L Is For Lichen and Líquen.

Lichen. Líquen.

Only slightly different spellings in English and Portuguese to refer to this fascinating symbiotic relationship between fungi and photosynthetic microorganisms (cyanobacteria or algae). As far as I was able to determine, this moss-like lichen belongs to the genus Cladonia.

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K Is For Keyhole.


This is quite possibly be the only non-nature photo you are going to see for this round, but it was the one I immediately thought of for the letter K. It was taken last year as part of a larger project that I did for the local amateur theatre group. No, I have no talent whatsoever for theatre, but they apparently thought I could help them with the photography part and invited me. I was completely out of my element, but I think in the end they were happy with the result and it was lots of fun to work with them!

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J Is For Jealousy and Jardim.

Jealousy. Jardim, Portuguese for garden.

I hope I’m not the only one thinking that the wasp in the background is clearly coveting the fig that the butterfly is feeding on, in my garden’s fig tree. This is of course an excuse to show you this gorgeous and unmistakable butterfly, Charaxes jasius (foxy emperor). It’s a large butterfly that occurs in the Mediterranean region and in Africa. The adults can often be seen during summer sucking the liquids out of overripe fruits. The common Portuguese name for this butterfly is “borboleta-do-medronheiro”, which means “butterfly of the strawberry tree” referring to the larvae’s main host plant.

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I Is For Iris and Iridescência.

Iris. Iridescência, Portuguese for iridescence.

One thing I love about Iris flowers is the way they look iridescent under the right lighting conditions, but I find this very hard to capture in a picture. I tried my best here with the purple irises blooming in my garden right now.

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H Is For Hose and Horta.

Hose. Horta, Portuguese for a vegetable garden or a small farm.

This photo shows onions being watered with the help of a large hose, simulating rain. It was late in the afternoon and I couldn’t resist the way the light illuminating the young and wet onion leaves from behind was giving them a lovely translucent green appearance. This is an old photo, from 2013, back then my grandmother was still alive (this is on her yard) and my mother was still healthy (she was the one holding the hose here). I miss those times.

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Word Wednesday.

Silly / Thralldom / Sally



1 archaic: Helpless, Weak.

2a: Rustic, Plain b obsolete: Lowly in station; humble.

3a: Weak in intellect: Foolish b: exhibiting or indicative of a lack of common sense or sound judgment.

4: Being stunned or dazed.

[Origin: Middle English sely, silly happy, innocent, pitiable, feeble, from Old English sælig, from sǣl happiness; akin to Old High German sālig happy.]

(14th Century).

“Don’t be sil—” began Jim; then he remembered just in time that the word “silly” had a very different meaning in the middle ages. It meant “innocent” or “blessed” — which was not what he meant at the moment.” – The Dragon at War, Gordon R. Dickson.



1a: a servant slave: bondman, serf. b: a person in moral or mental servitude.

2a: a state of servitude or submission. b: a state of complete absorption.

–thrall, adjective.

–thralldom, noun.

[Origin: Middle English thral, from Old English thræl, from Old Norse thræll.]

(Before 12th century).

“Unhand, dog!” he snapped, in his best baronial manner. “Do you think I fear thralldom by any witch-device?” – The Dragon at War, Gordon R. Dickson.



1: an action of rushing or bursting forth; especially: a sortie of troops from a defensive position to attack the enemy.

2a: a brief outbreak: outburst. b: a witty or imaginative saying: quip.

3: a venture or excursion usually off the beaten track: jaunt.

[Origin: Middle French saillie, from Old French, from saillir to rush forward, from Latin salire to leap; akin to Greek hallesthai to leap.]


“Ah, well, just a thought,” said Brian. “I’d been thinking – a quick sally to slash a few throats, then back through the gates and close them behind us.” – The Dragon at War, Gordon R. Dickson.

F Is For Fantail Warbler and Fuinha-dos-Juncos.

Fantail Warbler. Fuinha-dos-Juncos.

Common English and Portuguese names for the bird Cisticola juncidis, here perched on a maize tassel. It’s a small insectivorous bird with a characteristic “zit…zit…zit…zit” call and a zigzagging flight, easy to spot in flight but not always easy to figure out where it landed, as it rarely chooses such a conspicuous perch as in this photo. A funny thing is the Portuguese common name, which means marten-of-the-reeds. Yes, marten as in the mustelid. I don’t know why.

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© Nightjar, all rights reserved.

E Is For Eucalyptus.

Eucalypt in English, Eucalipto in Portuguese.

This is, as you can see, a dead and dried branch, part of the landscape now. In fact, I decided to include an extra photo just so you can see what I’m talking about (part of that has already been burned in a controlled manner by my neighbours, a few days after I took the photos). It’s like this everywhere. What happened? Well, many things. First, Portugal has been replacing farmland and native forest by Eucalyptus plantations since the 80s, sponsored by the state and fueled by the demands of the paper industry. Our “green oil” as it was once called by a minister, alluding to its economical value (also like oil, it burns very well and destroys our ecosystem, but none of that was a concern at the time). Second, the process was completely unregulated and suddenly you had entire villages in the middle of one big, messy and chaotic Eucalyptus plantation, with branches touching the houses and no signs of any attempt at spatial planning. Third, we have always had a problem with forest fires, a problem that was arguably made worse by the flammable Eucalyptus and certainly made much worse by climate change. Last year, all of the above + severe drought + atypical weather = the whole country ablaze and 111 deaths. What you see here is part of a desperate attempt to correct 30 years of mistakes within a few months, in time to avoid another deadly summer.

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D Is For Dandelion and Dente-de-Leão.

Dandelion. Dente-de-Leão, Portuguese for dandelion, literally meaning “lion’s tooth”.

Wikipedia tells me the English dandelion comes from the French dent-de-lion, also meaning lion’s tooth, and I know it is diente de león is Spanish as well, so that makes it at least 4 languages with the common name having the same meaning. I’m curious about how other languages refer to this common wildflower.

A stunning shot, click for full size!

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C Is For Cockatiel and Caturra.

Cockatiel. Caturra, Portuguese for cockatiel.

This sweetie is my pet cockatiel, simultaneously a complete accident and the best thing to happen to me recently. An accident because I never planned to have a pet cockatiel. But when I realized that 1) her parents had stopped feeding her way to early and she was starving on the aviary’s floor and 2) no one but me seemed to care, I decided to do something about it and hand-fed her. She’s part of the family now.

Click for full size! What a beauty. She looks on the mischievous side.

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A is for Ambush and Aranha.

We have a new Alphabet Challenge from Nightjar: For every photo there will be two words, one in English and one in Portuguese, meaning the same or different things (with a few exceptions for genus names and K, W and Y which are not part of the Portuguese alphabet).

Ambush. Aranha, Portuguese for spider.

Flower crab spiders belonging to the family Thomisidae do not build webs, they are instead ambush predators. Some can change colour to match the flower they are on to blend in, then they wait for insects to visit the flower and catch them. In this case, a fly visiting a Paris Daisy (Argyranthemum frutescens) was not so lucky.

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