Archive for the 'Butterflies' Category
Stonefields School is a new school that wanted to release butterflies at their opening – but the supplier who was to deliver the butterflies had let them down at the last minute.
They were thrilled with their butterflies and the outcome – Thursday 3rd February – they gave my favourite charity (the Monarch Butterfly New Zealand Trust) a generous donation, and were blown away by the event.
“We discovered that they moved much quicker than we expected them to…”
I’ve been working on educational resources for schools (butterflies) and Emma designed a wonderful ‘frame’ for them. Originally it was going to be a website, but perhaps we’ll launch under the banner of the Monarch Butterfly New Zealand Trust.
Take a look
Renee reports from San Jose, at the Convention:
All is going great..weather has been very cooperative. Here is a group photograph taken on Wednesday:
From left to right..
Bottom row: Alexa Jones, Pat DuPlessis, Una McGurk, Georgann Serino, Lary Reeves, Renee Cooke, Rick Mikula, Nili Shahar.
Standing: Jerimiah Jones, Cornelius DuPlessis, Gary Exelby, Claudia Mikula, Ory Roberts, Jerry Roberts, Gloria Brons, Kathleen Ziemer, Gloria’s daughter-in-law, Barbara Bosco, Kathleen’s niece’s friend Abbey, Lew Bosco, Kathleen’s niece Emily, Chris Jacobs, Deb Jacobs, Mary Shields, Mike Rich’s son Andrew, David Spivey, Pam Kirwood, Peggy McClung, Dale McClung, Alicia Baylor and Mike Rich.We were in Arenal Monday and Tuesday for the Breeders Seminar. Costa Rica has three active volcanoes and one is in Arenal. We had the opportunity to see the lava flow and rumblings from Arenal served as our wake up call yesterday!
The breeders seminar was held at the Butterfly Conservatory; Glenn Baines’ place. A BEAUTIFUL facility… We visited three farms today and it was quite the experience; very informative, interesting and educational.
Our tour guides/drivers that work for the travel agency are excellent translators for those of us whose Spanish skills are non-existent and they are getting VERY good at spotting larvae, pupae and adults… They are getting a butterfly education and seem to be as interested as our participants are.
There are about 50 of us in total. but not all are here at all the same times, some are here from the Breeders Seminar through the paper presentations on Sunday, more arrived yesterday for the pre convention “field trips”, even more are due in tomorrow.
Will do my best to send an update or two as we go; the internet has been better than expected but still not always reliable! TTFN and please have a Marguerita for me!
The Observatory Lodge at Arenal. And below, Helen Johnson, Monarch Alert, Monterey, California at the Icebreaker event.
Maureen Austin and Jennifer Collins lived in Alpine, about thirty miles east of San Diego, and had very kindly come to the airport to wat for us, when we arrived about midnight. They are both key Committee members of CHIRP.
CHIRP was established to instil respect and preservation of garden wildlife. The group organises a garden tour each year – and this year had organised one especially for us. At their meetings they would discuss organic gardening, low water use, local native and desert plants, planting for birds, hummingibrds, and backyard wildlife and such.
Jen’s home was beautiful, overlooking a desert canyon, but with many attractive plantings to encourage wildlife. We were amazed at the activities of the hummingbirds, finches and other visitors to her feeders.
Maureen and Jen had planned quite a programme for us. We had our own private garden tour and not only the homes, but the gardens were wonderful. Each gardener focussed on saving water and utilising the local specially adapted plants to best advantage. They had planted shade trees as an infrastructure to ensure that there was protection from the elements. They all utilised garden sculptures and art to some extent, and outdoor living rooms were common place. Wonderful! Thank you so much CHIRP for sharing your homes and gardens with us.
That night they had arranged a New Zealand reception for us. We got to meet other members of the CHIRP team and congratulate them on their work.
Our last day in California, and Maureen and Jen had planned a wonderful climax to our trip. We were off to the raptor rehabilitation centre, Sky Hunters.
A not for profit group, Sky Hunters is set up to teach the public about raptor conservation, raptor being birds of prey such as eagles, falcons, hawks and owls.
They give presentations and demonstrations, and teach people what to do if a sick or injured raptor is found, and about the birds’ behaviour. Although Nancy Conney, the director, was away, her husband showed us around and let us photograph the birds that were there. It was a wonderful facility and we will always treasure our visit.
Jen, her husband George and Maureen delivered us to the train station, where we just got to the train in time – only a few seconds to spare. Amtrak provides a great service, getting us to Union Station in LA within a few hours. It was a pleasant trip, interesting scenery outside the window.
At Union Station we caught up with Roger Sutton, lepidopterist visiting from England, and all three of us caught the shuttle to Los Angeles International Airport. It was great to meet him at last and to sit and relax awaiting our Air New Zealand flight.
The trip was over. We had a twelve-hour flight back to Auckland, but thank heavens we were travelling with Air New Zealand. Their service, catering and appointments were above anything else we had encountered.
I confessed to the check in desk that I had a bad earache. They adjusted some of the seating so that Mary and I could spread out and get a good night’s sleep.
At 5am we were back in NZ. Pleased to be back home – but delighted with our three week adventure.
The Hampton is a great place to stay. It’s economical, it has all the facilities you could ever want – to me complimentary broadband internet was a big plus – and this includes a complimentary breakfast.
There were several Hamptons in Orlando, but the one we chose was in a huge estate of hotels – roads and roads of multi-storey buildings, all offering accommodation.
We had been up until the early hours packing and repacking. I was exhausted. It was a struggle getting everything in to our bags but I was determined not to leave anything behind. I had such wonderful goodies, souvenirs and gifts for friends and family.
After breakfast we struggled with our bags to the car and drove to the airline terminal. I realised that we were going to have to park the car and then take the bags to check in. We got there without too much difficulty, although we walked right past the check in counter, and found that we could not check in until two hours before. Our flight didn’t leave until later that afternoon. Aargh!
We had too much luggage to have with us throughout the day – espeially as we had to quit the car at 9am – so it was off to Hertz.We had made it to the airport okay, but without the GPS (now packed away) we got lost getting back to Hertz. A GPS unit is an amazing accessory, saving a lot of time and mileage in locating shops and points of interest – and finding the quickest way to and fro. Highly recommended.
The huge Hertz depot was abuzz with people leaving vehicles and taking the shuttle bus every five minutes to the airport. People came and went, as we pulled up we were greated by awoman with an electronic machine who inspected the car for its condition and printed out a receipt.
I asked at the counter if we could leave our bags, but there was nowhere. This was a huge facility – and on one particular day they had processed over 2,000 vehicles! Isn’t that amazing?
I phoned my friends who were driving up from Delray Beach; fortunately they had a huge boot in their car and could take all our luggage. They soon picked us up and we were off to have brunch with them and then explore Orlando. It was wonderful to catch up with Baron and Marcia Degner, who I had guided on a visit to New Zealand about ten years ago.
The TGIF that we lunched at was noisy, but we were able to share a few laughs and catch up. Then we were off to Disney World, a shopping mall offering Disney treats and some delicious sidelines, ice-cream and sodas
All too soon it was time to check in and we were off to San Deigo via Denver, with Frontier Airlines. Orlando International Airport was massive – after going through departure procedure, from the departure lounge, we were taken by shuttle to the aircraft and more shops.
On the shuttle my cellphone rang. It was a call from NZ – I answered it and then never saw my cellphone again. Where it went to was a mystery.
We were off to California.
Together with their daughter, Ana, Maggie and Zane had planned a dinner out at the Blue Water Bay Restaurant – wonderful food, lavish helpings. Beautiful fresh fish.
The next day we went once more to the farm to shop and then we were off to visit Edith Smith and her family’s Shady Oak Butterfly Farm, north of Gainesville. Edith and I have emailed each other for many years, so it was great to be able to meet her in person.
If I ever need any information on butterflies, nectar or host plants, or diseases, Edith is one person you can ask, and she’s always ready to help.
She gave us a full guided tour and gave us more ideas on how we could advance the conservation of butterflies, and environmental education in NZ. We shared lunch, delicious food from the local Sunny’s, with the family, before departing to head south to Orlando.
There wasn’t much left of our great adventure – I knew the next few days were going to pass with a blur. That afternoon, on arrival in Orlando and checking in to the local Hampton near the airport, we did a dry run to the departure terminal and Hertz depot. It didn’t help though, with departure the next morning.
After a wonderful lunch on catfish and other seafood, we said our goodbyes to MaryO and Lonnie and headed for the Okefenokee Swamp.
This is a huge National Wildlife Refuge with the swamp covering 438,000 acres, or about 700 square miles – 38 miles in length at its longest point by 25 miles in width at its widest point.
The swamp is about 7000 years old, a vast peat-filled bog inside a huge, saucer-shaped depression once part of the ocean floor.
The Suwannee River is the principle outlet – I wondered if this was the ‘Swannee River’ that we had sung about at school. I learned that the word Okefenokee is from the Choctaw Indian words meaning “quivering earth” or “Land of the Trembling Earth” because the unstable peat ground trembles!
The water was the colour of dark tea colour, due to tannic acid from dissolved vegetative material and peat.
We learned that in the Okefenokee Swamp it takes about 50 years for one inch of peat to form at the base of the swamp! The peat ranges in depth from thin layers at the edges of the swamp and islands to more than 15 feet in places.
We didn’t see any dangerous wildlife in the short time we were there – just oodles of butterflies. The further south we travelled, the more common the butterflies were, a wide range of unidentified beauties.
I phoned Zane, to let him know where we were. We estimated our arrival time and got on our way again. Mrs Tom Tom tried to direct us along some tracks in the swamp – we thought better of it and stuck to the highways. They were long stretches of straight road between small towns, and eventually taking us to the Greathouse Butterfly Farm.
Zane and Maggie were there to greet us and gave us a short tour of their wonderful facility. Then they gave us directions to their wonderful lakeside home and we got into the airconditioned comfort to unpack and relax.
It wasn’t long before we were whipped out to dinner. This was Labor Day in the USA, so sadly the chosen restaurants were closed, but they found a diner in the next town. We relaxed and giggled over huge helpings.
Zane is President of the International Butterfly Breeders Association, and very professional about not only the family business but also the aims and objectives of the Association. We are lucky to have someone like him in the chair – his knowledge was extraordinary and he gave us many tips about how we could boost our Monarch population in NZ, and provide better educational opoprtunities for wildlife protection.
We slept soundly that night, and looked forward to a visit to the amazing Butterfly House at the McGuire Centre, Gainesville, the next day.
After a full tour of the Greathouse Butterfly Farm and enjoying the treasures for sale in the gift shop, the educational facilities and the butterfly gardens, we were whisked off in Zane and Maggie’s car for lunch.
“For lunch, is there anything you haven’t tried, that you’d like to?” Zane asked. I was quick to speak up, as Mary still hadn’t had her waffles. They smiled and took us to the Waffle House. The waffles were delicious!
Then it was on to the butterflies. Built in July 2004, the main building of the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity is 50,000 square feet in size.
The McGuire Center is said to be the strongest, largest, most secure and most permanent structure ever constructed to house major Lepidoptera collections and their associated research programs, and preserve them indefinitely for posterity.
The Butterfly Rainforest, the living public exhibit facility next door, is a steel-mesh-screened facility built to withstand 170 mph winds (F-3 tornadoes). At the centre they have a collection of over 8,000,000 Lepidoptera specimens, as well as the living cultures of endangered species in our laboratory facilities and the living tropical butterflies in the public display!
We had a great time exploring their living butterfly exhibit featuring tropical butterflies from all over the world. I was annoyed, though, as my battery on my camera suddenly chose to go flat. Disappointing, but Mary’s photographs proved to save the day.
But there was more in store for us that afternoon – we hadn’t been to many botanic gardens, and Zane and Maggie told us about the wonders of the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. My energy levels were flagging – I had had an ear infection, and it was getting worse, so what with the heat and regular hot flushes, I was exhausted. So Maggie and I would hit the shops at the mall and do my last minute shopping, while Mary and Zane walked the gardens.
Maggie was a wonder – she had my list down to a T. It was in to Maceys to get the suitcase I wanted to take home for James, and then nearby to the candle counter, then next door to find a kettle. I also found my salt and pepper, and numerous other treats. We were done in 45 minutes! Amazing. Thanks Maggie.
Back to Kanapaha, and we found Mary and Zane had stormed right around the gardens.
The gardens are set on 62 acres operated by the North Florida Botanical Society. Lake Kanapaha (Timucua Indian words for “palmetto leaf” and “house.”) is adjacent.
There are 14 major collections seen from a 1½ mile concrete walkway, including the state’s largest public display of bamboos and the largest herb garden in the Southeast.
Mary was impressed by the Chinese royal bamboo (Wong Chuk), the giant Victoria water lilies and Asian snake arums.
I could picture Mary identifying everything. They had even found a Black Something Snake, and Mary hadn’t flinched. A true Kiwi! Brave and fearless.