It’s nice to see this again. July 31st, 2014, amidst a sea of Bergamot blooms. Color me happy-lucky. Butterflies here and there. Sphinx moths zooming in and out. Bumble bees, whose well being is much fretted over nowadays, abundant. Wasps patroling, and ruby throated hummingbirds there, and over there, and there. When the bejeweled butterfly suddenly appeared, that’s when you faintly heard my Thank You! This image, Fuji slide film, macro-, hand-held was one of several dozen that I popped off. I just reviewed the slide on my Porta-Trace lightbox. I nailed the right wing undersides, the right side of the abdomen (with those nifty spots), the right compound eye and a short bit of the proboscis. It looks like the scan gave up a bit of that. Ugh! What a rush, when a Pipeline swallowtail butterfly magically appears before a photographer of butterflies in Doak field, Raccoon Creek State Park, southwestern Pennsylvania. Just can’t get jaded in this ‘line of work.’ Jeff
I’ll never forget taking an elevator down in the arts deco Fuller building at Madison and E. 57th Street. It stopped. In walked Diana Ross. She was . . . more beautiful than I’ve ever seen her. Taller than I expected, too. We chatted, alone. I knew I’d never forget how beautiful and graceful she was. Never have. Remember too, when on a NYNY street, there was Mike Tyson striding down the sidewalk, with a comely blonde on each arm. Mike!
With thousands of Bergamot blooms fresh and pumping nectar, I knew that butterflies would come, to join the bees, flies, moths and hummingbirds who already were at work, imbibing sugary nectar.
Sure enough, in swooped a large, black butterfly, straight to the Bergamot. Here’s our Pipeline Swallowtail, beaming out its oranges, iridescent blues, and white, all on a starkly black background.
Diana, Mike, and Pipevine, all in the same league: The big leagues.
You should have seen it. Thousands of Bergamot blooms carpeting Doak field, Raccoon Creek State Park, Southwestern Pennsylvania. I’d been there several mornings that week. Bergamot in bloom means summer butterflies. Lots of them. Bergamot and Bee Balm are true nectar pumps (my own term) and their aroma must really travel, because they are a serious butterfly destination.
And that’s the way it was that July 31st day, 2014. Tiger swallowtails, Great Spangled Fritillaries, Spicebush Swallowtails, Hawkmoths, a Monarch, some Skippers, legions of Bumblebees and other fliers mobbed the Bergamot. I moved from the center of the 100+ acre field to a spot I knew along its margin. I chose a robust looking Bergamot plant and remained there for many minutes.
A large blackish Swallowtail Butterfly flew in. Wait, this was different. Can it be? Turn, turn pretty lady, let me be sure. She was nectaring and moving her wings violently, as she hovered over each bloom. The field guide in my brain was working at super-high speed until . . . Yes! Pipevine Swallowtail. OMG! it is! It is! She was fresh, Very shmeksy . . . . That iridescent blue field extending forward from those coral orange spots, all flashy bright. I shot slides on my traditional film camera: Pop, pop, pop . . .
I know my scream of Joy! could be heard in Pittsburgh. Maybe even in Cleveland. Did y’all her it at Madison and East 57th Street in Manhattan?
It all happens so quickly. Got to my favorite trail at Raccoon Creek State Park (Beaver County, PA) really early on this sunny May 2014 morning. Parked the Tundra and hiked the ½ mile to that stretch of the trail that has been so good to me over these years. So now it’s 8:25 A.M., and the sun is just beginning to warm last night’s cool forest air.
I set myself in place, and waited. Which butterflies might fly in from the forest, and select flat leaves, to sun themselves? Remember, flying around with reduced body temperatures is tough for butterflies. It slows them down, and at reduced speed, they are vulnerable to swifty birds and other predators.
Within 10 minutes, several male Tiger Swallowtail butterflies flew in and began to sun bathe. These males were fresh, could be from a new flight.
This guy was a dandy! Then I got a look at his hindwing markings. Hot blues and reds. Nice, very nice. I shot, shot, shot. Here he is.