Red-Banded Hairstreak Butterfly

Red-banded hairstreak butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Rock Hall, MD
A really nice discovery at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge. Calycopis cecrops ranks high on my List of happy finds. That red band that spans its left wings is unmistakable. This tiny hairstreak is a rare find for me. Field Guides give it a range from southern Massachusets south to the Florida Keys.

Our boy here is resting on a low branch, scopeing for females. He must be patient, for despite his handsome coloration, eyespots and nifty orange antennae tips, there were few females in the Refuge that morning.

His rest ended instantly, when my macro lens made its slow, calculated approach. This species is frustrating, for once they flee, they do not return to the same perch. Sop when they are gone, they are gone.

Get this. Little is known of the life of this species. It’s 2014 and we still know little about it. One of my favorites, that we do know.


Common Sootywing Butterfly

Common Sootywing butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Rock Hall, MD
My first encounter with a Common Sootywing (Pholisora catullus). A new butterfly, one I’d never seen before. Exciting. We were in Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge in May 2014. She was basking on a leaf, taking in the Delmarva’s warm morning sun. My calculated approach was good, she tolerated 5 film exposures, then she was gone.

Me, I was bubbling with excitement. What was this rare little skipper, how rare, that I hadn’t seen one in the last 14 years?

Back to the Sailor’s Motel in Rock Hall. Flip open my field guide . . . Huh? The Common sootywing. Not rare at all, and found west of the Mississippi, east from Maine to Florida.

She was this glossy black. Her white spots were bright white. Several field guide authors argue that her given name is too colorless for such a starkly beautiful little wonder of a native butterfly.

Their hostplant is that ‘weed’ that all eastern gardeners have pulled hundreds of times, Lamb’s quarters.


Red Kayak Rescue (The Final Episode)

Kayak rescue photographed by Jeff Zablow at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Rock Hall, MD
We’ve posted the discovery of the Mystery Red Kayak, and later that same day the appearance of the self-appointed Red Kayak rescuer. Chesapeake Bay is the stage for this colorful rescue.

The rescuer did not tell of any injury or death in the Bay, so the Mystery Red Kayak’s bust-out escape came without bad news. What it did included filling my thoughts with lots of scenarios, each possibly explaining the whole Red Kayak thing, and it added another notch on the paddle of the Red Kayak rescuer. Watching him paddle into the Bay was, well . . . poetic.

All this from Jeff, who was there to photograph butterflies, especially those at the northernmost reaches of their southern (US) range.


A New Chapter for the Mystery Kayak

Kayak rescue photographed by Jeff Zablow at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Rock Hall, MD
The Mystery Red Kayak remained where I left it. I returned to Rock Hall, Maryland. Late that afternoon, I drove back to Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, to see what butterflies were about. While I worked the trails, I saw a lone kayak approaching the shore. The man in the kayak headed straight to the Mystery Red one. I was not finding much butterfly presence, and returned my attention to the drama of the Red Kayak.

The man down there called up to me, asking if I knew anything of Red Kayak. I told him what I knew, that it had been there all day. He said that he occasionally finds kayaks, and returns them to their owners. Living 43 years on Chesapeake Bay, he’d seen lots of mysteries about.

This was a new world for me. Folks whose lives heavily involve the Bay, who go out to patrol, so to speak, the Bay, to monitor that all’s as it should be. Out there with the osprey, bald eagles, turkey vultures, egrets . . . What a life.

Next post will feature the last photo of the rescue of the Mystery Red Kayak.


The Mystery Kayak

Kayak rescue photographed by Jeff Zablow at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Rock Hall, MD
The spices and herbs of life. There I was, working the trails of Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, on the popular Delmarva Peninsula, in full view of Chesepeake Bay. A sweet little national wildlife refuge, great for birds and butterflies. This was my 2nd day at the refuge. What’s that? There it was, a redder than red, kayak. Look as I would, there was no kayaker.

The mystery of this solitary kayak popped several juicy scenarios in my mind. I’ve kayaked before, in Toronto and in New Jersey. I like kayaking and I like the freedom it provides, enabling you to slip into spots that defy easy access.

So the mystery kayak, my favorite rich red. A rental, someone’s favorite? A maverick kayak that floated away as she went off to examine some rare plant growing at the shoreline . . . Who knows.

What should I do?

I did what I knew I had come to do, seek butterflies, their host plants, their caterpillars, and revel in the osprey, bald eagles, turkey vultures, and different hawks that filled the blue skies above.

More soon about the next part of the mystery kayak saga.