Wildlife and Not so- Wild Life on the Trails….

17 04 2014

Cow photographed by Jeff Zablow on Northern Golan Trail, Israel, on 3/20/12

How well do you know your state’s cattle? She’s grazing in Texas? Louisiana? Kansas? New Mexico? Calgary? New Jersey? Montana? Baja California? Holding out for Colorado? Gotta be Utah? If you held out for more choices…you’re a gifted bovine identifier. She’s sampling tasties along  a trail in the northernmost Golan, at the extreme north of Israel.

Rachel and I found ourselves facing a bunch (?) of these behemoths, on our way back on a trail that had descended to a small river. An earlier blog described our nimble response to this challenge. Louise of Pittsburgh Commented that we had nothing to be concerned about…cattle want to do one thing and one thing only, eat. But you know, Louise wasn’t there on that remote hill with us. Nevertheless, city-dad and suburban-daughter did puzzle over this Excuse Me!

With winter gone, we look forward to getting back onto other wilderness trails. What wildlife will we meet up with? Record-breaking drought west of the Mississippi may well have skunked our plans to hike Colorado, or Arizona or California  or Washington mountains and valleys. Grizzlies, cougars, wolves, rattlers and much more may have to await another year for an encounter with Jeffrey.

I have shared trails, fields and forest with an assortment of macro-organisms. All that I can recall communicated about the same message – They were more than uncomfortable near me, and like the huge Israeli boar I startled last year, shot away from me at impressive speed. Others seen include species of wild dogs, alligators, white-tail deer, fox, marten, and a 40-pound long-tailed cat (in southwestern Pennsylvania, of all places). Rattlesnake in Rector, PA.

Which wildlife have made me wary and sent my hand down to the steel I bring along? Dogs. Domesticated dogs traveling in pairs. In Rector, PA two large dogs continued to advance on me with the wrong look on their faces, turning only  when I gave them my patented dog-warning wail and at the same time confronted them with shiny, pointy steel.

Out to see butterflies, delighted to see other wildlife…wary when the wildlife reminds me of guys I used to share those Brooklyn, NY sidewalks with…. But then, that’s me.

Jeff





Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar

15 08 2013

Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar photographed by Jeff Zablow at Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, GA

It’s August and this Agraulis vanillae caterpillar is right on schedule. Satiated and secure in the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. No stresses to manage. No family tensions, no TV, no texting, no horrendous news of the bloody battles going on in the streets of Cairo and Alexandria…just doing what Gulf frit caterpillars have done since who knows when?

Their hostplants are abundant here. Passionflower vines are found along the many canals of this one-time  rice farm, now National Wildlife Refuge. At the South Carolina – Georgia line.

Me, I was covered. Yep, covered in OFF! It was a fresh batch of OFF! the woodland variety, and I was like an aircraft carrier during the Pacific campaign in WWII. Swarms of enemy above me, in this case, more than one species of mosquito. You don’t see our friend here being stalked, because not a single arthropod could be seen harassing it. Does anyone out there know why Gulf fritillary caterpillars possess such protecia? 

What pleasure it must afford these caterpillars, knowing that more than likely they will survive the metamorphosis to adulthood…and they will be among the most beautiful winged beauties of all.

Jeff

N.B., I did once see an adult Gulf fritillary in Pittsburgh, in the Outdoor Gardens of the Phipps Conservatory. You just never know!





Savannah National Wildlife Refuge

15 07 2013

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge photographed by Jeff Zablow

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge is a rich and robust habitat. The Savannah National Wildlife Refuge was teeming with wildlife in August 2012 when I photographed butterflies every morning during a week-long vacation. Located in the southeastern corner of South Carolina, the Refuge is an 18 minutes drive from Savannah, Georgia. Readers might be interested to know that it was once a rice farm. If you drive another 20 minutes you’ll see beautiful Tybee Island where we stayed.

I saw alligators, herons, turtles, frogs, gulls and richly colored butterflies. The Viceroys were especially striking, with breathtaking contrasts of orange next to black. I was not satisfied with the photographs I came home with. You guessed it, those viceroy butterflies (Limenitis archippus) were especially leery of my approach. They are a wetland species, and Savannah National Wildlife Refuge is home, sweet home to them.

I’m planning to return in mid-August with the determination successfully photograph the Viceroys!

Jeff

 





Variegated Fritillary Caterpillar

3 07 2013

Variegated Fritillary Caterpillar photographed by Jeff Zablow at Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, GA

This photograph was taken in August in Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, actually in the southeastern corner of South Carolina, though it’s only about a 20 minutes drive from Savannah, Georgia. Our one week vacation blast was spent on Tybee Island. Mornings were spent at the  Refuge. Mosquitoes were thrilled to greet me along the former rice paddocks in the Refuge. OFF didn’t seem to deter them. They were professionals.

Variegated Fritillary butterflies (Euptoieta claudia) were in abundance that morning. Variegated fritillary caterpillars were also easy to locate and photograph. Most of the caterpillars spent the morning eating the leaves of passionflower vines (see our post today: Passionflower). By late morning the caterpillars were slowly moving down the stems of the vines. Were they headed to Siesta?

Resplendent in their red-orange stripes, white stripes and black spines, they confirm my wingedbeauty.com  argument: That butterflies are more beautiful than the magnificent jewelry of the very finest designers.

While I was working to photograph this larval gem, I was prey for perhaps 2-3 species of mosquitoes. The caterpillar was 100% free of such pests. Does anyone know why?

Jeff








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