Friday, October 14, 2011

The Butterfly House

The Sarett Nature Center has a butterfly house on their grounds. It's open late summer and into the fall.
I have only been to one other butterfly house (and that a long time ago in a shopping mall) so I didn't know what to expect.

It turns out, this butterfly house is much larger than the one I was to previously.

And it has lots more types of butterflies too! We weren't able to see all of these types of butterflies but we did see 10 of them, only missing out on the Viceroy, and Common Buckeye.

The butterfly house consists of a large screened in area with flowers, bushes, small trees, and a water pond.

The water pond had a few fish in it.

But let's face it, the main attraction is the butterflies. There were A LOT of them and they were easy to see and photograph. Sort of like shooting fish in a barrel, lol!

Photographers who enjoy shooting butterflies will have a field day here. The butterflies are numerous and they land on lovely flora making for beautiful pictures. I took a lot of pictures but could have spent the whole day there taking even more. Nature at it's finest!

The butterfly house at the Sarett Nature Center is not open year round so it's a good idea to call before you make the drive over to make sure it's open.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sarett Nature Center

There is a fall color show going on all throughout southwest Michigan these days. I'm always on the lookout for great pics of fall colors so D and I headed over to the Sarett Nature Center with that goal in mind.

This was our first trip to Sarett so we began with a stop at the main building to pay our admission fee ($6/person including admission to the butterfly house) and get a map.

There are some interesting exhibits inside the main building including a few live animals and few stuffed ones. You can also gaze out the big windows at birds, chipmunks, and squirrels feeding and playing.

I'm fascinated with owls so this figure really appealed to me.

But enough with the inside displays. We were looking for fall color! The docent recommended two trails to us. One trail went to "the overlook" which gives you a treetop view of the surrounding forest, the other trail went down into the marshy area where there are wildflowers to be found.

The trail to the overlook was very easy to follow. It's a wooden walkway just a short distance away from the main building. The overlook is a well built structure that doesn't sway or move. It is a long way up from the ground and wouldn't be a good choice for the vertically challenged.

As you can see, it does indeed put you right out among the treetops!

As you can see (click on the image to view larger), the trees in this area were past peak. A lot of trees had already dropped all their leaves and many others were in the process. At times it looked like it was raining leaves... pretty to see, difficult to capture in pictures.

After our trek to the overlook, we headed in the opposite direction. We went down the hill to the marshy area in search of wildflowers. This hike was more challenging. There is no wooden path, just a narrow ground path that snakes it's way around bushes and marshes.

We probably would have had more luck if we knew what we were looking for. But neither D nor I are wildflower experts and didn't have a flower guide book with us. We only saw a couple flowers here and there. Not much to see for all of our hiking effort.

This is my attempt at capturing leaves raining down (from the tall tree on the left). You probably can't see them but I know they're there. ;-) Note for next year: fall colors come early to the Sarett Nature Center! My guess is the leaves around here were probably looking their best mid to late September. Mostly yellows and golds with a tough of orange. No reds to be seen.

The Sarett Nature Center is located at:

2300 Benton Center Rd.
Benton Harbor, MI 49022
Phone: (269)927-4832

Stay tuned for our experience in the butterfly house!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Goodbye Venetian Festival

I'm sad to think that I've attended the last of St Joseph's Venetian Festivals. The festival organizers have decided to call it quits after a survey of St Joseph residents and shop owners indicated they were not in favor of the city continuing financial support of the event.

I wish I understood what this was about. All the comments I've read (in local newspapers and online) were rather vague about what the problems were. I guess it doesn't matter now. What's done is done. It seems a real shame that the issues/differences couldn't be worked out.

For me, the Venetian Festival marked the middle of summer. With it came the longest days, the hottest weather... the very best that summer in Southwest Michigan had to offer. It was the climax of summer in St Joseph. I will miss the festival. I have fond memories and lots of great pictures and for that I'm grateful.