Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

An idea for a post

with 47 comments

On two of our earlier visits to the Philippines we tried to go to the island of Bohol, and each time we had to cancel our side trip there because of bad weather and rough seas. On December 20, 2019, we finally made the two-hour crossing from Cebu City to Tagbilaran, the main town on Bohol, located in the southwestern corner of the island. As part of an arranged tour, we stopped at the Bohol Python and Wildlife Park, where, as the name suggests, almost all of the animals came from outside the Philippines. Of the various insects in the butterfly enclosure there, I asked which ones were native to the Philippines. Two were. The first was the idea butterfly, Idea leuconoe, also known as the paper kite butterfly and rice paper butterfly.

The other native butterfly was the Magellan birdwing, Troides magellanus, shown twice below.

The first Magellan picture is more dynamic, the other more informative.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 3, 2020 at 4:42 PM

47 Responses

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  1. Wow! That second photo is sensational.


    February 3, 2020 at 5:12 PM

    • I like your enthusiasm. Yes, there’s a dynamism that comes from showing the butterfly at that angle.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 3, 2020 at 6:06 PM

  2. OMG
    Absolutely fantastic pictures!


    February 3, 2020 at 6:54 PM

    • Thanks. I just wish there’d been more than two kinds of native butterflies in the enclosure.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 3, 2020 at 7:00 PM

  3. Beautiful! Sometimes it’s hard to believe these creatures are real.

    Robert Parker

    February 3, 2020 at 7:50 PM

    • It is—and yet they moved and proved their reality. And you just reminded me of Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu’s famous dream:

      “Once I, Chuang Tzu, dreamed I was a butterfly and was happy as a butterfly. I was conscious that I was quite pleased with myself, but I did not know that I was Tzu. Suddenly I awoke, and there was I, visibly Tzu. I do not know whether it was Tzu dreaming that he was a butterfly or the butterfly dreaming that he was Tzu.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 3, 2020 at 9:24 PM

      • I sometimes (often) feel like this when I awaken with dreams so ‘real’ that I wonder … which is the real ‘me’ or are both worlds part of a larger dream? Sorry for nudging into this conversation, but this quote is one of my favorites!
        The images – and your narratives – are always a comfort to the eyes and soul. Thank you!

        Playamart - Zeebra Designs

        February 10, 2020 at 3:39 PM

        • What’s a little nudge among friends? I’ve quoted the Chuang Tzu on and off for decades. I think I learned it in Honduras, or not long afterward. How interesting that you’ve actually experienced what he described.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 10, 2020 at 4:07 PM

          • I’ve actually woven that into a few stories of fiction which advance ever so often when the whim hits — or a flash of imagination spurs me to scribble it down before it’s lost.

            Long ago I had a dream that was so real — and normal, that I sketched the neighborhood, the old trees on the corner and a two-story wooden house on that corner… Probably 30 years later while taking a short-cut thru an area of the state I did not know when younger – there was the site – all there except for the house. Just an empty space. One day I hope to research the nearby archives/records to see if there’s a trail to follow!

            Playamart - Zeebra Designs

            February 11, 2020 at 8:16 PM

  4. Butterflies can be seen as very like dreams–unpredictable, elusive, and fleeting. Are there only two native to the Philippines, or did they only have two species available for display?


    February 4, 2020 at 3:11 AM

  5. My favorite of all the details is the apparent ‘kink’ in one of the butterfly’s antennae in the second photo. I can’t remember seeing that before. My impression is that whether they’re being held up, down, or out to the side, they’re usually straight.

    The rice paper butterfly is gorgeous. I’ll bet it would be even more impressive backlit. I wondered what its caterpillar might look like, and it’s just as striking. I learned that it’s related to the monarch, and engages in the same behavior: feeding on plants that render it unpalatable as protection.


    February 4, 2020 at 7:44 AM

    • I appreciate your research because I hadn’t pursued either butterfly species to the extent you did. I’d happily go for a backlit picture of the rice paper butterfly, but I took what I could get in the limited time we were there.

      I don’t know what to make of the “kinked” antennae in the second picture; in math we say that kind of curve contains a point of inflection. Kinks don’t appear in the following picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 4, 2020 at 8:01 AM

  6. Looking for the native butterflies was brilliant. They’re beautiful.


    February 4, 2020 at 9:14 AM

  7. The geometric patterns on the butterfly wings are fascinating.

    Peter Klopp

    February 4, 2020 at 10:40 AM

  8. Gorgeous!


    February 4, 2020 at 4:55 PM

    • Thanks. I wish I could’ve shown more.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 4, 2020 at 5:10 PM

      • You could have (and still could), even if they are not native species.


        February 4, 2020 at 6:41 PM

        • My longstanding policy here has been to avoid species that I know aren’t native.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 4, 2020 at 10:06 PM

          • I now remember you mentioning this to me before, Steve.


            February 5, 2020 at 9:16 AM

            • Yes, it was the genesis of this blog. A little over a decade ago I put together a book called Portraits of Texas Wildflowers, which showed off our native species. After I tried repeatedly to get a publisher but couldn’t interest one, I started this blog to promote our native wildflowers, along with native animals and nature in general.

              Steve Schwartzman

              February 5, 2020 at 9:49 AM

              • I’m sorry to hear that no publisher was interested in your book, Steve. You might try again, or consider self-publishing.


                February 5, 2020 at 10:46 AM

                • Unfortunately it’s hard to self-publish when the book needs high-quality photographic reproduction. I did, however, think of doing several e-books to avoid having to do any printing at all.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 5, 2020 at 11:07 AM

                • That’s true. E-books would be the most environmentally friendly, but there are many of us who still like the old-fashioned print books.


                  February 5, 2020 at 3:54 PM

                • I like real books too (I grew up in a home with thousands of them), but high-quality photo books cost a lot to produce. On the other hand, photographs looked at on a good computer monitor have a vibrance that no printed image can match.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 5, 2020 at 5:06 PM

                • …and computer images can be enlarged and otherwise manipulated to enhance one’s viewing pleasure…


                  February 5, 2020 at 6:17 PM

                • Right you are. I’ve gotten spoiled by the ability to zoom in on a screen image for more detail.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 5, 2020 at 6:48 PM

                • We all have!


                  February 5, 2020 at 6:50 PM

  9. They’re really big, aren’t they? The rice paper butterfly really appeals to me.


    February 6, 2020 at 11:01 AM

    • I read that they’re big, but I found these not to be bigger than many butterflies I see back home.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 6, 2020 at 2:31 PM

  10. Very pretty!!


    February 6, 2020 at 7:37 PM

  11. We have some truly beautiful butterflies, and moths, here in the U.S. but some of the more spectacular species found elsewhere in the world are so lovely. We do get to see some of them in a local butterfly house a few miles from here. They do a nice job of replicating the environments but being in the real place would be so much more enjoyable. Nice shots, Steve.

    Steve Gingold

    February 7, 2020 at 6:23 AM

    • Thanks. I never expected to get any butterfly pictures on our trip but these came my way, so who was I to pass up the opportunity?

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 7, 2020 at 7:38 AM

  12. I’m glad you took the opportunity! As you say, they do please the eye, especially the second one.


    March 1, 2020 at 8:07 AM

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