Stratford Butterfly Farm

01st August 2014
In: Trips
Stratford Butterfly Farm

I decided pretty much at the last minute to pay a visit to the best butterfly farm in the UK - Stratford Butterfly Farm! As it doesn't open till 10 am in the winter I didn't have to leave very early but was unprepared for the M69 to be closed (causing me a 20 mile detour!!). However I finally arrived around 10:30 and parked the car nearby £5.00 for all day - not the main car park but a little one near a hotel on the left just before Stratford Butterfly Farm. The farm itself has no parking (apart from blue badge holders) so if visiting you need to factor this in.

There is a room at Stratford Butterfly Farm where you can leave coats etc - if visiting in winter and wearing glasses be prepared to not see a thing when you walk to the reception desk!! Then with great anticipation I made my way to the entrance to Stratford Butterfly Farm to see the butterflies - to be greeted by another blast of humid air which caused another temporary loss of sight!! Not for so long this time. Having been before I knew it would take a while to get the lens clear so I took the lens cap off and sat and had a few cups of coffee while watching the butterflies.

Lens misting up - the best approach to minimise this is to try and keep your lens and camera at a temperature as close as you can to the butterfly house before entering. Difficult in the winter! However if you keep the camera inside the car (in a plastic bag if you can) on the journey it will help. Once inside Stratford Butterfly Farm take the lens cap off and just leave the camera and lens. I know it is tempting to wipe it but resist - you will only make it worse. It took around 45 minutes to demist completely and was then fine for the rest of the day. Several people asked me about this while in the house so I know it is a common problem and a tricky one to sort out.

I must have spent around 4 hours taking photos and although it was incredibly busy and yes you always get someone who seems to deliberately stand in front of you (but they probably didn't see you with a camera and tripod!) I came away with over 300 images which will take a while to sort out. I used my trusty Canon 1D MKIV with my Canon 100mm L IS lens and also my 70-300 L IS lens. The macro was on a tripod but also used handheld some of the time whereas the zoom was used handheld (it has great IS!) I tried to keep the ISO down to 400 or 800 but in some of the darker areas had to use up to 3200 when shooting handheld. The tripod obviously helped and where I used it I could lower the ISO, lower the shutter speed and use mirror lock up and timer (or at least I could when the butterfly was sat still!!)

Mating Owl butterfliesEF2C6931IMG_4928

The caterpillar room is well worth a visit - full of eggs and caterpillars on the plants growing there if you look for them and also there were cages with silkmoth larvae and some fascinating death's head hawkmoth larvae. Also an asclepias plant which attracted some butterflies for nectar.

Pupating caterpillar

The main flight area of Stratford Butterfly Farm was fantastic as always - they claim to have over 250 species of butterflies throughout the year and yesterday there were some I have not seen before. But it is the quantity that amazes - always hundreds of butterflies flying around and I was able to observe butterfly pairings, egg laying and caterpillars feeding. Also interesting that in different areas of the flight area there were different species of butterfly - in one corner I counted 83 Clearing butterflies one one plant!

Species seen in Stratford Butterfly Farm were :

Scarlet Peacock

Owl butterfly

Red Lacewing

Banded Orange

Clearwing

Zebra Longwing

Common Postman

Great Eggfly

Great Tree Nymph

Indian Leafwing

Blue Banded Morpho

Great Mormon

Clipper

Images will be on the site during the next week or two

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