Well, The Biking Birder 2016 adventure might be over but the life of a passionate nature lover will not allow one to sit and reflect. On to new things with Foreign travel to Israel, France and Peru to look forward to this year, as well as returns to North Ronaldsay and Fair Isle.
For the next few weeks I will be working as a volunteer at The Stratford Upon Avon Butterfly Farm, UK.
Tuesday 10th January 2017 A New Life . .
The short cycle ride from Stratford Upon Avon Youth Hostel, my new abode for a while, to The largest Butterfly Farm in Britain, The Stratford Upon Avon Butterfly farm.
Met inside by Dan and Mark, after being taken on the tour of the whole site with a clipboard tick sheet for all of the Health & Safety advice, I am left to my own devices to explore and observe my favourite creatures, butterflies.
Five hours spent in the two main sections, the Flight Area and The Discovery Zone.
The Flight Area
With a pleasantly warm temperature of 26C to relax in, butterflies everywhere, how could one not enjoy it?
Blue and White Morphos, Great Owl butterflies and Tree Nymphs were the most obvious butterflies with Giant Orange Tips, Common Mormons, Malachites, Scarlet Peacock and Zebra Mosaics, all seen and photographs attempted mostly using flash due to the dull day outside.
Tropical plants abound, streams gush down into the largest of the pools and a pair of parakeets chase each other around noisily. They respond to pishing which is a surprise. Mousebirds and quail are here too.
Two Peruvian Green Iguanas are found, one crawling around feet, the other, the larger male is sitting on a large ventilation pipe. A large cockroach, definitely not English, is on some of the stonework.
Mayan theme to the area due to the Butterfly Farm's links with a Mayan area of Belize, there are large reproduction Mayan statues around every corner. More on this on a later date.
The zone contains foodplants, dozens of large cocoons festoon bare branches with huge Atlas Moths emerging from a few. A couple of Oleander Hawkmoths have also emerged and their cryptic colours are superb.
How to grow avocado seeds using a plastic bottle. Must have a go.
The pupae cabinet is a bit bare but with a shipment of 15-20,000 arriving today, it will soon be full.
Caterpillars and eggs to be found if one looks hard enough. Plenty to find and see despite this being the quiet time of the year.
Back to the Youth Hostel with panniers full of shopping. A complete change of diet with no more cake, biscuits or sweets. Instead plenty of fruit, vegetables especially greens, oats, fish, seeds, beans and pulses. My only indulgence from my past diet, coffee. I will limit this to one cup in the morning.
Back to the Butterfly farm on Wednesday. How fabulous to get up knowing that it will be another wonderful day.