Friday, June 5, 2009

Costa Rican butterflies

Last night I arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica, from where I will continue my travels to Laguna de Apoyo in Nicaragua tomorrow morning.

This morning I went to a little-known butterfly garden close to downtown San Jose, at less than 10 minutes walking distance from the hostel I'm staying at. I don't care much for San Jose, but this was a lovely little oasis in this ugly, dirty city. As expected, for the nearly three hours I was there, I was the only visitor.

The place is called Spirogyra Jardin de Mariposas, and it's tucked away in an unattractive part of town, near a shopping center. Once inside, you soon forget that you are in a city, for a waterfall drowns out all city noise while butterflies flutter through dense but well-maintained vegetation.

I guess the first thing that most travelers who come to Costa Rica for this kind of thing would do is leave San Jose, which is why this place will never be run over by tourists, and why it will probably always stay tranquil and beautiful. There were no other visitors there but there were friendly staff who directed me to a short little trail just outside the actual butterfly garden, where more butterflies and a few birds and exotic-looking squirrels could be seen. Just imagine - a little piece of jungle right in San Jose!

Alright - the butterfly at the top of today's entry is the one most people know: the Common Morpho. There were plenty of those flying around in the garden. I've seen them before many times, but I've always found them difficult to photograph, because they do so much flying. There were other species of morpho in the garden, and the even bigger owl butterflies.

The second one from the top is Blue-and-white Heliconian, followed by a very blue Red Cracker. (The red refers to markings on the underside of the wings.) The orange one finally is another heliconian: Orange Banded Heliconian. That's as straightforward as butterfly names come: the long wingshape points to heliconian, it's orange, and it's banded.

The same cannot be said for Jazzy Leafwing (pictured above). I see the basic leafwing shape on this butterfly with wings closed, but I don't know what marking provides the clue to its 'jazziness'; maybe it's in the way it flies?

Here it sits with wings open.

Here finally is a shot of a couple of rows of chrysalids, with a fresh individual (Common Morpho) that just emerged, sat there pumping its wings full of fluid, which will then harden to allow it to fly.

The Lonely Planet guide mentioned a small hummingbird garden "with five species" here, but that alas was not the case. Near the entrance was a small garden cafe called the hummingbird cafe, and a few old and empty feeders hanging from twigs. "No hummingbirds today, I guess" I said to the guy who had let me into the garden. "No," he confirmed. But the little trail outside the butterfly garden had Blue-crowned Motmots, Clay-colored Thrushes and Blue-gray Tanagers.

1 comment:

Raj said...

Awesome photos!