Ten Little Celebrations – August 2019

August 2019 was busy – but not as overwhelming as July. I savored the recovery time before the busy fall field trip season volunteering and my own travels. It was still easy to find little celebrations this month.

For three weeks of the month, I celebrated two mornings with Howard County Conservancy summer campers. What great experiences for me and (I hope) for the campers. Fossils, water and flight….interesting themes of high interest to the 5-12 years old groups. I could have counted 6 little celebrations but opted to count each week as 1 larger celebration since I had so many other things to celebrate.

Celebrating Coursera course Bugs 101: Insect-Human Interactions from University of Alberta (which I hope to finish by the end of the month). It was wonderful to have time to dig into an online course again.

Montessori teachers in the Wings of Fancy exhibit. A group of Montessori teachers in training came through the exhibit one morning (when it wasn’t too hot) and I celebrated conversations and that the method is still popular. My daughter certainly thrived in that type of pre-school.

Finding lots of botanical print books. Just when I think I am about to run out of online botanical books, I find a lot more…..and celebrate.

Getting a new laptop ordered. My old laptop is almost out of warranty and, even though it has a new battery and seems to be working well, I ordered a new one. I’m very excited about getting it all set up by the end of the month.

Flavorful cantaloupe. The CSA had very sweet cantaloupes this year. I celebrated melons that were as good as my memories of childhood cantaloupe from my grandparents’ farm.

Office rearrangement. I celebrated a new arrangement of my office furniture and general tidiness of my home office…in preparation for a new laptop.

Photographing a living cicada. Usually the cicada’s I photograph are not living – or are too cold to move. I celebrated seeing one fly into a tree and photographing it…while it was singing.

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Wings of Fancy – August 2019

Two volunteer shifts at Brookside Gardens’ Wings of Fancy exhibit stand out this month. The first was a shorter shift before the exhibit was open to the general public. It was two hours for photographers. The shift was low key with not as many people in the exhibit and it was cooler because it was early in the morning. The temperature was low enough that many of the butterflies were still roosting rather than flying around.

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It was possible to get close enough for some quick pictures with my cell phone. There were at least two clear wings that were spotted.

Enjoy the slide show! By the end of the 2 hours, the temperature was warming and the morphos were flying. One paid a lot of attention to one of the camera bags.

After my shift I went back into the exhibit and took some pictures with a better camera. My favorite turned out to be a blue morpho that positioned itself perfectly on the ‘do not touch’ sign!

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The second shift was made special by a moth! At the beginning of the shift there was an Atlas Moth on the netting at the top of the conservatory…not a good place for a picture. As the shift went on it got hotter and hotter and the moth glided down to the foliage.  We had some time without visitors in the conservatory and I got a great picture. The clear ‘windows’ on the wings look green because of the green plants behind the moth.

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Brookside Gardens – July 2019

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Even though the weather has been very hot this month, there are still plenty of flowers at Brookside Gardens that are weathering the heat.

The buttonbushes have all stages of flowers and seed formation now.

The green cones are forming on the bald cypress.

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The butterfly weed seed pods are bursting open even as the Monarch caterpillars are munching on their leaves. The common milkweed pods are still green.

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There are quite a few butterflies out in the gardens enjoying the flowers. The tiger swallowtails particularly enjoy the Joe Pye Weed. Last weekend I noticed more Monarch butterflies in the gardens. Maybe these are arriving from Mexico although it certainly is later than usual.

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I walk around the gardens before my shifts at the Wings of Fancy exhibit. There were only two this month because of the travel I did during the first half of the month. There are plenty of things to see like chipmunks and milkweed bugs.

I even found a feather on a leaf that I could get close enough for a macro shot.

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In the exhibit, the caterpillars are eating and growing. There was a Palamedes swallowtail caterpillar that had a ‘sun worshipper’ pose on a ‘excessive heat’ day.

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There are plenty of Monarch caterpillars of all sizes on butterfly weed in the caterpillar house as well.

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Inside the conservatory, I don’t have much time to take pictures of butterflies (lots of visitors) but I did manage a few. One day it was so hot that even the butterflies were desperate for water (on the floor) and not flying as much.

Ten Little Celebrations – July 2019

July 2019 was a busy month with two weeks of the months a way from home and volunteering. We’re in the thick of summer!

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4th of July. There is the holiday celebrated with fireworks and food and family early in the month. I was in Texas rather than at home.

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Yellow-Crowned Night Heron. It’s thrilling to see a heron that I don’t see all that often…a serendipity sighting during a hike to celebrate.

Easy drive through Arkansas. I celebrated that the road through Arkansas on my way back to Maryland from Texas was a lot better than I expected – good road, no construction, no accidents.

Marigolds. I savored the flowers available for cutting when I go to pick up my CSA share every week. Marigolds are among my favorites….but the sunflowers and amaranth and zinnas are good too.

Pittsburgh to Springfield MO in a day. It was a long drive with my husband and I caravanning. We both celebrated when we arrived – tired but otherwise unscathed.

At home again. After being away for 2 weeks (not concurrently) I had several days celebrating just being at home again.

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Prius Prime. I celebrated my car that has excellent range and is easy to drive. It still feels a little new and it’s 2.5 years old! These recent road trips have added quite a few miles.

Surviving a very hot Wings of Fancy shift. I celebrated that having something cold at each break (grapes, popsicle, Gatorade) and drinking lots of water enabled me to be fine at the end of the shift….and even relaxed in my air conditioned car on the way home.

Summer campers making butterfly Zentangles. Celebrating sharing an activity with campers….enjoying their creations as much as they did.

Toad under the oak tree. There is a toad that is making its home in the day lily forest under the oak tree. I celebrated that our yard is providing suitable habitat (there was a very small black rat snake there too…which I am choosing to celebrate too…but I didn’t take time to get a picture).

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Brookside Gardens – Butterflies and more

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Brookside Gardens’ Wings of Fancy exhibit was one of the places I volunteered in June – one of my happy places. One of my shifts was so cloud-covered and rainy that butterflies were still roosting in the fiscus at mid-morning.

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There were more clearwing butterflies in the conservatory that earlier in the season – enough that I saw one or two during most of my shifts.

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There aren’t as many paper kite butterflies this year…but they are still one of my favorites.

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The overall favorite for most people is the blue morpho; it’s one of mine too although for more than the blue color…I like the orange markings on the underside and body too. I manage to get some quick pictures during times when there are very few or no visitors in the exhibit.

And there were many other kinds of butterflies that posed for a picture at handy times.

And then there is the caterpillar house. Most of the caterpillars that were in the house during June were Julia Longwing or Zebra Longwing; both use passion flower as the host plant for their caterpillars.

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Toward the end of the month the eggs of the Palamedes swallowtail hatched….and the very small caterpillars begin to make their visible mark on the leaves. When they get bigger, they’ll have ‘eye spots’ to keep the predators away.

There were butterflies outside in the gardens too – mostly tiger swallowtails and skippers.

The bees enjoy the flowers too.

Sometimes a dragonfly would sit for long enough to be photographed.

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Birds like the gardens. A goldfinch and cardinal were near the conservatory one morning before my shift. I also saw a catbird that same morning but it flew away before I could get a photograph.

But the high point of the animals at Brookside was a box turtle! I had just exited my car and saw it emerge from a bed at the side of the conservatory and walk across the concrete in front of the service door to the north conservatory.

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It continued until it was close to the seal between the two doors then looked up like it expected the door to open. I wondered if it had – sometime in its life – spent some time inside the conservatory.

Brookside – May 2019

I’m just now getting around to posting some pictures I took at Brookside Gardens in May: the butterfly exhibit, the conservatory – and everything blooming outdoors. So many subject to photograph – flowers, immature seed pods, seeds, leaves, garden furniture and fountains….peonies, poppies, magnolias, alliums, maples, dogwood…what’s not to like. Enjoy the big slideshow!

The side of the conservatory not used for the butterfly exhibit always has interesting plants in bloom – or photo worthy in other ways (like giant water droplets on green leaves).

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The door that volunteers and staff use is surrounded by greenery. Somehow it seems bigger this year.

I arrive 15 minutes before my shift in the butterfly exhibit. Sometimes I have a few minutes between the orientation and the arrival of the first visitors arriving to photograph butterflies.

May is a big month in the gardens. I have a series of Brookside Gardens rose pictures that I’m saving for another post.

Ten Little Celebrations – May 2019

May has been a busy month with travel and prep for more travel…lots of volunteer gigs and home maintenance too. As usual – it was easy to identify something to celebrate each and every day. Here are 10 that I’m highlighting for the month.

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Plantain chips. I made my own plantain chips using a plantain from the conservatory at Brookside Gardens. It was a spring celebration of Thanksgiving – good food from a local harvest.

Caterpillar on the hickory. I was hiking with second graders looking at habitats…and what lives in them (paricularly insects). When we came to a young hickory tree that had been planted on earth day, it had some holes in the leaves. It was a small enough tree that we could carefully look under the leaves…and we found a caterpillar! It was one of those serendipity momets…the children were pleased with their find and I celebrated sharing their experience.

Clean car mats. My husband and I both took the mats out of our cars and hosed them off – no more salt and mud that had accumulated over the winter! We picked a sunny day so they could mostly dry out in the driveway after we hosed them off. I am celebrating a cleaner car interior.

Good weather for 4th grade field trip. Earlier in May we were having a lot of rain…and I wondered how the back to back field trips were going to dodge the deluge. At this point I am celebrating not having a single rainy day field trip (even thouh I am prepared with a super rain poncho). The 4th grade field trip was a close call….it didn’t rain and we managed to step around the mud puddles.

A whole day at home. Between volunteer gigs and travel, there were very few days that I could just be at home. When it happened – I celebrated the day to recouperate.

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Horseshoe Crabs. I had never seen horse shoe crabs in action like I saw in Cape May. They are recovering after overharvesting….an ancient creature filling its niche in the web of life. Something to celebrate.

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Light on flowers. I missed most of the azaleas blooming this spring…but managed to get some spotlighted in the dappled light along the path near the stream at Brookside Gardens. I celebrated the photographic experience.

Pre-schoolers are Belmont. I’ve only managed to do one field trip with pre-schools so far this season. What fun they are! I talked to them about trees. We pretended to start out as seeds and grow into a forest…then have the breeze ruffle out leaves (fingers)…and then we talked about trees and wind. Some groups fell down in a heap when the really strong winds came! It’s easy to celebrate the outdoors with pre-schoolers.

Rainy day with butterflies – Mother’s Day. It rained on Mother’s Day and the morning started slow in the Wings of Fancy conservatory – the butterflies weren’t very active and there were not early visitors. I celebrated by taking some butterfly pictures with my phone. And then the ramp up of activity began. It became a busy morning.

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White morpho butterflies. The brilliant irridescent blue morphs are probably the most popluarl butterflies in the Wings of Fancy exhibit. I celebrated the butterflies that are new or not quite as common. The white morphos are one of the special ones I’m celebrating this year.

Brookside Gardens Wings of Fancy – April 2019

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The Wings of Fancy live Butterfly Exhibit at Brookside Gardens opened in April. I am volunteering there again this season and my first shifts were toward the end of the month.

The Wings of Fancy live Butterfly Exhibit at Brookside Gardens opened in April. I am volunteering there again this season and my first shifts were toward the end of the month.

On the first morning there was a little rain as I arrived, and the outdoor temperature was cool. The sun came out and it warmed up a little as the day went on. The heaters were on in the conservatory to make a comfortable environment for the butterflies. I went in to do some photography before the exhibit opened for the day. The golden-edged owl is new this year and it tends to open and show its colors more than some of the other owls.

The Julia Longwing is around this year. There were a lot emerging from chrysalis during my 1st shift.

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The White Peacock had a lot emerging my second shift and I had groups of pre-schoolers observing! They were very excited and full of questions.

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The Malachites are available from two vendors this year – one in US which means that the chrysalises from that vendor can be in the emergence case in the exhibit.

The zebra longwings are always striking.

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And there are lots of other species too.

The big favorite of most visitors is the Blue Morpho. I like it for more than the metallic blue. The markings around the edges and ‘eye’ spots are interesting too. The orange color is supporting too.

The second day, I didn’t go in early or take my better camera - I still got two decent pictures with my cell phone. It was a little cool, so the butterflies were sitting around more…always good to go at 10 (when the exhibit opens) while it’s still cool!

2018 Wings of Fancy Ends

Yesterday was the last day of Brookside Gardens’ Wings of Fancy butterfly exhibit. I volunteered for the last morning shift; taking in zucchini muffins to share with the other volunteers and staff. It started out slow for the butterflies and visitors; the day was cool and very cloudy. Then it warmed up a little and the sun even came out.

I looked back through pictures I’ve taken in the exhibit -ones I’ve liked but not posted for one reason or another. I think if headlines for some of them:

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A Birdwing resting – being harassed by a smaller butterfly

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Three Queens

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Sleeping late (butterflies roosting long past sunrise because it was so cloudy – mostly Longwings)

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Pining to go outdoors (Blue Morpho)

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Living jade (Malachite butterfly)

I put the rest into a slide show…to prolong the joy of the 2018 Wings of Fancy exhibit one more day. I’m already looking forward to next April when the 2019 version will open!

Butterflies at Brookside Gardens

August was a good month for butterflies at Brookside Gardens – both in the conservatory and outdoors in the gardens. Volunteering allows me to visit the Wings of Fancy exhibit and bring guests when I’m not ‘on shift;’ I get there just as the conservatory opens to indulge in some butterfly photography.

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I challenge myself to capture eyes, proboscis, palpi, and antennae for as many butterflies as possible.

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The blue morpho is one I photography a lot so I am always looking for a new and different perspective.

The blue morpho is one I photography a lot so I am always looking for a new and different perspective.

The same is true for true for the malachite. I think I like the underside of the wings more than the upper.

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The Julia longwing is the one I photographyed a few months ago moving its palpi across the parts of its eyes.

The stars for August were the big moths. There were male and female Atlas moths – kept separately so they couldn’t mate and lay eggs everywhere in the conservatory creating a containment problem. The males are much smaller than the females and the shape of the scale-less (clear) portions of the wing are different. In the pictures the male’s antennae are forward from the head…both females have antennae positioned back over their heads.

The other big moth was the Africa Moon Moth which looks very similar to our North American Luna Moth.

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The Wings of Fancy exhibit runs until September 16….so a few more weeks to enjoy the butterflies in the conservatory.

Brookside Wings of Fancy Caterpillars – August 2018

The caterpillars at Brookside Gardens Wings of Fancy exhibit are maturing….getting ready for cooler temperatures. On the walk up the ticket taker table, the last of the milkweed tussock moth caterpillars are finishing their leaves and pupating. A large number had to be moved to milkweed plants further from the caterpillar house so that the Monarch caterpillars would be on view to the visitors waiting to enter the caterpillar house of the exhibit.

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The caterpillar house in August featured a white case (for the saddleback caterpillars) and then places for 3 pots (starring cecropia moth and monarch butterfly caterpillars).

The saddleback caterpillars grew bigger in August. I talked to at least two people that has been stung by them in their gardens!

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The cecropia moth caterpillars made cocoons one my one over the course of the month. Yesterday there was only one caterpillar left on the black cherry – and it had been the runt of the caterpillars from the beginning; it’s catching up now.

There is a spicebush tree in a pot next to the black cherry where the caterpillars have moved to make their cocoons.

The monarch caterpillars have been the most fun to watch. I was in the caterpillar house once just after a caterpillar shed its skin.

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They alternate between resting and eating….mostly eating.

When they are big enough to pupate, they try to leave the host plant. One started the walk-about when I was volunteering in the caterpillar house (round and round the pot looking for a way off) and we moved it to a portable mesh cube where it made its J and then chrysalis.

Outside there were many Monarch chrysalises on the plants and the structure of the caterpillar house. They always look like jade pendants to me.

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Outdoors at Brookside Gardens

I try to take a few minutes before each shift volunteering at Brookside Gardens Wings of Fancy to walk around outside in the gardens. There is a lot going on in August. I am featuring some of my favorite things I noticed and photographed in this post.

Button bush and cone flowers and sunflowers – with and without bees.

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Joe Pye Weed in bloom…very popular with the tiger swallowtails. One morning I photographed a dark morph female with several of the yellow and black versions.

Monarchs are more prevalent in the garden than they were earlier.

I can never resist checking the gingko tree near the conservatory. I like the way the leaves look outlined in gold of the morning sunshine.

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The sumac is a plant I am tracking this year. I recognize the seed heads but want to capture how the seeds develop. This will take me further into the fall since they don’t look like they’ve changed too much during this month.

There are always a lot of funnel spider webs in the low pines around the conservatory….and sometimes the spider is visible.

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There are several kinds of datura in the garden.

I had never nptoced what the seed pod looked like before.

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Some of the trumpets hang downward and I appreciated that the screen on my new camera can pivot so I can see what the camera is seeing when it is point straight up! I’ve always wanted to photography the unfurling flower.

The bald cypress has the scale insects like it did last summer but seems healthy enough to survive. The cones are beginning to form.

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The cannas are beautiful this time of year. Some are producing seed pods.

This is the view from the ticket taker table for Wings of Fancy. I ended up doing the job when no one had signed up for it….a  last minute change of plans.

There are milkweed plants close to the entrance to the caterpillar house and there are often insects on the plants other than caterpillars. When there are no visitors in the area…I roam around and take pictures; more on the caterpillars tomorrow.

Butterflies Resting – on Me

While I was manning the exit at Brookside Gardens’ Wings of Fancy the first hour after it opened yesterday, I had 3 different butterflies decide to take a rest on me. The first was a blue morpho that sat on my left hand. It must have felt very secure since it sat still while I got my cell phone out, entered the security code, started the camera app, and braced the cell phone on my arm to get pictures – moving in closer and closer. The butterfly’s wings were tattered but the orange in the upper legs and the palpi (between the eyes) was very distinct. The proboscis is neatly coiled.

The second butterfly was another blue morpho that started out on my sandal. I crossed my leg, so I could get a get a closer shot. The butterfly was very interested in the strap of my sandal and then my ankle with its proboscis. The wings were in better shape that the first butterfly; notice the yellow and orange color toward the outer edges of the wing.

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The third butterfly was a malachite that was on my hat. A visitor told me I had a butterfly on my hat and it stayed there when I took my hat off so I could see it! I had to one-hand the phone again but was pleased with the pictures I got of this butterfly. I like the patterning of the underside of the malachite butterflies…even more than the brighter green of the other side of the wings.

I’ve never been so lucky to have so many butterflies resting on me during a visit to the exhibit. They were on other people as well…something special about yesterday.

Saddleback Caterpillars

I had heard about saddleback caterpillars in the training for field trip hikes with the Howard County Conservancy…but only seen them in pictures. One of the surprises last Saturday when I went to Brookside Gardens for a Wings of Fancy shift was the news that the caterpillars had been found in the part of the conservatory not used for the exhibit; they were feeding on canna plants. So – the staff had put them with the plant in a closed case in the caterpillar house giving me and everyone that visited the exhibit an opportunity to see them without the pain that comes from touching them (their bristles have venom!) by accident. On Monday morning, my husband I returned to try to photograph them through the glass of the case. They’d almost doubled in size between Saturday morning and Monday morning! My camera did an OK job – not fabulous but they are clearly saddleback caterpillars.

My husband got the better picture.

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If you are interested about this and other poisonous caterpillars, Nancy Goor has an informative page with great pictures on her web site.

Ten Little Celebrations – July 2018

The little celebrations of every day add up to far more joy that the big celebrations of the years. I always find it easy to highlight 10 each month. For this month – I celebrated

Being home again after being away the last 3 weeks of June. I always appreciate being able to have my quiet time…sleep in my own bed.

The CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) bounty. I sign up for the smallest share but it is still a lot. Still - love the fresh veggies and find it easy to ‘eat healthy’ with the abundance and variety.

 

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Compost in Howard County. I learned a lot when I toured the compost facility in my county and celebrated that they are building a second phase.

A free compost bin. I picked up a free compost bin from the county and have started my one composting – so far so good. I trained enough to be dangerous.

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Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC). I’m always exited to find new/interesting places that are close enough to where live to explore again and again. I am waiting until it is a little cooler to return.

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Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. One of the places we’ve enjoyed in June-July for the past few years. Lotuses are always worth celebrating.

Photo shoots with summer campers. It’s been a summer volunteer gig for the past few summers – always some results worth celebrating. This year I discovered that it was still good even with it rained.

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Wings of Fancy. Butterflies area always worth celebrating…and being At Brookside frequently enough to notice other people celebrating too.

Saddleback caterpillars and sawfly larvae. I always celebrate when I see organisms I’ve heard about but not seen before (I’ll be writing a post about these soon).

Cleaned out flower beds. The vegetation in front of our house was overgrown by the time I got back from Texas. I celebrated when several mornings of work begin to make it tidy.

Sharing Wings of Fancy

I enjoy Brookside Gardens Wings of Fancy so much that it’s my favorite place to take guests. This past weekend, my daughter was visiting, and we headed to the exhibit just at it opened. The caterpillars are big enough to see easily – particularly the spicebush swallowtail caterpillars with their eye spots that make them appear more ferocious than they are.

The high point of the morning was when a blue morpho butterfly decided that my daughter’s nail polish was like its own color. The blue (or pink/purple in different light) in both cases is a mechanical color rather than a pigment. The butterfly ‘tasted’ the color with its proboscis on each toenail then crawled up onto the sandal before flying way!

Brookside Gardens Wings of Fancy – May 2018

I volunteered for 5 shifts at Brookside Gardens Wings of Fancy butterfly exhibit. I visited once during a non-shift day as well in May; there is relatively little time to take butterfly pictures before visitors start arriving and I must focus on them.

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During one calm morning in the caterpillar house, there was a female cecropia moth that had emerged from a cocoon – on that grew as a caterpillar in the caterpillar house last summer and overwintered at Brookside. It was released in the garden later that day. The moths don’t eat as adult…they simply try to find a mate and lay then lay eggs.

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When I did come as a visitor, I was most interested in getting heads and eyes of butterflies. I’m always a little surprised at the color and complexity around the head…also the variation in eyes.

I have been able to take a few caterpillar pictures. The longwing caterpillars were only about ¼ inch long when I photographed them.

The spicebush swallowtail caterpillar was already about an inch long and had visible eye spots.

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On the walk up to the ticket taker table, I am checking the milkweed plants for Monarch butterfly caterpillars. So far, I haven’t found any although there are some leaves that have holes…something is eating the leaves. The flowers are beginning to form, and I did see a lady bug on one of the youngest leaves. Hopefully there will be caterpillars soon.

The other type of pictures I like to try before my shift begins are macro shots of flowers in the Brookside Gardens. I usually get there about 8:30 AM and the light is still good….not still the lemony color of just after dawn but still mellow…better than mid-day. The best of the best of those pictures are for another post.

Blue Morpho Butterflies

One of the most popular butterflies to photograph in Brookside Gardens’ Wings of Fancy  exhibit is the blue morpho. They flutter around within the conservatory. They feed on the rotten fruit.

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The underside of their wings seems drab at first (and it is drab compared to the other side of the wing) but with magnification the pattern and colors are quite interesting. The palpi (the bristly structures that are between the eyes) have an orange stripe although the palpi seem to be easily broken off and there is orange along the outer edge of the wing. The eye spots are at least 3 colors.

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They seem to like to look to the outside through the windows of the conservatory. Their wings are sometimes so battered that one can see the blue color where part of wing has broken away.

They sometimes like to rest on the floor – always a dangerous place for butterflies with people not always looking where they step. Most of the time they are resting with their wings closed.

Then – the serendipity event happens – the blue morpho opens its wings and stays where it is long enough to be photographed! The color is made my physical means rather than pigment…and changes with the incidence of light. Do you see that sometimes the blue looks pink? This is the first time I was able to capture an image of the changeable color of the blue morpho.

Clearwing Butterfly

Some butterflies do not have scales…or have very few of them. There are a few specimens in Brookside Gardens’ Wings of Fancy exhibit and I’m always thrilled to see them. I rarely spot them on my own and most of the time I’m busy with my volunteer job as a ‘flight attendant’ so I can’t take pictures. Recently I was walking around the exhibit – not volunteering – and I had my camera and a tripod. There was a school group visiting the exhibit and they’d spotted a clearwing!

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The butterfly was focused on breakfast of nectar from some white flowers (the proboscis was not rolled up between flowers….the insect was hungry!) so was staying put long enough for pictures.

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The ribs that provide the structure for the wings are more obvious when the wing is clear. In the case of this butterfly they are a metallic copper color. Sometime that color is reflected in the thin membrane that is the wing.

There do appear to be a few scales on this time of clearwing – on the upper edge of the wing…some white and copper color.

Seeing a clearwing is one of the things that makes a walk in the exhibit special.

Wings of Fancy – 1st shift

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I had my first shift for this season’s Wings of Fancy shift at Brookside Gardens earlier this week. The exhibit is opening an hour earlier this year to take advantage of the morning temperatures. Visitors will appreciate that during the summer. Like last year – I took a short walk around the gardens before heading into the conservatory. The gardens are lush even with the variability of rain and temperatures so far this spring.

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The azaleas are blooming but I decided to walk through the are where the tulips are blooming….lots of color on a spring morning. I walked fast because it was chilly at 8:30 AM (in the 40s and breezy).

I was in the conservatory waiting for the first visitors and decided to take a few pictures. I was surprise what I was able to do in 10-15 minutes! My theme was heads – eyes, antennae, proboscis, and papillae. I’m sure they’ll be many other butterfly pictures this season (the exhibit runs until September 16), but I’m pleased with my first batch. Hopefully a reflection of the happy place the exhibit creates comes through too!