Change Your Place, Change . . . .

Monarch butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Butterflies and Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, GA

700 miles. That’s how far I moved last year. Family and friends know how much I enjoy this pursuit of butterflies, and they’ve heard of why I do what I do.

It’s 55 degrees F in my former home now, and its’s a whopping 80 degrees F in middle Georgia, the Piedmont region. Back there, in Pittsburgh, the Monarch butterflies were singletons, and you might see 3-5 any given year. They would be seen until mid-September each of those 27 years, and October might shake out a stray Cabbage White butterfly, maybe.

Today! Today in my 1-year old natives garden, I went out to give Petra some exercise, and there in Bed #2 of my garden, together on a group of giant Tithonia (Mexican sunflower plants) . . . were Five (5) Monarchs, males and females at the Tithonias, the nectar bar for thousands of butterflies this year. Five! I’ve never seen such a grouping together, ever.

I’ve driven down here, beginning back in 2015, and butterflies fly well into November. I L-U-V it!

Change your place, many Moms say, and you Change . . . .

Jeff

Skipper Bingo!

Twin-spot Skipper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, GA

We met at the butterfly garden at the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge at the Georgia coast. It was early morning, a sunny one, and Gulf fritillaries, Longtail skippers, Cloudywing skippers and others were mobbing the mostly abundant flowers. I was glad to see them, but I wanted to meet new butterflies there.

This one was perched on this little plant, and I looked, and looked, and I could not make it! I came to realize that it’s a new southeastern butterfly for me. Bingo!! How much do I Love seeing new butterflies? This —————————– much!!

A coastal butterfly, found along the Atlantic coast all the way around Florida to eastern Texas, this Twin-spot Skipper butterfly was a fine-grade of chocolate brown.

Glassberg’s A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America characterizes it as “U-LC” that is Uncommon to Locally Common.

Every year I see new ones. I love that. Travel to see new ones, for I love butterfly “Bingo!”

Jeff

Whirlabout at Fashionable St Simons

Whirllabout Skipper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Fort Federica, Saint Simons Island, GA

I asked Virginia, born and raised on a dreamy island on the Georgia coast, where I might find a goodly number of butterflies there. I waited, and Virginia suggested Ft. Federica, an 18th century British fort built on the river, to fend off Spanish armadas that were anticipated.

She was right, for once I drove to tony St.Simons Island, Virginia’s hundreds of sylvan pastures, marsh and woods were gone. It seems the wealthy long ago eyed the Island, and St. Simons is covered with developments, just about all upscale, many very upscale.

I did find the butterflies I was looking for, lots of them, flying in the National Historic Monument, protected and privileged.

I remember when he flew in. You couldn’t miss him, festooned in comely orange and blasting those large black spots. I thought that I was glad that I shoot Fuji Velvia slides, for I wanted his rich color to share here.

A small grass skipper, that brought a smile to a certain photographer of butterflies, on a fabled island, once a British town and fort.

Jeff

What’s In That Name?

Giant Spider photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, GA

I’m working the cut-grass trail that abuts Woody Pond. That’s one of about 5 or 6 ponds in Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, just a short distance from the Georgia coast. Magic. Why magic? Magical because every step I took along that trail produced. Laura was correct, this is a serious destination.

Butterflies abounded that late August 2018 week: Palamedes, Cloudless Sulphurs, Gulf Fritillaries, that gorgeous Viceroy, Monarchs, Saltmarsh Skippers, Pipevines, Zebra Heliconians, and such. Bees, flies, wasps, moths and more. The botany was lush and much in bloom: Liatris, native sunflowers, thistles, frogfruit, sumac in bloom and more. Alligators in large numbers, they scaring the bejeebers out of my ( me, a grad of Brooklyn’s streets back when ) that morning when I was on this very same trail, early, and without warning, what sounded like a 20 foot gator bellowed, nearly at feet . . . and just as suddenly some 7 or 8 male behemoths joined in. I’m thinking how I’ll save myself if they come after me, the cold steel I carry no match for such. G-d was along with me, for I never had to . . . .

The birds are the #1 reasons that Refuge is a National Refuge, for birders were there those 4 mornings, this being one of the best Word Stork Refuges in the USA. Hundreds of wood storks in those rookeries!

On Woody Pond’s trail, I leaned in to get a better look at a Lep, and Holy Spaghetti! I found myself staring right at this. What you see here is almost life-size. Her web strands we’re yellowish, her abdomen a soothing brownish/oprange, with those comely yellowish spots. Six of her 8 legs had tufts on them. I waited to see if she would resent my Macro- Len’s close approach? I felt like when I was at those Boys’ Club boxing sessions, seeking to learn my opponent’s moves and fakes.

She had a tiny male resting on her abdomen. Tell me about this stark difference in size? I did some reading when I Googled this spider, and I learned. I never knew that there are others species of tiny spiders that earn their sustenance by living close to Big webs like this one, and dash out to grab scraps that the resident spiders overlooks.

This native spider’s name? The Golden Silk Orb-Weaver. Common in the southeastern USA. She and her tiny buddy never reacted to my several approaches. A good, though formidable looking model, she.

Jeff