘me and my camera’ vs ‘the hummers and Melos’, irrespective of the ultimate outcome. This is just so much better than getting up, driving to work in the dark, scraping ice off windscreens and doing it all again in reverse order to get home. Thanks Ian, for the timely reminder what life in the UK is like at the moment.
In the words of Rod Stewart: ‘Every picture tells a story, don’t it!’