Saturday, April 28, 2012

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.

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