Saturday, May 25, 2013

Butterflies and The Bard.....

Just back from a week in Oxfordshire and whilst there I managed to find time to cross the border into Warwickshire and pay a visit to the Butterfly Farm at Stratford-upon-Avon.

Billed as 'The UK's largest tropical butterfly paradise' and located on the south bank of the river Avon,opposite the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, I had read about it and was keen to take a look for myself.

Even after preparing my camera for the humid conditions by sealing inside a plastic bag, it was still around 20 minutes before it had settled enough to allow me to take any pictures:Very hot and humid inside there. 

However, once I'd sorted that, there were subjects a'plenty to photograph and aside from the constant,but expected interruptions caused by the numerous parties of schoolchildren being ushered around, at what seemed to be every 15 minutes,I was in butterfly heaven.

I didn't find photographing some of these insects at all easy using just natural light indoors but even though it would have been possible, I really didn't feel I wanted to add flash.

It was also a little challenging to get anything other than distracting backgrounds. There was lots of rich vegetation and not much space between planting. I suppose I had around 90 minutes at the farm and could easily have spent all day getting the shots I wanted but there were other things to do that day and anyhow, I was already starting to flag in the heat.

I have to add that having said how I struggled with getting the photos I wanted, I met a Frenchwoman with a little 'Ixus' camera that she described as 'cheap but very good' and was impressed by both how close it allowed her to focus (I think from memory she said something like, less than 25mm) and then how great her photos looked onscreen.

Tree Nymph Butterfly

I wish I could provide identities for all of these wonderful insects but I am unable to do that without extensive research and try as I might, I could find no relative information at the farm. 

Blue Morpho Butterfly

This selection illustrated here is but a tiny proportion of the total I could have photographed and as well as the insects there were plenty of caterpillars too...

Then I found some eggs to add to my haul. I think these may well be moth rather than butterfly...

Actually,looking at them again here,I'm not even sure they are viable. They do seem to be a bit messy.

In the caterpillar room, by the way that's not where I found mine, those were on the foliage inside the main dome with the butterflies, I had a go at photographing some pupae. These were all either behind glass or netting...

Again,I'm almost ashamed to admit it but I have no idea which insect these pupae represent but some of the most spectacular ones I have ever seen were these golden ones...

And so a visit to the butterfly farm was a terrific way to spend some time and I will certainly be returning sometime soon. There is also an 'Insect City' with stick insects, beetles, leaf-cutting ants, as well as millipedes,snails and crabs in the mini-beast section that I didn't even manage time to visit this time.

I was however struck by the amount of butterflies,in fact,almost all that I photographed, that showed signs of damaged/tatty wings. I thought about it a lot and decided to e.mail the farm for an explanation;asking if this is common in the wild or something related to how they are kept indoors. I have as yet not had a reply but will publish it here should I get an answer from them.

Until the next time then...

More information on the butterfly farm....HERE


  1. Wow, A treat, every one of 'em JJ.......interesting bulge in that Green eating caterpillar!, and woohoo, Awesome capture of Golden pupae !! Thanks for link too....we too are having an exhibit of Butterflies at the Conservatory of Flowers....must get there! And I'll say, here too, with previous shows, I've noticed the 'tatty' and poor condition of some of the specimans.......SO good of you to write the place there with your concerns...hope you hear back soon. Warm regards, Stella

  2. Thanks for your comments Stella. Hope you do get to that exhibition of butterflies and get some photos of your own. Yes, a bit of a concern over the condition but hoping there's an easy explanation...will update soon as I hear.

  3. Beautiful specimens there JJ! Looks like you had an excellent visit!
    Went there years ago, and had to wait ages like you before I could take photos! Don't remember there being an Insect City then though as I would surely have visited it!
    As for IDs, find our own hard enough, without adding tropical ones to the mix! ;-)


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