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Friday, February 13, 2009

Butterflies in winter

No, not in my yard! We took a trip to the Joseph L Popp, Jr Butterfly Conservatory in Oneonta, NY. It's less than an hour away and well worth the drive.

It's an indescribable experience to walk in from an ice-covered parking lot to a large open 80F room where the humidity is high enough to fog my glasses instantly. I was a bit worried for the camera, but it wasn't a problem.

There are hundreds of butterflies; species I certainly never saw here in NY before. Keeping them inside is an 'airlock' where only one door at a time is opened. No worries about invasive species here. Along with the butterflies are more than a dozen species of birds, several tortoises, turtles, chameleons, stick bugs, an iguana and a koi pond. In and about are scattered various 'islands' of tropical plants with bird and butterfly feeders.

Did I mention that it's open? All these creatures are free to go wherever they like. The birds are comfortable with visitors, and they aren't afraid of the camera. We were asked not to use flash, to not startle the creatures, and not to touch them (can you imagine the stress of being handled by a hundred people a day?)

I started out taking many, many pictures, and they looked OK on the LCD, but after reviewing them in the large, I could see that most of them were shaky. You know, I didn't feel too bad about that. After a while, I just sat on a bench, watched the button quail walking / running about, seeing the red faced Gouldian finches enjoying their millet sprays, enjoying the red factor canary singing and enjoying the warm 'weather' inside the conservatory.

It's a strangely satisfying feeling to have butterflies fly over and land on you. I know they think I'm just another bit of 'structure' but I enjoyed it just the same.

Highly recommended. Bring a camera and tripod. There are knowledgeable folks there to answer your questions, but they aren't at all intrusive. One photographer had a neat trick of setting up at a butterfly feeding station and waiting for them to come to her, rather than trying to chase them about. It worked, too!


  1. What a neat experience to have close to your home.

  2. I love butterflies and trying to capture them can be tricky. What a great place this sounds.


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