Trying To Understand A Tree Frog

Tree Frog photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

We kept meeting tree frogs at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area. They fascinate me, they looking a bit goofy to me, and yet at the same time appearing to be wise and long experienced in the ways of the world.

With the upsetting news of the last many years, this tree frog shows no angst, anger or uncertainty. It remains in place, seemingly detached from the distractions that perpetuate in the world around it.

So I stood there, trying to understand this tree frog’s thinking. Was it thinking?

Florida’s Panhandle region, at the Gulf of Mexico.

Jeff

The Skipper You’ve Never Seen

Leonard's Skipper Butterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park

Anyone ever seen this one? Few appear to have ever seen a Leonard’s Skipper. I met this one because one year, well into September, I wondered. What would I meet at Raccoon Creek State Park’s Doak Meadow/Nichol Road trail?

That morning, on a trail cut through the high grass of Doak Meadow, I was startled (Yes!) to watch this large skipper fly out from the high grass and fly to rest on the cut grass floor of the trail? Excited does not enough describe my reaction to this unexpected reward for heading out the Raccoon Creek State Park, when y’all had already headed back to work, school and to all that folks do when summer ends and life returns back to normal.

Glassberg’s Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America describes Leonard’s as LR-U (Locally Rare to Uncommon) and notes that in western Pennsylvania it flies from late August to September.

In Pennsylvania, September weather quickly cools off, and butterflies soon disappear. Leonard’s eludes most of us, for you’re back at your desk, shuttling your kids to school and oboe lesson and back to doing your research or continuing to work on your doctoral work.

Me? I was retired, and I think this was after my Frieda A”H passed, and I needed this, alot.

Jeff

Gone Are The Days . . . .

Great spangled fritillary butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park

Moving from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Georgia was a Big change for me. Few back there thought I’d done the right thing. My family thought I’d kind of made a mistake. Me? There were things I miss, after those 27 years in the region that Steel built.

Folks here in Georgia ask often, Why did I move to Georgia. I was asked that 2 times today. My answer, Snow & Ice. I’d lost my tolerance of them. Walking Petra on a ‘Black Ice ‘ morning? Beyond dangerous to this guy who Loves going into meadow, fen, marsh, forest or medium mountain to shoot butterflies. I also, blessed still with bonafide street smarts, found myself more times than I liked, being sized up by unfriendly youth, as in “Think he’s going to be easy?” With the telepathic answer, “Yeah, this _______ ‘ll be easy.” Not yet carrying, I didn’t want to find myself on the front cover of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, busted-up by teenage youth.

Now in Georgia, I miss this, views of Great Spangled Fritillary butterflies on Butterflyweed, that June-early July sight that always pleased me. I also miss the usually futile search for tortoiseshells, mourning cloaks and rare commas.

We’re back from St. Simons Island, and Georgia, it is . . . beautiful, and its got its own inventory of spectacular butterflies.

Gone are those days, here are these days. Good, that.

Jeff

Caper White Butterfly (HolyLand)

Not Dayton Ohio or Missoula, Montana. The coastal plain of Israel, the HolyLand at the village of Binyamina. Some 10 miles from the Mediterranean Sea, near Dina & Misha’s orchards.

Studying this Caper White, requires that I continue to remind myself that this is NOT a U.S. Cabbage white butterfly.

I must too remind myself that the number of butterfly species that one can find defies your imagination. G-d is a prolific painter of beauty, is what I often think.

Jeff

Beauty Seen & Never To Be Forgotten

Earring Series - Blackswallowtail butterflies coupled, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

I was in the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat. Yes, I had seen hundreds (many) of butterflies there, making my 13+ hour drives from Pittsburgh easily worth it. Sometimes I saw the most beautiful butterflies I’d ever seen, ever. The possibility of seeing magnificence was always tantalizingly present.

My strategy was to get there as early as possible, at least before 8:30 A.M. in the morning. I especially liked finding butterflies that flew out of their night perches, and stood on leaves, soaking in the rays of the morning sun. Those trips south paid off, with exceptional images and joy, real joy!

That morning I arrived early, and went straight to a spot that gets full sun from the East. I scanned the perrenials for signs of butterflies, just as we learned to do in basic training at Ft. Dix, New Jersey (Viet Nam has begun to boil over, and we took that training deadly serious).

I saw them, in low perrenials and . . . I could not believe it. I saw one of the most beautiful sights I’d ever seen. A pair of eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies, coupled tighter, about 18 inches above the ground. Look at them, see how fresh they were, how vivid their colors.

I wasted no times, robotically making my ‘patented’ approach. What was I thinking? The ever recurring thought was that G-d had set this stage for me, and I’d better not waste it. I shot away, maybe 20 exposures.

Sylbie arrived in the Habitat minutes later, and the rest is . . . History.

Feast your eyes on this female, her patches of blue defying words! After, I thanked G-d for this experience, as I always did for such incredible moments, even this many years after Frieda’s A”H passing.

Jeff