Monday, 13 August 2012

Fantasy land

Extending my brief holiday from moths, here's an exotic collection of pictures from one of our Oxfordshire stop-offs, the stupendous pile of Blenheim Palace. It was famously designed by Sir John Vanburgh who, closer to home, also built Castle Howard (with invaluable help from Nicholas Hawksmoor).

Blenheim is an absolutely vast lump but fortunately in keeping with the majestic landscape laid out by Capability Brown, a scale which also applies at Castle Howard. But you can see why obituarists wrote of the architect:

Lie heavy, earth, on Vanburgh. He
Laid heavier things by far on thee.

By contrast, the palace's excellent butterfly house is full of delicate grace, much appreciated by the many children going round. I am sure that some of them will develop a deeper interest in butterflies and moths.

The hatching cabinet with its rows of chrysalises draws them particularly. While we were there, several Atlas moths were starting to emerge. You can see from the picture immediately above that the cycle of life continues. Penny Eagle-eye also spotted clusters of eggs on some of the leaves.

But it was the bright colours and sheer size of the morphos, birdwings and other tropical species swooping among the plants (or hiding on them very cunningly) which left me breathless. Mind you, there were some brown ones too, which may feel at home in the UK:

 I promise to try to identify them in due course. The greenhouse has a very good identification chart but I was too entranced to make any notes.

One last picture: this exotic finch was also nipping about in the greenhouse. Presumably it is a bird which, like the robin on my trap the other week, doesn't have a taste for butterflies.


Cyren said...

Wow!!! Such beautiful butterflies!!! Love them all very much! And yes haha I believe Finch's are seed eaters :P

MartinWainwright said...

Hi Cyren - hope you are well. I'm glad they delight you cos apart from the Morpho, you must be used to this kind of thing.
you can imagine the effect they have on children (of all ages) in cloudy old England!

All warm wishes