Saturday, April 28, 2012

Final Videos

Video Four:  Is it Love or War?  What's with all the bouncing butterflies?  Is it a "you're on my turf" display or is it amore?  I just don't know.  Any butterfly experts out there?

Video Five:  An Orange with Wings

Tropical Beauties...the Movies

Video One:   In the Nursery

Video Two:   The Amazing Bouncing Butterflies 

Video Three:   More Bouncers

Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park Part II - The Flutterbys

We went out the exit from the orchid room, down the hall and through some plastic sheeting, and there they were...

Butterflies are notoriously difficult to photograph.  They aren't particularly interested in holding still and posing for you while you fiddle around with settings and focus on your camera.

This is probably why I prefer to photograph plants:  unless the wind is blowing, they aren't going anywhere.

I wasn't the only one feeling the challenge of getting a good shot.

The stars of the tropical butterflies are, of course, the blue morphos.  Those are the very large (big as your hand) metallic blue beauties you see in movies and National Geographic magazines.  And here it is...Ta-Da!:

Doesn't look too impressive does it?  That's because when at rest the blue morpho closes its wings and becomes a drab brown butterfly, looking like a piece of dead vegetation.  This one sat here on the rock face with its wings closed the entire time we were here...and we were in here chasing butterflies for, oh, the better part of an hour.

 Some butterflies we caught in flagrante. 

There was a case full of chrysalises, all organized by species.   Inside were several adults that had emerged that afternoon.

And there were more orchids. 

Such beautiful variety.  I saw one of these (below) while I was in Peru about 12 years ago.

But I wasn't the only one enjoying the flowers - many of the butterflies were nectaring on them.

There were even some tropical birds in the room.  This orange beauty was holding on to this dangling vine - I had to look straight up to take its photo - nearly fell over dizzy!

The butterfly chase continued.

Around and around us flapped these two morphos:  the blue and the white.  I was DETERMINED to get a photo of them.

But they just were not cooperative.

Not like this lovely orange Juliana, which sat very patiently while I took shot after shot.  Still, I was unable to get a good focus on it.  Should've brought a tripod!

A chocolate tree!  Saw one of these in the Amazon - some of the most beautiful flowers are those of the chocolate tree - tiny white blossoms all along the trunk.  The orange pods are the fruits, from which the cocao beans are harvested.

Not all butterflies are attracted to nectar.  Some are drawn to rotting fruits, like this morpho, while others seek out rotting carcases and feces.  Glad I'm not a butterfly.

Finally it was time to call it quits, and as we approached the exit, there was a blue morpho, sitting on the floor, exhausted and tattered, near the end of its life.  At last I got my photo.

Stay tuned...I will next post some video images taken of these butterflies...and a bird.

Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park Part I - Cacti and Orchids

Two weeks ago my parents came out for a short visit.  The first full day of their visit the sky was overcast, a cold drizzle was falling, and a wickedly chilly wind blew with incredible strength all day long.  By late morning we decided we had to go out and do something - staring at the interior walls of a house only holds so much fascination.

I had recently heard on the radio about a tropical butterfly exhibit out at the Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, which is in Grand Rapids.  This Park has piqued my imagination for about a year and I figured this was the time to go.  So we jumped in the car and off we went.

I wasn't out of the car five minutes when I started taking photos - check out this sculpture:

 How many faces do you see?  I was just blown away by this sculpture!  Due to the weather (and time) we didn't take in the Sculpture Park, but if this piece is any indication of what else is there, be sure I will return.

Even the walkway had amazing art:

I imagine on a beautiful sunny day these gardens are spectacular - even on this cold, damp and blustery day they looked inviting.

When you enter the building, your eyes are drawn immediately to the floor.  Look at these wonderful brass images that are embedded in the surface.  We decided they must be extremely enlarged images of pollen grains...very appropriate for a botanical garden.

Because it was lunchtime, we were feeling a bit peckish, so our first stop was the diner, the ceiling of which was decorated with these luminous (and enormous) glass flowers, which graded in color from deep red to orange, to yellows, then greens, blues and purples.

Our appetites sated, we sallied forth in search of the tropical butterflies.  Perhaps they were in here.

Nope - but we were in a gallery full of cacti, many of which were flowering.

Do you see what is peeking over the edge of the succulent?

It's a family of meerkats!

From the dry hot desert we moved into the hot and humid tropics, where many species of orchids were blooming away.

This small greenhouse is called an Edwardian Box, and these were very popular in the late 1800s/early 1900s.  

But we were here to see butterflies.  They had a lone monarch caterpillar in the room at the end of the cacti exhibit - I was extremely disappointed thinking that was IT for the butterfly display, but the man assured me that the tropical butterflies were in the Conservatory - just keep going.