“Oh Where, Oh Where Should This . . . .”

Jeff Zablow on Peak of Mt. Hermon Israel

This? One of the highlights of the last decades, JLZ, Me, on the peak of Mt. Hermon in the HolyLand. At 7,000 feet plus, you see distant Lebanon behind me. I am standing in Israel, and calamitous Syria, that killing field, is roughly at the 4 O’Clock point in this image.

Why was I there? For butterflies that fly only on the mountain top. It’s easy for me to daydream of Joshua, Jesus, Jacob, Israel, Rabbi Akiva and Menachem Begin standing on this very same stop, awed and grateful to G-d.

Butterflies will still fly here in Georgia through November, then only on mild winter days.

I am daydreaming too of next year. The eternal optimist, I’m thinking of where my quest for new new (for me), rare and gorgeous butterflies . . . to meet and photograph.

Few in the last decades have offered. Offered that I drive hundreds of miles to their home base, and join them on their trails, and their secret butterfly habitats. Now, me a bit seasoned, several have thrown out the butterfly ‘lifeline’ to me for 2021. I am Bigtime grateful to those of you who did.

I respectfully ask you where do you suggest that I travel in 2021 to meet my new butterflies? “Oh where, Oh where should this – – – – – boy go?”

Jeff

Trail Partners (RSPB)

Red-Spotted Purple butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek Park, PA, 8/24/07

Working trails alone? I prefer it, for when folks appear on a trail you’re scouring, they almost always appear when you are poised to capture good images of a difficult to find, fresh butterfly. Way too many times I put on a forced smile, a modified greeting for those who have spooked my butterfly find, and caused it to flee.

True too, that after hours of not seeing anyone, there are moments when you wish someone would come along your way, so you can communicate, with a “Good Morning! How are you both today?”

There are butterflies that happily fill those occasional voids, and this is one of them. Red-spotted Purple Butterflies like to ‘claim’ trail quadrants, and when I find one, like this sweet one, truth be told, I sometimes, relieved to be able to interact with something, talk to it. Insanity? No. Losing marbles? No. Just a chance to relieve a touch of loneliness, upon spotting a fine looking, robust trail partner.

Raccoon Creek State Park, Hookstown, Pennsylvania . . . some 43 or so minutes west of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Jeff

Which One For 2021?

Zebra Heliconian butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Wildlife Management Area, Kathleen, GA

That’s what we love about butterflies, each year brings its own surprises and disappointments. Butterflies you looked forward to seeing in any given year sometimes don’t show up, and each year butterflies you have given up thinking about visit and bring a smile.

This year, just 6 months in our new home, in North Macon, Georgia, we aggressively planted perrenials, trees and shrubs in our back garden. The list is fun for us to recall: Hackberry trees, Swamp milkweed, Linden trees, Bear oak trees, Passionflower, Coneflower, Oak trees (post oak), Hercules Club bushes/trees, Liatris, Brickellia ( rare, rare), Hickory trees (Pignut, Shagbark, Nutmeg (rare, rare), Cardinal flower, Cosmos, Hibiscus, Iris (Blue flag), Spicebush, Crocosmia (Lucifer), Joe Pye, Ironweed, Lobelia, Basil, Black & Blue salvia, Oakleaf Hydrangea, Asters (Several Varieties), Buttonbush, Turtlehead, Atlantic White Cedar, Sassafras,  . . .  and more. Really, more.

The payoff for all the work that we did? Excellent butterfly visits and fulfilling caterpillar numbers. The Big Surprise? This 2020 season brought lots of Zebra Heliconian butterflies to our 800 Garden. Lots. Heliconius charithonia flies with the flight of a ballerina, and just stops you in your tracks, you watching that graceful flight with awe, me thinking where are we in the Amazon or in tropical Africa? Then I smile, thankful that no, we are here in Georgia, and this butterfly is real and inspiring.

So for us, 2020 brought Zebra Longwings. What butterflies will be plentiful in 2021? Ma’am, I have no idea.

Which butterflies would you like to see more of in 2021?

(This one was seen in the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia).

Jeff

Everyone Have A Favorite Butterfly?

Mourning Cloak Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Toronto Canada

Cherie posted a photo of a Compton Tortoiseshell Butterfly yesterday, in Ontario, Canada. That sure got my attention. I’ve seen 3 Compton in these 27 years, and my only image of a Compton was taken while I was about 12 feet away, me using a Macro- lens! Cherrie’s Compton sure got me to thinking, and I Commented on her Facebook post, writing how much I wanted to see another Compton, and how fortunate she was to live in the Land of Tortoiseshells, Mourning Cloaks and species of Comma butterflies. When you are lucky enough to see one of them when they are fresh, you know that scoring a good image will later bring a flood of views, and the Comments you’ll reap, Oh My Goodness!

There’s one of these Brushfoots that is my favorite butterfly. Here it is, a fresh, richly colored Mourning Cloak Butterfly, seen in a city park, Don ________ Park in Toronto, Canada. I was strolling with an acquaintance in the park when I noticed a break in the bushes. I just had to head through that only break in those closely planted shrubs. As I went through those bushes, I must have been on a deer path. It continued for about 40 feet, and there, in a small clearing, was a stand of Common Milkweed. My eyes opened Wide, for on those blooming milkweed were Mourning Cloaks, lots of them!!!

This was one of them, and I love this picture. Study it, its lush, lurid colors. What do you think?

That same year, I was brought to tears [Please don’t tell folks this admission] when a Mourning Cloak circled me several times from 30 feet up, and came down and . . . landed on my hat. Frieda A”H died just months before, and this mystical experience melt me like I was butter or something.

I love stuff, and especially Mourning Cloak Butterflies.

Jeff

People Plan . . . & G-d Laughs?

Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, GA

JLZ at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge on the Georgia coast. I gaze at this pic of me, and . . . I’m good with it. Gave up long, long ago comparing myself with make-believe folks, like Hollywood stars, TV personalities and Mickey and Roger and Michale Jordan and what was the name of that NY Giants football great? I stare at this, the me of me, and smile, the street kid in very real Brooklyn, the kid who took the subway to the National Golden Gloves Finals, boxed in Boys Club, took the NY subways for those years to college w/ long steel on me, kinda had Connected friends, but knew that would not be good for the future, Dean (for Discipline) in a New York City high school, managed a Staten Island multi-family and smiled as the last Connected Guy living there moved, was an artilleryman and graduated from OCS, managed buildings in New York’s Chelsea, East Village, SoHo, West Village, Upper East Side, Upper West . . . .

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Success and a firm belief in G-d are the wind to my sails now. Wealth . . . gone. Friends . . . elusive. Family . . . ‘Dad you shoot “Bugs?”‘ Hey, I LOVE seeking and photographing butterflies. I more so enjoy when YOU come along and ‘Like.’ More than that I LIKE when you ‘Comment.’ You are folks I enjoy, admire and regret that I hardly ever meet!

2021 beckons. Election over, Idiot 20-somethings disappear from the MSMedia . . . 2021 is the year I look forward to busting-out!! I want to shoot, shoot and shoot again. I’ve already received real, not imagined invites to come and be shown destinations heretofore unknown to me in Ohio, Arizona, southwestern Georgia and on the Georgia coast. The ‘Little Boy In The Candy Shop’ is so looking forward to going and meeting Facebook and WordPress friends and together investigating 2021 habitat that they know.  Budget? Meager? Heart? Doc always says “Excellent.”

The generation gone always cautioned, “People Plan . . . and G-d Laughs.” What I haven’t mentioned yet is that I’ve always been a species of Optimist. How else could I have survived the stuff written above, the knives, guns, fists, wrecks and the treachery that ended my  . . . .  Frieda A”H in her last years always (firmly) told me to go, go photograph. Some just hope to see and shoot very, very rare butterflies. Me? I expect that to happen at every turn of the trail.

People Plan . . . & G-d Laughs [at their Plan].

Jeff