Sunday, December 26, 2010

Butterflies and Birds in Chaa Creek, Belize

This morning the dads were up at the crack of dawn to go bird-watching. The rest of us preferred to sleep in because really, the birds were all around us at all times. All we had to do was to step out of our cabins. The birds would be there waiting restlessly to wrench breakfast from our hands. I'm not huge into birds so I don't remember the names of all. But the blue bird with a hole in the tail is the Mot Mot bird - I mention it because it was a favorite of Talinn's perhaps due to its fun name and because the boys spotted it during their treasure hunt. Talinn remembers this one bird the most from his trip.

What I haven't mentioned so far is that early mornings in Chaa Creek were always punctuated by the deafeningly loud, dinosaur-like roar of the Howler monkeys - sometime around 5am. If you've never heard them before, you'd think some gigantic, most fearsome creatures were about to attack you much like the Godzilla type movies. Usually the howls would die down by the time we woke up and rolled into the breakfast hall. But this morning, they were sounding really intense around mid-morning. The camp personnel told us that it was a family of monkeys that could be spotted if we followed an adjacent trail. So off we went in search of the noisy primates. After a bit of a walk into the forest, we found the tree they were perched on, really high. Apparently their catastrophic howl is a plea to the weather gods to shower us with rain.
A lesson on the lifecycle of the Blue Morpho butterfly
After the eggs hatch into very hungry caterpillars, they feast on leaves all day long
"Yew!!! Do you think those caterpillars are stinky?"
After they eat a lot and become fat, they build a cocoon around themselves. The pupa hangs out till enough days have gone by and the temperature is just right for a fresh new butterfly to emerge.
Some newly born butterflies, still attached to their cocoons, but almost ready to fly
We witnessed the miraculous birthing of a butterfly from its cocoon in front of our eyes. Talinn was beyond fascinated - stunned.
Another miracle of life! The beautiful Blue Morpho butterfly!
This morning we hiked up to the butterfly farm at the preserve. The farms breeds Blue Morpho butterflies and runs an educational facility where you can watch the entire lifecycle of the butterfly. For Talinn, it was like watching The Very Hungry Caterpillar come to life. For all of us, watching a butterfly pushing through its cocoon to stretch out its gorgeous wings for the very first was a moving experience. The magic and wonder of any new birth is undeniable. What a great way to learn rather than looking at drab drawings in a text book. The farm is supposedly pretty popular with student groups. The butterflies inside the greenhouse fly freely and land on everyone. It was quite a thrill overall.
Back at the resort, we treated ourselves to a lovely lunch. All meals here were so delicious. That afternoon Tanvi went on a horseback adventure with her parents. Kids as young as Talinn and Nathan anna were not allowed, so we opted to send them on the treasure hunt, which turned out to be their most exciting and memorable activity of the trip. Ready? Read the next post for the treasure hunt...

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