Is Shining Your Shoes Passe?

Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania, 9/5/14
Traffic here from guys under age 40? Light, I would say. So I’ll share the thought. Here in Doak Field, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, on September 5th, this sizable Great Spangled Butterfly was now out from the woods, and she wanted to warm her wings in the early morning sunlight. That quick mental tug-of-war resolved, I decided to work to capture yet another image of these huge Fritillaries, and hopefully . . . best those that I already have in my Neumade slide cabinet.

Fort Dix, New Jersey and Fort Sill, Oklahoma got me into shining my boots daily, a habit that I have now relaxed into a weekly chore. I have always loved rich chocolate brown leather shoes, and used to love my chocolate brown suits, but they have long slipped into “No one wears them anymore-ville.” Also, I’m guessing that men under 40 don’t shine their shoes and perhaps never did.

Our Speyeria Cybele totally evokes my shoe shining rituals. Could it be that rich brown that triggers that wired thought? Butterflies all evoke thoughts and snippets of memory for me. Do they for you, too?

She’s about the same as you’d see her in Eatonton, Georgia or Crockett, Virginia, as well as up in Maine and usually down to the Western sides of both North and South Carolina. (Cech and Tudor, Butterflies of the East Coast).

Jeff

Expendable Butterflies?

Meadow Fritillary Butterfly at Rector, PA
The Holidays, the beautiful, meaningful Holidays are upon us. New Years Eve, days away. Petra and I take our long walks through Frick Park, and old and new friends ask which of my family is coming in to Pittsburgh? A new year is approaching.

Have a second look at this Meadow Fritillary (Boloria Bellona) butterfly. Many are concerned that their numbers are steadily plummeting. Farms going fallow, fields abandoned, and going through the succession that leads to forest. Monarch butterflies an even bigger concern, Coral Hairstreak butterflies becoming tougher to find, Regal Fritillaries still present in one locale in my own state, but no one wants to enable me to photograph them (?).

Ya know, back in P.S. 244 in Brooklyn, I remember my teacher telling our class that Castor Canadensis (the Beaver) and wolves (timber) would all be gone one day. I don’t think she ever heard of the river otter, or she would have mentioned them in that same sentence.

The thing is, with ’14 ending, what are we going to do about all this? I want us, those who come here, to pay attention, and register their concern, line up with the heroes, the ones who restore a briar patch in a corner of Georgia. Don’t need a horse or a banner or pointed lance. 2015 needs our vigilance, and voice.

James Fisher, traveling with Roger Tory Peterson in 1953, couldn’t get over how beautiful America was, and how much of it was still wild. Enough of it is still left, to warrant our love and affection.

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to you!

Jeff

Do You See What I See?

Lycanea Thersamon butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

This is what it’s all about. There is no predicting what we will find when we set out to discover butterflies. It is a brew of timing, location, weather, habitat health, and your luck quotient. This view shot that thought through my mind, ‘Do you see what I see?’ A solitary figure on that agricultural road in Mishmarot, Israel, the question was a sweet one for me, although it could not be shared at the time.

The time was perfect, 6:50 AM. Perfect because the July 14th morning sun rises quickly. The location was good, this field remained unplanted, and hardy wildflowers flourished. The habitat? Almost all habitat in the Holy Land is desert hardy, and the previous winter had been wet enough. The Luck Quotient? I was in Israel. It is more beautiful than . . . . Well since few of you have been there, I can share with impunity that this Land is more beautiful can you can imagine. There I was, grandson just born, daughter so happy, sky blue, air super-clear, butterflies abundant, family hosting me and showing me around like visiting royalty.

This shot of the Fritillary butterfly Melitaea Trivia Syriaca engaged from some distance, an insurance shot, is sugar to my eye, truth be told.

Jeff

Melitaea Phoebe (Israel)

Meliteae Phoebe butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

I was visiting my daughter Rachel in Mishmarot, Israel. The kibbutz’s orchards were just a 3 minute walk from Rachel’s home. The sun in Israel rises like it does in Arizona, early. Those July 2014 mornings, after Rachel gave birth to Boaz, I did it. I got up at 4:30 A.M. those mornings, had my breakfast/coffee, and went to the fields that surrounded the orchards. I usually was there by 6:30 A.M..

Butterflies in arid regions begin their day as early as they can, so that they can warm in the pleasant morning sun, and can get first dibs at the nectar that the flowers begin to pump.

This female fritillary was as you see her, when I reached that good, good stretch of field. Look at her, richly patterned in burnt orange, black and white trim. Cautious approach, her acceptance that she was at no risk.

Good. Very good. What fine work!

Jeff