Stop, Look & Wonder . . .

Chrysalis photographed by Jeff Zablow at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Rock Hall, MD

Chrysalis photographed by Jeff Zablow at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Rock Hall, MD

 

This little treat caught my eye on that trail just steps away from Chesapeake Bay. Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge fulfills its promise, wildlife abounds there.

Now I’ve got a lot to learn about chrysalises, so I stopped. I examined it from every angle. How did the animal that built this know what to do? How did they produce the material to construct it? How is the wholesome lump of protein found within it protected from the  myriad predators that pass by?

What do you think? Moth? What possessed it to make this otherworldly structure out in the open, for all to see?

I tell you, it kept me there for several  minutes, wondering. What a luxury, to be in my majority and standing there, wondering. . . like a kid.

Jeff

A Title For This Post?

Toad photographed by Jeff Zablow at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Rock Hall, MD
Day 2 of 3 days in Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge. The diversity seen there was incredible . . . and that included this toad, hiding from me, no more than a foot from the edge of the trail i was working. Looked healthy, with a very beautiful interplay of browns arranged in various patterns. “Waste” film on this pookie? That debate lasted but seconds. Out came the little boy in me = Wow! this toad is amazing!

It posed (he, she ?). Good. I am, of course dedicated to photographing butterflies, and displaying the best of what I get. But this guy was special, and amidst all of the buzz about habitat encroachment, there it was, extraordinary (for me) and looking like a good indicator that the next generation was almost assured.

Now  . . . what title for this post? Suggestions?

Jeff

Common Milkweed . . . Redux

Common milkweed photographed by Jeff Zablow at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Rock Hall, MD
Just a handful of years ago, who paid much attention to this wildflowering plant? Seen in fields, along roadsides, at the edges of planted fields, it was native, it was seen year after year, and it was just another green plant. Sure it was the host plant of Monarch butterflies, and its nectar was prized by many other butterflies. That was about all for common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca.

Not any more. Wishing to be part of a massive effort to support the few Monarchs that we in the East have seen this year, we planted several dozen milkweed seedlings in our garden. Some of those milkweeds have prospered, others remain smaller and spindly. We found our first Monarch caterpillar on the milkweed patch in the front garden, just 3 days ago. We haven’t been able to find it for 2 days now?

Many, myself included, are apprehensive about the ability of these butterflies to reappear strongly in 2015. Tens of thousands of gardeners will replant/nurture their milkweed plants into the coming year, and we will await the arrival of those magnificent Monarchs, flying, it would seem, effortlessly north from their Mexican roosts.

I was in the field at Raccoon Creek State Park this morning, didn’t see a Monarch. You know what? I found myself thinking that at least I have a good collection of Monarch images. Then I thought, OMG! is that how bad it’s become?

Jeff

Chrysalis Unknown

Chrysalis photographed by Jeff Zablow at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Rock Hall, MD
There it was, suspended from the woody branch of a shrubby plant, very close to the shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, some 2+ hours drive east, from Washington, DC..

It was inches from the trail. I stopped. Examined it. This is good. A clear reminder and message: The natural world has soooo much that I know little about.

I believe that it is the chrysalis of a moth, yet I had no idea what adult moth will wriggle out of it sometime soon. Friends have identified this as a Bagworm moth. What a name? ‘A bagworm walks into . . . .’

I didn’t anticipate this moment. I love searching for and finding butterflies, and I value all of the exciting finds that I make along the way, this one included.

Primitive, yet super complicated.

Jeff