THE MAGIC OF LIFE BUTTERFLY HOUSE
____________________________________Whilst it’s still fresh in my mind, I’d like to share with you a wonderful place that Shirley and I visited on our homeward journey from Rhayader last Friday. I hadn’t even spotted the signpost, but Shirley was already turning off the main road as she suggested we take a look! The Butterfly House is in CWM RHEIDOL, not far from Aberystwyth, and sits within the natural beauty of the RHEIDOL VALLEY. I had never visited a tropical butterfly house before, and I wasn’t disappointed!! The butterfly house came into being through THE MAGIC OF LIFE TRUST, established in 2000 by NEIL GALE, a rainforest botanist, and was set up with the purpose of increasing awareness and understanding of the natural world. Far more beneficial than reading from books, the aim is to allow the public to engage with nature, and this is a magical site in which to do so – very few of us will have the opportunity to see such beautiful butterflies in their natural habitat in tropical rain forests, so this is a perfect substitute. The INDIAN MOON MOTH belongs to a family known as the SATURNIID MOTHS – they have no developed mouth parts, so once they reach the adult stage of their life cycle, they do not eat, instead surviving on fats stored during the caterpillar stage, and consequently have a life span of no more than 2 weeks. Many other species live only a week or two, their sole purpose to find a mate and lay eggs. It seems so unjust to me that something so incredibly beautiful has such a short existence, but it’s Nature’s design at work. All the butterflies here are from tropical rain forests, ranging from Africa, Ecuador, Costa Rica, S.E. Asia, and Central & South America. The site is not merely a visitor attraction, it serves as a valuable educational centre, with a wealth of information available on the butterflies & moths, and about the rain forests that provide their natural habitat. In one corner of the tropical house is a tank which houses several pupae on sticks spaced across its length – if you’re here at the right time you can see the butterflies emerge from their chrysalis’ (we had just missed a Tree Nymph emerging), and they are then released into the main area. I think that this process is one of Nature’s most complex and miraculous transformations, and cannot help but view it with child-like wonder!! I have never seen such a variety of butterflies, we spent a good hour and a half here, and still probably didn’t see all the species on show!! It was pure magic to walk around the tropical house and see them all flying around, occasionally landing on us, and we had to watch where we stepped at all times, as they settle on the ground at times as well! I’ll allow my pictures to tell the rest of the story, but suffice it to say that I’m sure I was open mouthed in wonder at being in the midst of such astonishing natural beauty, and I would highly recommend a visit here should you be in the area. Its setting is exceptional, and the valley offers fantastic woodland walks, complete with waterfalls – we didn’t have time to explore further last week, but it’s DEFINITELY high on the list for a return visit!! Needless to say, this rounded off a memorable week, which started well enough with an afternoon in the company of GIGRIN’S Red Kites, a visit to the SPACEGUARD CENTRE (a future post!!) An incredible afternoon’s raptor experience, and the wonderful Magic Of Life Butterfly House, and then for our final stopping point, we rounded off the week with lunch at YNYS HIR HALL!! While we awaited our lunch, we jogged our memories of our visit in June with another walk around the most beautiful grounds of the Hall, and we both captured shots of one of our own domestic butterflies, with this handsome peacock….. In folklore, the butterfly is seen as the lost soul of our departed ancestors, and the chrysalis as the soul trapped in the body – when the adult form emerges from the chrysalis, this is seen as the representation of the soul’s release from it’s earthly body in death. There is more about the symbolic significance on the website, accessed via the link at the end of the post. For me it represents a spiritual link, and is a wonderful way of viewing the butterfly’s ephemeral existence. I think that butterflies and moths have to be amongst the most beautiful of Nature’s creations, so fragile and delicate, and so diverse in shape, size, and colour, and such a delight to behold. As I say, the butterfly house is well worth a visit, as is the area in general, and below is a link to the site containing a history of the Magic Of Life Trust, and information about the conservation of rain forests etc, excellent reading, and highly recommended. My thanks for Shirley for the Glasswing and the Atlas Moth – her shots of the glasswings are a lot sharper than my own, which are too blurred to post!! http://magicoflife.org/
The Dyfi Osprey Project and the Scottish wildlife Trust have kindly given their permission for us to post still and video images from their webcams. To visit their sites please click on the relevant link. Loch of the Lowes. Dyfi Osprey Project.