Let’s Chase Some Butterflies!

A couple of weeks ago I went on a very much needed vacation from work. Nine days of sheer bliss. I was so excited to be able to go out with some friends that I haven’t seen in ages and visit some fun places.

One of these fun places was Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory and Gardens in South Deerfield, MA. It is the Lepidoptera source in Western Massachusetts. It has a 8,000-square foot indoor conservatory with nearly 4,000 exotic and domestic butterflies in a tropical environment. They are open every day of the year except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. They have an on-site food court with a nice variety of food, plus a gift shop and outdoor gardens.

Magic Wings focuses on butterfly-related education, recreation, entertainment and gardening needs.

My friend and I first went into the gift shop. For $1 they have a poster with the names and pictures of some of the more popular butterflies and which country they are native to, which I wanted to have while in the conservatory.

After you pay for your ticket the first room you enter into is basically a big education room. It has displays for everything you could possibly want to learn about butterflies. There is also some live animals on display, including some really cool frogs, lizards, moths…and giant cockroaches. Yeah…. My friend and I actively avoided that display case like the plague. There was a mound of what looked like 30 or 40 of them. Not our cup of tea.

Next was the conservatory. Be aware that they recreate the tropical environment that butterflies live in and it is hot inside (about 80 degrees). No sweaters or jackets are needed inside.

Upon entering I was instantly surrounded by gorgeous plants.

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Everything inside is so beautiful! Within seconds after that I found my first butterfly. This fellow is called a Cairns Birdwing (male).

 

I followed him around for a while. Loved his coloration. He lead me to a little pond with a couple of tiny fountains and some koi fish.

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Very peaceful sounding. It was about this point I noticed the beautiful flowers that were hanging around. This lovely hibiscus was right next to the pond. Love the fiery red.

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It was very nice just to walk around and take in all the plants, flowers and animals that are there.

The next butterfly to grab my attention was the Blue Morpho. I had to follow it around a while before it finally landed. It was playing hard to get with me. I think the blue coloration on him was very striking. He was one of my favorite butterflies.IMG_8678

After I got the Blue Morpho’s picture my friend found me and showed me that she had a little one riding her leg. Apparently she was a human taxi! It was there for quite a while.

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While we were walking around we found out that there are tiny little quails running around the Conservatory. They hid among the plants and in the corners of the rooms. They are fast little guys but I managed to get a couple of pictures of them.

They were so cute! Wish I could have gotten a better picture of them.

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Can you tell I loved the hibiscus flowers?. The colors are fantastic!

I sat down on one of the benches and rested for a minute. The staff, referred to as flight attendants (funny!), told us if we sit really still and don’t make sudden movements the butterflies might land on you. Well, they were right.

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This butterfly, called a Rice Paper, found my shoe to be a neat place to hang out. My leg started to cramp up from sitting in this position for so long but I really liked watching it.

After a while I got up and started walking around again. Its at this time that one of the flight attendants beckoned my friend and I over to a quiet part of the Conservatory. She brought us over to a tree and whispered to us to quietly look at the Atlas moth.

The Atlas Moth I found out is the largest moth in the world. It only lives about two weeks because it has no mouth. Because of this they have to rely on fat storage from their immature stages of life.It was huge! A female Atlas moth’s wingspan can reach up to twelve inches with a surface area of sixty-two square inches. I was happy I was able to see and photograph it.

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These little Glasswings fluttered by me when I was done with the Atlas moth. I almost didn’t see them with their see through wings. Cute little things.

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A Tailed Jay was next to catch my eye. Almost blended in with the leaves.

I took a break from photographing the butterflies and started looking at all the lovely flowers. There is so many to see!

I should note that there are other animals in the Conservatory other than the butterflies, moths and quails. There is also a turtle, birds, an iguana (plus other reptiles) and a cool looking stick bug.

After meeting these fun animals I went back on my search for new butterflies and these were the beauties I found.

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There were so many more to chase but it was getting a little late and my friend and I were starting to get a bit hot and tired. That 80 degrees was starting to get to us so decided to pack it in for the day. All in all this is a fantastic place that the whole family can come and visit. If you do a camera is a must! Definitely a place you want to take your time walking through.

Hope you all enjoyed all the butterflies. See you again soon! I think next time I will write about the very first time I took my  DSLR camera on a road trip. A bit of a flash back! It involves a waterfall and a steep climb down a hill after it had rained. Yeesh!

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A Delightful Hike Through the Woods

 

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This past Summer I discovered one of the best hiking spots. It is called Bartholomew’s Cobble and it is in a nice little town called Sheffield in Massachusetts.

A customer at work told me about this little gem and I am glad they did. I will have to go back in the Spring time.

Bartholomew’s Cobble gets its name from the Cobble of rocks (limestone and marble) that bulge out to form a couple of small hills surrounded by farmland and a winding river (the Housatonic River).

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It isn’t a very large place but it is a great place to spend a afternoon.

After parking our car I was met by a fantastic view.

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If that isn’t a inviting and beautiful view I don’t know what is. This is the view from across the parking lot. Basically the trails all lead in a circle. The path my friend and I went on lead us straight back to the parking lot.

We went into the visitor center to pay for our tickets and were met by this sign.

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Yes, a birdhouse. This is where you put your money when the park rangers are not in the office.

The park rangers were fantastic. Very friendly and knowledgeable.

The trails were very well maintained and properly marked. Each trail marker had a map attached to it which was very easy to read. It was nice knowing where we were at all times. Made the hike a little less stressful. I don’t know about you but I have been to places where the trail markers are old and worn out and have gotten lost because of it. Good to know this is not one of those places.

While at Bartholomew’s Cobble I hiked through fields with plenty of beautiful flowers and butterflies (not ashamed to say I chased a couple to get their photo), through thick forest (with great looking trees), climbed over some rocks and walked along the Housatonic River.

I really enjoyed this place. It had this very calming effect over me. The terrain is not as hard as other places I have visited. Any age group can enjoy this place. It is a pretty relaxing walk. The parts that are a little hard have some pretty interesting bridges.

I especially liked the wildflowers. There were so many, especially in the fields.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see much wildlife. I saw some birds and squirrels but not much more than that. I was a little disappointed because there is a lot of animals that roam the area. Owls, hawks, bobcats, turkeys, deer, and the occasional black bear all call Bartholomew’s Cobble home. Hopefully the next time I go there I will see some of those critters.

****A word to the wise- bring strong bug spray with you if you decide to visit this beautiful place during the hot Summer months. Why? Deer flies. They reside there and are evil, nasty little things. I didn’t notice them until the end of my hike and holy crap did they eat me alive! I joked with my hiking companion that if we ever come back during the Summer I would be wearing a hat with a bug zapper attached to it! Just a warning to you!******

I hope that if you are in the area that you will take a hike in this little gem. You will not be disappointed!

For more info visit:

thetrustees.org

 

 

 

 

A hidden jem.

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The last couple of years I have been lucky enough to head to Bennington, Vermont to visit a certain park. It is a deer park! It is filled with deer of various ages. My favorite to watch are the babies. So adorable!

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The Park is called The Vermont Veterans Home Deer Park. It is an enclosed area (roughly 1.58 acre) and has 23 Fallow deer. The Veteran’s Home staff cares for the deer herd year round.

There is also a very nice picnic area in which to watch the deer and a trout pond situated at the north end of the grounds.

I found the deer to be very friendly. They do not run when you walk up to the fence and they do not seem to mind having their picture taken.

There is a spring-fed brook that runs through the deer park for a fresh water supply, which also feeds into the home’s trout pond. The deer are feed primarily hay but they also love apples and bananas.

I love to visit this park. It is nice to be able to watch some beautiful animals without having to visit a zoo or a sanctuary. I can just park my car, sit down with some food at a picnic table and watch the deer frolic and graze. It is a very wonderful and peaceful experience.

I highly recommend visiting this wonderful park (the little ones will especially get a kick out of it).

It is located at 325 North Street in Bennington, VT. You can find out more information at their website.

https://vvh.vermont.gov