Due to various members being sick over the weekend, Sian, James and myself were roped into a last minute day’s work on Saturday. I am currently suffering from a cold, and therefore believe that the world is ending (who can blame me – I’m a man after all) and in my grumpy state I walked to the lab to fire up the Fuji and start getting on with printing.
On my way in, I couldn’t help but enjoy the beautiful blue sky that Barbados was treating us to…it was fantastic…so much so that I rang Sian and told her to leave whatever she was doing to get outside and admire the cobalt blue we were being blessed with. As I wandered down through the resort, grumpy and with my neck cocked back to admire the stratosphere, I couldn’t help but notice that our Frangipani tree on the golf course was looking a little under the weather. It normally has bright green leaves and lovely white, four petaled flowers…but in this beautiful, post hurricane system sky, it looked dowdy and almost dead.
On closer inspection, it was not actually the tree’s fault, nor the weather’s. It was being set upon by the only animal I have encountered that makes my old man look like a calorie counter. It was teaming with Frangipani Caterpillars.
There were about twenty we could spot in total. They are awesome. the biggest ones were about 12cm long, and 2 cm wide, and they just chow down mercilessly on the leaves. I was mesmerised by them.
Having seen the tree teaming with life, I ran to the lab and got things going, pinched the work camera (D7000 for those that care) and came to grab some snaps.
In the short time I was there, the bigger guys at the bottom of the tree quickly polished off a leaf each in the morning sun. They were very wary of me though, and whenever I got too close, they would wag their heads angrily. From what I have read, they will nip you if in a pinch, but they are completely harmless otherwise. Their bright colouring is a warning to birds and other predators that they are poisonous….this is somewhat of a ruse – they themselves have no poison or venom, but the sap of the Frangipani tree is poisonous to predators without the digestive system of the caterpillars, and so their food provides them with all the protection they need from our feathered friends here on the island.
We use the D7000 at work solely for its incredible video performance, and I am training the guys how to get the most from it…needless to say, I felt obliged to film a little of what was going on, and thought I would bring the D700 and the tripod along later on in the day for some more time-lapse action.
Needless to say, all just a bit of fun, and many apologies about the camera shake, I didn’t have time to grab the tripod and longer lenses – I was covering people calling in sick after all.
At the end of the time lapse shoot (trust me to pick the one caterpillar that couldn’t polish off an entire leaf) the sun had come around beautifully, and just hit the caterpillars with that golden light. These were taken with no flash, if you’ll believe it 😉
Overall I was pretty pleased with the shots…but I got increasingly frustrated with not being able to focus closer (Cue the wide eyed: “Baaaaa – bbbbyyyy, we need to get a Nikon 105mm macro lens”)….but that’s for another day…
And yet again, my camera has led me to learn a bit more about the wildlife of this alien island…not too sure how often the Frangipani Caterpillars will come up in the local pub quiz, but every tid-bit we gleam, every fact we learn, makes being here feel a little less alien, and a little more like home.