Cardinal Flower by the Hour

Cardinal Flower, photographed by Jeff Zablow in his Perennial Garden, Pittsburgh, PA

The red was lipstick red, and you could see it from 100 feet away. My 7 Cardinal flower plants were grouped together, inside the iron fence, just 8 feet from the sidewalk. In full sun from morning to sundown, they should have been a bit miffed, but I watered them in daily, and these moisture loving perennials showed their appreciation, by growing to more than 6 feet in height. They produced dozens and dozens and dozens of those fantastic blooms, as if in appreciation for my thoughtfulness.

Blooming for many weeks, they put our front perennial garden on the map. Map? Whose map? The internal map of the Ruby Throated hummingbirds in the East End of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They zoomed in every hour on the hour, straight to these red nectar pumps. (the flowers, that is) Methodically, bloom to bloom, leaving when someone come walking past, on the other side of the fence. They return moments later.

Our menu presented the hummingbirds with variety: False dragonhead, Salvias, Crocosmia, giant Zinnias and others for the pleasure of sipping nectar. I did not attempt to photograph the ruby throateds, content as I am with the photographic output of Virgina, Chuck, Marcie and others.

Spring will return and bring in the third season for my cardinal flowers. Where and how did I acquire them? From a fantastic native plant nursery, right here in Pittsburgh, just ½ mile from  my Beechwood Boulevard home! Sylvan Natives, where I found my American plum trees, Pagoda dogwoods, American hornbeams, Chokecherries, Tulip tree, Sennas and couple of others. Save for the deer and woodchucks, I’d be able to report 100% success . . .

Oh, and nary a single butterfly seen at the Cardinal flower.


Monardas Down South

Rare Monarda Wildflower photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hard Labor Creek State Park, GA

Phil was bedazzling me with new butterflies and new wildflowers at Hard Labor Creek State Park and Camping Ground, in north-central Georgia. It was August 2015, and the park was both wonderland and new to me.

This rare Monarda, Spotted Bee Balm, stopped me in my tracks. Again and again I looked at these blooms, and thought that they would look more in place on planet Mars, or something.

You don’t get complacent when you’re at the Briar Patch (Putnam County) or at Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge or here in Hard Labor Creek State Park. You can’t because there’s so much that is new and exciting for this Pittsburgh, ‘cum Brooklyn/Long Island guy. Virginia, Rose and Jerry and Phil and Dave W, Thanks for 2015! Now what’s on deck for 2016?


A Lesser Fiery Copper Reunion?

Lycaena Thersamon photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

March 2016 will find me, G-d willing, to return to Israel, and back up to Mt. Meron. My 3rd visit to SPNI Meron, the neat field house complex maintained, like others throughout Israel, to bring kids together with undisturbed habitat and wildlife. Guest houses are available for naturalists, and that’s where I’ll spend some 5 days.

Why go back there? There are many butterflies I still have not coaxed out of the bush, havn’t seen yet. I also plan to explore (never could find someone to lead me) the terrain along the Israel-Lebanese border. This exploration promises to expand my list of Israeli butterflies seen and photographed. The air is clear, the streams are quality, and the botany promises, promises so much, including March orchids. We’ll share some orchids together this 2016, Israeli (Oh, I hope!) and northeastern U.S. orchids. The Israeli ones I’m going to have to find on my own; for the U.S. orchids I’ll have expert help.

This Lycaena thersamon omphale female was an eye popper. Her colors sang out to me. Stationery on this yet to be ID’d wildflower, she was a sight.

The Upper Galilee region, just south of Lake Tiberias (Yom Kinneret) and the coastline north of Tel  Aviv . . .  and then that certain Protected rare butterfly reduced to flying in 2 limited areas west of Afula, these are my butterfly destinations. And of course, my daughter, grandsons and son-in-law, plus lots of family. The men  All served, the young women served, the older women kept the home fires burning, and fretted while their men fought to keep them safe. This is a view of Israel that the media will never share with you.

Any takers?


Red-Banded Hairstreak in the Briar Patch

Red-banded Hairstreak Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, GA

There is so much air traffic in the Birds & Blooms in the Briar Patch, leaving you wishing that your head could swivel 360 degrees, and new, not yet introduced butterflies enter, sample and exit the tens of thousands of nectar-dripping flowers. Lots of them are large. Swallowtails, Fritillaries, Hackberrys, Monarchs, Painted Ladies are all noticeable, and Jeff’s eyes acknowledge their comings and goings. All purposeful, nectar seekers, mate hunters, and territory claimers.

At the southern section there, a line of giant Mexican sunflowers (Tithonia) does just about what the nearby Publix Markets does. It was there that my eyes registered something a-flight, a tiny butterfly, and, and, there was that red band, that gorgeous red band. Red-banded Hairstreak!! Approach, approach, good, still there. Technique positioning, good. Is it fresh? Yes! I Love this butterfly. Calycopis cecrops. The red band is edged outwardly in white, it has 2 pairs of tiny tails and the blue patch at the hindwing edge is baby blue. This is one tiny, neat butterfly. Striped legs, orange tipped antennae, and those pookie eyes, bordered in white.

Eatonton, Georgia, and a dandy of a hairstreak. A tiny looker, for sure.


Another One I Won’t See on Mt. Hermon

Parnassius mnemosyne butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Hermon, Israel

You’ll never guess which family of butterflies this rare baby belongs to? It’s only found at the top of Golan Height’s Mt. Hermon. Its schedule and mine unfortunately don’t come together this year.

Clouded Apollo butterflies fly on the mountain top in May and June. I met this female one up there in June 2008. It was an OMG! wonderful day as I was being regaled by many, many rare butterflies. This year I fly in late February, so  now I can’t even go up, up, up there in a cable lift for another reason: A good covering of snow.

So back to . . . (here comes the hint to the opening question). It’s species name is Parnassius mnemosyne syra. Satyr? Whites? Fritillaries? Coppers? Milkweed butterflies? Blues? Anglewings?

It is in the family, Papilioinidae, with its closely related swallowtails and even more closely related parnassians. A different look, isn’t it?