Upsetting…Very Upsetting….

30 03 2014

Leonard's Skipper Butterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park

March 27th and the USPS letter carrier delivers our latest issue of NABA’s American Butterflies (Vol. 21: Numbers ¾). Titled The Conservation Issue…I looked forward to reading about the successes that butterflies were enjoying across the United States That did not happen. Most of the articles left me upset and saddened.

Ann B. Swengel writes of the challenges that grass skippers were encountering in their tall grass prairie habitats…but soon she was examining the status of Regal Fritillaries in those same grasslands. I’ve wanted to photograph regal Frits for years now, knowing how limited they are in my home state of Pennsylvania. For various reasons, that has not been accomplished, yet. Jeffrey Glassberg reports in that same issue of American Butterflies, “Regal Fritillaries [were last recorded in Westchester County, NY] in 1975.”

Then Jeffrey Glassberg discussed the disappearance of Leonard’s Skippers from Westchester County. “The last individuals were seen in 1988.”  The last 2 colonies known were decimated by 1) a musical festival that apparently pounded them into the ground and 2) the construction of townhouses that destroyed their habitat.

I will never forget my encounter with Leonard’s Skipper (Hesperia leonardus) in 2006. We’ve posted that experience earlier, so you are welcome to have a look. It was September 4th, sooo late in the season to meet something 100% new…and she was stunning! She flew onto the trail cut through the 100 acre meadow at Raccoon Creek State Park, in southwestern Pennsylvania. She posed with her lush wings fully spread. After lots of exposures, she fled.

These reports are very upsetting. Have the small populations at Raccoon Creek State Park…undergone… I don’t want to think about it.

The American Butterflies articles go on to discuss the absence of Silver-bordered Fritillaries, Meadow Fritillaries, Coral Hairstreaks…can we not anchor the butterflies that we have, and guard their habitat?


Fabriciana Niobe Philistra (Protected) (Mt. Hermon) … 1 in 5,000,000,000,000 ?

10 03 2014

Melitaea Persea Montium butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow on Mt. Hermon, Israel, 6/16/08

Wonderful! A working image of this rare, protected butterfly on… Mt. Hermon, at Israel’s northernmost border. He was not approachable … until he spotted these groundcover blooms on the mountaintop. So irresistible their aroma must have been, for he sped to these blossoms, and spent precious moments on each, taking in the sugary nectar.

This is another image that I am sharing, taken in June 2008. I had experienced a life-changing personal loss months before, and my daughter had relocated from Washington, D.C. to Tel Aviv. As I planned to visit her, I pushed myself to go for it, do something radical with my camera. Eran Banker was contacted, and off we went from Tel Aviv to … the peak of Mt. Hermon! Quite a few of my photos from Mt. Hermon can be seen here on wingedbeauty. Never, never will I forget that trip. Eagles flying by us as we took the lift to the mountaintop, butterflies like this one, found nowhere else, a landmine (where there were not supposed to be any), OMG! views of Syria and Lebanon, the cattle, grazing 7,000 feet plus on the mountaintop, and the knowledge that we were being watched, surveillance was watching us.

A rare Fritillary this one, flying May through July, on a mountain that you and I cannot visit because of a certain civil WAR, in  Syria.


Long Tailed Blue (Mt. Meron)

19 01 2014

Long tailed blue butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Meron

Vladimir, what would you have thought about this blue, encountered on Mt. Meron in Israel? Nabokov, perhaps the most expert student of the world’s blue butterflies, probably would have understood the frustration that I felt when the built-in light meter on my Canon film camera…failed while I was out on the trails of Mt. Meron. I knew that I was in a ‘pickle’ and I also knew that these hours on the mountain  were precious to me. So, I did my best to guess-timate apertures and shutter speed. Arrrgh!

Lampides boeticus Linnaeus enjoying some restful minutes on grass, the location, north-central Israel. Found where Asia, Africa & the Middle East come together, this male, with wings fully open, proudly displays its full upper wing surface. Diagnostic tails and black spots, he looks just fine against the mystically back-lit grass tuft.

It is my hope that 2014 will see me travel to several promising destinations to photograph. I am seeking help with pinpointing actual locations to find butterflies in the Florida Keys, alpine butterflies in Colorado, regal fritillaries, Dianas in West Virginia, Appalachian Satyrs, and more. If you are able to direct me to likely destinations,  please let me know.

We are scanning 60 new images…so keep coming back, my friends, there’s so much more winged beauty that we can enjoy….!


Great Spangled Fritillary

9 12 2013

Great Spangled fritillary b-fly - Raccoon Creek State Park, PA 

Umm! I’m overdue. Our 2 shih tzus and black russian need to go out for their walks. But out the window its dull, gray, slushy and sliiiipery. So I’m putting it off until they signal, now or never! Opening this image in our queue…Up comes this satisfying shot = Summer! You’ve just got to pause and visually drink it in. Don’t ski, toboggan, sled. Skin on my hands gets really challenged by the below freezing winters of Pittsburgh (No this is my home, so that’s that).

You already know that some of my images aren’t as close-up as others share, but I think our color here is good, real-time, and the plant life shared looks real, and not blah! She is motionless on a gravel trail in Raccoon Creek State Park, one of the many beautiful state parks in western Pennsylvania. That puts us about 400 miles due west, and a little bit south of New York City.

This morning I opened a new Robert Michale Pyle book, and after the last several terrific butterfly reads, this all has begun bringing my blood to a low boil. Look again at this image. How nice it will be to again share the trail with Speyeria cybele. Today is December 9th. Where are they now? They are present in your yards, parks, schoolyards and refuges. Where? They are hidden caterpillars, hidden in the leaf litter. When you watched your neighbor rake up the leaves last month in their large yard…good chance they were raking up some potentially eye-catching butterflies (or what would have been butterflies). Man and butterflies…sometimes they ….

It is my hope to travel a bit in 2014, to photograph, and share Regals, Diana’s, butterflies of the Keys, Texas’ much raved about Mission, Tx area, and …Newfoundland. If you like, look at our last post…I need your eyes and ears and boots. Thanks….




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