That $100 question is . . . . Where must you head out to, if you are desirous of meeting a Salt Marsh Skipper? In my case, the Crosby’s and I drove to Brunswick, Georgia. We wished to see and shoot Eastern Pygmy Blue Butterflies and Salt Marsh Skippers.
Why did we go to Brunswick, on the Georgia coast. Because to find Salt Marsh Skippers, you have to find their habitat, coastal salt marshes. Off we went, for my hoped for 1st view of Panoquina panoquin.
Bingo! Coastal marsh dwellers, they were challenging, alighting on these small yellow flowerheads, and remaining in place for fractions of seconds. No complaint mind you, for that sunny morning these coastal marshes were spectacularly beautiful, and we were treated with a menu of wetland birds, including hard to find Roseate spoonbills, very methodical working the marsh edges with their fascinating bills.
Our Salt marsh skippers spend their whole life living in salty or brackish marshes. I remember as a kid, spending all of those summers at Grandma Polisar’s tiny bungalow in Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York. Every bungalow in that little ‘colony’ had an outdoor shower, a little wooden affair, which scarcely housed huge (? were they) spiders in their corner webs. You always showered after spending those 9 AM to 5-ish PM at the salty Atlantic beach. How do these skippers live 24/7 in a habitat just covered with briny salt? Well, that’s why they get the tag, butterfly ‘specialists.’
Dozens. I’d seen dozens of Gulf Fritillary butterflies in the Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat, in 2016. Maybe more than dozens. Maybe hundreds. If the sun shone, as it is almost always, there Gulf frits are flying and nectaring and males scouring, scouring all corners for likely females.
I’ve seen males approach females, too many times to count. I don’t recall ever seeing one of those males ever receiving the time of day from a female. I would wonder about that. Gulf frits are very numerous in the Eatonton, Georgia oasis for butterflies, so there was no concern for the future, Gulf frits would fly, but how, when, why and where did they consummate their mission: to produce progeny?
This answered many of my theories. I noticed these 2, in an area of mixed perennials and native grasses and plants. They were almost motionless, facing one another, all movement passive and gentle. They remained there for at lease 5 minutes. It was I who left, left them where they were. You’ve got to know that this fascinated, and continues to fascinate me. We are sort of blowhards, for we boast of All that we know, yet . . . at the same time there is much going on, at our feet, that we know little about.
Wasn’t it Elvis (Presley) who embedded Love Me Tender deep into my brain, to remain there, sweetly? This little vignette of a photo evokes those aromatic lines in my mind. Capisci?
You’ve got to keep your eyes peeled for them. I now know where to find them in the Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat. I know when to look for them there, where, and I know that you have to look for them, because at 1″ across, wing to wing, they are ‘t’ as in tiny. A Red-banded hairstreak.
They fly roughly from Pennsylvania down to Florida, and have several broods (generations), raising the likelihood that you’ll see one . . . again, if you look. I am always looking, especially here in central Georgia. Why? Well, the southern Red-bandeds have broader, more prominent red-orange bands across their hindwings. I’m a sucker for those red-bands, truth be told.
This gent was camera ready. That band, bordered in white, those 2 pairs of tiny tails, that light blue patch, adequate eyespots, neat spotted legs and antennae and . . . those perky eyes and palps. The whole package.
You can’t help but perk up! when your eyes set on a fresh Red-banded hairstreak like this guy. A Red-banded delight!
The Wall Street Journal delivered newspapers this past week, unsolisticed. In the Off Duty section of the weekend paper was a front section article, ‘Locals and Behold‘ chronicling a very interesting visit the writer made to the Caribbean island of Dominica. Me, I read on, all, to plumb the prospects for meeting butterflies on this island, well, paradise. Alison Humes didn’t mention butterflies, but she shared that Dominica was an island with hundreds of birds species reported. Helpful, but thousand$ of dollars to see . . . .
Shown here is a Zebra heliconian butterfly, nectaring on a Tithonia bloom in Kathleen. Kathleen rests in . . . Kathleen, Georgia. South of Macon, Macon itself a fascinating city, my tour there thanks to Conie Mac. Me? Macon is a thriving city, active, vibrant and purposeful. Kathleen, south of Macon is a relaxed southern town, washed in rich, deep green. Heliconius charitonius, more than any other butterfly I have sought and found, most evokes memories of those 5th row orchestra seats that we once subscribed to , at the New York City Ballet. Brooklyn-born yes, streets raised yes, but yet thirsting for the elegance and beauty of the ballet, and reminded by the poetic flight of these Zebra longwings (heliconians).
Just me, but when I pack my bags, I head to Kathleen, not Dominica. I love the U.S.A, and we here have our own neotropical butterflies, these balletic Zebra heliconians. No tickets, no season subscriptions necessary. All you need is an enabler.