An All American Butterfly

White M Hairstreak butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Today is 9/11. I remember who told me it happened, I remember where I was when he told me, I remember the look on John’s face, all the blood had drained from him, forehead to chin. I remember how I could not believe it, even though I saw it on the tiny little TV on his desk.

I remember always how my father, gone this past May 16, 2015, told me that he and his WWII buddies made sure that we never have such a war again. When I served in the 2nd How 287th Arty, I would sometimes remember what he told me. Those 155 mm howitzers (towed) were beasts, and they made me think alot.

Well this all-American hairstreak butterfly, the White-M hairstreak happens to fly at this time. You may not notice it because it is kind of rare now, but this tiny beauty sports – Red, White and Blue.


Guess What Else I Shot?

Coral HairstreakButterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park
July 9, 2015 I loaded the Tundra, suitcase, photograph backpack (LL Bean), gluten-free food, snack, Red Wing boots, plus, and drove the 202 miles to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Stayed in a Hampton Inn there, and early July 10th drove to where I wanted to go for the last decade! This was the 3rd of 4 days that the Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation opened the military base for visitors to try to see . . . Regal Fritillaries (Speyeria idalia). I expected 20 people total to be there with me. Uh, uh. 130 came to join me.

The drive to the hotel was in rain, with tornado warnings. The forecasters called this one perfectly, because on Friday, it was magnificent. Sun, low 80’s, low humidity and no wind. Wow!

Big crowd? Yes. But very soon the expansive open fields caused the folks to space themselves well, and with the guidance and patience of Jake Fronko, a staff biologist posted there, it was Wonderful, with that capital ‘W.’ I saw upwards of 50 Regal frits during my 2.5 hours of searching. I was ecstatic. They are exquisite, and they often allowed themselves to be photographed, at close range. I even photographed a mating pair.

Funny, I’ve been on the lookout for Coral Hairstreaks, like this one seen some time ago at Raccoon Creek State Park, and there they were, sharing Butterflyweed flowerheads with the regals and Monarchs, too.

It will take some time before my film (Fuji slide/ASA 50) is processed and scanned. I do look forward to sharing them shortly, and I hope that I’ve captured some beauts. I’ve waited actually some 14 years to have my own Regal images, and this short wait for me will be just fine, Thank you.

When you have all the elements of a super duper photography opportunity, are there at the right time (I was), and have seriously good, serious guides like Jake and Dave McNaughton (also staff on base), you produce a day that you can easily remember 20 years later, G-d willing.


Gray Hairstreak Euphoria

Gray Hairstreak Butterfly at Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh
It was just a few days ago that I spotted a Gray Hairstreak nectaring on the coneflowers in my very own ‘peanut garden.’ It was a fine, fresh one, and caught my eye as I watched through the dining room window. That triangular form jutting out from the coneflower! Immediate Euphoria! I got out to the garden in a split second, and you know what? Any and all concerns that had been floating up there in my brain vaporized. Vaporized. The $100 water bill. The parking ticket that costs as much as a fine meal in a fine restaurant, the murderous ISIS mutilating others somewhere ½ way around the world, the why? is the shout of support for tiny, little Israel so difficult to hear, the day after day rain/thunderstorms impeding my photograph field work, all washed away.

That is one BIG reason that good folks strive to block development of good land. These and other butterflies provide us with hope, beauty, piece of mind and a reminder that there is a Higher order.

The first Gray Hairstreak in our newly planted ‘peanut’ garden, abutting the 900+ acre Frick Park. Who knows what else will visit today? Tomorrow?


Red-Banded Hairstreak Butterfly

Red-banded hairstreak butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Rock Hall, MD
A really nice discovery at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge. Calycopis cecrops ranks high on my List of happy finds. That red band that spans its left wings is unmistakable. This tiny hairstreak is a rare find for me. Field Guides give it a range from southern Massachusets south to the Florida Keys.

Our boy here is resting on a low branch, scopeing for females. He must be patient, for despite his handsome coloration, eyespots and nifty orange antennae tips, there were few females in the Refuge that morning.

His rest ended instantly, when my macro lens made its slow, calculated approach. This species is frustrating, for once they flee, they do not return to the same perch. Sop when they are gone, they are gone.

Get this. Little is known of the life of this species. It’s 2014 and we still know little about it. One of my favorites, that we do know.